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The last time Michael Vick played the Redskins, he accounted for six touchdowns in a 59-28 rout. The Eagles left Washington with Super Bowl aspirations and a seemingly unstoppable quarterback undergoing a miraculous career resurgence.
Meanwhile the humiliated Redskins went into hibernation early, losing five of their remaining seven games in their first year under Mike Shanahan.
What a difference a year makes.
The tables are turned as Philadelphia returns to Washington with a four-game losing streak and a heap of pressure on longtime coach Andy Reid. Just five weeks into the season the Eagles are on the outside looking in, hoping to right what once promised to be a memorable season.
And it’s the Redskins – predicted by many to finish with less than five wins – who are sitting atop the NFC East. They jettisoned Donovan McNabb and went with Rex Grossman who, despite the ridicule, has yet to throw four interceptions in a game this season like Vick did last week in a loss to Buffalo.
While all of this has been surprising to say the least, the Redskins haven’t forgotten about 2010’s Monday Night Massacre. They remember Vick’s otherworldly performance and just how embarrassing it was to fall apart the way they did on national television.
A quick glance at the standings might stir up the belief Washington could dispatch of Philadelphia in short order. However, there aren’t many 1-4 teams that possess the array of weapons the Eagles do and so extracting revenge won’t be easy.
Vick does have ten turnovers this year, but he’s also leading the NFL’s third-best offense and he remains one of the most explosive players in football. He still has DeSean Jackson to throw to and – though Reid may forget to use him – LeSean McCoy in the backfield.
Most teams including the Redskins would kill to possess even one of those weapons. Yet the Eagles are mired in such a funk even the game’s most exciting players haven’t saved them from a dismal start.
Reid would gladly trade one his offensive centerpieces for some grunt workers. While the Redskins might lust after a Jackson or a McCoy, the Eagles covet Washington’s front seven and – dare I say it – even its offensive line.
Vick has been running for his life all year and is already nursing several injuries because of protection issues. Defensively, the Eagles can’t tackle, can’t cover and can’t stop much of anything.
Redskins fans are all too familiar with buying championships and for once they can gleefully watch as a division rival self-destructs. Philadelphia is learning the hard way, and it is in full-blown desperation mode after beginning the season as odds-on favorites to win the NFC East. Reid has coached in some big games, but the next few months might be the most important in his career.
However, as crucial as this game is for the Eagles, it might be just as key for the Redskins from a big-picture standpoint. A victory would wash away the sour taste from last year’s debacle and also put the rest of the NFL on notice that these aren’t the same Redskins you can bully around the backyard anymore.
Funny, such a turnaround was the farthest thing from everyone’s mind a year ago.