A new schedule. A new Eagles football season. And with a quick look into my crystal ball, here is how I see the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles regular season playing out. Hold me to this one, folks. You can say you read it here first …
WEEK 1: September 13 at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m. on FOX
Just as in 2013 when the Eagles opened the regular season at Washington and again in 2017 (at Washington) and in 2019 (in Philadelphia), the Eagles and Redskins tangle to open the season.
"We like consistency," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said on the Friday before the 2020 season opens. "We know them and they know us."
In a tight battle, the Eagles face a third-and-goal situation at the Washington 4-yard line with just over one minute remaining in the first half and quarterback Carson Wentz uses a timeout to talk things over with Pederson on the sidelines.
"You want Quarterback Trips?" Wentz asks.
"OK, let's do it," Pederson says.
Wentz trots back to the huddle and the Eagles send in extra offensive linemen – Matt Pryor and Jordan Mailata. Officials announce that Mailata and Lane Johnson are eligible receivers. Wentz takes the direct snap in the shotgun formation, laterals it to Greg Ward and Ward rolls right and throws an easy pass to a wide-open Johnson, who sheds pass-rushing rookie Chase Young and easily catches the touchdown pass.
That play blows open the game and the Eagles rollick to a resounding win.
"Three quarterbacks. Quarterback trips," says Johnson, a quarterback in college who caught a pass from a quarterback in college (Ward) who took a lateral from Wentz. "We only worked on it three times, but I've been waiting for that play my entire career. Now that I have taste of the end zone, I want more."
Final Score: Eagles 37, Redskins 17
WEEK 2: September 20 vs. Los Angeles Rams, 1 p.m. on FOX
Darius Slay on one sideline. Jalen Ramsey on the other. Two of the best cornerbacks in the league look to lead their teams to a win in this critical Week 2 matchup. At the end of the day, though, it comes down to running back Miles Sanders. He rushes for 157 yards on 11 carries and gains another 88 yards on six pass receptions, scoring three touchdowns. Wentz throws Ramsey's way 14 times and completes 11 passes, including a 67-yard touchdown strike to Alshon Jeffery. It's an offensive explosion again for the Eagles and the defense takes advantage of a rare mental blunder from Rams Head Coach Sean McVay, who is able to remember every play for the last 10 years of his coaching career. On this day, he forgets an early-game play call, forcing quarterback Jared Goff to ad lib at the line of scrimmage and Slay steps in front of a Goff pass and returns it 43 yards for a touchdown to give the Eagles a lead they would never relinquish.
Final Score: Eagles 31, Rams 10
WEEK 3: September 27 vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. on FOX
It's a battle of the Taylors – Press, the quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator for the Eagles against his brother, Zac, the head coach of the Bengals. They have some fun during the week – "Ask him if he's ever beaten me in Wiffle ball, basketball, darts, or thumb wrestling," Press boasts – and then it's game time.
The Eagles' defense makes life miserable for rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave records 2.5 sacks and shows off his "Gravedigger" dance and the Eagles roll to their third straight victory to end September and head into the prime-time portion of their schedule on a positive note.
"It's fun here, man," Hargrave says. "I just want to have more dances this year than Fletch (Fletcher Cox). He thinks he can dance, but he can't."
Eagles beat reporter Jimmy Kempski from Philly Voice dubs the Eagles' defensive line: "The Dance Academy." We'll see if it sticks.
Final Score: Eagles 27, Bengals 3
WEEK 4: at October 4 at San Francisco 49ers, 8:20 p.m. on NBC
In what appeared to be a non-football-related move, Wentz unveils his clothing line – Deer Stink – at his Wednesday press conference before the game. "Just trying to have some fun and give back to my community," says Wentz, who will donate all of the profits to his AO1 Foundation.
The move doesn't sit well with 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, an aspiring fashion model. In response, a visibly upset Garoppolo dyes his hair ginger and tints his beard. The Eagles take advantage of the mental warfare, intercepting Garoppolo twice in the first quarter on the way to a defensive-oriented victory in Santa Clara.
Final Score: Eagles 17, 49ers 10
WEEK 5: October 11 at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m. on FOX
The last time the Eagles were unbeaten heading into Pittsburgh was the 2004 season, when the Steelers dealt Philadelphia its first loss after seven victories. Pederson brings in former Eagles Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens during the week to speak to the team, and the two hug each other and show that, yes, bygones can be bygones. The team, fueled by the show of love, has its best practices of the season and takes that momentum into the game against the cross-state Steelers.
Tight end Zach Ertz catches seven passes, closing to within 45 passes of surpassing Harold Carmichael for the franchise's all-time receptions record, rookie Jalen Reagor chips in with a 56-yard touchdown catch-and-run, and Wentz picks apart the Steelers' defense, completing 27 of 31 passes for 341 yards and two touchdowns. The Eagles are clearly rolling. This could be something special.
