With training camps winding down, and final roster cuts coming up on Saturday, we take a look at the Week 1 matchup, Philadelphia at Washington.
This marks the second year in a row that the two will meet in the first week of the NFL season. But when you looks the teams’ rosters, they’re almost completely different from their 2019 counterparts.
For the Eagles, running back Jordan Howard is in Miami, receiver Nelson Agholor is in Las Vegas, and maybe most importantly, Boston Scott is active.
Injuries have once again plagued this Philly team. Starting left tackle Andre Dillard is out with a biceps tear and won’t be available for 2020. So who will protect Wentz’s backside?
In camp, it’s mainly been Matt Pryor, not Jason Peters. Odd considering that Peters is still one of the best in the game at that spot. But the injury to guard Brandon Brooks and that the usual left tackle asked for more money to play there, keeps Peters filling in for Brooks.
With Howard gone, the confusion in the backfield left too. Second-year Miles Sanders is the guy, but teams better keep an eye on Boston Scott. He came on late last season and was a contributing factor to the Eagles winning the division.
Once again, wideouts Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson are healthy. To add depth, Philadelphia drafted some receivers, promoted one, and traded for another. Marquise Goodwin was going to be a big part of this offense, but he opted out. First-rounder Jalen Reagor is out with a shoulder injury after trying to make a play in practice. Greg Ward, Jr, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside have to be ready.
Do we even need to talk about the tight end position? Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are stars among themselves and will favor highly in this game. Look for Wentz to try to take advantage of the guys in the middle of the Washington defense with these two matched up on their safeties and backers.
The line, although there are injuries, is solid. Kelce back as the anchor at center, Isaac Seumalo and Matt Pryor on the left side, with Peters and Lane Johnson on the right. Protection will play a big role. The Washington defense is stacked with edge guys. Not just Montez Sweat and rookie Chase Young, but Ryan Kerrigan and Chase Holcomb pose a problem as well.
The defense took a bit of a hit this off-season, losing guys like Ronald Darby and Nigel Bradham. But given what they lost, they replaced that and then some. Trading the Lions for corner Darius Slay may have been the coup of the year since our secondary has been a bit of a weak spot for us. Avonte Maddox will line up on the other side to complete the tandem.
As for our safeties, Malcolm Jenkins is in New Orleans, so the Eagles went for Will Parks from Denver and drafted former Clemson stud K’von Wallace. But for now, converted corner Jalen Mills will start in the back with Rodney McLoed.
Where the biggest worry lies is the linebacker position. Since Jordan Hicks left two years ago, the Eagles have been trying to find the replacement. TJ Edwards fills the spot now and he is very capable of that role. You may not know his name now, but you will. Rookie Shaun Bradley is also a guy to watch for. He’s making a name in camp.
On the outside, Nathan Gerry and recently acquired Duke Riley will set the tone. Philadelphia also drafted Davion Taylor who is a player who can work from either position. His speed, and ability to rush and cover will come into play early, and often.
Up front, there’s no question. Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett are the bookends with the best in the business in Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave in the middle. Malik Jackson is healthy again, and joined with Hassan Ridgeway, Josh Sweat, and Vinny Curry, we have a nice rotation with depth. Stopping the run and getting to the passer shouldn’t be an issue.
Washington is almost brand new everywhere, from executives to coaches down to players. Second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins is the starter. He had shaky rookie season, but to his credit, the coaches didn’t want him. Which is why they’ve been replaced.
Adrian Peterson was released and the heir-apparent to Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice, is gone. Next up is Bryce Love and rookie Antonio Gibson, with veteran Peyton Barber rounding out the mix. We know what to expect from Barber but the other guys? We haven’t seen.
Their receivers are also relatively new. Terry McLaurin highlights that crew, and he’s coming into his second year. They just drafted Antonio Gandy-Golden, who looks to join McLaurin in the starting lineup, so there’s a lot of youth there. Philadelphia’s secondary shouldn’t have a problem.
The game, like most, will be won up front. Our offensive line has to keep their strong front seven off Wentz and the running backs for Philadelphia to win this game. The Eagles should be ready to do so, no doubt working up ways to scheme away from any issues on the line.
Philadelphia’s defensive line is one of the best in the NFL, but Washington’s offensive line are no clowns. The right side is the strongest with Brandon Scherff, and Morgan Moses, but the Eagles rush shouldn’t have much issues.
Both games last year were high-scoring, but again, this year, these are different teams. Philadelphia should come away with the win. Even though they’re look is new, don’t discount the grit in Washington.