NFL Nation: Eagles-Redskins 102609

 
 Win McNamee/Getty Images
 Will Witherspoon made his presence felt in his first game with the Eagles, returning an interception for a touchdown.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- If you're trying to kick start your season, the Redskins are the ideal opponent. On Monday night, the Eagles needed less than two minutes to bury a team that is gaining ground on Al Davis' Raiders for biggest laughingstock in the league.

Eagles-Redskins Coverage
Monday Night Football HQ
NFC East blog coverage
Video: Trent Dilfer's MNF analysis
It was the first game of a three-game stretch against NFC East opponents that could shape the Eagles' season. On Monday night, they were able to make enough big plays on both sides of the ball to cover up another ragged performance by the offense. On their fourth play from scrimmage, second-year wide receiver DeSean Jackson took the ball from Donovan McNabb on an end-around and sprinted 67 yards for a touchdown. The Skins' alleged speedster DeAngelo Hall watched helplessly as Jackson raced down the sideline.

For this Redskins team, a 7-0 deficit is pretty much insurmountable. The Eagles won the game 27-17 but the final score suggests this was a competitive situation. Well, it wasn't.

Jackson Five plays
The Eagles were far too dependent on the big play -- DeSean Jackson specifically -- against the Redskins, which will not fly against the tougher teams on their schedule. Due to the big play, the Eagles did not run a play in the red zone.
Category Jackson All others
Plays 5* 51
Yards gained 136 125
Yards per play 27.2 2.5
TD 2 0
* Includes 2 incomplete passes thrown his way.
Jackson, who's emerged as one of the most exciting players in the league, added a 57-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter to give the Eagles a 27-7 lead. On the touchdown, Jackson used a stop-and-go route to get at least 10 yards behind Redskins safety Chris Horton.

The bad news for the Eagles is that they have only one game remaining against the Redskins. In Week 8, the Eagles return home to face a Giants team trying to break a two-game losing streak. Then they host a Cowboys team that showed signs of life in a 37-21 win over the Falcons.

There's still no way to have an accurate read on the Eagles, but Monday's win helped them get rid of that awful stench from the Week 6 loss to the Oakland Raiders. This team appears to have several weapons on offense, but it learned the hard way that you actually have to act somewhat interested to beat an inferior opponent.

"We wanted to get rid of that feeling," said tight end Brent Celek. "I never want to have it again. Hopefully we got it out of the way. We just can't afford to have it happen again."

The worst moment for the Eagles occurred in the first quarter when Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook took an accidental knee to the head after a 5-yard run. He was on the ground for at least three minutes as players from both teams huddled around him in prayer.

"I hoped he was OK," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He wasn't moving at first. That worries you a little bit because you don't know exactly what happened. When a player isn't moving, that worries me."

Westbrook suffered a concussion on the play, but he was able to return to the sideline in the second half and Reid's hopeful that he'll return to the lineup soon. Without him, the Eagles' rushing game was stagnant. Rookie LeSean McCoy had 14 carries for 37 yards. It was so bad that Reid sounded thrilled that Michael Vick was able to take off on a 9-yard run out of the Wildcat formation. We were led to believe that opposing defenses would tremble with fear at the sight of Vick lining up for the direct snap, but so far the Eagles' Wildcat has provided only comic relief.

 
 Win McNamee/Getty Images
 Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell was sacked six times.
And speaking of comedy, Sherm Lewis made his play-calling debut with the Redskins. I'm hoping head coach Jim Zorn gave him the full play chart because Lewis fell in love with the same pattern to tight end Chris Cooley early in the game. The Redskins normally like to spread 17 points over several games, but don't let that explosive point total fool you. The offense was just as ineffective as always -- and the Eagles' defense had a lot to do with it.

Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell said he injured his right Achilles tendon early in the game -- and that made it impossible for him to run away from the Eagles' pressure. He was sacked six times and the Skins turned the ball over four times. Linebacker Will Witherspoon, acquired by the Eagles in a trade last Tuesday, returned an interception for a touchdown and forced a fumble in his debut.

The sheer joy of leaving a winless Rams team seemed to lift Witherspoon the entire game, although that's not exactly how he phrased it.

