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Eye On the Enemy: Previewing Washington with The Athletic

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Previewing Week 1 with Mark Bullock...

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Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles enter Week 1 as heavy favorites in their opening home game against Washington. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn a little more about the divisional (sort of) rival.

We’ve already heard from our friends over at Hogs Haven, and Mark Bullock of The Athletic DC was kind enough to join us on BGN for a special Eye On the Enemy: Washington edition. Bullock’s one of the best film guys in media and always brings unique insight to the game, Washington-related or otherwise.

Here are some snippets from our chat via this (probably terribly) transcribed portion of the show:

On Dwayne Haskins not starting…

“It comes down to experience… throughout the offseason, throughout training camp and OTAs and minicamps, they felt that Haskins is a little bit behind with the pre-huddle, pre-snap stuff. We’re talking about the basics like getting into a huddle, calling out a ten-to-fifteen-word play calls. Ohio State, they hardly huddled, it was one-word play calls, it was signals from the sideline, hand signals…

I think there was a clear progression from him from that standpoint throughout preseason, but I think there were still also some clear mistakes particularly in regard to protections… I think they just felt like he wasn’t quite ready. Even though he flashed more upside, he also came with more risks.”

Bullock wrote in-depth about Haskins’ development in the huddle and at the line. To give an example, this is a typical play-call in Jay Gruden’s offense:

“Trips Right Tite Y Left Pass 19 Wanda Y Sift X Strike Cougar can 19 Wanda.”

That’s a big shift from looking over at the sideline, seeing your coach make a snake-like motion with his hand and having everybody on the offense know what it means.

On favorable match-ups for the offense…

“The main one will be Jordan Reed… he’s yet to be fully cleared so we’ll so how that goes. If Jordan Reed’s healthy, he’s looked more explosive this year than he has in years gone by. I think he’s finally over that foot issue that he’s had for the past couple years… He’s looked like the old Jordan Reed…

Even with you’ve got a guy that’s so good like Malcolm Jenkins, I’ve seen Reed give Jenkins really tough games in the past and I think that would be something they go to.”

Adjusting to life without Trent Williams

“If they’re worried about protection, I think they could go to kind of the typical west coast offense. Quick game stuff; stick, spacing, and maybe evolve then into some shallow crossers and drive routes… and certainly plenty of choice routes if they have Jordan Reed or even Trey Quinn in the slot…

[Trent Williams] is not going to be there this week. That will impact what they’re able to do on offense greatly because he’s so key to what they’re able to do with protections, they don’t have to worry about anything on the left side, the screen game he can get out… almost nobody can match what he’s able to do, the amount of ground he can cover. The running game; they’re able to run certain schemes with tackle pulls, pin-pulls… he dictates a lot of what they’re able to do schematically.”

On Montez Sweat’s role...

“I think he’s probably going to start. The thing that surprised me about Sweat is that he’s been a guy that is a better run defender than you would think from kind of the typical long, bursty, athletic edge rusher. Typically those guys come into the league and they’re all about the their speed rush and they have no idea how to set an edge and defend the run.

Sweat is kind of the opposite of that where he is pretty strong against the run. He understands how to set an edge… the thing he needs to improve on is using that speed a little bit more to threaten the edge in pass rushing… They’ll want Sweat in there as much as possible.”

On stopping the Eagles’ tight ends…

“That’s going to be a big issue, is how they match-up on the tight ends. I think you’re right, Josh Harvey-Clemons is probably that guy. Shaun Dion Hamilton has the potential to be that guy down the road but he’s missed some time with a few injuries this preseason…

Certainly in nickel and dime, [Josh Harvey-Clemons] will rotate in and hope to match-up. He’s been used more frequently on running backs than he has been on tight ends… they’ll try to either pattern match those guys or match them up with Landon Collins, or they have done a lot with Montae Nicholson rotating down to from free safety to match-up tight ends because Nicholson has the size and the athletic ability to jam guys and run with tight ends.”

You can hear the entire conversation by listening on the media player below, or click here if the player doesn’t load. New to podcasts? Check out our guide on how to listen to BGN! FLY EAGLES FLY!