We're just four days, three Eagles practices, and 130 miles away from the season opener in Washington. Head coach Doug Pederson couldn't envision a better opponent at the outset.
Dating back to 2014, the Redskins have won the last five contests including the last three at FedEx Field. Emotions will run high given the history between the two squads and nothing different should be expected Sunday.
"We have to finish better obviously. We have to take that into this season and again this is a good football team, it's a tough place to play. The crowd can get juiced up and be a loud place as we know. They play well at that stadium," Pederson said. "Division opponent on the road, Washington Redskins, season opener has everything you want to start the year."
The matchup within the matchup to monitor will be between receiver Alshon Jeffery and Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. When the two last lined up against each other, Jeffery recorded 92 yards on five catches while Norman came away with two interceptions. Pederson went back and scouted the two on film this past week observing Jeffery's routes and Norman's physical coverage.
"Alshon won his share. Josh Norman won his share, so it's a good battle. I think those two have a lot of respect for each other and it's great competition," Pederson said.
"He's a big target, dynamic guy that's had success when he is faced with challenges and this will be a big test for him with Josh following him. He's done it in the past on Alshon, so it will be a great opportunity for him but he's a big physical guy. We'll have to pick our spots obviously but still want to get him the ball and get him some touches and utilize him in the offense," he said.
Here are few of the other topics Pederson touched on prior to Wednesday's practice:
On last year's losses against the Redskins:
"In the first game, I thought top to bottom we just didn't play very well. Started slow offensively. Carson (Wentz) was hit early in the football game and don't want to make any excuses, but we didn't play well on both sides of the ball. There were some flashes you know, Malcolm (Jenkins) pick-six, I think we had a kickoff return (by Wendell Smallwood) for a touchdown, things like that. There were some flashes but not enough consistency."
On protecting quarterback Carson Wentz:
"You have to study that. That's part of what we do in the offseason. That's part of what we do in Training Camp. You know you have to understand pass rush. You have to understand situational football and you have to identify that for our guys up front. Not just the offensive line, but tight ends and backs that are in protection. And then you have to identify the guys on that side of the ball that can really rush the passer and (Ryan) Kerrigan's one of them."
"And then the second game, we had some injuries we were able to take the lead and then we had an opportunity to go back and actually hopefully win the game at the end. It's all learning experiences with a young football team."
On the role of rookie defensive end Derek Barnett:
"I think he had a tremendous preseason. He's definitely going to be in the rotation as you know we rotate a lot of defensive linemen. Eight of those guys are usually rolling in and out of there, so he'll have a big impact. He'll have a big part of this game. He'll have a substantial role in this football game. It'll be a great test for him and really all of our starters for the most part because this will be the first time to go 60 minutes with these guys. So we have to be careful with fatigue early in the game that's why we keep these defensive linemen fresh and he'll have a big impact in that role."
On stopping the Redskins' offense:
"The two tight ends they have (Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis) and also the little slot receiver (Jamison Crowder) and the run game gave us fits last year and that's something we have to focus on there. And it really starts up front both offense and defensive lines for us and trying to sustain the line of scrimmage. Sometimes that's coach talk, but at the same time, that's the importance of the game. We've got to do a good job defensively. I don't think we tackled very well in that game last year. They made big plays in the run game. Obviously with DeSean (Jackson) there were some chunk throws they were able to get off of play-action so it comes down to the study. (We) have to go back and study their offense and kind of what they're doing with their personnel know and put a good plan together and work on it this week."
On having Jeffery's ability to draw attention on offense:
"We know and I know that it's going to draw some attention defensively, but yet we can't just say, 'OK, eliminate that and just focus over here.' We still want to be able to use all of our offense and use all of our weapons on offense.
"By no means are we saying, 'Carson you have to throw it to him.' He might be primary but let's read the defense. Let's read the coverage and you might have to go somewhere else. You can always come back to those plays. But that's what we do when we game plan. Have certain guys in mind on certain plays."
On his play-calling strategy:
"I'm going to continue to be aggressive whether it be in play call, whether it be in game situations. I'm also going to be smart in those situations. If we're going to punt, we're going to punt. If we're going to go for it we're going to go for it. So I do want to send a message to the football team that I have a lot of confidence in the guys in those situations. You want to be as aggressive as you can within reason."
On Redskins tight end Jordan Reed:
"He's a tremendous athlete obviously a great tight end. A receiving tight end (that) can stretch the field, great hands, great route runner. Look at his body of work. We definitely have to keep an eye on him where he lines up whether he's detached or attached to the formation. Obviously matched up with a linebacker he can be a problem, even with some safeties. So we have our work cut out for him this week and we'll start in practice this afternoon."