Protecting Carson Wentz Won’t Be Easy Sunday
By Rob Maaddi
Chase Young says he transforms into “something different” when he puts his helmet on.
That could be a nightmare for the Eagles and their fans.
Young vs. Jason Peters is the most important matchup to watch Sunday when the Eagles visit the Washington Football Team in the season opener. The rookie defensive end was the No. 2 overall pick in the draft because he is a game-changer. If Peters can’t keep him off Carson Wentz, Young might be a season-wrecker.
Peters just returned to left tackle after playing right guard throughout training camp. The nine-time Pro Bowler got the raise he wanted but he’s clearly on the decline so the possibility of Young wreaking havoc in Philadelphia’s backfield is real.
Lane Johnson could also see Young up close because he rushed from the left and right side at Ohio State. Facing Peters is the bigger advantage but Washington’s front four is stacked.
Edge rusher Montez Sweat and tackles Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne were first-round picks the previous three seasons and end Ryan Kerrigan has always given the Eagles fits.
Protecting Wentz certainly won’t be easy for Peters, Johnson, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo and Matt Pryor.
“I feel really good about the guys we have and our coaches,” Kelce said. “Lane Johnson, probably the best tackle in the league right now, especially on the right side. Jason Peters is a future Hall of Famer, Isaac Seumalo in my opinion, is one of the most underrated offensive linemen in the league. Matt Pryor did a phenomenal job stepping in last season and really didn’t slow us down offensively. Nate Herbig has had a really good camp. Jack Driscoll, the rookie, has looked really, really solid.”
Here’s three more matchups to watch:
1. Eagles CB Darius Slay vs. Washington WR Terry McLaurin
Slay makes his debut with the Eagles going against a guy who had 10 catches for 255 yards and two touchdowns in two games vs. Philadelphia as a rookie last year. Slay faced McLaurin with the Lions. He gave up three catches for 42 yards on 10 targets. Some of those were poor throws by Dwayne Haskins and Slay had excellent coverage on others.
“I know what type of player he is, how talented he is,” Slay said. “He can stretch the field. He competes every play.”
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz hasn’t committed to Slay following McLaurin wherever he lines up.
“Whatever the game plan needs to be, I’ll be there,” Slay said.
2. Anyone on the Eagles vs. Washington CB Ronald Darby
Darby goes against his old team after three seasons in Philly. He was a starter on a Super Bowl championship team that gave up 505 yards passing to Tom Brady in that game. Darby had some good moments and several bad ones, of course. DeSean Jackson, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, John Hightower or whoever lines up against Darby should get plenty of looks from Wentz.
3. Eagles DT Fletcher Cox vs. Washington interior offensive linemen
Cox was selected to his fifth Pro Bowl last season but had seven fewer sacks than he did in 2018 when he was an All-Pro. He feels he has something to prove.
Washington guards Wes Martin and Brandon Scherff and center Chase Rouiller will have their hands full with Cox, who is healthy and determined to get back to his All-Pro form.
“I’m never satisfied,” Cox said. “I had a down year last year, coming off an injury and fighting through it all season. Now I’m 100 percent healthy and ready to roll. I’m excited about it and ready to go out there. This is the first year I’ve been able to go through a training camp in a while. Last year, I didn’t go through training camp because of the injury.”