Eagles

DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon gone, but Redskins still have weapons

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DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon gone, but Redskins still have weapons

The Redskins have won five straight games against the Eagles, but extending that streak to six Sunday is going to prove difficult without DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.

Jackson and Garcon were two of the only constants for Washington’s offense during a winning streak that spans over parts of three seasons. Kirk Cousins was not the starting quarterback in 2014. Jordan Reed was a little-known tight end prospect at the time, and slot receiver Jamison Crowder was still in college. That first win over the Eagles was so long ago, running back Alfred Morris was still fantasy-relevant.

But Jackson and Garcon were the wide receivers through it all, accounting for nearly 50 percent of Washington’s production through the air during the streak. And now, both players are gone, departing for greener pastures as free agents – Jackson to Tampa Bay, Garcon to San Francisco.

The Eagles couldn’t be more thrilled by those developments.

“I'm not sorry to see [Garcon] gone,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “DeSean, the same way. They've replaced those guys and moved up draft picks and things like that, but I think that I'm not going to be disappointed not to see those guys on the field.”

You could always count on one or both of them giving the Eagles fits. In the last five meetings, Jackson and Garcon accounted for 40 percent of Washington’s completed passes (44), 47 percent of the receiving yards (655), and 50 percent of touchdown catches (8).

“Those two were great receivers,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “They had both over 1,000 yards (in 2016). DeSean had big-play ability, and obviously, Pierre’s deep-end ability were very good for us.”

It’s not as if the Redskins aren’t trying to replace them. The concern in Washington is whether Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson are up to the task and if those changes threaten to alter the entire look of the offense.

Washington certainly added more size on the perimeter. Jackson is listed at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds; Garcon, 6-0, 211. Pryor is 6-4, 228 pounds; Doctson, 6-2, 206.

As Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills astutely observed: “You can’t teach height.

“It’s a lot different trying to go at DeSean Jackson than the guys they have because he was just a natural sprinter, so for sure, it’s a lot different,” Mills said.

“I think they’ll definitely use [Pryor and Doctson] differently just because of the body types. Some guys do good things better than others. DeSean, he was a streaker. Garcon was a big, strong guy. You have different body types from last year to now, so I think they’re just going to use those guys the best way they can.”

What Washington’s offense gained in stature, it might be losing in big-play ability. With 57 receptions of 40 yards or more in nine NFL seasons, Jackson is one of the league’s preeminent deep threats. His speed forces opponents to defend every blade of grass on the field.

As the Eagles found out firsthand after Jackson’s release in 2014, his presence changes the game. Now, Washington is counting on Pryor to instill the same fear in defensive backs and coordinators.

“He runs a 4.3 (in the 40-yard dash),” Gruden said. “He’s 6-foot-5. I think he can stretch the field. It’s just a matter of him getting into the system and becoming comfortable with Kirk.”

The Redskins signed Pryor to a free-agent contract in March.

“They’re different-type receivers, these big receivers with the long strides,” Gruden said. “They run a lot faster than it looks, so it just takes a little bit of time for us to get used to each other. We’re going through that right now, but he definitely can stretch the field.”

For what it’s worth, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins still thinks Washington is going to try to push the ball downfield and agrees Pryor has that ability (see five matchups to watch).

“Their offense has always been built on that, even when it was D-Jack and Garcon,” Jenkins said. “Terrelle Pryor is still someone who can stretch the field. He’s a long strider who can cover a lot of ground, so he’s probably going to be the guy to take the top off and allow Crowder to work underneath. I don’t see that part of their game changing.”

Even conceding Pryor and Doctson are big and can run fast, there is a massive drop-off in experience from Jackson and Garson as well.

Jackson is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and Garcon averaged 70 receptions and 880 yards over the last eight seasons. A converted quarterback, Pryor eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving for the first time last season with the Browns, where he was the offense’s only viable weapon, and Doctson – a first-round draft pick in 2016 – has two career receptions.

At the very least, Pryor and Doctson are an unknown, and Washington’s offense will be entering uncharted territory when it takes the field in Week 1. The lack of continuity alone could cause problems getting out of the gate – never mind Jackson’s and Garcon’s outsized roles in beating the Eagles in the past.

Best of NFL: Ezekiel Elliott's 3 TDs, 219 yards lead Cowboys past 49ers

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Best of NFL: Ezekiel Elliott's 3 TDs, 219 yards lead Cowboys past 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Ezekiel Elliott gained 219 yards from scrimmage and tied a career high with three touchdowns just days after a legal reprieve put his suspension on hold and the Dallas Cowboys beat the winless San Francisco 49ers 40-10 on Sunday.