"There is some similarity to the scheme here," said Witherspoon of his time with the Rams. "And this locker room is great. They made sure I was prepared. For me, it's like starting the season again. The mindset was just to come in and play well. It's only going to get better from here."

Unfortunately for the Eagles, their real schedule's about to begin.

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- The Redskins may have changed playcallers, but the results looked pretty much the same. Washington was no match for Philadelphia in a division game that felt like it was over in the first five minutes.

The Eagles were trying to get rid of that stench they had following a shameful performance against the Raiders last Sunday, and the Redskins were the perfect opponent. The Redskins' battered defense bit hard on a fake handoff early in the game -- and that's all the room DeSean Jackson needed as he took an end around 67 yards for a touchdown.

Jackson then removed all doubt with a 57-yard touchdown catch on which he beat the Redskins' secondary on a double move. The boobirds were out early Monday, and new playcaller Sherm Lewis stuck to the same script that has earned the Redskins a 2-5 record.

Make no mistake, the Redskins are one of the worst teams in the league. But still, the Eagles did what you have to do to an inferior opponent. Newly acquired linebacker Will Witherspoon led the way early with an interception return for a touchdown and a forced fumble. Then defensive end Trent Cole took over in the second half. He had two sacks and he made left tackle Stephon Heyer look awful.

There are only three players on the Redskins' offensive line who even belong in the NFL -- and that's the hand Lewis was dealt in his first coaching gig in almost five years. By the second half, Clinton Portis was having sideline meltdowns. He launched his helmet into the bench, which may have been the Skins' most aggressive act of the evening.

Eagles coach Andy Reid spent part of the second half tinkering with his much-maligned Wildcat formation. At this point, it's hard to determine why they went to the trouble of signing Michael Vick. But on this night, the Wildcat was simply a sideshow.

The biggest scare for the Eagles came in the first quarter when Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook took a knee to the head. He remained on the ground for about five minutes, but he was able to walk to the locker room -- and later returned to the sideline. The Eagles never really accomplished much in the running game after Jackson's long run, but it's not something they needed against the Redskins.

The Eagles' defense tormented Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell throughout the game, causing four turnovers and six sacks. This sets up a huge matchup between the Eagles and Giants at Lincoln Financial Field next Sunday.

The Giants are reeling after losing consecutive games, so the Eagles could at least share the division lead with a win. This wasn't much to look at, but the Eagles will certainly take it.

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- Let's do some quick-hitting items on what occurred in the first half:
  • It's hard to make any statement on Sherm Lewis' playcalling in the first half. The Eagles jumped out to a 17-0 lead, so it's not like Lewis has had the chance to lean on the running game. And you can't exactly load up and run stretch plays behind left tackle Stephon Heyer.
  • The Redskins have no chance of defending Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson had a 67-yard touchdown run and a 57-yard touchdown catch. I think he could have returned a punt for a touchdown, but he muffed it and had to step out of bounds. I have no clue why Chris Horton would let Jackson get five yards behind him on what looked like a straight fly pattern.
  • In his first game with the Eagles, linebacker Will Witherspoon has been remarkably active. He's returned an interception for a touchdown and he forced a fumble. I'm sure he's just thrilled to be with a winning team. The Rams were winless when he left -- and remain that way.
  • I just feel bad for Jim Zorn right now. Every time I look down there, he's sort of staring at his playcalling chart with a confused look on his face. It must be so defeating to have another man calling the plays you carefully designed over the past two seasons.
  • Brian Westbrook took a knee to the helmet in the first quarter. It was good to see him walk off the field, but he looked pretty foggy. He has a concussion and won't return. But it has opened the door for rookie LeSean McCoy to get some more touches.
  • Could someone remind me why Michael Vick plays for the Eagles? It's so pointless to run him out there for two or three Wildcat plays per game. He did complete a pass for five yards, so that's something. He still looks slow to me. Defensive end Andre Carter had no trouble bringing him down on a misdirection play.
  • The Redskins are playing without tight end Chris Cooley, which takes away Sherm Lewis' favorite option. Cooley appeared to be about the only matchup problem for the Eagles. They've done a nice job rolling their coverage to Santana Moss.
  • I think Andy Reid wanted to see if DeSean Jackson would play through some pain. And Jackson has responded. He looks a little bit gimpy here in the second half, but I'm sure Reid is pleased to see him on the field.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- I'll have a full halftime report at some point, but it's pretty safe to say that playcaller Sherm Lewis isn't off to a blazing start. He did call the plays that allowed the Skins to drive down and make it 27-10 at halftime.

