Week 3: Three keys for a Commanders upset over division rival Eagles on Sunday


Vassili Prokopenko

If the Commanders defense can tighten up while the offense stays consistent, they will be in great shape to take down the NFC East favorites.

By Waleed Aslam

Following a failed comeback attempt against the Detroit Lions last Sunday, the Washington Commanders will look to get back on track with a division rivalry matchup against the red hot Philadelphia Eagles. The Commanders offense came to light in the second half of the game in Detroit, scoring 27 points after being shut out in the first half. However, sluggish secondary play, terrible protection by the offensive line and confusing coaching prevented the team from continuing the momentum they had from Week 1. Their next opponent, the Eagles, dominated the Vikings on Monday Night Football in Week 2 after fending off the Lions themselves in Week 1. Philadelphia has looked unbeatable so far but not all hope is lost for a Commanders upset as divisional games are always unpredictable.  

Here are three keys for a Commanders victory over the Eagles in Week 3:

Protect Carson Wentz

After a solid outing against the Jaguars, the defensive line disappeared in Week 2. Led by the second overall pick Aidan Hutchinson, the Lions sacked Wentz an astounding five times while pressuring him 14 times. The majority of these occurred in the first half when Hutchinson recorded all three of his sacks. Additionally, defensive end Charles Harris sacked Wentz in his own territory, resulting in a safety. These miscues caused the Commanders offense to struggle mightily, getting only two first downs in the first half. The Eagles defensive line has been mediocre to start the year but cannot be taken lightly with the amount of talent they have. If the Commanders want any consistent play by the offense they have to give Wentz enough time to find all of his talented weapons. 

Contain the run

It is two weeks and counting now that Washington’s defense has failed miserably to stop the run. In Week 1, the Jaguars ran for 123 yards on an excellent 6.8 yards per carry. The Lions run game inflicted even more damage in Week 2, totaling 191 yards on eight yards a carry. Going against arguably the league’s strongest rushing attack, the Commanders are in for a massive challenge. They are not expected to completely shut down Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders and company from running all over them, however, if Washington can just minimize Philadelphia’s prolific run game to force more passing, an upset could be brewing. 

Prevent big plays

Without a doubt, the biggest hole in the Commanders defense to date has been allowing chunk plays. They have constantly allowed deep shots to be completed leading to great field position for their opponent. Quality red zone stops have masked the glaring issues that Washington’s defense faces: missing tackles and leaving too much space. In Week 1 the Commanders were spared by several mistakes from the Jaguars including drops and missed throws. Against Detroit they were not so lucky, as the Lions connected on huge play after huge play. Late in the third quarter, when the Commanders had cut the lead to seven, Deandre Swift fell down after catching a pass at Washington’s 20-yard line yet still managed to score a touchdown after juking several Washington players. The Commanders can’t let these mishaps happen against an explosive Eagles offense if they want any chance of winning. 

A triumph over Philadelphia at home would put Washington back on track with a 2–1 record. A tough matchup against a fierce division rival is sure to provide lots of drama and excitement. If the Commanders defense can tighten up while the offense stays consistent, they will be in great shape to take down the NFC East favorites.