Elliott was granted his second temporary restraining order on Tuesday, putting his six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations on hold and then gave the Cowboys (3-3) a big boost on the field.

Elliott matched his season total of rushing touchdowns with two in the first quarter and then took a short pass from Dak Prescott 72 yards for another touchdown on Dallas' first possession of the second half to put the 49ers (0-7) away. Elliott ran for 147 yards on 26 carries to go with the big catch, setting a career high in scrimmage yards in a game.

That performance spoiled the starting debut of rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard, who was sacked five times, lost two fumbles and failed to lead the 49ers into the end zone until he scored on a run with the game out of hand in the fourth quarter (see full recap). 

Goff leads Rams to shutout as Cardinals' Palmer breaks arm
Already one of the more dynamic offenses in the NFL, the Los Angeles Rams found a new gear against the Arizona Cardinals.

Jared Goffran for a touchdown and threw for another and Greg Zuerlein made four field goals as the Rams won for the first time in three appearances in Britain, beating the Cardinals 33-0 at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday.

Goff completed 22 of 37 passes for 235 yards with an interception and Todd Gurley ran for 106 yards and a touchdown for the NFC West-leading Rams (5-2), who finished with 425 yards of offense - their most in a game in more than three years.

Los Angeles has also won five of its first seven games for the first time since 2003, which was the last time the Rams finished with a winning record.

"We haven't been in this position, but we're definitely grateful," Gurley said. "We've just got to take it game by game."

Arizona (3-4), meanwhile, heads home with significant questions after quarterback Carson Palmer broke his left arm in the second quarter (see full recap).

Saints recover late to topple Packers 
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The way that the New Orleans Saints won on the road on Sunday might serve as a valuable lesson in their quest to return to the playoffs.

The defense gave up a long touchdown run on the first series to the Green Bay Packers. Drew Brees had two interceptions — and the Saints weren't even out of the first quarter yet at Lambeau Field.

But Brees bounced back to throw for a touchdown and run for another, Mark Ingram rushed for a score and the Saints recovered for a 26-17 win.

Green Bay lost its first game with Brett Hundley starting at quarterback for the injured Aaron Rodgers (see full recap).

Wilson throws 2 second-half TDs, Seahawks D dominates Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Russell Wilson threw three second-half touchdown passes and the Seattle Seahawk limited the New York Giants' receiver depleted offense to 177 yards in a 24-7 win on Sunday.

Wilson hit Doug Baldwin with a go-ahead 22-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter. He put the game away with a 38-yard TD throw to Paul Richardson on a play that had to be reviewed because of simultaneous possession and he closed out the scoring with a 1-yard toss to Jimmy Graham with 2:14 to go.

The Seahawks (4-2) limited the Giants (1-6) to 46 yards rushing, 14 first downs and just 24:34 in time of possession. The defense only forced one turnover, but the fumble by Eli Manning led to the Richardson touchdown.

The Giants, who stunned Denver on Sunday night for their first win, were only in this game because their defense made plays and limited the Seattle to a field goal in the first half despite being on the field for more than 20 minutes (see full recap). 

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

For the second straight game, the Birds are in prime time. And this time, it's in front of the home fans. 

Following last week's Thursday night win over the Panthers, the 5-1 Eagles host the 3-2 Redskins Monday night (8:30 p.m./ESPN).

It's a massive opportunity to sweep the Redskins and take control of the NFC East. 

Our experts provide their predictions for Week 7:

Reuben Frank (6-0)
Do you really think I’m going to pick against the Eagles now? Heck, I might not pick against them the rest of the year. Maybe at Seattle. Honestly, I look at the schedule and the way they’re playing? The way Carson Wentz is playing? Unless something fundamental changes — which in this league is always possible — it could be a while before they lose a football game. The Eagles are rolling in all phases, and Monday night will be a good test — the Redskins are 3-1 since losing the opener to the Eagles, with the only loss to the same Chiefs team that handed the Eagles their only loss. The 'Skins are sixth in offense and 12th in defense. They lead the NFL in yards per pass play. They can be explosive. They’re eighth in rush defense. Nothing will come easy for the Eagles Monday night. But the Redskins are not coming into the Linc and winning. Eagles go to 6-1 and virtually clinch the NFC East Monday night with a win.

