Brad Mills / USA TODAY Sports

After a 3-13 campaign and tumultuous offseason which saw the hiring of a new head coach, a changing of the team’s name and uniforms and constant negative attention in the press, not many were expecting the Washington Football Team to come out and score a major upset victory in the 2020 season opener. Yet that’s exactly what happened on Sunday, as Washington defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-17. While Dwayne Haskins and the offense had their moments, the real reason Washington was able to score a victory was because of the defense — and more specifically — the defensive line. 

Washington’s defensive linemen blossomed in Ron Rivera’s 4-3 base defense, as they got to Carson Wentz eight times for a total of 62 yards lost. In the first quarter, Wentz completed 9 of 11 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. For the rest of the game, he completed 15 of 31 passes for 147 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Washington drafted former Ohio State defensive end Chase Young with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and he recorded arguably the most impressive rookie debut of any player around the league on Sunday. Young had four combined tackles, 1.5 sacks and also forced a fumble. According to Pro Football Focus, Young was the highest-graded rookie in Week 1 with an 86.5 grade. 

When fellow Washington defensive end Ryan Kerrigan was asked to describe Young’s debut. He needed just two words.

“As advertised,” Kerrigan said, via ESPN’s John Keim. 

Despite going No. 2 overall, Young was considered to be the best player in this draft class. In his junior season at Ohio State, Young recorded 46 total tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks along with 58 quarterback pressures. In three total seasons, Young recorded 40.5 tackles for loss and 30.5 sacks — which ranks second in program history. He was unanimously named to the 2019 All-Big Ten team and All-American team. His quickness and power were on full display in his first game, as it appears his natural ability to torture quarterbacks will translate immediately to the next level. 

What Washington proved in Week 1 is that while they don’t have the best offensive attack or most talented secondary in the NFL, they are going to be able to compete because of their pass rush. The defensive line completely altered how Wentz threw the ball, and attributed to his throwing of two interceptions. If Young was able to tie for the team lead in sacks in his very first NFL game, one can only guess how effective of a player he will end up being for this rebuilding Washington franchise. 


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