The Redskins.com crew breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Monday's Redskins-Eagles 2017 Week 7 showdown at Lincoln Financial Field.
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BE PREPARED FOR THE BIGGEST GAME OF THE SEASON TO DATE
While it is only Week 7, Monday night's game could go a long way in determining the Redskins' fate in the NFC East.
Washington, of course, lost the regular season opener against Philadelphia Eagles at FedExField in Landover, Md. While the Redskins have won three of their four games since that loss, the Eagles have been the hottest team in the NFL, entering the week with a 5-1 record.
If the Redskins are able to defeat the Eagles on Monday, they'll push their record to 4-2, just a half-game behind in the race for first place in the NFC East. But if they lose, they'll be just 3-3 with a significant gap opening between the two rivals in the division.
"If you look at 3-3 and 6-1 and we've lost twice to them, that's a big difference," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "4-2 and 5-2 and we're right there in the thick of things as far as the NFC East is concerned. Right now if you look around the NFL, not just the NFC, but in the NFL, everybody's kind of hovering around it. There's only [one team] with one loss. Everybody else has two, three or four, so it's really a tight battle. Every game is very, very important. Division games have added importance. Road games – obviously you're playing a division leader. Rivalry teams, they're big but going to Philadelphia's always huge no matter what."
While the game has implications on the NFC East standings, the Redskins aren't hyping it up too much.
"We know it's a huge game, but we approach it just like every other week," said Redskins tight end Jordan Reed. "Every week is big in this league. If you don't prepare, you're going to lose. We're just preparing hard and trying to stay focused."
SHOW OFF THE LEG, NICK
The Redskins this week had to make a change at kicker after an MRI revealed that Dustin Hopkins has a right hip rotator muscle strain.
Hopkins was placed on Injured Reserve as the Redskins signed Nick Rose among four kickers they tried out. While Rose has yet to appear in an NFL regular season game, he was perfect on all of his kicks during his workout at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
"It's been a dream come true being able to play at this level, getting a real opportunity, a real shot," Rose said. "I'm excited all around. Totally ready for the moment and ready to help out the team as much as I can."
During his time at the University of Texas, Rose converted on 27-of-38 field goal attempts while nailing a 50-plus-yard try in each of his final two seasons with the Longhorns.
This week, though, Rose will be tasked with providing the Redskins a big leg against a division rival that has the best record in the NFL entering the weekend's action. To top it off, it'll be in front of a vocal crowd and telecasted nationally.
That's a lot of pressure. But Rose isn't worried.
"Everybody wants to know about kickers and pressure. I feel like how you handle your own pressure is what it comes down to," Rose said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself every day for every kick, so I feel like it's no different in a game-type situation. As far as pressure goes, I feel like I handle that pretty well. Expectation is expectation. Everybody expects you to make every single kick. Is that realistic? No. It's your job to make as many of them as you can and to make the ones that count."
BUSINESS AS USUAL FOR KIRK
After six seasons in the NFL, it's safe to say Trent Williams is a veteran.
A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles.
Being a veteran quarterback comes with a different approach to the game. Experienced signal callers are usually calm and collected before playing a big opponent. It's just business as usual.
As for Cousins, every game is a big game, and every week is another reason to be excited. The former Michigan State quarterback drew on his experience from college and what it felt like to play in a rivalry game.
"That's the beauty of the NFL is every single week, we're getting tested and it feels like Ohio State or Wisconsin or Michigan every single week for me," Cousins said. "That's the great thing about this league."
Cousins did not have a stellar outing in the Week 1 loss to the Eagles, as he had three turnovers including two in the fourth quarter of a tight loss. Since that game, though, the Redskins' starting quarterback has been one of the most productive signal callers in the NFL. In total, Cousins has nine total touchdowns with just one interception over Washington's last four games.
Over the course of his career, Cousins has had success against Philadelphia. He has four wins as a starter and has passed for more than 1,800 yards with 13 touchdowns to four interceptions in six games total against the Eagles.
Despite his past success and eagerness to overcome his Week 1 performance, though, Cousins will enter Monday's showdown with the approach many of his teammates are taking as well.
"We really do take the cliché mindset of one game at a time, one day at a time and let's see where we are when the dust settles," Cousins said. "You're only as good as your last game."
IT'LL REMAIN A GROUP EFFORT UP FRONT
The Redskins, and the defensive line in particular, received disappointing news this week when they learned that standout rookie Jonathan Allen would be missing extended time – and possibly the rest of the season – with a foot injury. In his absence, the Redskins will need continued production from Matt Ioannidis, Ziggy Hood and a fleet of other defensive linemen to account for the loss of Allen.
Gruden noted that while Allen's absence will be significant, he still has trust in his crew of defensive linemen to bear the burden the rest of the way.
"It's an impact," Gruden said of Allen's injury. "He's been playing well. We have a good group of defensive lineman. We had a good, strong rotation going."
With Allen now on Injured Reserve, Ioannidis' surprisingly strong start to the season looks even more important. The second-year player out of Temple has already notched 3.5 sacks and a team-high 43 quarterback pressures/hits, according to the Redskins' coaching staff. While an increase in playing time is certainly a factor for his hot start, he attributes much of his progression to the defensive line unit as well as defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.
"I think the guys around me have been helping me develop a lot as a player and Coach Tomsula, it's been a lot of things," Ioannidis said. "Guys like Terrell [McClain] and Stacy [McGee] and [Jonathan Allen] and Ziggy [Hood], they do a great job and I'm just benefitting from having those guys around."
Two guys that might be seeing more of the field as a result of Allen's injury are Anthony Lanier II and A.J. Francis. Francis was just promoted to the active roster this week, while Lanier has yet to see the field in the regular season.
"Lanier is a different animal. He's a good pass rusher, still young," Gruden said of the young lineman. "Francis provides us some more depth as far as the interior, as far as nose guard is concerned. I don't know which combination we will use come Monday, but it is good to get A.J. back here. We liked him a lot."
The Eagles enter Monday's game with the No. 4 rushing attack in the NFL, churning out more than 132 yards per contest. After being held to just 46 rushing yards by the Redskins in Week 1, running back LaGarrette Blount has collected at least 65 rushing yards in his last four games.