Everyday in practice, the Eagles defense gets the experience of playing against a mobile quarterback. When they play Washington later this year, it will definitely help them prepare for what to expect.
But this Sunday, they will face a completely different beast when they try to bring down the 6'5, 241 lb quarterback from Pittsburgh.
In many ways, Ben Roethlisberger is exactly the kind of scrambling quarterback the Eagles want Micheal Vick to be. He has great pocket presence, moves pretty well with the ball, and is hard to bring down. What makes Roethlisberger most effective when he gets outside of the pocket however is how good he is at keeping his eyes down the field.
Eagles Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo spoke today about the struggle his players will face in deciding whether to commit to Big Ben, or stay with their man.
“The thing is that we have scramble rules that we talk about in training camp. Matter of fact, we did that this morning. We went through the first series in the preseason with a good example. We talk about what we have to do. We have rules too just like the offense has scramble rules. We have rules except for us it’s hard with temptation that when you see the quarterback running to the line of scrimmage it’s easy to come off of the wide receivers. You cannot come off the wide receiver until the quarterback crosses the line of scrimmage. And then you avoid the big plays. He may scramble, and he may get eight or nine or five or ten [yards], but if you come off your guy that could be a touchdown.”
With the speed the Steelers have at wideout, Roethlisberger creating more time could present a big problem for the Eagles.
In addition, one thing the Eagles have not had success at this year is bringing down the quarterback. With 7 sacks in 4 games, the defensive line may be producing pressure, but they aren't producing sacks. Against any quarterback it is important to bring him down when you have the chance- but that is especially true when facing Roethlisberger.
One player who was a pleasant surprise for the Eagles last week was fullback Stanley Havili. Havili had a big run late in the game and also did a great job blocking for LeSean McCoy in the 2nd half.
Here is what Offensive Coordinator Marty Morhinweg had to say about the fullback from USC.
“Stanley’s a good football player. We knew that right off the bat last year when he was here. Certainly, had some plans for him and he’s a natural football player. He can run with the football, he can block, he can catch and then he’s got the, like I said, the natural instincts to go along with it.”
On the injury front, Danny Watkins (chest injury) was listed as not practicing today on the teams official injury report, but according to multiple reports, Watkins was a full participant at practice.
Morhinweg said that the injury did not happen in practice, and that he expects Watkins to be ready to go on Sunday.
Follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks