No team has been converting on third down this season like the Philadelphia Eagles. In their second matchup of the season, the Washington Redskins hope to change that.
With Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz experiencing the exact opposite of a sophomore slump, the high-flying Eagles offense has shot to the top of the NFC with a 5-1 record.
A Monday night meeting with the Washington Redskins is just around the corner, and Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Manusky knows how tough Philadelphia's offense can be to stop, especially on third down.
The Eagles rank first in third-down conversion percentage with 50.6 percent. Philadelphia's 44 converted third downs also ranks first among NFL teams. Manusky said a lot of that success has to do with the efficiency of Wentz. The second-year North Dakota State product has 1584 passing yards this season, with 13 touchdowns compared to three interceptions.
"I think overall from a passer rating he does a great job of scanning the field. He does a great job of getting out of some pressure situations," Manusky said. "He feels pressure and he knows exactly where it's coming and he scoots through the lanes and he extends the play. So, we can't let him do that."
Wentz has plenty of targets to throw to, most notably tight end Zack Ertz, who ranked second in receiving yards among tight ends with 405 entering the week's slate of games. Receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor round out the top pass catchers in Philadelphia, each with more than 300 yards on the season.
Manusky said stopping Ertz will be a top priority of Washington's banged up defense.
"We just have got to make sure that we have tight coverage on the guy, make sure that [we] just keep on focusing on what we have to do within the scheme to take away certain individuals," Manusky said.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 7 game against the Philadelphia Eagles Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
However, the passing game isn't the only factor elevating Philadelphia's offense on third down. The offseason addition of running back LeGarrette Blount gave the Eagles a way to take the pressure off Wentz and a viable option on 3rd-and-short situations.
"He does a great job of making people miss at the hole, in the hole," Manusky said of Blount. "So we have got to make sure we get in his face and be able to get him down. He is a big-body guy."
Going into Washington's Week 5 bye, many Redskins defenders were nursing injuries. Cornerback Josh Norman suffered a fractured rib against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4 and cornerback Bashaud Breeland hurt his knee against the San Francisco 49ers a week ago. Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen was placed on Injured Reserve this week, too, with a foot injury.
Manusky said the pileup of injuries can affect the chemistry of his defense, but added that he expects nothing but the best from his squad on Monday night, especially Anthony Lanier II, who will fill in for Allen.
"We are going to mix in and out different guys to see what those guys have," Manusky said. "But Lanier has been improving each and every week and we are looking forward to him getting on the field and playing the game."