FanPost

Previewing the Packers

[Note by JimmyK, 01/03/11 12:45 PM EST ] - (Nice work here by d-jackfan10  - Promoted from the fanpost section)

I've made two preview threads this season, one against the Giants (first game) and one against the Bears. In those games the Eagles went 1-1 so the superstitious side of me tells me that this is okay, I'm not jinxing the game. 

Let me start off by saying I respect the hell out of the Packers and they're the team I wanted to face the least. During that 5 game stretch in the middle of the season where they were dominating on both sides of the ball, I was convinced they were the best team in football and I believe they're much better than their record would indicate. 

First let me start with my criticisms of this Eagles team, things that are going to come back and bite them.

1.     Lack of Pass Rush

-Odd. An Eagles team that can't get pressure. Early in the year, pass rushing was not a problem but in games after the Bears game not including Sunday's glorified pre-season match-up the Eagles notched a grand total of 7 sacks and 13 QB hits which means that in the Eagles starters last 4 games they averaged less than 2 sacks a game and just over 3 QB hits a game. Blitz packages aren't getting home and the front 4 is struggling to get pressure as well.

To put this into perspective, the Giants in the second game against the Eagles notched 11 QB hits and 3 sacks and the Vikings in their game against the Eagles notched 7 QB hits and 6 QB sacks. The Eagles pass rush is floundering right now.

Against Dallas Sean McDermott really dialed up the blitzes while playing his second stringers so you've got to wonder if he was experimenting for this Green Bay defense.

The Eagles pass rush needs to step up in this game, its paramount and IMO the Eagles pass rush will decide this game. The Packers offensive line isn't the best pass blocking unit they've allowed 38 sacks (11th worst) and they've allowed 67 QB hits (11th best, this speaks to A-Rod's escape-ability). They give up a lot of pressure but Aaron Rodgers is just a master at avoiding the pass rush. If the Eagles pass rush can get to Rodgers it will make things much easier but given the pass rushing performance over the past few weeks, its not even close to a given. 

2.     A Bad Secondary

-The Eagles have allowed 54 pass plays of 20 or more yards this year (9th worst)

The Eagles secondary allows 215 yards per game (14th in the NFL)

The Eagles secondary has allowed 31 TD passes (29th in the NFL)

According to Football Outsiders DVOA the Eagles have the 18th best secondary in the NFL

I don't think the stats truly quantify how completely terrible this pass defense has been. Dimitri Patterson did a nice job for a three week stretch against the Colts, Redskins and Giants but after that, things went downhill and fast. He allowed 1 against the Bears, 3 TDs against the Giants and he played a big role in giving up big yardage to Andre Johnson and Percy Harvin. Joselio Hanson isn't any better, allowing 2 TDs against the Bears, 1 against the Texans and generally failing, especially in man coverage on the outside. That #2 corner spot is just a disaster.

Trevard Lindley is IMO the Eagles second best corner already. He has come up big in games against the Texans and Bears late making big plays. He has only allowed 1 TD which was when he was playing really timid on that terrible ‘field' at Soldier Field. In two games against Dallas' passing attack he allowed 5 catches for 82 yards. Trevard appears to be cast as a LCB though and Andy doesn't really switch things up all that much.

The Eagles secondary, which is starting Hanson and Coleman at RCB and FS could be in BIG trouble against the Packers passing attack which features one of the best receivers in the NFL (Greg Jennings), the best QB in the NFC (Aaron Rodgers) and a very strong supporting cast in Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, John Kuhn and Brandon Jackson.   

3.     A Bad Offensive Line

This season the Eagles offensive line has allowed 50 sacks, 2nd worst in the entire league and they've allowed 94 QB hits, 4th worst in the NFL. They're incredibly bad in the trenches. The Eagles stunningly sub par line is compounded by complaint #4.

4.     Vick's inability to manipulate the pocket and beat the blitz

-This is really starting to become a problem. Michael Vick has been regressing as the season went along. People are saying "Superman plays on the Eagles and he wears #7" but I don't buy it, you can beat football superman with the blitz which would basically be like Superman's weakness being rocks. Michael Vick is so beat up that at the first sign of pressure he'll abandon ship and roll out or take off running. In addition to his inability to manipulate the pocket and stare down the barrel he struggles to recognize the blitz. Against the Vikings how many times did Winifield blitz and Vick and the Eagles never adjusted to it? Mike Vick can make every throw if you give him a clean pocket but if you pressure him nothing is guaranteed. 

Now that my complaints about the Eagles are done, lets take a look at the Packers shall we? I'll just start by looking at some team statistics on offense.  

