What to watch: Birds take on rival Redskins
This is really the last chance (well, not mathematically) for the Eagles to save the season and contend for the NFC East title — if anyone out there still believes, cares, whatever. Anyway, here’s what to look for when the Eagles travel to D.C. to take on the Redskins Sunday afternoon (1 p.m., FOX):
1. Look to the future. The hype surrounding Nick Foles reached fever pitch last week when the rookie signal-caller received a standing ovation from the Eagles’ faithful. He won’t get that Sunday in Washington, but all eyes will be on Foles. He looks to build off a decent job coming off the bench (22-of-32, 219 yards, TD, INT, fumble) with a full week to prepare. Foles has a great opportunity to solidify his role as the starter for the rest of this season (and potentially next year) against a Redskins’ secondary that ranks 30th (2,715 yards) against the pass.
2. Quarterback on the loose. Robert Griffin III is a dual-threat (maybe a triple-threat, if Mike Shanahan decides to keep sending him out for pass routes) in the true sense of the word. The Redskins design specific option-style plays to utilize his unique skill set. Todd Bowles’ defense is going to have to stay disciplined. “We’ve got to be able to tackle because when he gets outside the pocket, obviously, his speed takes over and he has a different gear than a lot of quarterbacks,” Bowles said.
3. Where’s the special sauce? Bobby April accepted all the blame for breakdowns in his special teams unit. Last week, they missed an extra point, took a penalty for failing to have 11 men on the field for a field goal attempt and surrendered the go-ahead touchdown, a 78-yard punt return. (Remember, the game was tied up until to that point and the Eagles’ defense seemed to be settling in.) Special teams often goes overlooked, but they really shouldn’t. “If the games are close, the special teams and turnovers are going to decide the game. I believe it,” April said.