Eagles, Redskins both try to avoid embarrassment

Oct 24, 2009 - 4:02 AM By JOSEPH WHITE AP Sports Writer

LANDOVER, Md.(AP) -- Surely there's no way the Philadelphia Eagles will lose to one of the NFL's most dysfunctional franchises, even if the game is on the road.

Oh, wait. They just did that.

A week after laying a 13-9 egg against the Oakland Raiders, the Eagles (3-2) have another potential letdown game against the Washington Redskins (2-4). The Monday nighter has prime-time slaughter written all over it, with the Redskins coming off a distraction-filled week following the front office's decision to strip coach Jim Zorn of the play calling.

That is, unless the Eagles reproduce their lackadaisical, pass-too-much game plan from Oakland.

"I felt embarrassed," quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "When you get embarrassed, you don't want to get embarrassed again, so you are going to do whatever it takes to erase that and make sure that you turn a negative into a positive."

The Eagles should be naturally more fired up to face the Redskins, a familiar division rival. It's a short road trip, and thousands of Philadelphia fans always find ways to get tickets. Plus, no one wants to look bad on Monday night, when the rest of the league is watching.

"You can go against the worst team in the league," running back Brian Westbrook said. "But if you don't go out there and execute your game plan, and if you have errors and sacks and turnovers and things like that, you can lose a game."

A focused Eagles team would not be good news for the Redskins. All the week's turmoil in Washington has been a mental drain, and coaches and players have to find a way to keep the blinders on.

"If we don't do our job, it'll get really ugly," secondary coach Jerry Gray said. "We can't focus on what else is happening."

The front office alleviated much uncertainty Friday when executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato announced that Zorn would remain the coach through at least the end of the season.

Of course, that doesn't instantly make the Redskins a good team. Their only victories this season have come over the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, both now 0-6. The Eagles are the first team they've played that isn't winless.

"'Monday Night Football' is going to be big for our guys," said Gray, who had been one of the favorites to replace Zorn had there been a coaching change. "Because now you have to go out and everybody's going to be looking: 'OK, what are the Redskins really like?' 'What are they really about?' 'We've heard them, now let's see what they can do.'

"And the thing you want to do is go out and show your best, and I think that may be good for us at this point."

Both teams spent the week dealing with play-calling issues. The Eagles abandoned the run against the Raiders, throwing 46 passes and allowing six sacks. Westbrook ran for 50 yards, but he had only six carries. Philadelphia has always been pass-happy with coach Andy Reid and McNabb, but that ratio was a bit extreme, especially in a low-scoring game.

"I don't think there's really much new," Westbrook said. "I think when I first came in Duce (Staley) was complaining about touching the ball and not carrying the ball. Probably a few years ago I was complaining, too. That's just the way that we do it here. Then at some point during the season, the ratio kind of evens out a little bit more. Sometimes it takes games like this for that to happen."

The Redskins went to greater extremes. With the offense yet to score more than 17 points in game this season, Zorn was told to yield his treasured play-calling duties to newcomer Sherm Lewis, a consultant hired by the front office less than three weeks ago.

Players and coaches were taken aback by the news. Zorn, already on the hot seat, said it will feel "very awkward" strolling the sidelines not calling the plays.

But it's not as if the offense was marching down the field under the old setup.

"We've embarrassed ourselves enough," running back Clinton Portis said, "so we've got to find a way to win a game."

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