EAGLES AIM TO KEEP ROGERS DOWN, SNEAK OUT OF GREEN BAY WITH A WIN
There is no secret for what the Eagles must do if they want to have success against the Green Bay Packers this Sunday (4:25 PM FOX) and that is to keep quarterback Aaron Rogers in check.
Yes the Packers (6-3) play a great team defense and are unselfish – nine different players have interceptions – and Clay Matthews has played well against the Eagles over his career (4 sacks in three meetings) as has cornerback Tramon Williams (INT, FF & FR in last two games) but if the Birds want walk out of Lambeau Field with a win and establish themselves as the front runner to win the NFC, they are going to have to find a way to stop Rogers, who comes into the game as the league’s top-rated quarterback (120.1 rating).
Eagles defenders will all tell you that Rogers is so tough because, regardless of the pressure you put on him, he is a threat to score even if he is lying on his back.
The Eagles will want to keep the pressure on against a signal caller who was as hot as it gets last week against the Chicago Bears during the Packers 55-14 win over their rival.
Rodgers threw an NFL-record-matching six touchdowns in the first half of that game. Obviously Rogers will face a tougher challenge Sunday with the 7-2 Philadelphia Eagles coming to town. The Eagles defense has racked up 32 sacks, seven interceptions and 15 forced fumbles so far this season.
“Usually you have a quarterback who is very, very accurate out of the pocket but he’s immobile so you can pressure him and you know he’ll be in the pocket,” said safety Malcolm Jenkins, who leads the Eagles with three interceptions. “Or you have a mobile quarterback who is not that accurate in the pocket, but Aaron Rogers is the best of both worlds. He can throw the ball out of the pocket really quick. He knows where he is going. If you make him hold the ball, he’s mobile enough to get out on the run and he’s just as accurate on the run. And that presents a little bit of a challenge to beat him.”
Rogers has plenty of productive receivers led by Jordy Nelson who has 56 catches for 889 yards and eight touchdowns. Randall Cobb has 44 catches for 650 yards and 10 TDs.
Davante Adams has hauled in 25 receptions for 273 yards and two scores and Eddie Lacy is right there with 24 catches for 277 yards and one touchdown.
“He’s got weapons all over the place that do a good job even with scramble drills and guys working to get open,” Jenkins said. “You see guys wide open late in the down. We’ll have to cover him for a long time and see if we can get him on the ground. As long as he has the ball in his hands, he can throw it anywhere…as long as he’s not down, he can deliver the ball all over the field. When you get to him you can’t just stare at him and hope it’s an in-completion. You’ve got to get him down.”
The Eagles will counter with a pass rush that is one of the league’s best. The Birds lead the NFC in sacks as a team with 32, Connor Barwin leads the NFC with sacks with 10.5. Vinny Curry is second on the team with five sacks followed by Trent Cole and Brandon Graham who each have 4.5.
Barwin agreed with his teammate that Rogers’ strides on the field may not be esthetically pleasing but he gets the job done.
“People talk about (Panthers) Cam (Newton) and his running ability a lot but Aaron Rogers can run around a lot and elude the rush as good as anybody in the league,” Barwin said at his locker this week. “We’ll have to be disciplined in what we do and when we do get back there we have to make sure we get him down.”
Barwin cautioned Eagles fans not to be mislead by last year’s win. The Packers were without Rogers and won the game gong away 27-13. What he meant was the Packers have other weapons to throw at the Birds Sunday and the defense must be ready.
“There are still eight or nine guys still on offense who were in that game last year,” Barwin said. “There are one-on-one matchups happening all over the field that you can watch on film. One big one was Eddie Lacy (478 YDs, 4 TDs in 2014) who played that whole game and he’s still their starting running back and that guy’s going to be a challenge again this year like he was last year.”
Barwin said the Birds will likely have a spy on Rogers albeit not as much as they did last week with Newton.
Barwin was asked to come up with a thumbnail description of what the greatness of Rogers’ game is and what the Eagles will need to do in order deal with him.
“He throws the ball where ever he want to throw it,” Barwin said. “It’s on time. You’ve got to be on your guy tighter than you’ve ever been on him before or he’ll find a way to sneak in there.”
If Barwin and the Eagles can contain Rogers, they may just sneak out of Lambeau with a victory.