Week 1 Matchup: Eagles at Washington
We’ve finally made it. With the pandemic happening, it seems like the last season took place over a decade ago, but football is back and I could not be more excited for what this season has in store. So much has happened around the league. With new team quarterbacks, new coaches, and massive contract extensions, it will be interesting how this season pans out.
In Week 1, the Eagles are opening their season in Washington against not just a Washington football team, but THE Washington football team, and both sides have had some interesting storylines this offseason. Both teams are entering the season in a much different place -- the Eagles are attempting to win their third consecutive divisional title in four seasons, and then there is the Washington Football team. The WFT is in the process of a complete overhaul of its franchise.
Obvious name change aside, the WFT also has a new head coach and a familiar name to Philadelphia, Ron Rivera. Rivera spent four seasons with the Eagles as their linebackers coach in the early 2000s. After a few coordinator positions in the NFL, he eventually landed the job as the head coach for the Carolina Panthers and was at that position for eight years until he was fired in late 2019.
Alex Smith made a miraculous return to the roster after going down with a possible career-ending leg injury and he’s expected to play at some point this season, it just won’t be in the first game. It’ll be tough to make any predictions on how well their offense will be this season with Dwayne Haskins leading the way, so we can only watch as the season progresses at how well he has the ability to carry that weight.
Considering how poorly they played last year, it’s tough to say that they’ll be any better, but miracles have happened before. One thing that the Eagles will have to keep an eye on in their matchup will be the defense they face. Washington’s defense has been built to carry the team until their offense makes much-needed improvements (at least that's what it seems like their plan is). Chase Young is arguably the top prospect to be drafted in 2020 and his stats from Ohio State can prove why he was drafted at #2. The Buckeye alum finished his final season with the team with 12 sacks in 16 games and could have easily had 20 if he had not sat for two games. Carson Wentz will definitely have to keep a close eye on the rookie.
With Wentz once again leading the team, everybody is hoping he will come out stronger than ever and see what he can do with a stacked offense. Wentz will probably continue to rely on Zach Ertz, but he should be happy to have DeSean Jackson back after his injury-plagued 2019 season. Last year, Jackson was dominant against Washington in his only healthy game with eight catches, 154 yards, and two touchdowns. With Miles Sanders and rookie Jalen Reagor, it should be fun to see the chemistry Wentz has built with those two receivers as well. The Eagles look to have a strong offense but have become riddled with injuries early on. With Andre Dillard and Brandon Brooks out for the year, the team had to make some adjustments to their O-Line, which included moving Jason Peters back to his left tackle position.
The Eagles still have some great pieces but they took a massive hit when injuries started building up. One thing fans have been curious to see is the match between newly acquired Darius Slay and wide receiver Terry McLaurin. If Slay can shut him down, who will Washington rely on? The Eagles defensive line will also have to take advantage of a very weak left section of Washington’s offensive line if they want to remain dominant the entire game.
One interesting fact I found out is that Doug Pederson is undefeated in season openers and Ron Rivera is not, so will that streak continue on Sunday or will it be broken by a team without a name? Or will the Eagles continue to dominate Washington as they have in the last three years? Get your jerseys ready, do all of your game day rituals and find out Sunday at 1PM.