Philadelphia Eagles News

Jim Schwartz, defense prepare for QB Aaron Rodgers

The reality for the Eagles' defensive secondary is this: No matter what has happened in the past, the present says the Eagles will have to go into Green Bay and perhaps longer without cornerback Ronald Darby (hamstring injury) and the existing cornerbacks have a lot to handle.

That says defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, is the focus for his defense.

"Those guys have built up a lot of good snaps and have been there for us and have played consistent ball for us and have made some plays," Schwartz said as the Eagles go into Green Bay with Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, and Craig James, added from the practice squad on Tuesday, at the cornerback spot. "But what they've done in the past isn't going to make any difference now. They're going to have to play well in a different set of circumstances now rather than spot-subbing or filling in for somebody, They're going to have to go in and play because we'll be without Darby for a little while."

Having quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the other side of the ball isn't exactly a comforting situation for Schwartz and the defense. Rodgers is 4-1 in his career (including playoffs) against the Eagles, tossing 10 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. In his lone game against Schwartz's defense in Philadelphia, during the 2016 season, Rodgers completed 30 of 39 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns.

In other words, the Eagles know what they're up against on Thursday night.

"I think you've just got to keep coming because I think he does get rid of the ball quick sometimes. Other times he holds that sucker for a long time and scrambles around, and we saw that from (Lions QB Matthew) Stafford," Schwartz said. "The ball was either coming out real quick or the guys were covered and he was trying to buy time and trying to make plays down the field. You're talking about two similar guys as far as arm strength that they can challenge everywhere on the field.

"It puts an emphasis on plastering your coverage and it puts an emphasis on guys being tenacious in pass rush. Just because you're blocked, doesn't mean that you're not going to be able to make a difference because the coverage takes care of – sometimes you can have the greatest rush in the world and the ball is gone. Sometimes you can have the worst rush in the world and you can be a factor in pass rush. You just need to keep those in mind.

"But yeah, Rodgers can do it a lot of different ways. He can throw it quick, but he also is very, very good at buying time and getting and creating spots for receivers down the field. He's also a master of hard-count free plays, and we can't afford any of those, either. We've been pretty good the first couple weeks – with one big exception on the third-and-1 against Atlanta – but we've been pretty disciplined in not being offsides, and that's going to be paramount in this game, too, because if you get offsides – they had a touchdown last week when a guy was offsides and (they are) throwing the ball down the field."

Thursday night will be a great challenge. The Eagles know it. Schwartz knows it. The Packers are off to a 3-0 start to their season and while Rodgers is a superstar, he isn't the only reason for the fast start. But he is a focal point.

"I think you're talking about a guy that has tremendous confidence," Schwartz said. "He has an arm that can challenge anywhere on the field. He is mobile. He can get rid of the ball quick. He's a smart guy that's been around, he can make a play with his legs. None of those things have changed."

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