The Washington Commanders are set to take on the Philadelphia Eagles for their second road trip of the season. Here are five things to know about the Commanders' upcoming division opponent.
1. New coordinators on both sides of the ball.
Philadelphia's offensive and defensive coordinators, who orchestrated the league's third- and second-best units, respectively, were both head coaching candidates and took the next steps in their careers not long after the Super Bowl. So, in came two new faces to lead the team with different philosophies.
After Shane Steichen was hired by the Indianapolis Colts, the Eagles promoted Brian Johnson as a first-time play-caller in the NFL. Prior to that, Johnson worked with Jalen Hurts as the team's quarterbacks coach and helped him become the second-youngest quarterback to win 14 regular-season games in league history. Hurts also put up top five numbers in passer rating (101.5), yards per attempt (8.0) and total touchdowns (35).
On the defensive side of the ball, Sean Desai joins the Eagles after spending the 2022 season with the Seattle Seahawks as their associate head coach and defensive coordinator. The Seahawks excelled at forcing turnovers during his tenure, creating 25 turnovers, including 15 forced fumbles, while racking up 45 sacks and allowing one of the lowest completion rates for quarterbacks (62.7%).
This year, the Eagles are just as talented on either side of the ball but have not gotten out to as good of a start on defense. They're around the middle of the league in total yards allowed, including a 26th-ranked passing defense. On offense, however, they are sixth in total yards (384.3) and put up 28 points per game.
2. Jalen Carter is an imposing force.
The Eagles' defensive front was already good in 2022, leading a unit that paced the league with 70 sacks. But then the team added Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter, regarded as one of the most talented prospects in college football, late in the first round, and so far, he has elevated the group to an even higher level.
It hasn't taken long for Carter, who leads the Eagles alongside Josh Sweat and Jordan Davis with 1.5 sacks, to show that he can be just as imposing as some of the league's more experienced defensive tackles. According to Pro Football Focus, his 93.2 defensive grade is the best among interior defenders and third among all defenders. The only two players with higher grades: 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa (93.9) and Myle Garrett (93.8).
Carter also had 15 quarterback hits through three games. On its own, that number is already impressive, but that's also one more than Aaron Donald.
Just look at how he played against the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football, despite getting a season low 45% of the defensive snaps: five quarterback pressures, 0.5 sacks, a forced fumble and two tackles.
Needless to say, it will be a priority for the Commanders to have an answer for Carter.
Check out the best shots from the Washington Commanders' Week 1 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)
3. D'Andre Swift adds more versatility to the backfield.
Last year, the Eagles leaned on the legs of Miles Sanders to dominate their backfield, and he responded by putting up a career high 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, the Eagles elected to go bring in D'Andre Swift, rather than re-sign Sanders.
Through three games, Swift has proven himself as the better option.
Swift will head into Sunday's game as the league's second-leading rusher with 308 yards, making it the best start to a season in his career. Although he isn't used as much as some of the other premier running backs with 45 carries, he leads the league in rushing average (6.8) among running backs with at least 40 carries.
The Eagles haven't used him much as a pass-catcher yet -- he has five receptions for 14 yards -- but he can be a weapon in that area as well. He had 1,198 yards and seven touchdowns to go with a catch rate of 76% in his first three seasons.
4. They take care of the football...and keep it away from opponents.
The Eagles were exceptional at taking care of the football last season with their +8 turnover margin being ranked third in the league. In that area, not much has changed for Philadelphia in 2023.
While the Eagles only have two interceptions through three games, they make up for that in forcing fumbles. They have six so far, which is the most in the NFL, and their eight total turnovers are tied for second with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Conversely, the Eagles have only committed four giveaways this season, although three of those have come from interceptions thrown by Hurts.
When the Eagles do have the ball, they methodically move down the field despite their ability to create explosive plays. They have the second-longest average time of possession (36:23) and average 30.6 seconds per play, which is the fourth slowest in the league.
The Eagles average the ninth-highest points per play, so not only do they hold the ball longer for longer than almost anyone, but they also make sure to get the most out of each drive, putting even more pressure on their opponents to match that production.
Check out the top photos from Daron Payne's 2023 season so far. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)
5. They have the league's best run defense.
The Eagles are near the bottom of the league in terms of passing yards allowed, but good luck trying to run against them.
The Eagles are the stingiest defense in terms of giving up rushing yards, holding their opponents to just 48.3 yards per game. Rachaad White has been the most successful back against the Eagles with 38 yards on Monday Night Football, but it was a slog for him to find any traction on 14 carries. He ended the game averaging just 2.7 yards per carry.
The Vikings barely attempted to run the ball against the Eagles in Week 2. They had eight rushes during the Eagles' 34-28 with their longest run being just seven yards.
It will be the Commanders' biggest test for their ground game so far. They rank 15th as a team with an average of 106.3 yards per game, but Brian Robinson Jr. has strung together strong rushing performances with 216 yards, the seventh-most in the league, on 47 carries. Robinson's legs were the main reason Washington was able to upset the Eagles last year, as he had 86 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, so perhaps he can replicate the feat on Sunday.