The Redskins certainly have talent on both side on the ball, but the biggest obstacle the Eagles will have to control is how to move the ball past the Redskins’ linebackers. It’s no secret that the Redskins have one of the best linebacking corps in the league and they will certainly look to send a message to the Eagles’ offense that Chip Kelly’s style of moving the ball quickly will not work on them.
The Redskins’ linebackers have a great mixture of youth and experience which allows them to work together very well.
The starting inside linebackers for the Redskins this week will be London Fletcher and Perry Riley Jr., who had an impressive 2012 season with 129 total tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble. The outside linebackers for the Redskins are probably one of the best pass-rushing combos in the NFL, and that’s Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo.
Kerrigan is a guy who can show versatility by stopping the run, defending the pass and rushing the passer, a combination that is very rare in the NFL nowadays. Orakpo, on the other hand, was lost for the season early last year due to injury. However, before 2012, he has always been able to have at least 8.5 sacks per year.
Stopping these talented inside linebackers will be a great test for the offensive line in Monday night’s game. We should see guards Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans mostly go after the inside linebackers since the Redskins run a 3-4 defense.
I think Mathis and Herremans should be able to get the job done when getting after Fletcher and Riley, but Fletcher won’t beat you with strength or quickness. He will beat you with his football IQ, so that’s something the linemen will need to anticipate as the game moves on.
Stopping the outside linebackers is probably what I am most concerned about. When the Eagles run the read-option, Michael Vick will be reading the outside linebackers. These linebackers worked on defending the read-option every day last season in practice from Robert Griffin III, so they shouldn’t be fooled when Vick runs it.
Kerrigan and Orakpo are two extremely athletic linebackers who have a nose for the football, so if the Eagles plan on running at them, they need to make sure they execute or their offense will be a disaster.
So for the most part, the Redskins’ linebackers definitely have the ability to slow down the Eagles’ running game and can certainly get after the quarterback. The Eagles will need to make sure their offensive line can handle these guys and control them from beginning to end if they want to put up points against this Redskins defense.
Sonny Bryan is a Philadelphia Eagles writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @SonnyBryan50