Philadelphia Eagles News

Tall Order For Eagles Defense

He's 6-foot-6. He's got an arm that defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has never seen the likes of.

And he's a rookie.

So, how are the Eagles going to stop Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

Simple. Put the game in his hands.

"I think, right now, we're saying 'Hey, we've got to get this team to third down-and-long.' With that being said, you want to make sure that you stop the running game, which is a good running game," Johnson said. "This quarterback is very good - a lot of quarterbacks are when it's third-and-three, third-and-four or third-and-five - and they're doing a good job. That's why they're one of the top teams in the NFL right now on third-down conversions ... We've got to force them into third-and-long situations and, a lot of times, that means stopping the run." Video Player : Jim Johnson PC: November 20

Flacco has certainly been helped by the league's third-ranked rushing attack. The trio of Willis McGahee, Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain combine for 146.8 yards per game. But Flacco has certainly made the most of his opportunities. In his first five games, Flacco completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 844 yards with one touchdown and seven interceptions. The Ravens were 2-3. In his last five games, Flacco completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 969 yards for seven touchdowns and only two interceptions. The Ravens won four of those five games.

Johnson is "amazed" at how quickly rookie quarterbacks like Flacco and Atlanta's Matt Ryan have developed.

"I'm impressed with the way they see things," Johnson said. "Both of them are not making very many mental mistakes, especially the last two or three weeks with Flacco out there throwing the ball on time. They're two young, fine quarterbacks and I'm not sure which is really playing better right now. They're both playing very well. The thing that complements them is they've both got good running games and the thing about it, with that, is they're both managing the game. They're not getting themselves into trouble. They're not asked to win the game, just to manage the game and they're both doing a good job."

Rookie quarterbacks haven't fared well against Johnson. In his time as the Eagles' defensive coordinator, first-year gunslingers are 3-9 against Johnson's aggressive attack. If the Eagles can nullify the running attack early and jump on the Ravens, as the Giants did a week ago in building a 20-3 lead, Johnson will have Flacco right where he wants him. And hopefully that will equate to the Eagles' sixth win of the year.

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