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Keys to the Game: Week 15

The Eagles are gearing up to face a Washington Redskins team that has nothing to play for except for pride. Even though it seems like it will be an easy opponent for the Eagles to face, we have to realize that these players aren't the ones who are tanking -- they will be playing their best to try and earn jobs for 2020 and beyond.

With that in mind, an Eagles victory can be secured if they follow these keys to the game:

Balance the Play-calling

Even though we are in a pass-happy era of football, running the football is still extremely important in securing victories. So far this season, the Eagles are 1-5 in games where Carson Wentz threw 40+ passes (and 3-15 all-time with Wentz throwing 40+ passes). Last week the team was trending towards a loss when their passing game kept failing. Finally, Doug Pederson decided to throw Boston Scott onto the field, which sparked some big rushing plays and eventually lead to the passing offense getting into a rhythm.

To avoid all that necessary drama, Doug Pederson needs to have run plays consistently in his play-calling, even if there are a handful of times it doesn't gain positive yards. It should help that the Redskins have the 6th-worst rushing defense in the NFL (134 yards/game). Abandoning runs usually is a recipe for disaster, so hopefully Pederson doesn't fall into the same mental trap that has plagued him multiple times this season.

Blanket Terry McLaurin the Entire Game

The 3rd-round rookie made a big first impression in his first NFL game, catching five passes for 125 yards and a 69-yard touchdown. The Redskins will be without their #2 (Paul Richardson Jr.) and #3 (Trey Quinn) receivers for this game, which will for rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins to rely on a trusted target like McLaurin. If Ronald Darby is healthy enough to play, he'll likely be the one who plays opposite of McLaurin since he is the fastest cornerback on the team. Still, with him having a rough few weeks getting burnt and "mossed", Jim Schwartz needs to give Darby safety help on McLaurin as much as possible.

If they make McLaurin ineffective, then the rest of the passing offense will suffer. The Eagles have the 3rd best rushing defense in the NFL, so it is unlikely the Redskins can beat the Birds on the ground either. Schwartz better be planning to do everything in his power to keep McLaurin in check on Sunday.

Carson Wentz Needs to Play Loose

It felt like there was a month-long stretch where Wentz had the yips -- he would overthrow on passes out of the backfield to his running backs, he would second guess his reads which lead to sacks, etc. In the Giants game, we saw him finally turn a corner towards the end of the 3rd Quarter. The touchdown drive which ended in a short Boston Scott rushing touchdown sparked a resurgence for #11 in the 4th Quarter and Overtime, where Wentz ultimately completed 17 of his 25 passes.

With that weight lifted off his shoulders Wentz should be able to come out against the Redskins loose, even with some inexperienced receivers on the field. His comfort should also allow him to have the confidence to check plays at the line and audible to whatever he feels will work against the defense he sees. The Eagles will only go as far as Wentz can carry this offense.

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