Packers' next opponent: Eagles scouting report
Green Bay – The Green Bay Packers might be in the throes of a four-game losing streak but some people who make football their living aren’t giving up on them.
Two executives in personnel and an assistant coach for a recent Philadelphia opponent all picked the Packers to defeat the Eagles Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
“Even with how horrible Green Bay has looked, the way the NFL is, they might come back and kill (the Eagles),” an NFC personnel man said. “Just when everything looks like it’s down in the dumpster they’ll come back and win.
“I never count Aaron Rodgers out. I’ll give the Pack one last chance.”
He called it for Green Bay, 28-24. Another scout tabbed the Packers, 23-21, and the assistant liked Green Bay, 34-30.
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“I just think it’s the matchups outside,” said one scout. “Green Bay’s DBs aren’t good and are hurt, but I just don’t see the Eagles’ receivers being able to take advantage. Where (Randall) Cobb and (Jordy) Nelson against (Jalen) Millsa and (Leodis) McKelvin, they’ve got a chance to (roll).
“But if (Darren) Sproles was completely healthy (rib), I’d probably go the other way.”
Doug Pederson, the Eagles’ rookie coach, departed the Packers to quarterback the Eagles in February 1999 just as Mike McCarthy was taking over as the Packers’ quarterbacks coach.
McCarthy’s teams are 4-2 against the Eagles. In the last meeting, the Packers annihilated them, 53-20, at Lambeau Field in November 2014.
“I don’t know if (Carson) Wentz can be consistent enough,” said the assistant. “He got off to a really good start but he’s a rookie. The (Seahawks) went after him a couple times and he just kind of saw something coming and kind of folded up.
“I think the Packers will see what they did and do some of that stuff and see if they can’t rattle him a little bit.”
The Eagles (5-5), who have lost three of their last four games, are 4-0 at home.
“Wentz started out as kind of an unknown but people figured him out a little bit,” one scout said. “The Packers aren’t playing very well at all on defense. Maybe this will be a good matchup for them.”
An AFC personnel man picked the Eagles, a 3 ½-point favorite, by 31-20.
“A rookie quarterback may be just what the Packers’ defense needs to get back on track,” he said. “But not if Wentz can put the ball in the hands of his playmakers. The Philly defense can be stifling so that Green Bay O-line has got to come to play.”
Frank Reich is the coordinator but coach Doug Pederson calls the plays. Steeped in West Coast principles courtesy of Mike Holmgren, Andy Reid and Mike Sherman, Pederson likes to run the ball (42.3%) and throw off play-action. The Eagles try to shorten games; their average possession time (32:29) ranks second to Dallas. They use a sixth O-lineman a lot. They rank 13th in points (24.1), tied for 14th in giveaways (13) and 19th in yards (340.4).
WR Jordan Matthews (6-3, 212), a second-round pick in 2014, isn’t a big-play threat but must do for now. He has eight of the team’s total of 26 dropped passes, tied for third most in the NFL according to Sportradar. He’s smart, tough and a solid route runner. Nelson Agholor (6-0, 198), the 20th pick in ’15, has played so poorly that it’s possible he could be a healthy scratch. He’s fast (4.40) and elusive after the catch, but his hands are shaky and he’s admitted to loss of confidence. Dorial Green-Beckham (6-5, 237), acquired via trade from Tennessee Aug. 16, is huge, fast and athletic. However, he has small hands and isn’t always where he’s supposed to be. Next is Bryce Treggs (5-11 ½, 185), a rookie free agent who has little other than blazing speed (4.39). TEs Zach Ertz (6-5, 250), Brent Celek (6-4, 255) and Trey Burton (6-2, 235) form a good group. Ertz, a second-round pick in ’13, runs just 4.70 and isn’t a blocker. However, he makes a friendly target by running sharp patterns and catching everything. Celek, a starter from 2008-’15, isn’t what he was but can’t be ignored. Burton has 4.60 speed and outstanding hands.
A few years ago LT Jason Peters (6-4 ½, 328) was among the elite. At 34, he’s not there now but still rates as the Eagles’ top blocker. Peters has tremendous natural power, good feet and can dominate at times. RG Brandon Brooks (6-5, 335), who played at Milwaukee Riverside, is thick and moves well for his size. Despite his bulk, he plays more of a finesse game and could be more nasty. He arrived from Houston in March for $21 million guaranteed. C Jason Kelce (6-2 ½, 295), a sixth-round pick in ’11 and six-year starter, uses his 4.90 speed to pull and hit in front of screens. He is small, and as a result can get shoved around by better wide bodies. LG Allen Barbre (6-4, 310), an ex-Packer, will make his first start at RT in two years for injured Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee). Barbre is a tough, hard-working veteran with passion for the game. It took a decade, but he’s become a competitive guard. Tackle might be a different story. Taking over at LG is Stefen Wisniewski (6-3, 305), a starting C-G for the Raiders and Jaguars from 2011-’15. He has huge hands (10 3/8 inches) but is a liability in protection because of short arms (33 inches), slow twitch and marginal size.
