Keys to the Game: Eagles vs. Washington Redskins, Part 2

Written By Bob Cunningham On Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vick could be a key to this game if used properly.

Like last week, this is absolutely a must-win game for the Birds. In fact, every game from now on is a "must-win" game because teams like the Packers and Falcons are just waiting for the Eagles to lose and gain more of a foothold in the NFC wildcard race.

I say the "wildcard" race, but the Eagles are still looking at the possibility of a Week 17 showdown in Dallas determining who wins the NFC East. It's the only division in the NFC really left contested unless the Cardinals or Vikings have a monumental collapse. Which, at this point, seems unlikely.

But with the Giants losing to the Broncos in embarrassing fashion, the Eagles have a real shot to move up in the division and keep pace with the Cowboys. A win against the 'Skins would give Donovan McNabb and company only one loss in the division with two games left to play -- one against the Giants, and of course the Week 17 game with the Cowboys.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's look at what the Eagles need to do to avoid a letdown and complete the sweep of the 'Skins.

Don't Be Afraid to Run Up the Middle

Albert Haynesworth will be a game-time decision, but whether he plays or not Andy Reid cannot be afraid to attack the middle. The 'Skins will be expecting to see a lot of stretch and off-tackle plays with LeSean McCoy because of Haynesworth presence, but I believe running right at him is the better way to go.

Even if Haynesworth plays, he'll be dinged up and less than 100 percent. So if Reid just tells Jamaal Jackson and either guard (depending on which way the play is going) to double-team him, the line should be able to open up some holes up the middle.

That would then leave McCoy one-on-one with London Fletcher who should not able to bring down a shifty McCoy in the open field. I'm not saying Fletcher won't get his hands on McCoy from time to time, but at least seven out of 10 times McCoy should be able to shake him and keep moving.

Don't Lose Sight of Antwaan Randle El

It's not because I think he's a great receiver, but because he's the key to any trick play that they may try. He has a background as a quarterback, so using him to throw the ball just makes sense.

With the Eagles' aggressive style of defense, running a few trick plays would make a lot of sense, and would probably work. It's the risk you take when you have a defense that swarms and attacks like the Eagles' defense does, but as long as you keep an eye on Randle El the defense should be able to sniff it out.

For instance, if he just stands at the line of scrimmage and doesn't seem interested in running a pattern, it's probably because he's got some other assignment. A double-pass, wide receiver pass, or some funky reverse is most likely.

Also, expect the Redskins to try and use the Wildcat this week more than they have in the past.

Get Creative With Mike Vick and the Wildcat

Vick's long run last week, I think, instilled some confidence in the coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg told everyone to expect to see more of Vick this week, but then again, he's been saying that every week.

This week, however, could be different. In the weeks prior, Vick hasn't shown a whole lot to warrant playing time. But against the Bears, he was able to break off a 34-yard run to set up an Eagles field goal. He seemed to lack the speed he once had, but he appeared as shifty as ever, freezing a defensive back in his tracks as he ran around him.

I'm not part of the crowd that believes the Vick experiment is a failure if he doesn't make an impact this year. In fact, I don't think it's possible to fail with Vick. He was brought in as a backup quarterback who can do some other things, so there was only a factor of reward and very little risk.

That said, I do think that Mornhinweg and Reid are wasting the man's talents. Use him when the offense is struggling, not when they're rolling, and I think you'll see a guy who can make a clutch play to keep a drive alive and the offense moving.

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