Behind Enemy Lines: The Eagles

Eagles guru and's Adam Caplan drops by to give us the scoop on the NFC East champions, who host the Packers in a wild card game on Sunday. Was the "bye" just what Michael Vick needed? And can the Eagles protect Vick against a strong pass rush?'s Adam Caplan, who covers the Eagles daily, drops by for Behind Enemy Lines.

Bill Huber: Did defenses solve Michael Vick toward the end of the season or is that "bye" just what he needed to get fresh after wearing down a bit?

Adam Caplan: I think the bye will help freshen him up. That quadriceps injury is a concern. I'm sure he's not 100 percent — he can say what he wants but I don't see how in one or two weeks that thing's going to go away. But it'll help him, no question about it. He's got to do a better job against the blitz, that's the thing. He had the extra time to prepare and I think that's the thing that he practiced and looked at.

Bill: A lot of the talk has been on DeSean Jackson, but can you go through some of Vick's other weapons.

Adam: DeSean Jackson is their deep threat. Jeremy Maclin does a lot of the intermediate stuff, but he can go deep. He did it last year. They use him more as an intermediate and run-after-the-catch receiver. And then tight end Brent Celek has blocked a lot more than he has in the past because they're just trying to help out in pass protection more this year, and he's done a good job of it. The last couple of games, he's been used as a receiver more, but I think against the Packers, they'll use him more as a blocker.

Bill: Eagles quarterbacks were sacked 50 times and the Packers' defense finished with 47 sacks. Is that a major problem for the Eagles or is that just a byproduct of having Vick — sort of like the Packers with Aaron Rodgers?

Adam: I think one of the things about Vick is he's always taken a lot of sacks during his career. He's a high-risk, high-reward kind of player. Even if a lineman does his job, he may move to the wrong area and take a hit, take a sack. That's one of the frustrating things about blocking for Vick, but they've just accepted it to make some big plays.

Matching up against Clay Matthews is tough. They moved him around and he wreaked havoc in the first matchup. I just think what they're going to have to do is what they've done a lot: use their backs to chip, use Owen Schmitt, who's their fullback. LeSean McCoy, when he goes out for a pass, he's going to have to use his shoulder to chip. That's what he's done this season. They have to do that. Everyone's got to get a piece of that guy. And if Cullen Jenkins plays, it's going to be even harder because this guy can rush the passer. The Packers have a tremendous advantage.

Bill: The Eagles are a pressure team but they didn't blitz much in Week 1. Do you think they'll pressure this week or play coverage?

Adam: They had a great scheme and they really stymied Rodgers in the first matchup. They did a variety of blitzing and disguised coverages and they changed a lot post-snap from pre-snap, which is really smart, because Rodgers thinks he's seeing one thing but they change it up. That's what they're going to have to do. They're going to have to mix it up because the Eagles have an issue with personnel right now. They've lost a bunch of players from the first week and they've made some lineup changes. They're going to be challenged tremendously in this game.

Bill: Can the Eagles cover the Packers' receivers?

Adam: Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel looks better. He's looked good in practice this week and he's feeling good. He's doing everything he's supposed to do.

The issue is at the other cornerback position. Dimitri Patterson played really well and was one of the big surprises of this team this season after Ellis Hobbs went down with a neck injury. He'd been great up to a certain point. The Giants game, he was awful, gave up a couple touchdowns. The Vikings game, he didn't play great and got benched halfway through. He's got to play better and he's got to get his confidence back, but he played well last week against Dallas and that probably helped him. Joselio Hanson, their nickel corner, is a much better inside slot corner than he is outside.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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