Welcome to Week 1. This is The Preview, where we go in depth on everything you need to know ahead of the Washington Football Team hosting the Los Angeles Chargers at FedEx Field at 1 p.m. Sunday. We cover the offense’s plan against Brandon Staley’s defensive scheme, the Chargers’ revamped offensive line, Washington’s history with Week 1 starting QBs and more.

The Washington Football Team will have another shot at Brandon Staley’s defense in Week 1. The team’s worst offensive performance last season came in Week 5 against the Los Angeles Rams when Staley was the defensive coordinator.

Washington finished with the fewest points (10), first downs (10) and total yards (108) of any game it played in 2020. Staley’s defense, which was ranked No. 1 in the NFL at the time, created issues for Washington by frequently using two-high safety looks that produced light boxes — meaning there were six or fewer defenders near the line of scrimmage before the snap.

But those presnap looks by the defense were a disguise, and often the Rams would send an extra defender into the box after the snap. As a result, Washington was able to average only 2.7 yards per carry and the offensive line gave up eight sacks.

Now Staley is the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, and Washington will open its season against his scheme with a new cast of defenders.

“It’s different preparing for a team, looking at a lot of Rams film for scheme, but then [you] got to look at Chargers’ film for people, balancing the flip-flop between the two,” tight end Logan Thomas said.

Last season, the Broncos and Rams were the only two teams that aligned presnap with two high safeties on more than 75 percent of their plays, according to Sports Info Solutions, and the Rams ranked first in the number of times they used a “light” box of six defenders or fewer. Typically, a light box combined with a two-high look would indicate that a defense was trying to stop the passing game, but the Rams often rotated out of their initial look, and they were stout against both the run and the pass; they gave up the third-fewest yards per carry (3.8) and the fewest net yards per throw (5.1) to opponents.

Coach Ron Rivera said Wednesday that the Rams were disruptive because of an “exceptional inside pass rusher” in Aaron Donald, and he believes the Chargers could have similar success. Thomas stressed the importance of keeping three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa out of the backfield Sunday.

“If you can play some form of cover-two, two-zone or two-man, and limit the quarterback’s time, you can be very effective,” Rivera said. “The pass rush really is key to helping the secondary, but then it is vice versa. If the secondary is on and is doing the things it can, it’ll help the pass rush.”

The Chargers’ secondary includes veteran Chris Harris Jr and safety Derwin James, a 2019 Pro Bowl pick returning from a torn meniscus suffered in 2020. Scott Turner said the team probably will have to make adjustments as the game goes on, given that there isn’t any game tape to study of the Chargers’ defense playing in Staley’s scheme, but he said he expects the defense to be sound tacklers and also have eyes on Ryan Fitzpatrick at all times.

“Coach Staley does a great job as far as he kind of disguises his coverages. He does a nice job of making stuff look the same,” Turner said. “His biggest thing is he puts his playmakers in good positions and he moves them around, so you can’t just focus on a spot. I’m sure he’s got some of those up his sleeve, and we’re just going to have to adjust.”

The Chargers’ revamped offensive line will face its first test against Chase Young and the WFT defensive front. Four of the Chargers’ projected starters on the offensive line this season weren’t with the team last season, with right tackle Bryan Bulaga being the only holdover from 2020.

The Chargers upgraded their interior line by signing center Corey Linsley and guards Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi to offseason deals. They also used their first-round pick to draft tackle Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern to protect Justin Herbert’s blind side. Slater’s first NFL game will pit him against a familiar foe in Young, who lined up against Slater twice when he was at Ohio State and said he’s excited for Washington’s defensive line to get after the Chargers’ new front.

Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the Washington Football Team’s 14th Week 1 starting quarterback since 2000. Only the Cleveland Browns have had more Week 1 starters in that time period, with 16. Washington’s quarterbacks are 9-4 since 2000 in their first Week 1 start with Washington. Fitzpatrick himself has been a Week 1 starter for five different teams since entering the league in 2005, an opportunity he understands the gravity of.

“It’s not a responsibility I take lightly, but it’s also not something I take for granted,” Fitzpatrick said Wednesday. “This is something I’ve worked very hard to do and I know that there’s a lot of people in and outside of this building that are counting on me to go out there and perform. So it’s a huge honor and it’s something that especially Week 1 getting out there, getting the season started the right way. It’s a very big deal for me.”

Injury report: Ron Rivera announced Friday that the team placed Curtis Samuel on short-term injured reserve after Samuel aggravated a lingering groin injury this week. Samuel is eligible to return after the team’s Week 3 game against the Buffalo Bills. Rivera said Samuel’s absence doesn’t affect the team’s game plan and believes the team has enough weapons to cover for his absence.

The most notable name on the Chargers’ injured list is running back Austin Ekeler (hamstring), who was listed as questionable. He practiced Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday’s practice.