Eagles 31, Redskins 21

Dave Zangaro (4-2)
Washington seems like a much more dangerous team than the one the Eagles faced in the opener on Sept. 10. 

But the Eagles are a heckuva lot more dangerous too. 

Since the Eagles went to Washington and came away with a win in the opener, Washington has gone 3-1. But the Eagles have gone 4-1 with the one loss coming to the Chiefs. The Eagles have the best record in football. 

So sure, they shouldn't head into this Monday night game expecting a cakewalk but they should absolutely expect to win. They're the better team. 

Kirk Cousins has played well as of late but the Eagles' defensive line was able to get after him in Week 1. If that group does it again, it won't matter how good Cousins is throwing the ball. As good as Cousins has been recently, Wentz has been equally impressive, vaulting his name into the forefront of the MVP conversation. This week he'll go against a banged up Washington secondary. 

The Eagles have a chance to further extend their lead in the NFC East and they shouldn't have a problem doing it. 

Eagles 31, Redskins 23

Derrick Gunn (5-1)
Because they have the best record in the NFC, the Eagles have a huge target on their backs and everybody is gunning for them. On Monday night, the Redskins are hoping to take them down a notch. The ‘Skins come limping to the Linc. Their star rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Allen is done for the year with a Lisfranc injury. Their starting cornerbacks Josh Norman (rib) and Bashaud Breeland (knee) both might miss this key divisional showdown — Norman is already out. 

Wentz has the Eagles' offense rolling, and the defense has been rock solid against the run. Cousins will go after a Birds secondary ranked 29th against the pass (273.5 yards per game). One of the key matchups to watch closely is how the Eagles will try to defend against ‘Skins running back Chris Thompson, who is Washington’s leading rusher. More importantly, he’s their leading receiver, averaging 18.9 yards.

In Week 1, the Eagles sacked Cousins four times, but since then he’s only been sacked four times. The Birds broke the ‘Skins jinx in the season opener. I look for the home team to make it a season sweep.

Eagles 28, Redskins 24

Ray Didinger (5-1)
The Redskins are playing better now than they were when the Eagles defeated them in Week 1. The offense is more balanced and they have found an explosive weapon at running back in Thompson, who is averaging almost 19 yards per reception. The defense is not making as many mental mistakes but it will miss top draft pick Allen, who broke his foot last week.

Still, the formula for beating the Redskins is the same as it was a month ago and that is getting pressure on Cousins. The Redskins quarterback is having a good year — his 106.4 passer rating trails only Alex Smith and Tom Brady — but if the Eagles can harass Cousins as effectively as they did in the opener they will complete the season sweep of the Redskins. I think they will.

Eagles 30, Redskins 21

Andrew Kulp (5-1)
Everything points to the Eagles here. They’re a hot team, well rested, the offense is clicking and the quarterback is absolutely feeling it. Washington will be without Norman and possibly Breeland at cornerback as well, among other injuries, so this is a shorthanded group.

The only concerns are it’s a divisional matchup, which tends to be close games, and whether the extra few days off knocks the Eagles out of a rhythm. Otherwise, it’s clear which is the healthier and more talented squad. Oh yeah, and the capacity Lincoln Financial Field crowd is going to be extra lathered up for a Monday night.

Eagles 41, Redskins 24

Corey Seidman (3-3)
The Eagles are getting healthier and the Redskins are not. First-round defensive lineman Allen is out for the season, and both of Washington's starting cornerbacks (Norman and Breeland) are banged up.

Add in the fact that the Redskins haven't yet been able to get Terrelle Pryor or Jordan Reed going and this just looks like an Eagles win, which would give them a commanding lead in the NFC East and go a long way toward helping them secure a playoff bye. Yep, I'm already going there.

Zach Ertz dominates the 'Skins again, Alshon Jeffery finds pay dirt and the Eagles improve to 6-1.

Eagles 31, Redskins 23

Andy Schwartz (5-1) 
No suspense here.

After an impressive victory over the Panthers, how can we pick the Eagles to lose?

Which doesn’t mean they won’t. Every team throws in a clunker now and then. But until this team does, I’m not going to predict it. Especially when they’re well rested and playing at home against a team they’ve already beaten this season.

The Eagles are favored by 4.5 with an over/under of 48.5. Seems about right. A late Jake Elliott field goal covers the spread but isn’t enough for the over.

Eagles 27, Redskins 20