The Philadelphia Eagles enter FedEx field Sunday having lost their last five games against the Washington Redskins. Eagles fans can expect the 2017 season opener to be different as both teams personnel have had a shift in personnel.
The Eagles loaded up on weapons for its second year quarterback Carson Wentz in the off-season, adding receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. The team also added depth to its running game, signing former New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount.
Wentz also has returning players Darren Sproles and tight end Zach Ertz in his corner. The offensive line looked a little shaky during the preseason. Hopefully, all the kinks are worked out. There are no injuries or suspensions to the big guys up front, which is a plus.
On the defensive side, the Eagles traded for cornerback Ronald Darby from the Buffalo Bills mid- preseason. The move was made to strengthen the position while rookie Sidney Jones rehabs from his Achilles injury. The corner position has been an ongoing issue for Philly. With players on the roster like Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Darby and Jones under rookie contracts, look for them to develop together and be a solid unit for the next two to three years.
Safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney Mcleod are a lock at that position and will have a strong presence. For the linebackers, Mychal Kendricks had an excellent preseason. That was unexpected due to his status being on the team was still unknown. Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks will give opposing quarterbacks trouble if healthy.
Look for all three of those guys to have a big year. The Eagles defensive line is one of the best in the league, as they added Timmy Jernigan from Baltimore and rookie first-rounder Derek Barnett looked unstoppable in the preseason.
Washington coach Jay Gruden has changed his team’s culture for the better, balancing a sharp aerial attack with a power run game. The commitment to grinding and pounding the football is impressive, but the Redskins do not have the personnel for it. There’s also a new look to the receiving corps, with the departures of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. In response to those losses, the Redskins signed former Cleveland Brown Terrelle Pryor. Veteran receiver Jamison Crowder will look to be Kirk Cousins security blanket along with tight end Jordan Reed.
The Redskins defense is led by its third coordinator in four years, Greg Manusky. They will blitz, especially if they have tape on the Eagles sloppy offensive line play in the preseason.