3 Storylines: Washington @ Eagles, December 21
The 6-7 Washington Football Team came into Philadelphia to face the 6-7 Eagles this weekend. Throughout the week, Washington had been losing player after player to due COVID-19. The NFL decided to delay the game two days.
Eagles players and fans weren’t thrilled with the decision, but it is what it is. Now, here we are. Game day.
Tuesday night at 7:00pm ET, the Eagles continue their fight for a playoff spot as they face Washinton at Lincoln Financial Field.
Here’s three storylines:
An advantage coming out of the delay
When this week 15 matchup was still scheduled for Sunday afternoon, the Birds were planning on listing Jalen Hurts as questionable heading into the weekend.
A couple extra days of rest apparently did him good because when the Eagles released their injury report on Monday afternoon, Hurts (ankle) was not given a game status. That means Hurts is fully expected to start on Tuesday night in a huge game with playoff implications.
To be clear, it was trending this way anyway. Hurts was a full participant in Friday’s practice and head coach Nick Sirianni seemed pretty hopeful that Hurts would be able to play. But a couple extra days removed any doubt.
In addition to Hurts, every other player on the Eagles’ 53-man roster was a full participant and is expected to play on Tuesday. That includes running backs Miles Sanders (ankle) and Jordan Howard (knee).
Landon Dickerson and Andre Dillard are both on the Eagles’ COVID-19 list, which means they are technically not on the 53-man roster. The Eagles will most likely be without them on Tuesday.
Hurts, 23, injured his ankle against the Giants back on November 28. While he was able to finish the game, the Eagles sat him out the following week against the New York Jets and then they had a bye. So it’s been quite a while since we’ve seen the young starting quarterback.
And the last time we did see Hurts, he was having the worst game of his professional career. Against the New York Giants in week 12. Hurts completed just 14-of-31 passes for 129 yards and three interceptions. This game and the last four of this season will tell us a lot about Hurts.
Who’s starting at QB for Washington?
The NFL pushed this game back two days but Washington still won’t have its top top two quarterbacks.
Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen are out for Tuesday night’s game against the Eagles at the Linc. Both Heinicke and Allen are back in Washington and they hoped to test negative for COVID-19 and hop on a private jet. But they both tested positive again.
That means veteran Garrett Gilbert will start tonight.
Without Heinicke and Allen, the Eagles are now 9.5-point favorites, according to PointsBet.
As of Tuesday morning, Washington head coach Ron Rivera said on 106.7 TheFan that both Heinicke and Allen were tested once already and were set to be tested again. Two tests is the maximum.
“You feel like you have a chance but you just never know,” Rivera said. “Nobody can predict this. We’ve just gotta go through this and do the protocols and we’ll see what happens. That’s the biggest thing that everybody has to understand. There’s no telling what’s going to happen. You just kind of hope from the best and we’ll go from there.”
Allen went on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday and Heinicke followed him two days later. So you’d assume Allen would be closer to returning, but that’s not always how it works.
There are a lot of unknowns and that can be frustrating for players and coaches.
Washington signed Gilbert, 30, on Friday. Gilbert has familiarity with Ron Rivera from his time in Carolina in 2017-18. In his career, Gilbert has started just one game and that game for the Dallas Cowboys last season where they lost 24-19 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In that game, Gilbert completed 21-of-38 passes for 243 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Official injury reports
Since the craziness surrounding this game is about the COVID cases for Washington, let’s look over the extensive injury reports for both teams.
OL Landon Dickerson
OT Andre Dillard
C/G Jack Anderson [activation window is open]
OG Brandon Brooks
TE Jason Croom
T/G Jack Driscoll
DE Brandon Graham
OG Isaac Seumalo
LB Davion Taylor
RB J.D. McKissic (concussion)
WR Curtis Samuel (hamstring)
QB Kyle Allen
S Troy Apke
DE Will Bradley-King
S Kam Curl
LB Milo Eifler
S Darrick Forrest
CB Kendall Fuller
QB Taylor Heinicke
TE Temarrick Hemingway
C Tyler Larsen
OT Cornelius Lucas
LB David Mayo
TE Sammis Reyes
OG Brandon Scherff
DT Tim Settle
RB Wendell Smallwood
LB Jon Bostic
TE Dylan Cantrell
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
DE Jalen Jelks
CB Torry McTyer
LB Jared Norris
C Chase Roullier
OG Wes Schweitzer
K Joey Slye
DB Benjamin St-Juste
TE Logan Thomas
DE Chase Young
When it comes to Washington’s injury report for their active roster, J.D. McKissic and Curtis Samuel are both out. McKissic’s absence could be felt considering he’s third on the team in rushing and second in receiving. Samuel was supposed to have a big role for Washington this season but he’s been hurt all year.
Leading receiver Terry McLaurin is listed without a status so he’s going to be able to play despite suffering a concussion in week 14.
Washington still has a number of key players on their COVID and injured reserve lists.