GreenBleed in Florida says the upcoming MNF Packers-Eagles game “…should be an all out war. Both teams’ seasons are on the line. Loser is pretty much DOA, winner still has a shot if they win every game forward, so looking for GB to pull out all the stops (even gimmick plays).We will have to play [the full] 60 minutes to get this done…”
I tend to agree.
A lot will depend on the offensive line play of the Eagles. With right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai in a “week-to-week” situation, according to head coach Doug Pederson, the Eagles have Allen Barbre prepared to move from left guard to right tackle, with StefenWisniewski returning to the starting group at left guard.
Vaitai, who was coming along with steady improvement at RT, has a sprained medial collateral ligament and is a long shot at this point to play against the Packers.
Barbre has eight career starts at right tackle. “It’s going to be fine,” said Barbre. “I’ve worked with Brandon (Brooks, right guard) and we’re on the same page. I’ve played over there before. I know how it works. It is just going to take some time to get comfortable. I’ll be fine by Monday.”
The receivers situation for the Eagles is not dandy at all. Will we see Jordan Matthews starting on the outside and rookie Paul Turner in the slot? Will Nelson Agholor even be activated? Does any of it even matter if our guys can’t get off the LOS cleanly or get separation on their routes—or when they do, commit costly drops? Tune in Monday night to find out.
The temptation is to dismiss the Packers as a team in disarray after 4 straight losses. I don’t buy it.
Aaron Rodgers is having a Pro Bowl season statistically with 25 TD’s vs. 7 INT’s thrown through 10 games. He’s still among the best at what he does and that by itself makes the Packers dangerous.
“He moves around back there and he’s got that quick release,” defensive tackle Bennie Logan said. “He’s one of the best. He knows what’s coming, so you can’t fool him. You just have to keep working and make sure that if you get a shot on him, you need to finish. Aaron is a great challenge for every defense. He keeps plays alive with his legs and his receivers know where the ball is going to be. As long as they have Aaron Rodgers, they know they can score on every possession.”
The Packers’ go-to receiver is Jordy Nelson, and he can create coverage mayhem.
Fran Duffy on Nelson: “Jordy Nelson lines up both in the slot and out wide, but wherever he lines up Rodgers has so much faith in his No. 1 receiver to win battles one on one against corners. Whether it’s on back-shoulder throws (which are a big part of what the Packers do), fade balls against single-high coverage (a favorite of Nelson’s) or just fitting in throws into tight windows, Nelson is so effective at going up and fighting for the football. He consistently comes out on top.”
Another player whom Green Bay likes to get creative with is tight end Jared Cook, who signed this offseason as a free agent from the Rams and has become an integral part of the offense. “Cook defeats press coverage quickly and wins on corner routes for huge gains. Cook is also a factor in the red zone. He lines up all alone out wide as a receiver, and he is able to win matchups in the middle of the field.”
According to Duffy, the Packers, like the Giants, try to lull you to sleep with quick slants, quick hitches and option routes underneath (can you say Randall Cobb?). But the Eagles’ secondary must be ready for double moves off of those routes as Green Bay tries to attack downfield.
Then there’s the backfield/wideout shuffle which requires constant monitoring by the linebackers and safeties. Both Cobb and second-year receiver Ty Montgomery have played out wide, in the slot and, with all of their injuries at running back, in the backfield. Davante Adams is used in a similar role.
On defense, the Packers are riddled with injuries in their secondary, but there’s the nemesis of the genius of defensive coordinator Dom Capers looming over this game, and his M.O. is to confuse the heck out of young quarterbacks.
Duffy again: “Veteran linebacker Clay Matthews is still on the roster, as is the ageless wonder Julius Peppers, but the edge rusher that has really stood out to me this year is Nick Perry. The former first-round pick, who I admittedly was not a fan of coming out of USC a few years ago, has really developed into one of the best players on that unit. So far in 2016 he has posted 10 knockdowns, 18.5 hurries and seven sacks as one of the most productive pass rushers in the entire NFL.”
The Packers almost never line up in their “base” 3-4 front, instead relying more on their nickel package, regardless of the offensive personnel on the field. Capers will show Carson Wentz a multitude of looks pre-snap, and Wentz will have to guess correctly when the blitz from the second or third level is coming. Even when Wentz reads an oncoming blitz correctly, Capers will often roll his coverage scheme to lure Wentz into a false sense of security— on a throwing lane that may look open, suddenly safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix rotates from the far side of the field to the opposite deep half in a two-deep, four-under zone blitz package. Boom!—it’s a Ha-Ha moment and not a happy one for the quarterback.
We should also mention that against the run, the Packers rank sixth so far allowing 91.1 yards per game. The starting defensive line in the base 3-4 with Kenny Clark, Letroy Guion and Mike Daniels will provide a challenge for the Eagles’ running game—and by now I guess you’ve heard RB’s Ryan Mathews (knee) and Darren Sproles (rib) are “doubtful” for this game.