- Shanahan and the Redskins looked nothing like a team that had an extra week to prepare for the Eagles. (Photo: Jay Westcott)
DeAngelo Hall sat in an empty locker far away from his teammates, still wearing his uniform, pads and all, seething and trying to get his mind around the Redskins’ 59-28 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kedric Golston sat Indian style, staring into nowhere as he pulled tape off of his fingers.
Mike Shanahan’s face was more red than usual, and the Washington Redskins couldn’t come up with enough ways to describe how humiliated they had been.
The thrashing indeed was a shocker. The Eagles had been favored to win, so the fact that Philadelphia won wasn’t surprising. But the way that they won was mindblowing. Let's review some of the key aspects of the game:
1.) Unstoppable Vick
The Eagles’ QB looked like a character out of a video game, passing at will with pin-point accuracy, spinning away from would-be sacks, reeling off long runs, accounting for six touchdowns: four passing, two rushing. It didn’t matter what the Redskins threw at him, he always had an answer. If ever there was a picture of redemption, Michael Vick is it. The Redskins knew they were fortunate to knock Vick out of the first meeting of the season, but they didn’t know that they were this lucky to have done so.
2.) Philly adjustments
In addition to knocking Vick out of the game back in Week 4, the job the Redskins' defensive backs did on the Eagles wide receivers was one of the biggest keys to a Washington victory. Last time around, the Redskins’ cornerbacks jammed the Eagles’ receivers at the line and then used safety help over the top to limit Philly’s passing game. The Eagles did their homework, and made sure not to let the Redskins shut down their receivers a second game, using secondary receivers to chip defensive backs so they didn’t get a double-jam in. That freed the receivers up to race downfield to open spots. The 88-yard bomb to DeSean Jackson took advantage of the mismatch of having safety LaRon Landry on the speedy receiver. The 48-yard TD strike to Jeremy Macklin torched Hall. Three receivers had at least four catches, and in all seven pass-catchers were involved in the attack. Vick spread the ball around and picked the Redskins apart. Washington’s defensive backs and linebackers said that there wasn’t really anything surprising about what the Eagles did, just how well they did it. The Redskins pressured Vick often, but because of his speed and elusiveness, the pass rush was rarely a factor because he could simply spin a way, create some space between he and the defender and then strike.
3.) Tale of the third downs
The Eagles could convert, going eight-for-13 on third downs. Meanwhile Washington couldn’t at all, going 0-for-10. The name of the game is to move the chains, and Philadelphia did. The Redskins couldn’t connect, whether it was failing to pick up short yardage, or McNabb and his receivers still not quite being on the same page. The results speak for themselves.
4.) Emotional highs
The Eagles were fired up before they even took the game for warmups, remembering what Donovan McNabb said after the Redskins’ win in Philadelphia on Oct 3 (about the Eagles making a mistake in parting with him), and they used that as motivation. They huddled at the 50-yard line pre-game and jumped up and down on the Redskins logo, disrespecting their hosts. Both teams got into it as the Eagles left the field. LaRon Landry, according to Philly players told DeSean Jackson he was going to knock him out in the game. But once play began, only one team delivered. The Eagles channeled their frustrations into explosiveness. The Redskins didn’t know how to channel theirs and instead came out flat. Big play after big play further stoked the Eagles’ competitive fire. The Redskins couldn’t convert on plays when they needed to and became more and more discouraged.
So much for the bye week . . .
Mike Shanahan entered the game with a 10-4 record coming off of the bye week. He talked throughout the week about how having the bye was a great plus in helping with rejuvenation and game planning, because essentially, he and his coaching staff had two weeks to prep for their opponent. You would've never have known Shanahan had such a great record following bye weeks, however. And judging by the results, bawould've never known that any preparation at all was made for this game.
The defensive players looked like they’d never seen the Eagles play before, and the offensive players were just about as challenged as they were throughout the first half of the season. There were a few bright spots (two 70-plus-yard pass plays from McNabb, and a career day for Keiland Williams, the undrafted rookie out of LSU, who surprisingly got the start when Ryan Torain re-injured his hamstring during warmups. Williams recorded 16 carries 89 yards and two touchdowns, four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown). But the 0’fer third down stat indicates that this offense took steps backwards. How would this team have looked had they not had the bye?
Mike Shanahan rightfully accepted the blame.
“Got out-played and out-coached in every area. I take responsibility for it. Should have had the prepared better than I did,” he said.
Shanahan and his players had previously said the bye came at the perfect time at the halfway point. But given how poorly the first half of the season ended, maybe the bye was at a terrible time. The Redskins couldn’t quickly get the embarrassing loss to the Lions out of their systems, and then suffered an even more embarrassing defeat as play resumed.