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Sunday's Key: Picking Up Philly Blitzers

When Joe Bugel was asked earlier this week about Sunday's Redskins-Eagles NFC East confrontation, 'Buges' responded with his typical straightforwardness.

"I coached with Jim Johnson in Arizona," Bugel began. "This is a guy who'll blitz you coming off the bus."




Actually, it's the Redskins who will be getting off the bus early in the afternoon of New Year's Day at Lincoln Financial Field. But Bugel's point is well taken: Johnson, Philadelphia's aggressive defensive coordinator, likes to bring blitzers of quantity and quality. Johnson was on Bugel's staff at Arizona between 1990 and 1993.

Since the Eagles have nothing to play for, in terms of the 2005 postseason, Johnson may just bring all of South Philly at Mark Brunell or Patrick Ramsey, depending on Joe Gibbs' selection to quarterback the Redskins.

Picking up blitzers may be the key to Sunday's game as Washington seeks to return to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. Should the Giants stumble Saturday evening at Oakland, the Redskins will be playing for the NFC East title against one of their most fierce rivals.

You just know that Jeremiah Trotter, the former Redskin who last week was selected to the Pro Bowl at middle linebacker for the NFC, will have his teammates revved up at the chance to derail the Redskins' aspirations.

Redskins running backs, particularly Clinton Portis, have done an exceptional job as pass blockers this year. Portis, Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright figure to need a solid game in that regard if the Redskins are to handle Johnson's Philadelphia defense on Sunday in the regular-season finale.

On how his team played offensively against the Giants in last week's 35-20 win, Gibbs said: "Santana [Moss] continues to make plays for us. He started off the game very physical with his blocking. He set the tempo and you could tell he made up his mind that he was going to play very aggressive.

"Ray Brown had an excellent day for us jumping in there. Clinton continues to be very physical and plays extremely hard the entire game. Robert Royal was excellent at the point of attack on a number of our plays blocking against their ends. Our offensive line got an award because we rushed for 150 yards. When we do that, we feel like our offensive line and tight ends have played very well."

Looking ahead to Sunday afternoon, Philadelphia's sack leaders are defensive ends Jevon Kearse (7.5) and Trent Cole (5), safety Brian Dawkins (3.5) and defensive tackle Mike Patterson (3.5).

Kearse and Cole both registered a sack when the Redskins edged Philly 17-10 back on Nov. 6 at FedExField. That Week 9 game went down to the finish before Ryan Clark picked off Donovan McNabb.

If Brunell isn't able to go versus the Eagles, Ramsey can get the job done, Gibbs believes. He cites the way Ramsey pitched in versus the Giants on Christmas Eve.

"Patrick has handled everything this year," added Gibbs. "I can't say enough about him. His attitude and character have been outstanding.

"We talked to him long and hard all year long as we always do with our quarterback in the second position. That guy is always only a play away. You have to be deep at quarterback. You have to have guys who can make plays for you.

"Against the Giants, Patrick went in and did a heck of a job and hit that big one to Santana. He played well. I thought he looked very good and was poised."

Now against the Eagles, it's likely to be a matter of staying poised and playing well when the blitz packages start to come.

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