Defense eager for Skins

The Redskins' Ryan Torain gets by Eagles tackle Mike Patterson in Week 4. Torain rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown that day.
The Redskins' Ryan Torain gets by Eagles tackle Mike Patterson in Week 4. Torain rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown that day.

Eagles' focus is on avoiding a repeat of Week 4.

Posted: November 13, 2010

The Eagles' defense has prepared for the Redskins' running game by looking back.

The unit's early-season struggles against the run hit bottom against Washington in Week 4, when the Birds allowed 169 rushing yards and 4.8 yards per carry - both season highs - and couldn't stop the Redskins late in the game as they chewed up the clock.

The Eagles have reviewed that game tape, with defensive coordinator Sean McDermott pointing out group and individual mistakes, several players said.

"Coach had it on, and coach is saying: 'This is not how you want to do it,' " said defensive end Brandon Graham.

McDermott's message during the review: "We don't want to look like this no more."

The Eagles have been stout against the run since. After allowing 4.4 yards per carry through the first four weeks and 138.8 yards per game, those numbers are down to 3.2 yards per carry and 69 yards per game.

"Coach stepped in front of the room and pointed some guys out, and since then everybody's been stepping up and doing their job," said linebacker Ernie Sims.

The Eagles' defense has improved at sticking more tightly to their gap responsibilities since that game, players said.

They have also had help from two new starters, strong-side linebacker Moise Fokou and powerful defensive tackle Antonio Dixon.

"Dixon's playing out of his mind right now. He's been a beast down there in the middle," Fokou said. "He gets into their backfield, you know, creates separation, and keeps those big guys off of us."

Fokou said the Redskins, in their last meeting, moved their offensive line well, establishing new edges, and trapping defenders toward the inside of the field. This time around, he said, the Eagles will try to contain the flow of the run.

The Redskins will likely be leaning on running back Ryan Torain, who leads the team in rushing this year and pounded the Eagles for 70 yards and a bruising touchdown.

The Eagles hope this game tape looks much different.

Coleman's chance

Safety Kurt Coleman remembers the play well: Donovan McNabb froze him with a pump fake and hit Anthony Armstrong on a 57-yard bomb, setting up a field goal.

McNabb will have even more looks at Coleman on Monday, with the rookie starting in place of the injured Nate Allen. But the seventh-round draft pick expects different results.

"I don't see that happening again," Coleman said.

At the time, Coleman estimates he had played fewer than 10 snaps. Since then, he said he has grown more accustomed to the Eagles' scheme and his teammates. Last week he played more than a half against Peyton Manning.

"My job as a free safety is to keep everything in front of me and make the plays that come my way and not give up any touchdowns," Coleman said.

Extra Points

With Coleman starting, newly acquired safety Colt Anderson will fill in for him on special teams, said special teams coordinator Bobby April. . . . Linebacker Keenan Clayton may reprise his linebacker-safety hybrid role this week, McDermott said. . . . The Eagles will leave defensive end Victor Abiamiri (knee) on the physically unable to perform list, effectively ending his season. Abiamiri, a second-round draft pick in 2007, can't be activated from the list after this week, the Eagles said. . . . Guard Max Jean-Gilles (concussion) and safety Nate Allen (neck) did not practice Friday.


Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214 or jtamari@phillynews.com.

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