In a way, the Philadelphia Eagles are coming full circle as they square off with the Washington Redskins for the second time this season. The Eagles 17-12 loss in the first meeting was a turning point of sorts for the defense, which allowed 169 rushing yards in that contest.
Since, they’ve allowed no more than 75 yards in any of their four games, giving up just 3.2 yards per carry and going 3-1. That includes holding San Francisco’s Frank Gore to 2.9 yards a carry, Atlanta’s Michael Turner to 3.0 and Tennessee’s Chris Johnson to 2.8. So what changed?
“I think the physical play of our defensive line, number one, and then just our defense continuing to come together as an overall defense,” said Sean McDermott, the Eagles defensive coordinator.
After the loss to the Redskins, McDermott made two changes to the starting lineup, inserting Moise Fokou at strongside linebacker for Akeem Jordan and replacing defensive end Brandon Graham with Juqua Parker. Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon also saw an increase in playing time.
“You’re talking about two physical players and also Antonio [Dixon],” McDermott said. “So that certainly helped. Tackling has helped, improved fundamentals has helped, which always does when you’re talking about the run game.”
This week, the Eagles look to prove they can stop the ground attack of the team that caused the turnaround. While the Redskins are only 23rd in the league with 94.6 rushing yards per game, head coach Mike Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme caused problems the first time around.
“It really doesn’t matter to us [who is playing running back],” McDermott said. “The system is the system. It’s a zone running scheme with some misdirection built in. Whether it’s Torain or Portis or whoever falls in behind those two or three, we’ll take the challenge.”
Safety Nate Allen did not participate in practice with a neck injury, but said he’s feeling better.
Guard Max Jean-Gilles also did not participate in practice due to his concussion.
Offensive tackle King Dunlap (knee) and cornerback Ellis Hobbs (hip) were limited during practice.
Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley (elbow), guard Nick Cole (knee), guard Todd Herremans (shoulder) and defensive end Juqua Parker (hip) all had full participation today.
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