Final Score: Eagles 31, Steelers 17
WEEK 6: October 18 vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. on CBS
Jim Schwartz, asked all week about devising a scheme against Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, says, "Our defense understands the challenge. He's a great football player. We have to be disciplined and mentally strong. How is our defense playing? I've always said this: 'We're playing like our record says we're playing.'"
And then Schwartz throws out what is dubbed "The Positionless Defense," that includes "positionless players" Jalen Mills, Will Parks, Avonte Maddox, Davion Taylor, T.J. Edwards, Nathan Gerry, Rodney McLeod, Brandon Graham, Malik Jackson, Slay, and Cox. In effect, the Eagles play with three down linemen – Cox, Graham, Jackson – three linebackers – Taylor, Edwards, and Gerry – and five "positionless" players.
The goal: Contain Jackson and his ability to break down a defense with his legs.
The funky alignment works as Jackson is held to 4 rushing yards and 72 passing yards as the Eagles continue to dominate.
Final Score: Eagles 21, Ravens 3
WEEK 7: October 22 vs. New York Giants, 8:20 p.m. on FOX/NFLN/Amazon
A Thursday night game at Lincoln Financial Field brings the Giants to town under first-year Head Coach Joe Judge, who arrives late to the game after he visits his alma mater, Lansdale Catholic High School, and then gets stuck in traffic. The Eagles jump out to a 10-0 lead before Judge shows up on the sidelines.
Boston Scott continues to dominate the Giants – he scored three touchdowns in the late-2019 win at MetLife Stadium – with 117 rushing yards and a pair of scores as the Eagles grind their way to another win and vow to enjoy the mini-bye weekend.
"I'm going to shave," says center Jason Kelce, who has not done so since the NovaCare Complex closed in the spring, March 13 to be exact. "This thing is getting a little unruly."
Final Score: Eagles 23, Giants 9
WEEK 8: November 1 vs. Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 p.m. on NBC
It's DeSean Jackson Week. Playing against the Cowboys again in prime time, Jackson is reminded that in 2008, on September 15 to be precise, he dropped the football before crossing the goal line.
"That's not going to happen this time," Jackson says, defiantly.
Jackson makes sure he doesn't drop the football after blazing past Dallas rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs and, in fact, takes the football all the way to the sideline and hands it to Eagles Vice President of Equipment Operations Greg Delimitros, who heads the New Era NFC Equipment Staff of the Year staff.
Jackson does it again in the third quarter, catching a pass from Wentz at the 30-yard line, racing past the Cowboys' sideline – he flaps his arms, Fly Eagles Fly style – and then runs away from the Dallas defense for another score. In all, Jackson catches five passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns.
"They said I can't run anymore," Jackson tells the Eagles Insider Podcast in an exclusive interview after the game. "I had to show 'em they wrong. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is beating DeSean Jackson on the football field."
Final Score: Eagles 38, Cowboys 14
WEEK 9: Bye weekend
Pederson gives the team the week off. Why not? The Eagles are unbeaten and they are determined. A few days of rest helps everybody.
WEEK 10: November 15 at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on FOX
There are no surprises here. The Eagles and the Giants know each other and they respect each other. New York quarterback Daniel Jones completes his first four passes, but on his fifth pass he forces a throw to wide receiver Golden Tate and Mills comes out of nowhere to make the interception and give the offense great field position. Wentz hits Dallas Goedert for a 15-yard touchdown and the Eagles are off and throwing.
Late in the game, holding a sizeable lead, the Eagles' defense makes another big play: Cox strip sacks Jones and rumbles 33 yards for the touchdown, high-stepping the last 8 yards and leaping high, higher, highest to spike the football through the goal posts.
"That's my tribute to Kobe Bryant," Cox said. "I don't need to dance. I can elevate. Javon, man, he needs to up his game. Everybody can do 'The Gravedigger.' How many defensive tackles can dunk the football?"
Final Score: Eagles 24, Giants 14
WEEK 11: November 22 at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. on FOX
The surging Cleveland Browns wait for the undefeated Eagles and the battle of franchise quarterbacks heats up during the week as Wentz and Baker Mayfield engage in some trash talking.
"I don't think the hunting in Cleveland is very good at all," Wentz says when asked if he's still angry that Cleveland traded the No. 2 pick to the Eagles before the 2016 NFL Draft. "Give me South Jersey any day. Represent!"
To which Mayfield replies, "We have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame here in Cleveland. What does Philadelphia have?"
Reminded that Philadelphia is the Cradle of Independence, Mayfield replies, "I shouldn't be responsible for what happens before my lifetime."
