When the Redskins schedule was released Thursday evening, the first things many fans circled were obvious.
Who do the Redskins open up against? What week do the Redskins travel out west to face the 49ers and longtime left tackle Trent Williams? When does new head coach Ron Rivera face his former team?
But for every game the Burgundy and Gold play in this season, there's at least one other underlying storyline. Here is one subplot to watch for in every Redskins game in 2020.
Week 1 -- Eagles @ Redskins -- Can the Redskins stop DeSean Jackson?
The Rivera era begins with a home date with Philadelphia, the reigning NFC East champions, something the head coach is looking forward to. All eyes will be on Rivera in his debut with the Burgundy and Gold.
However, if the Redskins want to come away with an upset victory over the Eagles, their defense better know where No. 10 in a white jersey is at all times. That would be Eagles wideout and former Redskin, DeSean Jackson.
Jackson played in just three games for the Eagles a year ago. However, he did plenty of damage to Washington in last year's opener, as the speedy wideout finished with 152 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles' 32-27 victory. The Redskins simply cannot afford to have that happen again.
Week 2 -- Redskins @ Cardinals -- Who will cover DeAndre Hopkins?
For the first time in their young careers, 2019 first-round picks Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray face one another in Week 2. The Murray vs. Haskins narrative will dominate headlines in the week leading up to this contest.
Slowing Murray will be a significant challenge for the Redskins, but stopping one of his new wideouts is a much more daunting task. The Cardinals made arguably the biggest (and most surprising) move of the offseason when they acquired All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans.
The Redskins cornerback group had tremendous turnover this offseason. Some combination of Kendall Fuller, Ronald Darby, and Fabian Moreau will likely start in 2020. Both Darby and Moreau are in the final year of their contracts, and having a good game against one of the best receivers in the NFL would be a great start in a contract year.
Week 3 -- Redskins @ Browns -- Jedrick Wills vs. Chase Young
For much of the Trent Williams saga, the Browns were considered a likely potential destination for the left tackle. However, the two sides were never able to work out a deal, and the Redskins shipped Williams to San Francisco in April.
What didn't change was the Browns desperate need at left tackle. Cleveland got their guy to protect Baker Mayfield's blindside with the 10th overall pick in Alabama's Jedrick Wills.
Eight picks earlier, the Redskins selected Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young. The battle between these 2020 first-rounders will be something to watch closely throughout this contest.
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Week 4 -- Ravens @ Redskins -- Slowing not just Lamar, but the Ravens rushing attack as a whole.
Slowing the NFL's reigning MVP, Lamar Jackson, is already a tremendous challenge in its own right. But stopping Baltimore's rushing attack as a whole will be something the Redskins must do in order to pull off this upset.
In 2019, the Ravens had the league's best rushing attack, averaging 206 yards on the ground per contest. Besides the Bengals, no defense was worse defending against the run than Washington's was a season ago.
Baltimore has reloaded on offense across the board and added arguably the best running back in the draft in Ohio State's J.K. Dobbins. The Redskins defensive front has lofty expectations for 2020. They must play their best in order to defeat Baltimore.
Week 5 -- Rams @ Redskins -- McVay's return to D.C.
The Redskins have played Sean McVay once since he became the Rams head coach, but the former Redskins offensive coordinator has not returned to the nation's capital since taking the head coaching job in LA.
For two teams that are on opposite coasts and play once every three years (unless the finish in the same place in their respective divisions), there may not be any other storyline than that.
Week 6 -- Redskins @ Giants -- Redemption in the Meadowlands for Haskins
Haskins made his NFL debut in the Meadowlands a year ago, and to say he struggled is an understatement. Now with a year under his belt and the presumed starter, expect the second-year passer to be locked in entering this contest.
Remember, Haskins grew up a Giants fan and spent the beginning of his childhood living in New Jersey. There will always be some extra juice for him when playing Big Blue.
Week 7 -- Cowboys @ Redskins -- Defending their home turf
In order to be successful in the NFL, you must protect your home turf. Over the past seven years, the Cowboys have come into FedEx Field and left victorious six times.
The Redskins haven't fared any better against their most-hated rival in their building, either. Over the past four years, the Cowboys have swept the Redskins three times and split with season series once. For the Redskins to turn things around, they must beat Dallas at home.
Week 8 -- BYE
Week 9 -- Giants @ Redskins -- What adjustments will the Redskins make?
Whenever you play the same opponent twice in a matter of weeks, the winner of the latter contest is usually the team that makes the most adjustments from the first clash.
When the Redskins play the Giants in Week 9, just 21 days after the met earlier this season, that will exactly be the case for two teams the enter the 2020 season relatively even in talent.
