Eagles Defense Needs To Get To Rodgers
By Lance Epstein
Unless the Philadelphia Eagles are planning on winning in a shootout, the defense must put together one of its best performances of the entire season in week one.
On Thursday, Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott spoke about his defensive line and how it needs to get pressure on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to disrupt the high-octane offense. Additionally, he knows if the Eagles can step up to the challenge it would be “tremendous,” since the Packers have one of the best offenses in the league.
One of the reasons that the Packers are such a great team according to McDermott is due to Rodgers getting rid of the ball fast and accurate to his receivers. Not only does he have a quick release, he allows his wide receivers to catch the ball in stride that permits them to obtain yards after the reception.
Besides discussing the Green Bay Packers offense at length, McDermott talked about the two newest Eagles in DE Antwan Barnes and Jorrick Calvin. Furthermore, he also touched upon the safety position and (CB) Dimitri Patterson moving to safety.
Here are McDermott’s press conference quotes:
On the matchup problem that is Packers TE Jermichael Finley:
"A tremendous challenge. For a tight end to be as mobile as he is and as big of a body, it's a matchup problem, for sure."
On linebackers being better at covering the middle of the field:
"We're doing a good job. Having (LB) Stewart Bradley back on the field and the speed that (LB) Ernie Sims possesses certainly helps, but it also comes down to technique, and they've worked hard before and after practice on that skill."
On how vital it is top get pressure on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers on Sunday:
"Against any opponent you want to get to the quarterback and Aaron Rodgers is no different. He's a great quarterback and he's experienced a heck of a career to this point. So they're a great offense, and he's their leader on offense and getting to the quarterback is a necessity."
On the aspect of Rodgers' game that impresses him the most:
"He's a tremendously talented quarterback and just watching the evolution of his game over the years, and how he's handled himself, he seems to be a very classy individual off the field. And then on the field, he's intelligent, tremendously talented from the skill-set standpoint, and he does a tremendous job."
On the Packers using five-step drops and what it is that allows Rodgers to have a quick trigger:
"I think it's the way (Packers head) coach Mike McCarthy has shaped that offense, and you see things that he does that continues to put their receivers in a position to make plays, and then the run after the catch. So, is it three-step, is it five-step? It's both. Is there a seven-step? Yes, there is. So that's what makes it the toughest thing to handle, is the timing is so inconsistent in terms of what they're trying to do and when they're trying to do it. It will be a great challenge for us."
On if it would be nice not to play a Super Bowl contender in week one:
"As you know, there's tremendous parity in the NFL, as we all know it. Is this a challenge? Yes, it's a huge challenge, but our players are ready for it, and I think they welcome that challenge. It'll be a great environment in Philadelphia. It doesn't get any better than playing at home on opening weekend, and wearing those uniforms. I think it will be a great day for football, the barbecues will be flying around, and the tailgates, and we're going to need those fans come this weekend."
On the Eagles stepping up to the challenge and if they did would it be a springboard for the defense:
"It would be tremendous. It would be tremendous. This is a great offense, as Les (Bowen) alluded to, but it is a one-game season each and every week. So I want to take it one at a time and keep things in perspective, and continue to go and try to improve each and every week."
On preaching anything else along with getting to the quarterback:
"Well, they are a great offense. But, regardless of what offense you face, we want to be fundamentally sound. And I know it's not a fancy term, but we want to make sure that we're tackling well, and getting off blocks, and making plays when the opportunity presents itself. Regardless of the scheme, you can do everything you want scheme-wise, but if you don't hammer out the fundamentals the result won't be what you want it to be at the end of the day. So, we just want to be a fundamentally strong team and continue to hammer those fundamentals."
On his comfort level this year compared to last year:
"The experience factor for myself, number one, having been through the job now going on a year or so is big, but also having the timing that I mentioned at the start of training camp with the staff and with the players certainly helps out for sure."
On CB Jorrick Calvin making the roster after just one game:
"That's a question for (Eagles head) coach Andy Reid, but he's a talented and athletic individual that also in addition to playing corner does some things on special teams. And I think coach Reid always talks about not only offense and defense, but special teams, with each one being a third of the overall team here, so what he's done on special teams certainly helped."
On S Nate Allen earning the job at OTAs:
"He's come in and handled himself well, off the field and on the field. You just don't evaluate what the player does on the field. He pays attention in meetings; he does everything you would ask and more. He pays attention in meetings, he works when he's not in the building and he's just a very sharp young man, and I think he's going to have a very bright future."
On telling the young players to calm down and take a few hours to forget football:
"You need to get away from it, especially from the player's standpoint going through a season, in particular the young players. They've never been through, really when you look at it from a young player's standpoint, they're coming off an 11 or 12-game season in college for four or five years, and now they have already really played four games, yet it's the start of the season. So, it could be in essence a 20-game season having not even made the playoffs in certain instances. So, there is a pace-yourself type of approach, and as coaches and teachers we need to recognize that and continue to scheme and to teach around those obstacles."
On rookies being different today than five years ago:
"Yeah, the league changes all of the time, and I think professional sports changes in general, so you see more and more young faces being given playing time. And in this case, you're seeing a young Eagles team overall, but that is good. We're energetic and we're fast. Is there going to be learning curves? Yes, there's going to be learning curves, but we welcome that. We welcome the energy that that brings."
On CB Dimitri Patterson suited to play the fourth safety role:
"He's a very physical corner, and also plays inside the nickel. And when you combine the physicality of his play, and his change of direction, and the size that he brings to the table, he's the best-suited corner right now for us to be the fourth safety. He's going to need to learn a little bit for us here over the next couple of weeks and get up to speed, but we think he's up to it."
On DE Antwan Barnes getting acclimated to the defense:
"He's done a great job in a short amount of time and (Defensive Line) coach Rory Segrest has done a great job with him and they've worked together over the last couple of days to get up to speed and to get acclimated to what we're doing scheme-wise here. He's a great athlete."
On rotating a lot of players along the line to get a pass rush:
"It will be a game-time decision, as most things are. But, we'll have different packages."
On a particular facet on defense he wants to see and is more anxious about than others:
"Well, we have some new faces and we have some young players. So, when you're a little bit green around the collar, you want to see how players react, and how they play together, and how they handle adverse situations. And I think we've been through some adverse situations already in camp and handled them extremely well and some in the preseason games. But, that experience is important. So, each and every play we'll continue to build upon that experience and the players will get more and more comfortable with one another."