It’s finally here. NFL Football is back and the Philadelphia Eagles will kick off their season against Washington Football Team (I’ll always chuckle reading that). It’s been a long journey to get here, but we’re back.
The Eagles look to start strong against a team with a new coaching staff and many new members of the roster. It won’t be as easy as some people want to make it out to be. Let’s see how the Washington team did in their final year as the “Redskins” and who left and came in between week 17 of 2019 and week 1 of 2020.
- Yards per game: 274.7 (31st)
- Points per game: 16.6 (32nd)
- Passing yards per game: 175.8 (32nd)
- Rushing yards per game: 98.9 (22nd)
- Yards allowed per game: 385.1 (27th)
- Points allowed per game: 27.2 (27th)
- Passing yards allowed per game: 238.9 (18th)
- Rushing yards allowed per game: 146.2 (31st)
- Turnover differential: +1 (14th)
EDGE Chase Young (draft), RB/WR Antonio Gibson (draft), CB Kendall Fuller (free agency), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (free agency), CB Ronald Darby (free agency) [lol], LB Thomas Davis (free agency), QB Kyle Allen (trade), head coach Ron Rivera
TE Jordan Reed (released), CB Quinton Dunbar (trade), RB Adrian Peterson (released), LT Trent Williams (trade), LB Reuben Foster (IR), RB Chris Thompson (free agency), TE Vernon Davis (retirement), G Ereck Flowers (free agency), QB Case Keenum (free agency), QB Colt McCoy (free agency), CB Josh Norman (released), WR Paul Richardson (released)
A whole lot of turnover for this Washington team. I hate to say it but they finally look like a team with a direction. With Ron Rivera leading this team, he could finally bring some stability to the Washington franchise.
Offensive line turmoil
The WFT’s (I’m just going to abbreviate their name) offensive line is not stable on the left side. Trent Williams didn’t play for the team last year, but his presence would definitely be welcomed by Washington if he wasn’t traded. The WFT’s DVOA for the offensive line was 31st in pass protection and 18th in run blocking. Now they have Geron Christian at LT (63.0 PFF grade) and Wes Martin at LG (51.7 PFF grade). Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox should find their way into the backfield often against those players. The WFT gave up 50 sacks last year (5th most) and was stuffed on run plays 19% of the time (league average).
The Eagles’ Bodyguard is Back
After a few weeks of the “Jason Peters is so selfish!” and “Pay him!” arguments, future Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters has decided to play left tackle for the Eagles without a pay raise.
His first assignment of the season will be a difficult one. Chase Young produced the highest pass-rush grade of PFF’s history last season with a 95.4 grade and had a pass rush win rate of 22.3%. Young has been touted as the best edge prospect since Myles Garrett and has been compared to Jadeveon Clowney and Jevon Kearse. If he is anything like the previous Ohio State premier edge rushers (the Bosa brothers) then Young is going to be special.
Peters still has it in him to perform at a high level at left tackle. According to PFF, he only allowed 25 pressures on 602 pass-blocking snaps in 2020. However, his availability throughout games has been in question over the past few years. Since his Pro Bowl year in 2016, Peters has played in just 36 of 48 possible games. In those 36 games, he’s played 100% of the snaps in 15, 90+% of the snaps in 13, less than 70% in 7, and the only above 70% one was week 3 last year when he played 78% of the snaps. The Eagles will need 100% of Jason Peters if they hope to fend off Chase Young.
Matchup to Watch
Every other website you find will highlight Darius Slay versus Terry McLaurin or the Eagles OL vs the WFT DL.
The real matchup to watch is the Eagles LBs versus Antonio Gibson.
The Eagles went with speed and athleticism at the linebacker position this offseason, with T.J. Edwards as the exception as he’s your prototypical MIKE. Nate Gerry, Davion Taylor, and Shaun Bradley will look to contain the WFT’s dynamic rookie.
Now with the keys to the backfield (don’t let the depth chart showing McKissic RB1 fool you), Gibson will show off his athletic arsenal and show that the team will not miss Chris Thompson.
He scored a 9.29 RAS among wide receivers in the combine and had a 9.60 score among running backs. His 4.39 40 was tied for fifth-fastest among all players at the combine. He’s explosive and gives the Washington offense a wrinkle they can exploit if the Eagles linebackers cannot catch up.
The Eagles have been very bad against running backs who can catch. Ezekiel Elliot has 278 receiving yards vs the Eagles in his eight career games versus the Eagles, Saquon Barkley has 166 in his four games, and Chris Thompson has 233 in his eight games. They may not hold high per game averages, but their ability to move out of the backfield led to many first-down conversions. The Eagles also allowed Todd Gurley to gain 117 receiving yards in two games and Christian McCaffrey 107 yards in two games. If Jim Schwartz doesn’t utilize his linebackers correctly, Gibson will have a field day.
For historical records and game prediction, check out the next page
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire