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Opponent Outlook: Washington Begins Its Season Against The Philadelphia Eagles

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The Washington Football team will kick off its 2020 campaign by hosting the Philadelphia Eagles.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of the divisional matchup:

GAMEDAY INFORMATION

WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 13 | 1:00 p.m.

WHERE: FedExField (Landover, Maryland)

WATCH: FOX

  • Kevin Burkhardt (play-by-play)
  • Daryl Johnston (color)
  • Pam Oliver (reporter)

LISTEN: The Team 980, ESPN 630 and WMAL 105.9

  • Julie Donaldson (host)
  • Bram Weinstein (play-by-play)
  • DeAngelo Hall (analyst)

STREAM: Washington Football Team Broadcast Network

  • Julie Donaldson (host)
  • Bram Weinstein (play-by-play)
  • DeAngelo Hall (analyst)

The stream will be available at WashingtonFootball.com and on select Washington Football Team social media platforms.

ALL-TIME SERIES

  • Washington leads the all-time series, 85-80-6.
  • Washington has played Philadelphia 171 times, second only to the New York Giants (174).
  • Washington has beaten Philadelphia more times than any other NFC East opponent, followed by New York (68) and Dallas (43).
  • Washington has met Philadelphia in the playoffs one time (1991), when it defeated the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, 20-6.
  • The most points Washington has scored against Philadelphia was 42, which has happened twice: once in 1947, which came during a loss, and once in 1957, resulting in a win.
  • Washington currently holds the longest win streak in the series (11), which occurred from 1937-42.

COACHING STAFF

Washington

  • Head coach Ron Rivera (1st season in Washington)
  • Offensive coordinator Scott Turner (1st)
  • Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio (1st)
  • Special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor (2nd)

Philadelphia

  • Head coach Doug Pederson (5th season in Philadelphia)
  • Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz (5th)
  • Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp (8th)
  • Run game coordinator/offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland (8th)
  • Passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Press Taylor (8th)

KEY NEW FACES

Washington

  • QB Kyle Allen
  • RBs Peyton Barber / Antonio Gibson / J.D. McKissic
  • TE Logan Thomas / Marcus Baugh
  • DE Chase Young
  • LBs Thomas Davis Sr. / Kevin Pierre-Louis
  • DBs Ronald Darby / Kendall Fuller

Philadelphia

  • QBs Nate Sudfeld / Jalen Hurts
  • WR Jalen Reagor
  • OL Jack Driscoll
  • DT Javon Hargrave
  • LBs Davion Taylor
  • DBs Darius Slay

BIGGEST STORYLINES

Starting the season with last year's NFC East division champion -- There's no denying the Eagles have been one of the top contenders in the NFC East. With a record of 9-7, they finished atop the division for the second time in three seasons to earn their third consecutive playoff appearance.

The fact that Washington will kick off the season by hosting the division champs is one aspect that head coach Ron Rivera likes about the schedule layout, saying that it will be "a great measuring stick to see where we are as a football team."

Washington finished the season 3-13, but it was close to upsetting the Eagles in both matchups. With help from wide receiver Terry McLaurin, Washington jumped out to a 17-0 lead just five minutes into the second quarter of the 2019 season opener. Then, in Week 15, Washington held a three-point lead until the final seconds when Carson Wentz threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Greg Ward Jr.

The Eagles are determined to make sure those close calls won't happen in 2020. They signed three-time Pro Bowl corner Darius Slay, who had 13 pass breakups last year, to ensure they can defend against big plays down the field.

"They needed a player like Slay, somebody who can line up and take away a best receiver," said Eagles insider Dave Spadero. "Washington really damaged the Eagles in both games with a big pass. I think he's energized to be here, and he's the go-to guy in a secondary that's got a new look, no doubt. He is a leader of that defensive backfield."

Scott Turner and Jack Del Rio make their coaching debuts with Washington -- Rivera has brought in completely new systems on both sides of the ball by hiring offensive coordinator Scott Turner and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. Turner has four games of experience as a play-caller, while Del Rio has not coached since 2017.

Still, Rivera is familiar with both coaches and knows what to expect from them. He gave Turner his first job as an offensive quality control coach with the Carolina Panthers in 2011, and then they reunited in 2018 when Rivera hired Turner as his quarterbacks coach.

Turner also has an exemplary track record with young quarterbacks, including Teddy Bridgewater and Cam Newton, and now he is tasked with helping second-year signal-caller Dwayne Haskins Jr. have that same success.

"We really want to develop our scheme around the strength of our players," Turner said. "So like Dwayne, you obviously see the big, strong guy who can stand in the pocket and really push the ball down the field. We're going to want to use a lot of play-action passes. Something also he's done a good job of in his past, and in college, too, is just being able to get the ball out quickly and kind of distribute the football to the playmakers and let them make the plays for him."

Rivera has never coached with Del Rio, but the two have competed against one another since playing at rival schools California and USC. Del Rio has proven he can be one of the best defensive coordinators in the league in tenures with the Panthers and Denver Broncos. Two of the league's best edge rushers, Julius Peppers and Von Miller, had standout seasons under him.

"I've got tremendous respect for who he's been," Rivera said of Del Rio in his introductory press conference. "He's been a very successful coach in this league, he's had opportunities in this league, and he's succeeded in this league."

Chase Young's professional debut -- There are many scouts and analysts who have called Chase Young a generational talent who can immediately change Washington's defense. After months of anticipation, Young will finally be set loose against an opposing offensive line.

"The best toolbox I've ever seen coming out of the draft," Del Rio said in late April. "I haven't seen a guy come out with that many tools. I've seen talented players come out, but not with a complete toolbox like he has."

From the moment Washington called to inform him of its decision to draft him, Young has been working all offseason to get ready for his rookie year. He told local media that he wants to be a "sponge" in his first year, and so far his teammates have been impressed with how quickly he has learned the new defense.

"I feel like I'm a fierce competitor," Young said. "At the end of the day this is our job. Obviously you love to play football, but this is a business. So all I can say is I'm going to put my best foot forward and show what I have. But as long as I put my best foot forward, I'll be OK with everything."

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

Terry McLaurin vs. Darius Slay -- Fans saw a preview of this matchup last year when Washington hosted Slay and the Lions in Week 11. McLaurin didn't score, but he did catch five passes for 72 yards, including a diving grab that put the offense in field goal range to take a late lead. That was enough to leave a lasting impression on Slay.

"To be honest, that whole year, besides Keenan Allen, he was my hardest one that I covered that whole year," Slay said of McLaurin on Instagram Live in March. "He probably would have scored on me two times."

With McLaurin set as the No. 1 offensive threat and Slay to be the Eagles' best cornerback, expect these two to go against each other throughout both games.

Washington's pass rush vs. Philadelphia's offensive line -- The Eagles have prided themselves on having a strong offensive line. The group featured two Pro Bowlers last year in Brandon Brooks and Jason Kelce, and together they helped the Eagles finish 11th in rushing with 121.2 yards per game.

They could, however, be up for a challenge with Washington's five first-round picks on the defensive line. Washington finished the 2019 season with 46 sacks -- good enough for 10th in the league -- and now with Young, who led all of college football with 16.5 sacks, its pass rush could be even more potent.

"I think when we go," Young said, "watch out."

Dwayne Haskins Jr. vs. Philadelphia's defense -- Haskins has undergone a transformation this offseason, dropping 11 pounds and 7% body fat while learning Turner's new offense. On both counts, his coaches are impressed with his progress.

Haskins, who finished his rookie year with 1,365 passing yards and seven touchdowns, had his best statistical game against the Eagles in Week 15. He threw for 261 yards -- a season high -- and had two touchdowns with no interceptions. He also completed 68% of his passes, which was the second highest of the year, and had a passer rating of 121.3, which at the time was also a season high.

Assuming Haskins is the starting quarterback, which seems to be the plan, it will be his first season-opener as a starter in a new offense with a lighter, more agile build. The expectation for Haskins to excel will be high.

OPPOSING VIEWPOINT

In preparation for the start of the 2020 season, WashingtonFootball.com spoke with Eagles insider Dave Spadero to gain additional insight about Washington's NFC East rival.

Quarterback Carson Wentz had arguably his best season last year with 4,039 passing yards, What are some of your expectations for him?

"I think every year, the pressure in Philly is always so intense and he hasn't won a playoff game yet. He had gotten all the way to the postseason last year and then went out after nine snaps against the Seahawks with a concussion.

"He protects the football very well. He does a great job with that, and he carried the football team down the stretch with practice squad players at wide receiver and also helping out at running back. He was so impressive in 2017 before the injury with 33 touchdown passes. He was probably just as impressive [last year] because of the cast of characters around him and offense decimated by injuries. The Eagles went out and swept the NFC East in December, winning the division. Carson stepped up, took control of the room. And I think that that bodes well for the 2020 season for the Eagles."

All Eagles fans are very familiar with what Terry McLaurin was able to do in both matchups last year. How much do you think that Terry McLaurin is going to be on the minds of this coaching staff for week 1?

"Terry McLaurin torched the Eagles last year, so very much so. We all talk about Chase Young and how much of an impact he's going to make, but there's some very interesting pieces that Washington has, obviously starting with Dwayne Haskins, a quarterback that the Eagles just didn't really have an answer for late in the season. So that was a sign of his progress.

"I think the Eagles take him seriously and really want to take away that vertical passing game that Washington hit them with so much in both games last year. I don't know who the other receiver is going to be for [Washington], but McLaurin certainly gets a lot of attention."

What do you think are three of the biggest storylines heading into the 2020 season?

"Great question. The right guard position [has a] big hole. How do the Eagles fill it? Another one: Malcolm Jenkins, gone, very versatile player, extremely durable, productive. The Eagles' intention is to move Jalen Mills, a starting cornerback, into a hybrid safety role. How will that work out? That's a really, really big question.

"And then I think [about] the wide receiver position. The Eagles need more explosiveness. Who develops? Can you keep [Alshon] Jeffery and [DeSean] Jackson healthy? How much can you get out of Reagor? And how can you really take the pressure off of Carson Wentz, who seems to have to make a big play all the time?"

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