Philadelphia Eagles vs. Green Bay Packers: ITB Scouting Report
The Eagles (3-7-1) travel to Green Bay, Wisc., for a Sunday 4:25 p.m. game against the red-hot Green Bay Packers (8-3).
The reeling Eagles enter Lambeau Field aspiring of identify a silver lining amid a dismal season, while the Packers – perhaps the most indestructible NFC heavyweight – prepare for a deep playoff run.
Eagles Offense vs. Packers Defense
TE Dallas Goedert vs. Green Bay LBs: With the passing game largely in shambles, Goedert emerged as the lone bright spot against the Seahawks, amassing seven catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. His comfortability with Carson Wentz is apparent – aside from one red-zone miscue – and he will have an opportunity to stretch the seams against a set of Packers linebackers who don’t cover a ton of ground or run particularly well. Sure, the return of Zach Ertz could be imminent, but Goedert’s ability to work all three levels, churn out yards after the catch, and win against defensive backs makes him a nightmare matchup for the Green Bay defense.
WR Jalen Reagor vs. CB Kevin King: Reagor was essentially a non-entity on offense last week, reeling in three passes for 11 yards on seven targets. The first-round pick has struggled to separate in his downfield opportunities. Still, the team must utilize Reagor’s strengths by getting him on the move, implementing jet sweeps, and taking advantage of his explosiveness after the catch. The most dynamic of the Eagles’ pass-catchers, the team must conjure ways to exploit King’s lack of long speed and tackling deficiency.
Eagles Defense vs. Packers Offense
CB Darius Slay vs. WR Davante Adams: Props to Slay for taking accountability for his role in last week’s loss. The Eagles’ No. 1 cornerback matched up with Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, who registered 10 receptions for 177 yards on 13 targets. Slay, who has appeared overmatched against physical, big-bodied pass-catchers at times, draws Davante Adams on Sunday. The Eagles acquired Slay for moments like this, and he must rebound in a big way, or things will quickly spiral.
LB Alex Singleton vs. TE Robert Tonyan: Singleton, who has been brilliant since his insertion into the starting lineup, will likely have his coverage ability put to the test this week. As tenacious, instinctive, and active as Singleton has been around the line of scrimmage, he will likely be tasked with slowing the ascending Robert Tonyan, a lengthy, athletic tight end who has a similar body type and movement ability as Evan Engram. I expect Aaron Rodgers to test Singleton in space early.
Reserve running back/primary returner Tyler Ervin (ribs) is listed as questionable for Week 13. If Ervin is unavailable, wide receiver Darrius Shepherd will fill in on kick and punt returns. In eight games, Shepherd has fielded one punt and returned 11 kicks for 227 yards.
Shepherd is far from an explosive, one-cut burner, but the North Dakota State alum’s decisiveness and vision tend to yield positive yardage.
Including playoffs, Philadelphia has won 7 of the last 12 games in the all-time series vs. Green Bay. The Eagles, winners of two of their last three road games against the Packers, last faced Green Bay in Week 4 of 2019 at Lambeau Field. They won, 34-27.
Since 2017, the Eagles have compiled an 11-4 record in December.
Eagles RB Boston Scott: The Eagles have made a concerted effort to help their embattled signal-caller by simplifying the game plan. Many of the ideas centered around short, safe throws to establish confidence and rhythm. However, while Wentz has strived to get Miles Sanders involved in the screen game in recent weeks, the running back responded with a slew of egregious drops. This could be a game where the team opts to capitalize on Boston Scott’s receiving prowess to get him isolated against a slow-footed second level. Scott’s burst and elusiveness in space could open things up on offense.
Packers TE Robert Tonyan: The Packers boast an intriguing duo at tight end, but Tonyan is best equipped to capitalize in a plus matchup. The versatile athlete is a natural pass-catcher who has enough speed to threaten teams down the seam and is a chore to bring down after the catch. The 2020 feel-good story possesses a tantalizing blend of size (6-5, 237) and athleticism and has given the Packers a sorely needed safety valve and additional red-zone option.
As well as the Alex Singleton-T.J. Edwards pairing has played lately, the linebackers will be challenged in coverage. With a game plan likely centered around slowing Davante Adams, it could be the Packers’ emerging tight end who benefits most.
The left side of the Packers’ offensive line features stalwart left tackle David Bakhtiari and the ascending second-year pro Elgton Jenkins – both playing at a high level. The athletic pair is technically savvy and equipped to handle a vast array of pass rushers, so it’s hard to envision Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat factoring into the equation.
However, if there’s one area to pounce on, it’s the right side of the Packers’ offensive line. Right guard Lucas Patrick has been a pleasant surprise replacing an injured Lane Taylor this season. Still, Patrick must play big at the point of attack to stave off a deep and talented Eagles’ interior rush. Pro Bowl center Corey Linsley is out with a knee injury, which will force a backups into the starting five, another area the Eagles can exploit.
The matchup to watch will be Brandon Graham vs. journeyman RT Billy Turner. I expect Turner to struggle against Graham’s explosive get-off, bull rush, and leverage.
Last year, the Eagles managed to hold on for a narrow victory in Lambeau Field despite Davante Adams accounting for 180 receiving yards. Wentz threw for just 160 yards in the Week 4 meeting, but it was the formidable running back tandem of Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders that served as the driving force.
For the Eagles to accomplish a similar feat on Sunday, they will need to commit to feeding Sanders, execute on short-to-intermediate throws, and the defense must play complementary football against Rodgers. Unfortunately, the offense lacks sustainability and cohesiveness to keep pace with Rodgers.
Packers 34, Eagles 21
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.