Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Five Keys to a 'Skins Win

Philip Speake@@PhilipSpeakeCorrespondent INovember 10, 2010

Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Five Keys to a 'Skins Win

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    SEATTLE - JANUARY 05:  Wide receiver Santana Moss #89 of the Washington Redskins scores a touchdown on a 30-yard pass in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Wild Card game at Qwest Field on January 5, 2008 in Seattle, Washington
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    In their last matchup this season, the Washington Redskins beat the Philadelphia Eagles 17-12 in a nail biter that came down to a final heave into the end zone.

    Despite Michael Vick being knocked out of the game early, the Redskins still got lucky. Jason Avant dropped the potential winning touchdown pass, and Andy Reid screwed up right before the end of the first half, costing his team a potential touchdown.

    This time around, the game is at FedEx Field on Monday Night Football, which means there will be lots of Eagles fans in the stands. With such a huge stadium, it has always been easy for opposing fans to infiltrate FedEx Field, especially Eagles, Steelers and Cowboys fans.

    The last time the Skins won on Monday night was my 21st birthday, in 2007. Come on man! 

    A win on national television would go a long way towards patching up the Shanahans relationship with Donovan McNabb. These are five keys that will go a long way towards helping ensure that victory.

Contain DeSean Jackson

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 16: Washington Redskins wide receiver Devin Thomas at the EA SPORTS Rookie Madden Bowl at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel as part of the NFL PLAYERS Rookie Premiere on May 16, 2008 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jesse Gran
    Jesse Grant/Getty Images

    Contain DeSean Jackson. I don't think I really need to explain this one. I'm just going to whine about why Vinny Cerrato sucked so bad. Let's compare Jackson's career highlights (via Wikipedia) to Devin 'Showtime' Thomas. Then it will be clear why Cerrato selected Thomas over Jackson.

    Jackson's notable achievements (via Wikipedia):

    • Jackson attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School, the same high school as future Eagles teammate Winston Justice and many other current NFL players.
    • He was named the 2004 Glenn Davis Award winner by the Los Angeles Times as Southern California's player of the year.
    • To cap off his high school career, Jackson was voted the Most Valuable Player at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, where he caught seven passes for 141 yards and passed for a 45-yard touchdown in leading the West to a 35–3 victory in a game that featured 80 of the nation's top players.
    • He committed to the football program at the University of California, Berkeley
    • Throughout his freshman season, Jackson picked up 38 receptions for 601 yards along with seven touchdowns, eclipsing the 100-yard mark three times. In the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl against BYU, Jackson tallied 130 yards and two scores.
    • Coming into his sophomore year with high expectations, Jackson displayed more of his talent and playmaking ability, tallying 1,060 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Jackson also returned four punts for touchdowns.
    • Two-time AP All-American
    • Jackson was a Heisman Trophy candidate his junior year

    Devin Thomas' achievements (via Wikipedia):

    • He was named All-State after rushing and receiving for over 1,000 yards and 23 touchdowns and also had seven interceptions all in his senior year.
    • Thomas attended Coffeyville Community College, where he redshirted in 2004 and played as a freshman in 2005. As a sophomore at Michigan State he had only six catches
    • Thomas played well his junior year with 79 catches, a school record, for 1,260 yards, and eight touchdowns. Thomas decided to forego his senior year at Michigan State and declare himself eligibile for the 2008 draft.
    • Thomas was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the second round (34th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. On July 18, he agreed to a four-year, $4.8 million contract that included roughly $2.7 million in guaranteed money. Thomas is represented by Drew Rosenhaus.
    • In 2008, Thomas won the NFL Rookie's Madden Bowl.

Santana Moss

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    IRVING, TX - SEPTEMBER 19:  Wide receiver Santana Moss #89 of the Washington Redskins makes a pass reception and runs for a touchdown past Aaron Glenn #26 of the Dallas Cowboys on September 19, 2005 at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. The Redskins defeated
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Moss has been playing well this season, catching most of his passes on underneath routes. While the Redskins are doing well connecting on deep passes, only one of them has gone for a touchdown. It's time for Santana to stretch the field.

    It is unlikely that 17 points will be enough to beat the Eagles with a healthy Michael Vick in the lineup. Moss is the Redskins best option at wideout. They need to get him the ball a lot and, preferably, deep. With Asante Samuel covering him, it will make things extremely tough. But this is the NFC East, so it is supposed to be tough.

    Last game, Moss was held without a catch. He has to get going for the Redskins to win this time around.

    With a banged up Clinton Portis and Ryan Torain, the running game is lacking punch. Pair that with return specialist Brandon Banks coming off knee surgery and the Redskins are in need of big playmakers. Moss is their best option.

Play Excellent on Special Teams

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    LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 10:  Wide receiver Anthony Armstrong #13 of the Washington Redskins celebrates with teammate Brandon Banks #16 after Armstrong caught a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at FedExField on October 10,
    Win McNamee/Getty Images

    With the aforementioned absence of Brandon Banks, it looks like Anthony Armstrong and Chad Simpson will get chances to make plays as return men this week. Either way, Banks being out hurts the Redskins a whole lot.

    Graham Gano will have to be perfect on all his field-goal attempts and kickoffs. The Skins coverage units have played very well this year, notably Lorenzo Alexander, Mike Sellers and Byron Westbrook. 

    Hunter Smith has not been overly impressive since he was signed, but he did a good job of keeping the ball out of Devin Hester's hands a few weeks back. He will have to do more of the same when DeSean Jackson is deep to return punts. 

    Playing well in all three phases is something all winning teams are able to do. For a team lacking talent, like Washington, it is even more important.

Pass Protection

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    LANDOVER - SEPTEMBER 12:  Clinton Portis #26 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball during the NFL season opener against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on September 12, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins defeated the Cowboys 13-7. (Photo by Larr
    Larry French/Getty Images

    So far, in eight games, McNabb has been sacked 22 times. That is second most in the NFL behind Jay Cutler. The Lions ate him and spat him out of the game. This aspect of the offense has to improve and it needs to do so dramatically.

    Jamal Brown, Kory Lichtensteiger and Casey Rabach, all have to play better. They might all be replaced by next season. Brown will probably return, but he must be able to overcome his hip injury that cost him all of the 2009 season.

    With the return of Clinton Portis on the horizon, the pass protection certainly will improve with him in the lineup. The Redskins have desperately missed Portis, despite what any naysayers might argue. His ability to pass protect and run the ball hard in crunch time are things that have been lacking with his absence.

    With good protection, all this uproar about McNabb being benched may be put to rest for good.

Redskins Secondary

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    DETROIT - OCTOBER 31:  DeAngelo Hall #23 of the Washingon Redskins intercepts the pass during the second quarter as Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions atempts to defend during the game at Ford Field on October 31, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo b
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Last matchup, the secondary did a great job of jamming DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin before they could get deep. DeAngelo Hall and Kareem Moore knocked Michael Vick out of the ballgame, and Hall had the game-sealing interception.

    If Laron Landry, Hall and Carlos Rogers can cause a few turnovers, the Redskins can win this game. Maybe Rogers will actually catch an interception this week (he won't).

    Either way, the back four has to contain the big-play receivers and keep everything in front of them, much like they did in the first matchup.

    It will be a close game, just like they all are in DC. Final score: Eagles 31- Skins 27.