When Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers left Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears with a fractured collarbone, the door was opened for backup quarterback Seneca Wallace. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy announced that they are preparing Wallace to start against the Eagles and face two of his former coaches from his days with the Cleveland Browns in 2011. Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was Cleveland’s head coach during that time, and defensive coordinator Bill Davis served as the Browns linebackers coach.
Wallace was cut by the Browns prior to the start of the 2012 regular season, but he saw significant playing time the year before. In 2011, the Iowa State product appeared in six games for the Browns, making three starts. The mobile signal-caller threw for 567 yards on the season, with two touchdown passes and two interceptions.
Despite the familiarity that Eagles coaching staff has with the Packers quarterback, head coach Chip Kelly doesn’t believe that his team has any advantage, saying that the system that he’s now playing in is different than the one Browns used.
“It’s Mike McCarthy’s offense, so I think you have a sense of familiarity,” Kelly said on Wednesday. “It’s no different than when we played the Giants and they had Cullen Jenkins. We had guys who coached Cullen and knew Cullen, but how the Giants deployed him was different how he was deployed here and how Mike is going to deploy Seneca is different than what Pat did.
“They have an understanding of what he can do. They can kind of give us a physical background of ‘Hey, he’s pretty good at this and he can do that,” but that’s probably the extent of it.”
Without Rodgers presence in the lineup, a lot of the Eagles attention will turn to stopping the Packers running game. Though Green Bay hasn’t been known for running the football much in recent years, they’ve flipped that around this season. Even with Rodgers at the helm, the Packers have relied heavily on their ground game and their two top backs - rookie Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Lacy has racked up 596 yards on the season, good for eighth most in the NFL, while Starks has averaged 6.0 yards per carry.
According to Kelly, the change at quarterback won’t do much to affect the Packers running game. No matter who is under center, the Eagles will receive a healthy dosage of the Packers powerful backs on Sunday afternoon.
“They’re two really big backs, and they’re downhill runners and their physical and it’s going to take a lot of guys to get them down,” Kelly explained. “Very rarely does one guy get them to the ground. They’re running through arm tackles. I think you have to get 11 guys to the ball.
“They made a concerted effort even before Aaron got hurt to run the ball. They had been running the ball pretty effectively. I think it’s a real concern of ours because they’re two big backs, two physical backs. It’s a tough task when you have physical guys like that because you may have one unblocked guy at the point of attack, but you might need to have two or three. It’s about getting 11 guys to the ball and gang-tackling.”
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