Coach Mike Shanahan can’t hide from last year’s debacle against the Eagles. But he certainly didn’t want his players dwelling on it.
Just like last year, the Redskins meet the Eagles coming out of a bye week, which means they essentially had an extra week to rest, study and prepare. They’re hoping for a different result this time. Last November, the Eagles came to FedEx Field and dismembered the Redskins, 59-28, in one of the worst losses in Washington history.
But on Wednesday morning, with players filling most of the seats in the team’s auditorium, Shanahan wanted them to know that the group of players embarrassed on “Monday Night Football” last November is no more.
“We’ve got a totally different football team,” linebacker London Fletcher said. “It’s just not the same team.”
Twenty-two players on this year’s 53-man roster were not a part of the roster during last year's loss. The Redskins enter Sunday’s game with five new starters on defense and three new starters on offense. Shanahan says it’s easy to move past the pain of last year’s defeat when so many in the locker room have no recollection of it.
“That’s a huge amount,” Shanahan said. “Take a look at free agency, take a look at the draft, you think about half the people weren’t even associated with that game a year ago.”
Those who were around won’t soon forget, though, what happened when Michael Vick and the Eagles last came to town.
“When we think of the Eagles, we think of that game,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said.
In retrospect, the game was marred before the coin flip. Worse than the pregame skirmish between Redskins safety LaRon Landry and Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson: The Redskins announced a contract extension for quarterback Donovan McNabb before kickoff. After that night, he would appear in only four more games for Washington.
Philadelphia scored on its first play from scrimmage — an 88-yard touchdown strike from Vick to Jackson. It got worse from there. At the end of the first quarter, the Eagles were up 28-0 — the biggest first-quarter lead by any NFL road team in at least a half-century. By that point, the Redskins hadn’t even managed a first down.
“Philly did anything they wanted. . . . They could have scored 100 on us in that game,” Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said.
Philadelphia scored touchdowns on each of its first five possessions and kept pounding. Before it was over, the Eagles had set team records for the most yards (592) and first-half points (45). It marked the second-most points allowed in Redskins franchise history. No NFL team had allowed more points, in fact, since 1989. The 45 first-half points allowed by the Redskins tied a franchise record, and Philadelphia’s 59 points scored were the most ever allowed by a Shanahan-coached team.
“I’m trying to get that out of my mind,” Shanahan said.
To that end, after mentioning the drubbing in the Wednesday morning meeting, the Redskins have spent no time dwelling on it. Teams often rely on film of past games to help prepare for an opponent. This week the Redskins studied the Eagles’ first five games of this season. There was no point in going back to the 59-28 game.
While the Redskins feature different personnel this season, so do the Eagles. Six defensive starters are new, as are three offensive starters — all along the offensive line.
The pieces that return are still dangerous, though they’ve had their struggles this season. Last year at FedEx Field, Vick became the first player in NFL history with at least 300 yards passing, 50 yards rushing, four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in a single game. This season Vick has already thrown a league-worst nine interceptions while he and his teammates have combined for six lost fumbles — also an NFL high.
Philadelphia brings a 1-4 record into Sunday’s game and the division-leading Redskins need only consult the standings to know that, 11 months later, they’re dealing with a different Eagles team. More importantly to them, the Eagles will have a different Redskins squad on their hands, as well.
“No one likes to be embarrassed like we were last year,” tight end Chris Cooley said. “Half our team, half the locker room right now, wasn’t a part of that game. So you can definitely talk about it, but we’re both two different teams.”
Redskins notes: Cornerback DeAngelo Hall was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game because of a knee injury that limited him in practice on Friday.
Also listed as questionable were running back Tim Hightower (shoulder), Cooley (knee), wide receiver Anthony Armstrong (hamstring) and cornerback Phillip Buchanon (neck).
On the Eagles’ injury report, defensive end Trent Cole (calf) and tackle Jason Peters (hamstring) both have been ruled out.