As for the game, Brandon Graham heats up. He sets a franchise single-game record with five quarterback sacks, giving him 12 for the season. Strangely, Graham neither dances nor dunks.
"I'm just ballin'," Graham says. "This is the first time in my career I've been in double digits in sacks. I want to win the sack title and another Super Bowl. Then I'll dance."
Final Score: Eagles 41, Browns 17
WEEK 12: November 30 vs. Seattle Seahawks, 8:15 p.m. on ESPN
As they do every year (it seems), the Seahawks come to Philadelphia. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson sees a "positionless" Eagles defense that features an alignment with just two defensive linemen – Cox and Malik Jackson – Graham as a linebacker and eight defensive backs. It works, again. Wilson is held to 10 rushing yards and he is sacked nine times, with Jackson and Cox splitting six. The run defense stuffs Marshawn Lynch (he signed the week before with Seattle) and the offense dismantles the Seattle defense with a balanced attack that features big games from Reagor, Jeffery, and Ertz, along with more Sanders, who cracks the 1,000-yard rushing mark.
Final Score: Eagles 27, Seahawks 10
WEEK 13: December 6 at Green Bay Packers, 4:25 p.m. on CBS
In another thriller at Lambeau Field, Eagles "positionless" player K'Von Wallace tips an Aaron Rodgers pass at the goal line and the ball is intercepted by Edwards to save the Eagles' unbeaten season. Rodgers and Wentz combine for 1,103 total yards, but the late red zone play is the key moment.
"It just goes to show," Edwards says, "that when it comes right down to it, defense wins games."
The beat goes on.
Final Score: Eagles 45, Packers 42
WEEK 14: December 13 vs. New Orleans Saints, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Pederson and Saints head coach Sean Payton make a week-of-game wager – they will race each other in a 20-yard dash before the game – and the loser has to caddy for the winner in the springtime celebrity golf tournament in Tahoe, California. Pederson runs a blistering 5.2 seconds to win, and he then gets down to business to win another football game.
The Eagles limit Saints quarterback Jameis Winston – in for an injured Drew Brees – and intercept him five times. The Eagles unveil "The Jalen Package" as rookie Jalen Hurts makes his NFL debut with a 4-yard option run for a touchdown and, well, the Eagles keep it going. The Saints can't handle wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in the red zone – he scores two touchdowns – and the Eagles turn a 21-0 first-quarter lead into a comfortable win as they enter the stretch run.
Final Score: Eagles 34, Saints 13
WEEK 15: December 20 at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m. on FOX
Flashy second-year man Kyler Murray has moved the Cardinals into playoff contention in the NFC West, but Schwartz adds another wrinkle: He alternates rookie linebackers Taylor and Shaun Bradley to "spy" Murray, which forces the talented quarterback to win from the pocket. Slay shuts down future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and the Eagles capture a hard-fought win in the desert.
Jackson catches six passes for 130 yards and Jeffery goes off for seven and 146 and Wentz ups his total touchdown count to 43 on the season.
Final Score: Eagles 31, Cardinals 20
WEEK 16: December 27 at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Jalen Reagor has a day! The leading candidate for NFL Rookie of the Year, Reagor catches five passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 67 receptions for 1,006 yards as the Eagles spread the wealth – Jackson and Jeffery are also both over the 1,000-yard receiving mark – in this magical season.
Perhaps the highlight of the game is when the Eagles introduce their version of the hook-and-ladder play as Wentz throws to Jackson for a completion and he laterals the football to guard Isaac Seumalo and Seumalo runs 13 yards for the touchdown.
In the post-game press conference, Seumalo lets out all of the emotion he's held in for his years as an Eagle: "It felt great," he said. "It was awesome."
Kelce is seen lecturing Seumalo after the press conference on the nuances of seizing the moment. SportsRadio 94WIP speculates that there is conflict within the media-hungry Eagles offensive line.
Final Score: Eagles 30, Cowboys 20
WEEK 17: January 3 vs. Washington Redskins, 1 p.m. on FOX
With history on the line, Pederson taps Nate Sudfeld for the start at quarterback and he delivers with 35 completions in 41 attempts for 173 yards in the ball-control attack. Goedert catches 22 passes to set an NFL record (previously held by Brandon Marshall, 21). Elijah Holyfield and Corey Clement combine for 246 rushing yards. The Eagles make history. A regular season that began with so much uncertainty ends with perfection as the Eagles head into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the NFC and home-field advantage through the newly expanded playoff format.
"We always say, 'Go 1-0 this week.' We've done that every week this year, so I guess that makes us perfect," Pederson said. "That's a credit to the guys, our coaching staff, our fans, everyone in the organization. We have more to accomplish, though. We're just getting started."
Final Score: Eagles 17, Redskins 0
Bring on the playoffs!