Rookie Carson Wentz (6-5, 237), the second pick in the draft, has slipped to 25th in passer rating (84.2) after a fast start. He’s healthy, has taken every snap and gives the Eagles a bright future. He has an outstanding arm with good accuracy, especially deep. He’s tough, steps up in the pocket well and generally makes solid decisions. Despite 4.69 speed and scrambling ability, he chooses not to run and sticks in the pocket. Ball security is an issue (10 fumbles, lost two). He’s smart (40 on the Wonderlic test), steady and a leader. His release is rather elongated. He’s coming off probably his worst game of the season in Seattle. Former Saint-Chief Chase Daniel (6-0, 225), with two starts in eight years, is No. 2.
Pedestrian workhorse Ryan Mathews (5-11 ½, 220), a former Charger, is iffy (knee). His replacement, rookie Wendell Smallwood (5-10 ½, 208), lacks size but shows burst and nerve running inside. He’s a fifth-round pick. His receiving is better than his blocking. Darren Sproles (5-6, 190) remains dangerous scooting inside, outside or catching. He broke a rib Sunday but plans to play. Another small back, Kenjon Barner (5-9, 195), is a poor man’s Sproles. He has nifty feet and home-run speed (4.45) but goes down easily.
First-year coordinator Jim Schwartz, who went 29-52 as Lions’ coach from 2009-’13, directs his aggressive, penetrating, hustling style of 4-3 defense. His DEs often play wide in a one-gap scheme, he prefers man coverage and his blitz rate of 16.9% is tied for 29th, according to Sportradar. The Eagles have allowed merely 38 points in four home games. They rank fourth in points (18.6), eighth in yards (334.6) and ninth in takeaways (16).
Three-technique Fletcher Cox (6-4, 310), the 12th pick in ’12, and LE Brandon Graham (6-1 ½, 265), the 13th pick in ’10, are having Pro Bowl seasons. When left one-on-one, Cox can be awesome. In Game 9, he dominated the Falcons. On other Sundays, he’s just good. He has rare movement skills, long arms (34 ½), big hands (10 3/8) and a physical mindset. Sportradar lists Graham second in the NFL in pressures (42); this is by far his best season. His hand usage on rushes is superlative. He gets off fast, especially at home, has counter moves and gives incredible effort. Former Texan RE Connor Barwin (6-4, 264), a six-year starter, has lost speed at 30 but bull rushes effectively and also goes all-out. NT Bennie Logan (6-2, 315), a four-year starter, uses long arms (34) and deceiving quickness to perform adequately. The top reserve, DE-DT Vinny Curry (6-3, 279), is being paid like a starter ($23 million guaranteed) but isn’t rushing well due in part to a lingering knee injury. He’s most effective attacking guards interior blockers with quickness. Former Badger NT Beau Allen (6-2 ½, 327), a seventh-round pick in ’14, provides shock-absorbing depth.
MLB Jordan Hicks (6-1 ½, 236) and SLB Nigel Bradham (6-2, 241), a former Bill who arrived in March for $4.5 million guaranteed, play about every snap. Hicks, a third-round pick in ’15, is smart (Wonderlic of 28), calls the signals and has terrific instincts. Fast (4.65) and athletic (38-inch vertical jump), he glides around and makes plays, even on delayed blitzes. He isn’t overly physical or explosive. Bradham, a four-year starter, is a hard-nosed physical specimen with excellent straight-line speed (4.62). He’s also stiff and can be exploited in coverage. WLB Mychal Kendricks (5-11, 240), a second-round pick in ’12 and five-year starter, exits in sub defenses. He’s even faster (4.46) than the other two, and uses his speed and athleticism to create big plays. His reactions, however, have always been a little off.
