Nose tackle Barry Cofield says the Washington Redskins provided the rest of the NFL with a blueprint for “what not to do” on defense against the new offensive approach of the Philadelphia Eagles on opening night. But Cofield also says he will be “shocked” if the Redskins don’t fare better on defense in Sunday’s rematch in Philadelphia.
“Other teams looked at us to find out what not to do,” Cofield said Friday at Redskins Park. “We were kind of the sacrificial lambs for the league for those first 30 minutes in that game. And ever since then, I think it’s been more reasonable. I think teams have had a bigger sample size to go from…. I’d rather somebody else have started off with that game. But we’ll have some new wrinkles. We’ll do some things slightly different. But at the same time, I just think we’re just a better defense as a whole right now.”
The Redskins lost to the Eagles, 33-27, in their season opener Sept. 9 at FedEx Field. The up-tempo offensive system brought to the NFL by Philadelphia’s first-year coach, Chip Kelly, was unveiled that night. The Eagles had great first-half success, running 53 plays and amassing 21 first downs and 322 yards of total offense. The Eagles managed only 24 offensive plays, five first downs and 121 yards in the second half. Even so, they built a 33-7 lead in the third quarter and finished the game with 263 rushing yards.
“There was a lot that went into it,” Cofield said Friday. “There was a perfect storm for us to give up massive stats early in that game. Like I said, I feel like we’ve made strides. Wins and losses, we haven’t done what we’ve needed to do. But we’re definitely a better defense than we were Week 1…. I think everyone was kind of just holding on for dear life in the first half. I think we came in relatively calm [at halftime]…. There definitely wasn’t any furniture flying around. It was early in the season. So we learned a lot from it. We learned a lot from that. And watching it back, we’re learning even more. Being able to watch them play 10 games, that’s helped us. So if we’re not a better defense out there, I’ll be shocked.”
The Redskins will take a slightly different defensive approach this time, according to Cofield, and expect to play far better.
“There will be some differences,” he said. “And I just think we’re a better team than we were when we saw them in Week 1. I think they’ve put a lot more on tape so we know more what to expect. I just think we’ve played a lot better than we started the year. So it’ll look different from that standpoint.”