Packers Offense:

Aaron_rodgers_green_bay_packers_v_philadelphia_yvx0r-rxbdfl_medium

Total Offense

358.1 YPG (9th in the NFL)

Third Down %

42% (8th in the NFL)

Passing YPG

257.8 (5th in the NFL)

QB Rating in Away Games

88.4 (11th in the NFL)

Passing TDs

31 (4th in the NFL)

Passing First Downs

204 (6th in the NFL)

20+ Yard Passing Plays

57 (6th in the NFL)

40+ Yard Passing Plays

11 (6th in the NFL)

Collective QB Rating

98.9 (3rd in the NFL)

Rushing YPG

100.4 (23rd in the NFL)

Rushing TDs

11 (18th in the NFL)

Rushing First Downs

88 (18th in the NFL)

20+ Yard Rushes

3 (32nd in the NFL)

40+ Yard Rushes

1 (31st in the NFL)

Fumbles Lost

9 (10th best in the NFL)

Stuffs/Carries

8.3 (13th in the NFL)

Collective YAC

2012 (5th in the NFL)

Dropped Passes

25 (16th in the NFL)

100 Receiving Yard Games

10 (2nd in the NFL)

Let me be clear: I HATE THIS MATCH-UP! 

To illustrate exactly how terrible the Eagles match-up with this Packers offense I'll make yet ANOTHER chart. Get pumped, I'm makin' charts.

Statistical Category

Packers Offense

Eagles Defense

On third downs

42% conversion rate

38% success rate

Passing Touchdowns

31 Passing Touchdowns

33 Touchdowns Allowed

20+ Yard Passing Plays

57 big passing plays

54 allowed

The Packers are good where the Eagles are bad. The Eagles secondary is bad and the Packers passing offense is one of the best in the NFL and I believe that they've got the best QB in the NFC and one of the best receivers in the NFL who just so happens to be their X receiver, aka the guy who will play whoever the Eagles play at RCB. The Eagles have struggled to contain scrambling quarterbacks all season too. Aaron Rodgers is the second best scrambling QB in the NFL (after Vick of course).

To give you an idea of how good Greg Jennings is, here is his stat line: 76 receptions, 1265 yards, 16.5 yards per catch, 12 touchdowns, 63% catch rate and 5.3 YAC. Greg Jennings is a bona fide top 10 and possibly top 5 receiver in the NFL and Joselio Hanson will be covering him. YIKES!

This defense has its work cut out for it. The Packers don't have a run game and that is what the Eagles do well, stop the run so their strength is sort of irrelevant because the Packers really don't even pretend their running game is serviceable (421 attempts, 20th in the NFL). The Packers make it no secret, they like to pass the ball and the Eagles aren't good at stopping the pass.

Packers Defense:

B_j_raji_indianapolis_colts_v_green_bay_packers_gvbpezazdkbl_medium

BJ Raji is the Packers unsung hero. 

Total Defense

309.1 YPG (5th in the NFL)

1st Downs Per Game

16.9 (4th in the NFL)

3rd down %

36% (9th in the NFL)

Passing YPG

194.2 (5th in the NFL)

Passing Touchdowns Allowed

16 (4th in the NFL)

20+ Yard Passing plays allowed

44 (10th in the NFL)

40+ Yard Passing Plays Allowed

8 (16th in the NFL)

Sacks

47 (2nd in the NFL)

QB Rating Against

67.2 (1st in the NFL)

Interceptions

24 (2nd in the NFL)

Rushing Yards Allowed

114.9 (18th in the NFL)

YPC Against

4.7 YPC (31st in the NFL)

The Packers defense is very good. They allow 15 points a game, best in the NFC. However, I've got confidence that the Eagles will get theirs. The Eagles played three games against teams who, at the time had top 2 defenses in the NFC. The Eagles came out of those games scoring 27, 26 and 38 points . 

At CB the Packers have Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams. You've all heard of Charles Woodson but Tramon Williams has played better this season. Woodson is still plenty good but he has regressed since last season, giving up far more plays, making less plays on the ball and committing more penalties (12 to be exact). Tramon Williams is a guy who has been shut down on his side of the field, you're lucky if you get something going against him. Tramon Williams has the athleticism to run with Maclin and Jackson and Charles Woodson is the big, physical, press kind of corner the Eagles receivers really struggle with. This is going to be a tough game for DeSean and Jeremy.

 As you can see they sack the QB often. Clay Matthews is their superstar but don't overlook BJ Raji who is really playing out of his mind this year and playing like a top 10 pick should. BJ Raji is simply incredible IMO, the guy must be pushing 350 pounds and he moves like a guy who is 310. Raji consistently walks interior blockers into the pocket, he can collapse the pocket and when in obvious run situations, Raji is more than capable of clogging the middle of the field. Raji is a man crush of mine.

