Eagles-Packers Preview: Part 2
This Sunday evening, the NFC East Champions take the field at Lincoln Financial Field, there is much at stake for both teams. The Green Bay Packers are in town and recently have been playing like the Super Bowl contender they were picked to be in preseason polls. The Eagles will have to bring their best game in all facets to move on to the divisional round. Over the next few days, I will break down each unit of the team (offense, defense, special teams and coaches) and on Saturday will predict the winner. Today is a look at the defense.
Philadelphia on Defense
On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles have been struggling all season. There have been some flashes of potential from their youngsters, but injuries in the last few weeks have limited even those moments. The Vikings game was possibly their best performance of late, giving up just 17 points on defense (the seven points in the first half were scored by the Minnesota defense).
Up front, the Eagles have done a good job of getting after opposing quarterbacks (10th in sacks) and stopping the run. They have been horrendous against the pass, but they are a turnover machine. Here are a few items that will determine how successful the Eagles will be on defense against Green Bay:
- Can the front four get some pressure, without help, on Aaron Rodgers? If they can avoid the need to send extra men and still disrupt Rodgers, it could be helpful to have some linebackers dropping back in coverage
- Speaking of those linebackers, how will they do covering the middle of the field? We’ve seen some nice work from Jamar Chaney the last few weeks covering Jason Witten, Kevin Boss and Visanthe Shiancoe. But he’s been burned a few times as well. If Stewart Bradley is ready, that could allow the Eagles to mix and match veteran savvy with speed and athleticism and that would be fun to watch
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- Cornerback depth is a major concern as well. Of all the great personnel decisions I think the front office and Andy Reid have made over the years, trading Sheldon Brown was not a wise decision. Ellis Hobbs is not a No. 2 cornerback, for starters, and after that Joselio Hanson and Dimitri Patterson are not ready for that role yet. I like most of what I’ve seen from Patterson, but he makes too many mental mistakes to start in the postseason. I think we’ll see both of these guys on the field at times Sunday, with the coaches playing to the strengths of each player
- Will we continue to get solid play from the free safety position? Nate Allen was having a superb rookie season when he went down a month ago. Kurt Coleman has stepped in and done a nice job of being a ball-hawk, making good open-field tackles, and decent coverage. Will he continue to play well and maybe even step up his game in coverage so Quinton Mikell can be sent in as a blitzer? I think Coleman has good skills and this is a position we finally have an answer for
The Packers will score some points against our defense unless we are able to step up in these areas. Tomorrow we’ll take a closer look at the Eagles special teams.