The story has been written over and over again this year for the Philadelphia Eagles. They’ve struggled, they’ve had a ton of injuries, and Carson Wentz has been woeful while the opposition has pressured and sacked him repeatedly every week. That didn’t mean anything was guaranteed for the Green Bay Packers. Past success by other teams can be an indicator, but as we’ve seen from this Packers defense before, they can be wildly unpredictable and at times supremely underwhelming. Sunday was damn near a complete performance as the Packers defense dominated the Philadelphia Eagles at the line of scrimmage.
Kingsley Keke had two sacks. Za’Darius Smith had 1.5 sacks. Rashan Gary had 1.5 sacks. Dean Lowry chipped in with one while Preston Smith and Raven Greene tag-teamed with others for a half-sack apiece. If that variety doesn’t jump out at you, consider that the Packers had 28 quarterback pressures on Sunday. You read that correctly: 28. It was complete domination.
The Packers have started to dial up the blitz more as the weeks have gone on. It’s something many have been clamoring for as their conservative play on defense was wearing thin on fans. They didn’t hold back against the Eagles, yet played smart in that they were also able to get pressure on Wentz and Jalen Hurts without blitzing at times, too. Green Bay has playmakers on the back end to be more aggressive at the line of scrimmage. Jaire Alexander will put a No. 1 wide receiver on his island and neutralize more times than not. Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage are a wonderful one-two punch at safety. When active and healthy, Josh Jackson has stepped up this year. Kevin King has been solid in large part. To sit back and let quarterbacks pick apart a laid-back defense at times this year has been agitating. Green Bay didn’t give Wentz that opportunity Sunday.
Watching Wentz honestly was painful. There was no pocket presence, no awareness. He constantly had his eyes downward as he seemingly waited for someone on Green Bay’s defense to wrap him up and toss him down. I don’t know what the future holds for Wentz (note that he was benched for Hurts), but all the major issues for the Eagles offense were on display against Green Bay. The offensive line was disgusting. Wentz did absolutely nothing. Doug Pederson abandoned the running game completely after the first quarter, it appeared. Still, there was a part of me wondering if the Packers defense would be susceptible to the conservativeness we have seen the last couple of years. Outside of a mind-boggling 4th and 18 conversion for a touchdown by the Eagles, conservative and lackadaisical the Packers were not.
You can sit back and point out this was against the Eagles all you want, but I’m not going to discredit anything the Packers defense did. Again, just because it’s been a theme all year for that offense doesn’t mean every team will post the same success. It’s hard to remember the last time a Packers defense lit up an offensive line and a quarterback that frequently and that consistently in a game. You may say it’s an outlier because of the opponent; I point to the Packers trend of slowly getting more aggressive on defense throughout this season and hope that continues to be a sign of things to come. There are too many playmakers on this defense, up front and in the secondary, to not think a little outside the box and dial-up more blitzes if you’re Mike Pettine. Now, don’t go to the extent the New York Jets did against the Las Vegas Raiders did late in that game (pick your spots appropriately), but you get the gist.
Next up is a date with the Detroit Lions and another opportunity for this defense to expand on its recent successes and build those positive vibes as the Packers look well on their way to securing the NFC North division.