Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott knows the task that lies ahead. He knows that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers fifth-ranked passing attack are en route to Philadelphia fresh off a two-game outburst to the tune of 633 yards passing and five touchdowns.
The top rated passer in the NFC, Rodgers poses a serious threat for any defensive secondary. But perhaps his greatest strength is identifying the blitz and executing against it – something the Eagles are well aware of.
"When we faced (Green Bay) the first week they did a great job (picking up the blitz) and the credit goes to their offensive line as well," McDermott said. "And it's spread around to their receivers because they get open and they get open fast and (Rodgers) distributes the ball extremely well and fast. And I think if you look at the statistics, here, I think he's the best quarterback against the blitz in the National Football League; if not the best, he's at the top two or three there."
The Eagles have been known as an aggressive, blitzing defense as far back as the days of Buddy Ryan. They've pressured the likes of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees while keeping the same game plan for the most inexperienced quarterbacks as well.
The Eagles rush the quarterback, and that won't change Sunday against the blitz-savvy Rodgers.
"Well, you know, it just becomes a part of the game plan," McDermott said. "So we have to keep that in mind and we're always going to blitz. It's not going to be whether the Eagles are going to blitz. We're always going to blitz and it's just a matter of how much we blitz and in what situations."
Another challenge for the Eagles defense this weekend will be to generate turnovers – and do so against an offense that takes pride in maintaining possession.
After throwing nine interceptions in the first seven games this season, Rodgers has made a concerted effort to protect the football. In his last eight games, the Packers quarterback has thrown just two interceptions.
The Eagles defense, on the other hand, started the year on a turnover tear, if you will. A total of 19 interceptions in the first 10 weeks helped the Eagles lead the league in turnover differential for a better part of the season (they're currently ranked fifth). But the defense has cooled off a bit as of late in the turnover department. A bevy of injuries, none more significant than Asante Samuel's knee sprain, have limited the Eagles to four interceptions in the last six games.
While McDermott stressed the importance of generating turnovers in the playoffs, he isn't concerned about his team's recent lack of opportunities.
"My predecessor [former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson] always said that turnovers come in spurts," McDermott explained. "You can go on a dry run for awhile, and then all of a sudden you hit the jackpot."
The Eagles defense has gone through its fair share of ups and downs this season. But the 12th-ranked unit believes it can impact the outcome of the game Sunday – and correctly so. At this point in the season, just one play can make the difference between winning or going home, and McDermott has faith that his guys are ready to put their mark on the season.
"It's not about lowering percentages right now," McDermott said. "It's about winning the football game. And we're on a one game season, sudden death, and our players know that, our staff understands that, and there's an urgency that comes with that."
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 10:40 a.m., January 7