The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles enter the 2013 season with varying expectations. The ‘Skins are coming over their first division title in many years, while the Eagles are coming off of a tumultuous offseason that led to the dismissal of former head coach Andy Reid. Monday night will provide the coaching regime in Philly an opportunity to dethrone the division favorite, Redskins, but not without a fight.
Offense: The Washington offense comes in as one of the premier units in the league. The read-option offense allowed the ‘Skins offense to soar in 2012, but the injury to Robert Griffin III may limit offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s ability to call run plays for RG3. The receiving core is finally healthy, and should be improved with a season under their belts. The chemistry between quarterback and receivers will be an important one with the numerous weapons Washington possesses.
Philadelphia’s offense, on the other hand, is major question mark. It’s believed that new head coach Chip Kelly will implement his run and gun style that was so effective while at University of Oregon, but many doubt its success at the professional level. Michael Vick will remain as the team’s quarterback after suffering a series of injuries a year ago. The running game will look the same as it did under Reid with LeSean McCoy staring in the backfield. The Eagles suffered a major blow in the off-season losing wide out Jeremy Maclin to a torn ACL. Bottom line is the Eagles offense will struggle in their first real contest under Kelly, while look for the Redskins offense to shine. Advantage: Redskins
Defense: If there was one weak spot between the two Washington Redskins units in 2012 it was without a doubt the defense. Washington’s secondary suffered mightily throughout the year, and will need to be much improved, if the Redskins want to take the next step. The major difference between Washington’s 2012 defense is the return of Brian Orakpo. Orakpo will allow the secondary less time to cover, as well as provide a vaunted pass rush. If Orakpo can return to form it will be a major boost for Washington. Look for Philly to test the depth of the Washington secondary with multiple wide receiver sets, and a fast pace to fluster the young group.
Like their offense, Chip Kelly has kept his projected 3-4 defense under wraps throughout the pre-season. Kelly switched most of the 4-3 personnel over to a 3-4 with many unknowns throughout the group. The transition to the 3-4 typically takes years to be successful, and many fans seem unsure about the personnel change. In 2012, the Philadelphia defense was one of the worst in the league, but a busy off-season may work in the team’s favor. A year ago, Fletcher Cox was originally drafted as a tackle in a 4-3, but will be moved to nose guard. Cox along with pass rusher Trent Cole may be able to take advantage of the poor Washington offensive line. The line-backing core becomes the strength of the defense with the additions of Demeco Ryans, Connor Barwin, and Mychal Kendricks. Also, the secondary underwent a major face-lift this offseason. The team went away from the stars of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominque Rogers-Cromartie, and toward the youth of Cary Williams, Kenny Phillips, and Patrick Chung. Bottom Line is both the Washington and Philadelphia defenses aren’t elite units in the league, and will remain much of the same as in 2012. Advantage: Even
Prediction: A healthy RG3 will lead the Redskins offense against the new look Eagle defense. Robert will have three total touchdowns and the Redskins defense will do just enough to beat the Eagles 35-31.