We just found out that Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has a foot injury and he's gone to the locker room for x-rays. That's obviously a huge concern for the Eagles. I'd be a little surprised if Jackson returned in the second half. He's been listed as questionable by the Eagles. We'll keep you updated.

More on the Westbrook injury

October, 26, 2009
10/26/09
10:02
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- Eagles running back Brian Westbrook was able to walk off the field after taking a London Fletcher knee to the helmet. It was a scary moment as players from both teams appeared to huddle around him and pray. Westbrook's younger brother, Byron, is a defensive back for the Redskins. He was the only player who was allowed to stand next to his brother.

It certainly wasn't a glancing blow. Westbrook was being tackled by another player when Fletcher accidentally hit him with his knee. Westbrook's been ruled out of this game and I'd be a little surprised if you see him return in time for the Giants game next Sunday.

Here's our report on ESPN.com.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- It looks like the Eagles made a pretty strong deadline trade for Will Witherspoon Tuesday. They sent wide receiver Brandon Gibson and a fifth-round pick in 2010 to the St. Louis Rams for the 29-year-old Witherspoon. And in his first game with the Eagles, Witherspoon has returned an interception for a touchdown and forced a fumble.

It's been an awful start for Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell and you have to wonder how much longer Jim Zorn will stay with him. On the injury front, Redskins tight end Chris Cooley has left the game with an ankle injury and his return is questionable.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- Now for something completely different. Redskins executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato told frequent Beast contributor Sal Paolantonio that he has confidence in new playcaller Sherm Lewis. I'm sure this endorsement has nothing to do with the fact that Cerrato's the one who made the curious move. Sal Pal asked Cerrato why he had so much confidence in the former bingo caller.

"I think his history, Sal," Cerrato said. "The guy's got four Super Bowl rings, he's got 20-some years in this offense. He started with Bill Walsh, the originator of the offense. He's worked with Mike Holmgren; Jim [Zorn] worked a lot with Mike Holmgren. So he's got the experience. To me, Sal, it's like riding a bike. You don't ride a bike for a couple of years, you get back on, it's easy to ride a bike."

OK, I feel better about the Skins' chances.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- I just watched a grown man race all of the way down the sideline at FedEx to snap a cellphone pic of the Redskins' new playcaller, Sherman Lewis. Folks across the country want to know more about Lewis' bingo-calling past, and that's why news outlets such as ESPN showed up at a senior citizens center in Novi, Mich., this week.

 
 AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
 Sherman Lewis just joined the Redskins organization a few weeks ago.
An employee at the center granted an interview to 710 ESPN radio -- and the good folks at sportsradiointerviews.com passed it along to us.

Asked how much attention the center had been receiving in recent days, an employee named Rachel Zagalori said, "Oh my gosh! Yes, people are calling all the time and coming over and doing pictures and stories. And it’s quite the story."

Yes Ms. Zagalori, this is quite a story. I'm going to pay close attention to "head coach" Jim Zorn on the sideline to see how he reacts to Lewis' play calling. Zorn's said all the right things this week, but you know there will come a time when he doesn't like one of Lewis' calls. Will he step in and change the call?

Just because offensive coordinator Sherman Smith is relaying plays to Jason Campbell doesn't mean that Zorn won't be listening to every word. This is one of the most bizarre things I've run across in the league. I think Campbell will be ready to call his own plays if there's a communication problem at any point.

Eli Manning's considered an excellent game manager, but he still has problems with delay-of-game penalties. Imagine parachuting a guy in three weeks ago -- and then giving him play-calling duties.

I smell an Eagles blowout. They were awful last Sunday against the Raiders. I think you'll see them bounce back tonight.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

NFL SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 10/30
Sunday, 11/2
Monday, 11/3
WEEKLY LEADERS