As you can see they're not really a good run defense which could be good for the Eagles. If the defense can step up, the offenses scores early and Andy leans on the run game the Eagles could be in for a big day because LeSean McCoy, Jerome Harrison and Michael Vick could do work against this front 7. The Packers have only allowed 6 rushing touchdowns but the Eagles have scored 18 rushing touchdowns, third best in the NFL. This is a match-up that favors the Eagles and one that I really hope Andy Reid takes advantage of, the Eagles one of the premier young running backs in the game going against a sub-par run defense and eating up the clock would keep Aaron Rodgers and that prolific Packers offense off the field.

Packers Special teams:

Riley_cooper_philadelphia_eagles_v_new_york_lo0kvejceugl_medium

There aren't a whole lot of special teams stats out there but Football Outsiders has Green Bay ranked as the 29th worst special teams team in the NFL, the Eagles are 14th. Advantage Eagles.

On kick off returns the teams are about even. On kick off coverage the Eagles have an advantage (the Eagles made VAST improvements since the start of the season). On punt returns the Eagles have a big advantage, especially if DeSean is back there. On punt coverage the Eagles have another advantage. Overall the Eagles are just better on special teams. Don't count special teams out, they can turn the tides of a game, just look at the Giants game. Good special teams is the difference between an 8-8 record and a top 10 pick, they can change games and win games, just ask those lucky ass Bears.

My pessimistic opinions:

For those who would rather read point for point instead of paragraph here is why I think the Eagles will ultimately struggle:

The Packers have a good passing game → The Eagles have a bad secondary

The Packers have the best QB in the NFC → Two weeks ago Joe Webb beat the Eagles

Greg Jennings is one of the best receivers in the NFL → Dimitri Patterson allowed 3 touchdowns against Manningham and Nicks

The Packers don't run the ball → The Eagles can stop the run

The Packers score lots of passing touchdowns → The Eagles give up lots of passing touchdowns

Aaron Rodgers is a very good runner → The Eagles do not defend QB runs well

The Packers have tough, physical, athletic corners → The Eagles receivers can be disrupted if they're played tough

The Packers are great at getting to the QB → The Eagles have a very bad offensive line

The Packers defensive coordinator is Dom Capers, one of the founding fathers of the zone blitz → Michael Vick struggles when blitzed and pressured

Clay Matthews is a monster → Winston Justice is not

The Packers run defense is sub-par → The Eagles don't commit to the run unless they're playing second stringers against the Cowboys

This is the match-up I wanted least. I would've taken a match-up against the Giants, Bears, Saints, Buccaneers or Falcons any day of the week over a game against the Packers. Even when they lost they played great, their six losses have been by a combined 20 points. Wow.

Reasons for hope:

The Eagles are 2-0 against the Packers in the playoffs. 

The Packers have not won a Sunday afternoon game in the playoffs this decade. They're 0-6 in this time slot since 1998. Cursed? 

Last time Vick played Green Bay in the playoffs the Falcons won 27-7 and Vick is 1-0 in the playoffs against Green Bay.

Reasons to doubt:

Aaron Rodgers has played 1 playoff game, in that game he threw for 423 yards, 4 touchdowns and ran for another. Lets hope he doesn't do that again. 

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

The Eagles can win this game, I'm just not sure they will. The Packers match up extremely well with the Eagles. The Eagles have a few distinct advantages though. The Eagles have a massive advantage in the run game on both sides of the ball. The Eagles can run the ball with anyone in the NFL and the Packers defense isn't a good run defense. The Packers don't run the ball well at all and the Eagles have shut down some of the game's best runners this season. The Eagles have an advantage on special teams. Also the Packers defense is very aggressive and blitz happy, the Eagles can run the ball to slow down the blitz, wear down the Packers front seven and keep Vick from getting hit. Also as we know here in Philadelphia, blitzing leaves big gaps behind the blitz and thats why running backs and short passes are so effective against the Eagles, the Eagles need to utilize their short passing game, use screen plays, bubble screens, quick throws, throws to the RBs in the flat and Celek over the middle to take advantage of the blitz. Unfortunately, these aren't things Andy Reid embraces, he doesn't pound the ball and apparently he thinks all pass plays should be 15+ yards down field. I really hope Andy Reid and Marty put some more runs and short stuff in the game plan. Also the run and screen games would set up nice play action which could help DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin get behind that good Packers secondary. 

Go Eagles! And I'll close with one last minute plea to Andy Reid: 

Dear Andy Reid, 

I, d-jackfan10 understand your predicament. You've got two of the best young receivers ever and one of the most explosive QBs in the game. Believe me, I understand you're tempted. I can see you're not one to resist temptation... I understand you're a mormon too and that you consider yourself a religious man so I'm fetching this quote from the bible:

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Moral of the story: Throwing the ball all game will bring forth death.

Solution: Give LeSean McCoy the football, early and often. 

Last game against the Packers LeSean McCoy was given the ball 12 times and despite that he still had 82 yards from scrimmage and 1 TD. Lets learn from what you did last time and give LeSean the damn ball. 

Thanks, D-jackfan10

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