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ESPN’s Jon Gruden Previews Monday Night Football’s Redskins vs. Eagles

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Photos via ESPN Images

ESPN’s Monday Night Football features a key NFC East rivalry game this week as Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) host Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins (3-2) from Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, at 8:15 p.m. ET. MNF play-by-play voice Sean McDonough will call the game with analyst Jon Gruden  and sideline reporter Lisa Salters.

Gruden previews the MNF matchup and discusses both teams’ quarterbacks – Carson Wentz (Eagles) and Kirk Cousins (Redskins), whom he has worked with previously as part of his Gruden’s QB Camp series:

On the emergence of Carson Wentz in his second season with the Eagles …

I’ve seen a lot of improvement. He’s made some great changes at the line of scrimmage. He’s fixed protections. He’s hand-signaled routes. He’s doing a lot at the line of scrimmage in year two of being in this system. His athleticism – strength in the pocket and scrambling ability – is underestimated. He avoids a lot of negative plays. He avoids sacks and hits, and he avoids bad plays by being able to get out of the rush. He reminds me of Randall Cunningham the way he’s scrambling. He’s won a couple of games with that ability alone. In the first meeting, he beat the Redskins on third and 12 on the opening possession with a 60-yard bomb.

He is a very strong, athletic quarterback that is throwing the ball well. He is benefitting from his new receivers – the free agent acquisitions. Nelson Agholor is playing better and Wentz has quite a rapport with Zach Ertz. He’s handling a ton of football. He can audible at the line – change passes to runs and runs to passes. He competes like crazy and he is perfect for Philadelphia.

On how Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins has played this year …

I give Kirk a lot of credit. He’s had to adapt to a lot of different things. They don’t have (Pierre) Garcon, (Desean) Jackson and they’re waiting on some of these newcomer receivers to emerge. (Josh) Doctson has been hurt. (Terrelle) Pryor has been on and off. Jordan Reed has not been Jordan Reed yet. He’s still hurt. They have a running game but they haven’t been able to settle on a running back. So, I think it’s a credit to him, finding ways to be resourceful and move the football. I’ve seen him scramble on some critical situations – more than he’s done in the past. The one thing you can’t dispute about Cousins: he has been deadly accurate. When he’s protected and he can he work in the pocket, he can throw the football. He’s made some great, accurate passes and they’re going to need him to put the ball in the end zone even more now with the injuries to their defense.

On the loss of defensive end Jonathan Allen this week for Washington …

It’s terrible for them because other than (Matt) Ioannidis, they really don’t have much of an inside pass-rush. Junior Galette has been a disappointment. They’d probably like to get (Ryan) Kerrigan in there, but they need Kerrigan and Preston Smith on the outside. They’re missing the inside pass-rusher and a good, young football player. Not to mention Josh Norman, (Bashaud) Breeland, their kicker and a bunch of other guys. They’re going to have their hands full.

On a key position matchup this week …

You better know where Fletcher Cox is at all times. He’s a talented guy. They line him up in a lot of places. He can create a lot of problems. Brandon Graham is a Pro Bowl end. He is a guy they move inside and outside. Washington is going to have to deal with this pass rush, no doubt. That will be a challenge, and can they run the ball? This run defense of the Eagles makes it very hard to run the ball and when you fall behind in the chains, you have to deal with the pass rush. The Eagles win on first down. That’s where they are winning, because they are giving their pass rushers a lot of at-bats. First down is a big down for Washington on offense.

On the importance of this game in the NFC East race …

It’s obviously very important. If Philadelphia wants to take control, this is a great opportunity to do that. They should be well-rested coming off the Thursday night game. They have Washington coming in here with some injuries. They can take control of the division. Conversely, Washington can make it real interesting.

On returning to Philadelphia to call MNF

I love doing games in Philadelphia. I have a lot of friends there and the fans are as good as anywhere in the country. You saw what they did for the draft. I wish we could go back! If you watch the NFL Draft, you know what football is all about in Philadelphia. I love football so obviously I love it there.

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