Eagles Coach ‘Learned to Respect’ Dwayne Haskins, Talks Darius Slay on Terry McLaurin

Dwayne Haskins

Getty Dwayne Haskins runs over the Lions.

It’s not that the Eagles didn’t respect Dwayne Haskins, they just didn’t know he could put his pedal to the metal.

Haskins showcased his wheels last year versus Philly on a crucial 3rd-and-1 play late in the third quarter, taking off for 23 yards and picking up the first down on the speed option. Two plays later, Washington scored a touchdown to take a 21-17 lead in Week 15. Sure, the Eagles eventually won the game but that one play proved that 40 times aren’t everything. Remember, Haskins ran a disappointing 5.07 seconds at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.

“He didn’t run a great 40 time, but we have learned to respect his athletic ability,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “We already knew to respect his arm. I think as we saw last year, he was improving as his — as he was getting more experience. Some of the mistakes he made in the games before he played us, he came and corrected some of those mistakes.”

In his first career start against Philadelphia, Haskins put all his athletic ability on display after throwing for 261 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 26 yards while posting an impressive 121.3 QB rating. The Eagles’ defense hadn’t been expecting that kind of performance out of the rookie.

“He’s got some really good arm talent. Made some throws in that game. He fit some really tight windows,” Schwartz said. “Maybe even I think the first completion in that game he threaded the needle on a completion against zone that really showed, number one his accuracy, number two his arm strength. And maybe it was even a little more mobile than we expected coming into that game.”

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Will Darius Slay Match Terry McLaurin?

The biggest question on defense is whether Darius Slay will shadow Terry McLaurin in Week 1? The Eagles brought the shutdown corner over from Detroit for the sole purpose of matching the opposition’s top target. If that’s the plan, Schwartz is keeping it a secret.

“We’re going to be ready for however they deploy their guys,” Schwartz said. “And I’m excited about all our guys. I think we have some good matchups in this game.”

McLaurin is unquestionably Washington’s number one after racking up 919 receiving yards in 2019. Remember, the rookie burned the Eagles to the tune of 10 catches for 255 yards (25.5 yards-per-catch) and two touchdowns in two regular-season games.

“I’ve always liked Terry McLaurin,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “I think he’s a talented receiver. Very explosive, and it’s always a good match-up when you have two really good players going against each other and obviously something to watch in this football game.”

Pederson deferred to his defensive coordinator about the match-up question. It certainly seems logical that Slay would follow McLaurin around the formation, from outside to slot. The cornerback and receiver battled last year in Week 12, with mixed results. McLaurin finished with five catches for 72 yards but Slay kept him out of the end zone. Afterward, Slay complimented the Washington speedster who may have scored twice if not for overthrown passes from Haskins.

“To be honest, that whole year, besides Keenan Allen, he was my hardest one that I covered that whole year,” Slay said on McLaurin, via NBC Sports Washington. “He probably would have scored on me two times.”

Again, don’t read too much into last year’s numbers and matchups.

Said Schwartz: “There is some carryover to our games last year and then also individual matchups, but we’re in a new year this year.”

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