Redskins defense beats the G-Men
Can we take one moment to reflect on the Redskins defense? Last season they were one of the worst.
This year? They are top 5.
DJ Swearinger is the top rated safety in the NFL right now, with his stats (32 TOT, 4 INT, 7 PD, 2 FF, 1 FR, 1 sack) on track to match the late, great Sean Taylor through the first nine games of his 2007 season (42 TOT, 5 INT, 9 PD, 1 FF). The defensive line combination of DaRon Payne, Jonathan Allen and Matt Ionnaidis have combined for 12.5 sacks already this year and during the past 3 wins have held three of the NFL’s best running backs, in Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley to less than 100 yards. Combined. This is a defense that last season was ranked 32nd against the run.
On Sunday against the New York Giants, this vastly improved unit squashed the competition again. With Swearinger picking off Eli Manning twice and the Redskins sacking the Giants quarterback seven times in a 20-13 win. Once again questions could be asked of Manning, but there was enough blame to go around at the Meadowlands. His offensive line were weak both in protection and in opening up holes for Barkley.
Evan Engram let what would have been a potentially momentum shifting pass sail straight through his fingers and Sterling Shepard couldn’t hold on to a, as perfect as it was rare, Manning deep ball. The only player on the Giants offense who looked truly capable was Odell Beckham Jr. – 136 yards featuring yet another highlight reel catch, Beckham always looked dangerous, even against Washington’s dominant defense.
The Redskins offense was sputtering, but once again, Gruden and Smith could lean on the ageless wonder that is Adrian Peterson. Peterson racked up 149 yards on the ground, capping his performance with a 64 yard belter in the fourth quarter. This game moved him into 9th place on the list of all time rushing yards. He is only now 400 yards away from passing Eric Dickerson, and given his recent production (he has topped over 100 yards from scrimmage in 4 of the past 5 games) it is not unrealistic to expect to see it happening some time this season.
The Giants now have a week off to consider how to move forward from their now 1-7 record, whilst the Redskins look to keep their streak alive against the Falcons.
Eagles fly high in London
Jacksonville were supposed to be the home team on Sunday in London, but if you were at the game it sure didn’t feel like it. With Eagles fans in full raucous force, the Jags got booed from every quarter of Wembley. And not just the players, but also the drumline, the cheerleaders and even the mascot when he zip-lined into the stadium! Some could argue that Londoners were annoyed with the previous day’s report that four Jacksonville players apparently tried to skip out on a £50,000 West End bar bill, whilst others would say that it was just Philly fans being, well, Philly fans. Remember this is a fanbase that once threw snowballs at Santa…
Luckily, to the fans’ delight, Philadelphia emerged triumphant with a score of 24-18 in a game they had to win in order to keep their playoff dreams alive. Carson Wentz again put in a vintage performance, bouncing back from two early red zone turnovers to finish the afternoon with a quarterback rating of 119.6 for the second straight week. He completed 21 of 30 attempts for 3 scores. He has now thrown 13 touchdowns in his six starts for the team.
The Eagles defense again played their part, sacking Jags quarterback Blake Bortles four times. Philadelphia now lead the league in quarterback pressures with 199. They also proved solid against the run, holding Jacksonville to only 70 yards on the ground.
Most importantly for Eagles fans, the team remained strong in the fourth quarter, with Wentz throwing a touchdown on the first drive, and the game ending in a victory formation as opposed to fans’ bitten nails and trashed Pennsylvanian living rooms.
On the other hand the Jags left too many plays on the field. And it wasn’t all down to Bortles’ uninspiring play under center. Even though he finished the day leading the team in rushing with 43 yards, and throwing for 286 yards, his attempts through the air were of at average of under 7 yards. Add to this a poor drop in the end zone by rookie DJ Chark, and multiple missed opportunities by Keelan Cole, I think at this point it is safe to count the Jaguars out of playoff contention.
The Eagles have a BYE week now, as they look to their upcoming run of 4 divisional games in five weeks. They can hope to improve on their 4-4 record and attempt to take the NFC East title out of the Redskins’ clutches.
Chris Milner is co-host of the Same Level Fantasy Football podcast, a former Washington D.C. resident and a Redskins fan. Follow him on twitter @chrismilner or listen to the pod @samelevel #HTTR
Image courtesy of CBS Sports.