Key Player Match-Ups: Eagles
The Eagles are again the class of the NFC - East. The Redskins are again at the bottom of the rankings. This week, the Redskins visit Lincoln Financial looking to prove a point. They are a team with nothing to lose and a starting quarterback trying to make his case to stay the starter.
Ray Brown vs Jevon Kearse
"The Freak" - a nickname he picked up at the University of Florida for his rare combination of size, speed and athleticism - has been one of the best pass rushers in the NFL during his 6-year career. While he has battled numerous injuries throughout his time with the Titans, the time he has spent in the lineup has been spectacular. Coming into this season, Kearse had registered 47.5 regular season sacks. This season he has a team-leading 6 sacks as part of an Eagles defense that leads the NFL in sacks at 27.
Ray Brown is playing admirably this season. Filling in for the injured Jon Jansen, Brown has been one of the team's most consistent offensive linemen. Brown is known for his power and agility, although he has played guard for most of his 19-year career.
Brown will need every trick he has picked up over his 19 seasons. "The Freak" will be using his speed to try to rush the outside corner, and given quarterback Patrick Ramsey's penchant for getting sacked, Brown will need to be on the top of his game.
As an interesting side note, Kearse has sacked Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell more than any other quarterback in the NFL. "The Freak" sacked Brunell 6.5 times, with Tim Couch a distant second at 4. No wonder Brunell was so positive about the quarterback change.
Clinton Portis vs Jeremiah Trotter
Most Redskins fans know Trotter for his time spent as the middle linebacker during the Spurrier era. Most also remember how good he was in Philadelphia before that. While a knee injury tarnished his time with the Redskins, he still led the team in tackles last year. He is big and fast and uses those attributes to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. This season, he has been mostly used in a reserve role, but due to the lack of run defense by the Eagles, he was elevated to starter last week.
Clinton Portis is having another excellent season. Portis is third in the NFC and sixth in the league with 891 yards with a 4 yard per carry average. In the last 4 games however, he is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and has rushed for 469 of those yards.
With the Eagles perceived weakness against the run and Ramsey at the helm, I expect the Eagles will get a healthy dose of Portis, early and often. While Trotter is big enough and strong enough to battle with Portis, in the end he can't do it alone.
Shawn Springs vs. Terrell Owens
T.O. is known for his flashy moves on the field and his big mouth off the field. He is a big receiver who makes big plays; just ask him. Unfortunately for the Redskins, T.O. and Donovan McNabb have developed a chemistry that has proven deadly for the rest of the league.
Shawn Springs was brought in this season to replace Champ Bailey. So far he has not disappointed. The Ohio State product has been making big hits and even bigger plays. Even more important, his attitude and work habits have brought a bit of a swagger to the defense, and that swagger has kept the defense in the top 5 all season.
Owens has some history of playing well against the Redskins. One memorable play came on a failed Wide Receiver option play during the Redskins - 49ers game two seasons ago. Owens took a screen pass and scanned the field for an open receiver. Finding no one open, Owens took off running. He weaved back and forth across the field dodging would be tacklers. After what seemed like an eternity, Owens scooted into the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown.
Owens and Sean Springs have some history of their own. The two faced each other twice a year in the NFC - North, when T.O. was a 49er and Springs was a Seahawk. Also, it was Springs who was covering T.O. on the infamous "Sharpie play".
This matchup should be a good one. They both know each other well from years of playing against each other, and both are having excellent years with their respective new teams. In the end, this matchup could determine the outcome of the game.
Patrick Ramsey vs The Eagles Defense
The Eagles have always been a team defined by their defense. This year, they have a high-octane offense and a good secondary, but the rush defense has left a little to be desired. The defensive coordinator is still Jim Johnson and that means an aggressive, well-disciplined defense.
In spite of not being able to consistently stop the run, they still remain aggressive in the pass rush. Their front four have been relentless. Kearse leads the team with 6 sacks, and the Eagles defense leads the league in sacks with 27.
Patrick Ramsey has played some of his finest games as a Redskin against the Eagles. As a rookie, Ramsey hit 23 of 35 passes for 213 yards, while throwing for 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. In his second season, Ramsey was 25 for 50 for 271 yards and two interceptions, but rallied the team late to almost come away with the victory.
Ramsey has seen very little action this year and as a result, timing is the key to this game for the Redskins. As we saw last week, Ramsey can hit the open man. If the receivers have adjusted to the velocity of his passes this week, we could see a breakout performance. If the receivers continue to drop the ball it could make for a long day for Redskins fans.
The Eagles will likely blitz early and often to test Ramsey, who was hit on nearly every play last season. This will likely afford the Redskins' receivers single coverage in the secondary. If Ramsey and the Dirtbags can pick up the blitzes, the Redskins will get some opportunities early. Unfortunately for the Redskins, that's just too many ifs against an 8-1 team.
Advantage: Eagles Defense
This article was released on 2004-11-20.
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