The Washington Redskins were once again impressing in the first half of a primetime game. However, they gave up some big plays late and now the Philadelphia Eagles lead 17-10 after a well fought first half.
The Redskins were not expected to win this contest, but at the half, you wouldn’t know that. The Redskins have thrived as underdogs this year, and despite dealing with key injuries, they maintained a lead for most of the half. Washington is going to have to fight in the second half to stay on top, but a win is a most certainly a possibility for the team though they are currently trailing.
One of the biggest strengths of the Redskins in the first half was their pass rush. Consistently, the Redskins have been able to get pressure on Carson Wentz and it has severely limited the Eagles quarterback. The team has sacked Wentz three times, but the Redskins linemen have gotten loads of pressure on him. Notably, Ryan Kerrigan and Junior Galette combined on a first quarter snap that saw Kerrigan play inside against a guard with Galette outside. That is a look that we could see more with Jonathan Allen now out for the season.
Also, Matt Ioannidis appears to be the real deal. Even without Allen, he has been able to collapse the pocket and put heat on Wentz. He is now officially the Redskins best interior pass rusher.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Redskins were able to run a fairly well balanced offense, but Kirk Cousins is once again clearly the leader of the unit. He has been very accurate during the first half, and has done well to pick apart the Eagles defense. He has been looking for matchups to exploit and he has found them.
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Cousins has found Vernon Davis against backup linebackers on two occasions and also found Josh Doctson on a run/pass option to get him involved and into some open space. On the team’s touchdown, he found Chris Thompson leaking out of the backfield for a wide open trot into the end zone. These smart decisions have been critical to the early success of the team.
However, Cousins could stand to improve his recognition on blitzes a bit. He had one play where there was clearly a blitz coming, but he didn’t audible and nearly threw an interception as a result. That was just one small blemish in an otherwise very solid first half.
On consecutive plays at the end of the first and at the beginning of the second quarter, the Redskins shot themselves in the foot. They committed two face masks to give the Eagles 30 free yards and put them into field goal range as a result. Leading 3-0 at the time, the Redskins allowed the Eagles to get back in the game with a tying field goal. This was despite playing terrific defense for most of the first quarterback. They settled back into a rhythm after this drive, but they could have done much better without the penalties.
Also, Jamison Crowder once again fumbled on a punt return. The Redskins receiver had the ball forced out by Kamu Grugier-Hill and nearly lost it. Thanks to Joshua Holsey‘s quick reaction, the Redskins were able to keep the ball. Crowder needs to clean up his ball security issues and gain more confidence. Otherwise, the Redskins may have to experiment with a different player in the return game.
At the very end of the half, the Redskins gave up a couple of massive pass plays that allowed the Eagles to put points on the board. They need to clean up their coverage, but it’s going to be hard with their secondary banged up. Look for Greg Manusky to come up with extra pressure in the second half to try and counteract the Eagles regained passing prowess.