Thursday Night Football is in the books and it’s now time to shift our focus to the Sunday slate of Week 1. In just two days, the Philadelphia Eagles face their first road test of the season against the Washington Football Team.
On The Kist & Solak Show #191, we highlighted some key match-ups to watch as it unfolds. Here are the three most important...
DARIUS SLAY VS. TERRY MCLAURIN
McLaurin was electric against the Eagles last year, posting near identical stat lines of 5-125-1 and 5-130-1 in their two tilts. Those represented his biggest games of the year, but the Eagles have a new weapon to deploy against him in Slay.
Slay is no stranger to McLaurin, whom he faced last year while with the Detroit Lions. Per PFF, Slay shadowed McLaurin for 74% of his routes and conceded only 3 catches for 42 yards on 10 targets while in coverage against him. There’s context needed however, as Dwayne Haskins missed some throws to McLaurin that would’ve boosted that stat line.
After the game, Slay showed his respect for the then rookie on Twitter.
This is going to be a highly technical battle between two fantastic athletes. The question is, will Slay follow McLaurin around again at his new home in Jim Schwartz’s defense? Schwartz has alluded to being open to it several times in the off-season and if McLaurin is held to a modest day, there aren’t any other weapons that can threaten the Eagles.
JASON PETERS VS. CHASE YOUNG
It’s not often that you’re concerned about a sure-fire Hall of Famer going up against an unproven rookie, but that’s exactly what you have in Peters vs. Young.
The 38-year old Peters just made his move back to left tackle official, which included a re-worked contract, and there are certainly concerns about what he’s got left in the tank. Meanwhile, Young has rare potential to make a huge impact in his first year.
The Ohio State product was blessed with one of the best defensive line coaches in the nation in Larry Johnson, who also helped Nick Bosa make a big splash in his rookie year. Both Young and Bosa have the technical toolbox to win with more than just their athleticism, and Young may be the freakier of the two. That’s a scary proposition when you factor in Peters’ declining athleticism.
THE RIGHT GUARD VS. WASHINGTON’S INTERIOR
I phrase it that way because as of this moment we’re not 100% sure who starts at right guard for the Eagles. It was assumed that Matt Pryor would step in after the Peters switch, but Nate Herbig has made a late push to secure that spot.
Whether it’s Herbig or Pryor, they’re going to have their hands full with one of the most stacked interior defensive line rotations in the league. Former first rounders Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne are incredibly tough to move and will stress anchors in pass pro. The less heralded, but very talented Matt Ioannidis will rotate in and has been their most effective pass rushers from the inside. Per PFF, Ioannidis’ pass rush productivity was 4th best among defensive tackles in 2019, tied with Javon Hargrave.
With two of the biggest questions in this game being along the offensive line, Doug Pederson may have to get creative in protecting Carson Wentz. That may mean more quick game, RPO calls and/or resetting the pocket with play action and getting Wentz on the move. Yes, this is yet another call to “Let the Bronco Buck”.
We talk about more match-ups, scheme, and give our predictions for the game on The Kist & Solak Show #191! Listen 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 and subscribe to BGN! FLY EAGLES FLY!