The last time the Eagles faced the Commanders in Week 4, they came away with an overtime win in a strange game where a lot of strange things didn’t go their way. The Birds will try to leave a little less doubt this time around. Here are our five matchups to watch.
Remember when AJ Brown caught 9 passes for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns in Week 4 against the Commanders? Well, the Commanders have allowed opposing receivers big plays all season long.
• Marvin Mims, Broncos: 2 catches, 113 yards, 1 touchdown
• Stefon Diggs, Bills: 8 catches, 111 yards
• AJ Brown, Eagles: 9 catches, 175 yards, 2 touchdowns
• DJ Moore, Bears: 8 catches, 230 yards, 3 touchdowns
• Drake London, Falcons: 9 catches, 125 yards
• Darren Waller, Giants: 7 catches, 98 yards, 1 touchdown
The Eagles played a heavy 11 man in Week 4 and managed to pit Brown against ultra-skinny rookie corner Emmanuel Forbes. Things didn’t go well for Forbes, as seen here:
Forbes has since been benched, but Brown’s big day was due to both troglodytic defensive coordinator JaQ Del Rio and Forbes for putting his physically overwhelmed rookie corner in a bad matchup. Brown will not be able to face Forbes on Sunday unless injury occurs. Del Rio should probably log off of 4chan this week and spend more time coming up with a plan to stop Brown.
2) LT Jordan Mailata vs. DE Chase Young
Young was a disappointment in Washington after being the No. 2 overall pick in 2020, but he is having something of a breakout season with 5 sacks in 6 games. I found this nugget interesting by John Keim of ESPN with regard to some trade deadline candidates:
The likelihood of Young being traded is slim, although teams have been calling Washington about him and Montez Sweat for several months. Washington did not pick up Young’s fifth-year option, but the current staff had previously told him it would reward him if he was productive. Young has played in six games and recorded five sacks and is fourth in the NFL with 32 pass rushing victories. However, with the Commanders at 3-4, another loss could force them to consider possible trades.
I’m not Chase Young, but if I were, I’d want to get out of Washington and literally go somewhere else. Perhaps a strong performance in the final game before the trade deadline could improve his chances of any team out there making the Commanders an offer they can’t refuse?
Young has 3.5 sacks in 3 career games against the Eagles and he picked up one in Mailata Week 4:
Mailata has had a great season so far, but this is a battle between the Commanders must win as it’s unlikely they’ll get many wins on the other side of the line against Lane Johnson.
3) Where could the Eagles go to celebrate? 🍗
The Commanders had a healthy offensive line when the Eagles first faced them, and it will likely be the same on Sunday.
|Charles Leno||Saahdiq Charles||Nick Gates||Sam Cosmi||Andrew Wylie|
The Commanders have allowed 40 (!) sacks this season, the most in the NFL. That puts them on pace to allow 97 sacks this season, which would be the second-most in NFL history.
Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat seem to be gaining momentum lately and should both have a head start in the matchup. The Eagles will clearly have an imbalance as well, with Jalen Carter, Fletcher Cox, Jordan Davis and Milton Williams having to work against the Commanders’ shaky interior.
In Week 4, the Eagles sacked Sam Howell five times, including Nicholas Morrow three times. So it’s not like the Eagles’ defensive line destroyed the Commanders’ offensive line. And in fact, Howell had his best game of the season in Week 4 in Philly, in part because the Eagles didn’t get him on the floor enough. The Eagles have a huge advantage on paper in this matchup, but they’ll have to do a better job of exploiting that advantage this time around.
#FeastinMeter: 7/10 turkey legs 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗
4) Commander WR Terry McLaurin against the Eagles’ slot corners
The Eagles were without Avonte Maddox in their loss to the Commanders last season. The Commanders responded by consistently positioning McLaurin in the slot to exploit a mismatch against Josiah Scott, and he delivered, catching 8 balls for 128 yards, many of them in high-leverage situations on third down. The Commanders receiver with the next highest production in the game had 28 receiving yards. In Week 4, McLaurin had 8 catches for 86 yards on 10 targets.
Scott is back with the Eagles, and if the Commanders are smart, they will try to make this matchup happen again on Sunday. We say this almost every time the Eagles face the Commanders, but… see #17? He’s waving right at you, Eagles defensive staff. Cover this guy and do it with your best players. The other guys aren’t nearly as important.
5) The Eagles’ poor defense compared to the Commanders’ error-prone offense
The Eagles won the turnover battle in the first two games of the season, but they haven’t won it since:
Plus, as you noted above, they hadn’t forced turnovers in three games. They finally got a hit last Sunday night when Darius Slay intercepted Tua Tagovailoa with a clutch catch. They hope to build on that.
In the Eagles’ last duel with the Commanders, there were a lot of oddities for the Commanders:
• A hold call on 52 (Zach Cunningham) extended a commander drive that resulted in a TD when it otherwise would have been a FG attempt. They wanted to take custody of Nicholas Morrow, who wasn’t holding anyone.
That was a four-point penalty.
• Terrell Edmunds dropped an INT in the end zone. The Commanders would score a TD later on that drive. That was a drop of 7 points.
• The Eagles forced a fumble at the goal line, which the Commanders used in the end zone for a touchdown.
• On a 4th-and-1, Landon Dickerson was warned for offside, which he did. However, this also applied to three Commanders players, most notably Daron Payne, who literally touched the football with his hand and hovered his head above the ball. The Eagles converted the tush push, but received a five-yard penalty and then a punt. This penalty corresponded to a loss of the ball.
• Darius Slay was assessed a weak pass interference penalty.
• Terrell Edmunds was called for an even weaker late out-of-bounds hit on Sam Howell that would have gained the first down had Edmunds not hit it.
Here’s Edmunds’ “late hit.” It’s 3rd down and you can see Howell preparing to hold the ball past the posts as he heads towards the sideline. He has to take it back as the Edmunds hit is approaching. Edmunds saves the 1st down. Good game! But because it’s a QB… penalty. pic.twitter.com/fUBxDmQFSa
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) October 3, 2023
The commanders in this game are talented, inferior almost across the board. And yet they seem to cause problems for the Eagles every year due to oddities and/or a lopsided turnover gap.
The commanders will make mistakes. They give the ball away 1.6 times per game. Only six teams implement it faster.
“Win the revenue battle” doesn’t really count as good #analysis. But it is against this opponent that the Eagles must protect the football and capitalize on the commanders’ mistakes. The difference between good, reasonably flawless football on offense and opportunistic defense in this matchup is the difference between destroying this team and having another matchup like they did in Week 4.