By: Darrell Owens
Photo credit: Elijah Griffin Sr-Washington Football Team/Griffin Vision
We are just a few days from the kickoff of the 2020 NFL season for the Washington Football Team. As I talked about in my last article (link here), the “Culture Change” continues in Washington and another major step in that process begins this Sunday as the Philadelphia Eagles coming into town to renew their NFC East rivalry. Here are my 5 Keys to a Washington win on Sunday.
- Pressure Carson Wentz
Washington Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio has one of the most talented defensive lines in football, and he must put them to the test right away. Carson Wentz is one of the most talented quarterbacks in Football. Wentz is elusive and has a dangerous arm. He is one of those QB’s that when you think you got him beat, he shows you fast that you don’t. It will be important for Del Rio to get pressure on Wentz early and often. That task should be easier with the lost of the Eagles talented young left tackle Andre Dillard, who is out for the season with a torn bicep, despite losing him, Washington will still have to deal with 9-time All-Pro Left Tackle Jason Peters. This could be a good confidence boost for the Washington defense if they can shut down Wentz.
- Established The Run.
Washington has had a wild off season at the running back position. With the release of Derrius Guice & Adrian Peterson, most Washington fans are wondering what is going on. Head Coach Ron Rivera will have three players sharing carries in his backfield: Antonio Gibson, JD McKissic & Peyton Barber. Look for Gibson to be the lead back, he has had an impressive off season. This what Coach Rivera had to say about him…
We have a plan for him,”…“I know we haven’t shown you guys the whole plan, and that’s a part of the secret we’re trying to keep going into the regular season. But, Antonio’s a very versatile young man, a solid football player.
Getting Gibson going early will be key, and that should help Dwayne Haskins out in the passing game.
- Get Haskins/McLaurin Combo Going!
Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner will have to find a way to get the Haskins/McLaurin going. It shouldn’t be too hard because of the relationship and connection these two have built since their days at Ohio State. McLaurin had a very productive rookie season with over 900 yards receiving and 7 touchdown catches and with Haskins growth and leadership this off season. They should be ready to make their stamp on the league. So, Turner must get Haskins and McLaurin connection rolling in this contest.
- O-Line Protect Haskins at all costs!
Washington has had trouble with the offensive line since that whole Trent Williams thing. Now that Trent Williams is a 49er, Washington can move on. Finding a replacement for Williams is a whole other issue, but Coach Rivera will give Geron Christian the opportunity to be that guy. Christian has had a strong camp and has big expectations this season. The one element this o-line has lack is consistence on the left side of the line the last couple of years. They will need an all-round effect to keep the likes of Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett off Haskins. This will be a true test for Christian and the rest of the offensive line.
- Miles Sanders contained.
Miles Sanders had a solid second half to the 2019 campaign. His best game of the last season was in Washington. Sanders rushed for 122 yards, had 6 catches and 2 touchdowns (one rushing & one receiving). This one is simple, contain Miles Sanders and don’t let him beat you.
(UPDATE: Miles Sanders OUT with hamstring)
Prediction: Washington 31, Philadelphia 23
I expected a big day from the defense and the offense to come into their own just a little. Antonio Gibson will be my X-Factor for Washington I expect a very productive game from him: 7 catches, 64 yards with 76 yards rushing and 2 TD’sU