Week 1: Eagles @ Redskins
ESPN (6:55 PM ET): Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters (Field reporter). National Radio: Ian Eagle, Boomer Esiason, Steve Tasker (Field reporter). Locally the game will be carried live on ESPN Sports Talk 980.
The NFL is such a year round sport that it’s hard to believe we haven’t even started yet. The Redskins will be front and stage on Monday night when they host the Philadelphia Eagles at Fed Ex Field. On Tuesday, the NFL announced that kickoff would be moved up to 6:55 PM, as the league kicks off the season with its traditional Monday night doubleheader.
All eyes will be on Redskins quarterback Robert Grifin as he has proclaimed himself 100% recovered from a torn ACL just nine months ago. Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins was banged up in the preseason, so Skins Head Coach Mike Shanahan kept mobile quarterback Pat White around, just in case. You can be sure that White was running the scout team offense this week, resembling another left handed mobile quarterback.
The game also marks the regular season debut of Philadelphia Head Coach Chip Kelly, who arrives from the high flying University of Oregon. If we use the pre-season as a guide, expect Eagles quarterback Michael Vick to be running a no-huddle offense out of shotgun with variations of the read option. Monday night football analyst Jon Gruden was asked about Kelly’s arrival.
“Chip Kelly is a great coach, and he’s a no-huddle guru, spread-system master,” Gruden said. “But this isn’t the first time that an offense has gone with a no-huddle offense. He’s going to mix his tempos and certainly put his spin on things for the entire length of football games.”
Kelly brought his exciting style from tiny New Hampshire direct to Oregon, and didn’t miss a beat. Does Kelly believe the transition from college to the pro ranks will be as smooth?
“It’s been all football. You don’t have the other auxiliary duties that you have as a college head coach, and that’s the biggest thing. You get to spend more time on the football aspect of things and watch more film and spend more time in tape and spend more time with your coaching staff.”
Defensively, the Eagles are led by coordinator Bill Davis who arrives from Cleveland after serving as the Browns linebackers coach for two seasons.
2013 marks the beginning of Mike Shanahan’s fourth season in Washington. The long time Broncos head coach struggled his first two seasons, going a combined 11-21. Coach Shanahan has been re-building the franchise through the draft and last season’s 10-6 record that included the NFC East crown, reflects those efforts.
Game Notes: EAGLES: Head coach CHIP KELLY makes NFL debut…QB MICHAEL VICK is only player in NFL history with 20,000+ pass (20,274) & 5,000+ rush (5,551) yards. Has won past 3 starts vs. Was. with 905 pass yards (301.7 per game), 8 TDs vs. 2 INTs & 112 rating. Also has 137 rush yards & 2 TDs in those 3. In last MNF game vs. Was., completed 20 of 28 (71.4 pct.) for 333 yards with 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 150.7 rating & rushed for 80 yards & 2 TDs…RB LE SEAN MC COY is only NFC RB with 3,200+ rush (3,229) & 1,200+ rec. yards (1,280) in past 3 seasons. In past 6 vs. Was., has 742 scrimmage yards (123.7 per game)…WR-PR DE SEAN JACKSON has 6 career TDs (4 rec., 1 rush, 1 PR) vs. Was. & all 6 have been 35+ yards. Avg. length of TD is 62.8 yards…LB DE MECO RYANS led team last year with 113 tackles, his 5th career season with 100+ tackles. DT FLETCHER COX had 4.5 sacks in final 7 games of 2012…REDSKINS: Won final 7 games of 2012 regular season to clinch NFC East. 1 of 5 teams in NFL history to make playoffs after 3-6 start…Pro Bowl QB ROBERT GRIFFIN III set NFL rookie record last year with 102.4 passer rating. Was named AP Offensive Rookie of Year. Had 100+ rating in 8 games, incl. tying single-game NFL record 158.3 – highest attainable mark – in Week 11 vs. Phi. Rushed for 815 yards, most by rookie QB in NFL history…RB ALFRED MORRIS rushed for team-record 1,613 yards in 2012, 3rd most by rookie in NFL history. Rushed for 75+ yards in 14 of 16 games, incl. 7 100-yard games. Last year, Redskins led NFL in rush offense (169.3 yards per game)…In past 2 MNF games, WR PIERRE GARÇON has 10 catches for 252 yards (126 per game) & 3 TDs. Aims for 3rd MNF game in row with 100+ yards & TD… Pro Bowl LB LONDON FLETCHER led team with 139 tackles & career-high 5 INTs last year. Has played 240 consecutive games. Since entering NFL in 2011, LB RYAN KERRIGAN is only player in NFL with 10+ sacks (16) & 2+ INT-TDs (2).
Brandon Hughes CB Hand -Out (Definitely Will Not Play) Out
Dennis Kelly T Back -Out (Definitely Will Not Play) Out
Barry Cofield DT Hand -Full Participation in Practice Probable
Kirk Cousins QB Foot -Full Participation in Practice Probable
Brandon Meriweather S Groin -Limited Participation in Practice Questionable
The Redskins swept the season series in 2012, winning 31-6 at Fed Ex Field in November, then picked up a 27-20 win in December in Philadelphia. Who will win on Monday night? The crew at NFL Countdown gives their take.
Tom Blaz is a co-owner of the DC Sports Report and The Recruiting Eagle, which focus on Athletics at Auburn University. You may follow Tom on twitter at #RecruitingEagle