Week 10 -- Redskins @ Lions -- Terry McLaurin vs. Jeff Okudah
When the Redskins hosted the Lions in 2019, watching wideout Terry McLaurin matchup against Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay was quite the sight. Slay even complimented McLaurin's game, saying he was one of the hardest receivers he covered in 2019.
Well, Slay is no longer with the Lions, but Detroit has a new top cornerback in town: Jeff Okudah. The Lions invested the No. 3 overall pick in the draft in Okudah, McLaurin's college teammate with the Buckeyes. Week 10 will showcase all the great battles these two presumably had in practice in Columbus.
Week 11 -- Bengals @ Redskins -- Top two picks of the 2020 Draft face off.
Entering this contest, Haskins vs. Bengals QB Joe Burrow will be the main storyline, as the two battled for the starting job at Ohio State in 2018 before Burrow transferred to LSU. That storyline will overshadow the fact that the top two picks from this year's draft -- Burrow and Chase Young -- will face one another for the first time in their career.
The pass rusher has already mentioned that Cincinnati is the team he's looking forward to playing the most. So, don't be surprised if the No. 2 overall pick has a little extra motivation to bring the No. 1 pick to the ground.
Week 12 -- Redskins @ Cowboys -- Will the Redskins shake Turkey Day injury/health woes?
After a one year hiatus, the Redskins are back playing on Thanksgiving in 2020. Not only have the Redskins historically struggled on the holiday, but some of their best players have seemed to get injured during it, too.
In 2018, quarterback Colt McCoy broke his leg during the Redskins-Cowboys contest, one that would cost him the rest of the season and the beginning of 2019. In 2016, tight end Jordan Reed played through a shoulder injury, one that would cost him two of the Redskins next three games. These woes go all the way back to the Redskins first appearance ever on the holiday in 1968 when QB Sonny Jurgenson was sidelined with the flu.
Week 13 -- Redskins @ Steelers -- Sean Davis faces his old team.
Had Sean Davis not gotten injured during Week 1 of last season, there's a good chance he's not with the Redskins right now. The safety was entering the final season of his rookie contract a year ago and had been a starter at multiple positions for Pittsburgh during his tenure with the team. Those types of players aren't usually those you let walk in free agency.
But the Steelers did, and now Davis is a member of his hometown Redskins. You know he has certainly circled this game on his calendar.
Week 14 -- Redskins @ 49ers -- Nick Bosa vs. Chase Young
Yes, this is the Trent Williams game. That's all anyone will care about in the week leading up to it.
However, this is the first time Chase Young and Nick Bosa will face one another at the pro level. Throughout the draft process, Young was frequently compared to Bosa, who played the same position at the same school as him. Both were considered extraordinary talents out of college and went second overall in their respective drafts.
Young saw the tremendous impact Bosa had on the 49ers defense a year ago. Now, Young will get the chance to show Bosa the type of impact he will make on the Redskins unit in person.
Week 15 -- Redskins vs. Seahawks -- Quinton Dunbar's return.
In two consecutive weeks, the Redskins will face former players that they traded this offseason. Cornerback Quinton Dunbar grew unhappy with his contract situation in Washington this offseason, which has one year left on it and zero money guaranteed. Ron Rivera had no problem shipping him across the country for a fifth-round pick.
Will Dunbar have a new contract by then? Will he perform as well in Seattle as he did in Washington? There are plenty of questions to answer about Dunbar when he returns.
Week 16 -- Redskins vs. Panthers -- Familiar faces besides Ron Rivera.
Ron Rivera facing his former team will be the storyline throughout this week, although the head coach insists that it's "just another game."
But what won't go unnoticed is when the Panthers look across the sideline during this Week 16 matchup, there will be a lot more familiar faces besides Rivera. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner came from Carolina, along with many members of Rivera's coaching staff and front office.
Also, could Kyle Allen see the field? By Week 16, Rivera and co. should know whether Haskins is the answer at QB or not. If it's the latter, it would not be surprising to see Allen get some playing time against his former team.
Week 17 -- Redskins @ Eagles -- Kerrigan's last game with Washington?
Since he was drafted by the Redskins in 2011, only three players -- J.J. Watt, Chandler Jones and Von Miller -- have more sacks than Ryan Kerrigan. His 90 career sacks remain one shy from breaking Dexter Manley's franchise record.
The longtime pass rusher enters the final year of his contract with the Burgundy and Gold with no extension in place. That's not to say he won't be brought back, but with the investments in Chase Young and Montez Sweat, it's worth wondering whether the Redskins even want to bring back the aging pass rusher.
If this game is Kerrigan's last with the Redskins, it was one heckuva run.
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