|Redskins, Eagles jockey for position in NFC East|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 02 October 2008 12:57|
Even if his Redskins have exceeded expectations through a brutal opening stretch of the season, including last week's 26-24 win over Dallas, he does not want his players to get cocky with an NFC East showdown against the Philadelphia Eagles coming up Sunday.
While he admits he's excited about his team's performance thus far, he cautioned that tough roads lie ahead.
``I want to make sure I don't create this, 'How do you like me now?' type of attitude,'' he said, standing on his tiptoes for emphasis.
Even if Zorn isn't inclined to say so, there's reason to be happy in Washington.
No matter the outcome Sunday, the Redskins (3-1) will have come through the first five games better off than most expected. They will have all three division road games out of the way and their next three opponents - Cleveland, Detroit and St. Louis - have a combined record of 1-10.
elphia. The Eagles are facing what quarterback Donovan McNabb called ``a must-win game.''
In the tough NFC East, home of the defending Super Bowl champion Giants and the explosive Cowboys, the Eagles are dangerously close to falling behind the pack with a loss.
Philadelphia is coming off a distressing defeat at Chicago. With three shots at the end zone from the Bears 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter, the Eagles failed to score and ended up losing 24-20.
``Anytime that you come off a tough loss in a game which you should have won, it's important that you be able to come back and bounce back on a positive note against your next opponent,'' McNabb said.
The Eagles (2-2 ) are already in the basement in the division with a loss to Dallas in Week 2, while Washington is coming off a surprising win over the Cowboys last week.
A Redskins victory helps them keep pace with the undefeated Giants in the division.
``I think the No. 4 team in this division could easily be a top 10 team in the NFL,'' said Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot. ``It's going to be a lot of that - the NFC East is going to beat up on each other.
``It's going to come down to those last couple of games to see who is going to get into the playoffs because all four of us can't make it.''
Last year, the Eagles were the lone NFC East team to miss the playoffs.
of All-Pro running back Brian Westbrook, who sat out last week with an ankle injury. Without the dynamic Westbrook, the Eagles have struggled on offense - particularly during that costly sequence last week at the Chicago goal line.
Last season, Westbrook's touchdown on a 57-yard catch-and-run lifted the Eagles to a 33-25 win over Washington. If he plays Sunday, it could mean all the difference for Philadelphia.
``We prepare for him to be there and he's having a lot of success,'' said Redskins linebacker London Fletcher. ``It's hard to get a good shot on him because he is so elusive and changes speeds really good.''
Washington will likely have to do without defensive end Jason Taylor, expected to sit out for the second straight week following ankle surgery.
The Eagles' defense comes into the game ranked first against the run and could be tested by Clinton Portis, who is tied for fourth in the league in rushing and coming off 121-yard performance against Dallas.
``If you allow Clinton to be running the rock and gaining chunks and chunks of yards, that sets up everything they want to do,'' said safety Brian Dawkins. ``I think emotionally, he sets the tone for that offense.''
t four seasons.
``He's playing great football,'' said Eagles coach Andy Reid. ``You have to think that this kid has had how many coordinators in college and how many in the pros now? He is well-versed in a lot of different offensive schemes. I have a lot of respect for him.''
The Eagles will try to stop Portis and force the Redskins into third-and-long, when defensive coordinator Jim Johnson likes to turn his blitzers loose.
``One thing that they do each week is bring pressure,'' Campbell said. ``They try and get as much pressure on the quarterback as they can and the guys behind them can play man coverage.''
The Eagles forced four turnovers against the Bears and will try to force Campbell to make mistakes. But the Redskins have yet to turn over the ball on offense.
``We all said it before the season that the potential for us to get these turnovers is going to be great,'' Dawkins said.
Early in the season or not, both teams know Sunday's game will carry a little extra weight - be it because of playoff implications or plain, old-fashioned rivalry.
``There is always a sense of urgency when you are talking about the people inside your division,'' Dawkins said. ``It's definitely a big game for us.''