Former Saint CB-S Malcolm Jenkins (6-0, 204), the 14th pick in ’09, does his best work in the box selling out against the run or as Schwartz’ favorite rusher from the secondary. He has very long arms (34 ½), hits hard and plays with swagger. In sub, he becomes a slot corner, and his coverage is OK. FS Rodney McLeod (5-9 ½, 195), a three-year starter for the
Rams, arrived in March for $17 million guaranteed. At his size he lacks presence, but he is smart, tough and a reliable open-field tackler. He plays out of control at times. When Jenkins mans the slot, Jaylen Watkins (5-11 ½, 194) plays alongside McLeod. Watkins, a fourth-round pick in ’14, gets overmatched by TEs and near the line. His speed (4.47) and intelligence (Wonderlic of 27) enable him to protect deep. The problem is at cornerback, where Nolan Carroll (5-11 ½, 205) is so-so, former Bill Leodis McKelvin (5-10, 185) is in decline and rookie Jalen Mills (6-0, 191), a seventh-round pick, is a liability in man coverage. Carroll knows what he’s doing but can get too grabby. McKelvin is iffy (concussion). Mills is extremely physical and likes to press, but runs just 4.53 and doesn’t play the ball well.
Coached by Dave Fipp since 2013, the Eagles’ units have been among the NFL’s best. They ranked eighth overall at mid-season. K Caleb Sturgis, a former Dolphin, is tied for 14th in FG percentage (.852) and has missed one of 21 conversions. His kickoffs are stellar. P Donnie Jones has been one of the league’s best for a decade. Sproles, with remarkable change of direction, is fourth in punt-return average (14.1). Smallwood and departed WR Josh Huff each returned a kickoff for a TD. Former Badger S Chris Maragos heads a cluster of players selected primarily for special-teams value.
It would have to be diminutive RB Darren Sproles, who even at 33 is the biggest threat on the roster as a runner, receiver and returner. “He’s always been a good player,” one scout said. “But for a guy like that at this point in his career to be a go-to guy of an offense doesn’t say much about the other talent they have there.” On Sunday, Sproles suffered what coach Doug Pederson called a “non-displaced” fracture of the seventh rib. “It’s in a safe area,” Pederson said Monday. “He should be fine for the game.”
The Eagles haven’t had a cornerback voted to the Pro Bowl since Asante Samuel in 2010 and they certainly won’t have one this year. Fortunately, their pass rush ranks sixth in sack percentage so some of the stress is lifted from the back end. “We thought their front seven was the best part of their football team,” an offensive assistant for a recent Eagles’ opponent said. Cornerback is the major weakness, and starter Leodis McKelvin entered concussion protocol Monday. “The corners are bad,” an executive in personnel for an NFC team said.
Eagles offensive lineman Allen Barbre is a survivor. Little more needs to be said.
You might remember that the Packers selected Barbre in the fourth round of the 2007 draft from Division II Missouri Southern State. You probably tried to forget the seven games that he started in Green Bay.
It was 2009. Minus Mark Tauscher, who blew out his knee for a second time in December 2008, the Packers set up a competition at right tackle among youngsters Breno Giacomini, T.J. Lang and Barbre.
As a rookie, Barbre played 60 snaps at guard. The next year, the coaches were eager for him to beat out Daryn Colledge at left guard but it didn’t happen. His playing time was 59 snaps.
Barbre emerged as the right-tackle starter in his third season. He wound up starting the first seven games before being benched in favor of Tauscher, who was re-signed after a speedy recovery. He bailed out the entire offense.
In those seven games Barbre allowed 26 ½ pressures, including five sacks. He was athletic and aggressive, particularly as a run blocker, but was a little undersized for tackle and remained a crude pass blocker.
When Barbre was pulled the Packers were 4-3 and Aaron Rodgers was under constant siege from Barbre’s opponents.
Barbre suffered a back injury in 2010 training camp and was waived in September with an injury settlement. It seemed possible that would be all for him in pro football.
As it turned out, his career was just beginning.
Barbre went to Seattle three weeks later, and backed up there and in Miami that season. He played four games for the Seahawks in 2011, then was suspended for four games in 2012 for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Philadelphia signed Barbre in January 2013, and he has been there ever since. The four-year contract that he signed with the Eagles in June 2014 included $600,000 in guarantees.
He opened 2014 as the starting right tackle for suspended RT Lane Johnson and promptly suffered a season-ending broken ankle in the first game. Last year, Barbre started 16 games at left guard, and until late Sunday in Seattle he had been starting there again.
When RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai injured his knee, Barbre moved outside. With Vaitai out this week, Barbre will start at right tackle against the Packers seven years after he was their right tackle.
Of the 14 offensive linemen that went to training camp with the Packers in Barbre’s rookie season (2007), he’s the only one still playing. Of the Packers’ 11 draft choices that year, the 32-year-old Barbre is joined by kicker Mason Crosby and Bengals LS Clark Harris as those still in the NFL.