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Eagle Eye - Five positives to look for against Washington

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Five positives to look for against Washington
The Philadelphia Eagles open under one of the biggest spotlights of the season’s opening weekend. Everyone is excited to see Robert Griffin III lead Washington at quarterback after his knee injury and to check out the new Chip Kelly-led Eagles. That makes it a perfect choice for the first part of a doubleheader on Monday Night Football.

Of course, the game might not live up to the hype. RG3 is back, but he hasn’t done a whole lot and might not be in tip-top shape on the field. The Eagles, meanwhile, have shown there is much to be desired on the defensive side on the ball. Defensive coordinator Billy Davis expects to see the best of the second-year signal caller, which could be an issue.

“I'm sure that if they deem that he's healthy, they are going to run the offense like they ran it last year and had the success where they won the last seven games of the season with him running this offense,” he said. “So we anticipate that what they did well and what they had success with last year is probably what they are coming at us with.”

Whether Philadelphia wins this game or not is a bit of a moot point. This team needs a lot more time to gel together and build chemistry than a few snaps in preseason, so there’s not a whole lot that should be expected for the month of September. What the fans can hope to see are some key drives, plays and stats to show there is progress being made. Here are five things Eagles fans should hope to see on Monday night.

1. Allow less than 200 yards on the ground. The Eagles defense allowed a lot of running in the preseason, and it doesn’t appear that the switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 alignment will be smooth at first. The Redskins also ranked first in the NFL for rushing yards per game at more than 160. Between running back Alfred Morris and the mobile RG3, it is easy to see where 200 yards on the ground could come from.

2. Allow less than 300 yards through the air. Yes, 300 yards is still a ton. With the people in the Eagles secondary, though, it’s a possibility. Bradley Fletcher hasn’t proven he’s worthy of a starting job on a playoff-caliber team. Cary Williams has, but he’s a hot head and hasn’t bought into the whole “team-player” thing as others have. Patrick Chung can be trusted at free safety, sure, but Nate Allen at strong safety has trouble written all over it.

3. Have at least one shutdown defensive drive. A shutdown drive is when a defense forces a three-and-out after its offense scores a touchdown. It can be a great way to swing the momentum of the game and show that an entire team is working as one. Just one great offensive series capped by a touchdown and followed by a forced three-and-out by the Eagles defense could be a big confidence boost for the entire team and the coaching staff.

4. Score three or more touchdowns. Kelly’s offenses are made to score points. Whether the pieces are there or not, the offense is run in a way to get points one way or another. Washington allowed just over 24 points a game on average in 2012, so at least three touchdowns would be a solid start. Philadelphia definitely has the pieces to get into the end zone – Mike Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek – but whether or not they can work together in the new face-paced offense will be the game changer.

5. No stupid mistakes by Vick. This is vague, but we all know a stupid mistake by Vick when we see it. When he stares down a receiver from when he gets the ball to when he throws into coverage, that’s a stupid Vick mistake. Another is when a pass play is called but he makes the decision from the snap to run no matter what. Limiting these stupid mistakes will show that the quarterback competition actually taught him something.

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