The700Level

Position Breakdowns: How the Eagles stack up against the Redskins

You will be hard-pressed to find two teams who match up more closely than the Eagles and Washington. Looking up and down the rosters, there is little to no separation in the level of talent between the two teams at multiple positions.

It should make for a tight battle between NFC East foes this Sunday at FedEx Field -- but dissect the two teams deeply enough, and we might find one side has a distinct edge in terms of quality personnel.

 

QUARTERBACK

Have to give Washington the advantage here, although that could always change. Kirk Cousins has thrown for 9,083 yards and 54 touchdowns the last two seasons, but that was with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon as two of his primary targets. How much their departures impacts Cousins remains to be seen. Carson Wentz has better physical tools, and more upside -- and much to prove after an inconsistent rookie year. Wentz is a prospect, whereas Cousins is widely considered to be established.

Edge: Washington

 

RUNNING BACK

Washington has some semblance of clarity in the backfield. The Eagles have more talent. Rob Kelley rushed for 601 yards and 6 touchdowns in 9 games after becoming Washington's starter last season, but only averaged 3.98 yards per carry. That rate of productivity was roughly in line with LeGarrette Blount in '16, except nobody was better than Blount in short yardage or at the goal line especially (18 TDs). Darren Sproles is a more dangerous third-down back than Chris Thompson as well.

Slight edge: Eagles

 

WIDE RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS

A trio of Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and Torrey Smith for the Eagles might be relatively even compared to the combination of Jordan Reed, Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder for Washington. Jeffery's freak athleticism probably pushes the Eagles over the top, especially considering Pryor is a bit of an unknown coming from the Browns. The emergence of a credible fourth option on either side -- Nelson Agholor for the Eagles or Josh Doctson for Washington -- would swing the conversation more definitively.

Slight edge: Eagles

 

OFFENSIVE LINE

Both units are strong. Washington's Trent Williams and Morgan Moses are probably even with Jason Peters and Lane Johnson on the edges at this point. There are some question marks along the interior for both sides, but Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks is the best player there. Center Spencer Long is also dealing with a knee injury for Washington, which could be a hindrance, assuming he plays. That may or may not be a factor, but is definitely something to think about.

Slight edge: Eagles

 

DEFENSIVE FRONT SEVEN

With 58.5 sacks in six seasons, Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan might be the most impactful player in either team's front seven. However, Washington is without Trent Murphy (injury) and Chris Baker (free agency). Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Jordan Hicks are all big playmakers for the Eagles, and the hope is Tim Jernigan and rookie Derek Barnett will be, too. Even with the additions of Zach Brown and Johnthan Allen in Washington, the Eagles appear to have a lot more firepower.

Edge: Eagles

 

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Josh Norman is superior to anybody the Eagles have at cornerback, and a tandem with Bashaud Breeland gets the nod over Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills. That's where Washington's advantage ends. Second-year player Kendall Fuller takes over in the slot, where he is essentially an unknown, and the best safety is D.J. Swearinger after the sudden retirement of Su'a Cravens. Patrick Robinson is solid in the slot, Malcolm Jenkins will lock down Reed, and Rodney McLeod is comfortable in center field.

Slight edge: Eagles

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Eagles are better in every phase. Crowder is a quality punt returner, although even if he's right there with Sproles -- debateable -- that's one spot. Caleb Sturgis is a more consistent kicker with better range. Donnie Jones has a bigger foot and more accurate punt than Tress Way. Sturgis and Jones benefit from some of the NFL's top coverage units. And the Eagles returned two kickoffs for touchdown in '16 compared to Washington's zero.

Edge: Eagles

 

COACHING

Jay Gruden has posted back-to-back winning seasons in Washington, with a trip to the playoffs. Gruden also beat Doug Pederson head-to-head twice in 2016. Much like the quarterback position, our understanding of these head coaches could change with time, because it's not as if Gruden is viewed as some mastermind. Washington also changed both coordinators, while the Eagles assistants Jim Schwartz (defensive coordinator) and Dave Fipp (special teams) are among the best in the league. This is close.

Slight edge: Washington

 

OVERALL

Who has the ultimate edge likely depends on how large one believes the discrepencies to be at quarterback and head coach. There isn't much separating the coaching staffs as a whole, while a case could be made Wentz's stock is on the rise just as Cousins might be poised for regression. Even if we concede Washington is safely better in either area, the Eagles look slightly ahead or the same everywhere else, so it's not as if the differences at the top are insurmountable.

Slight edge: Eagles