Everyone reading this knows two things about the Eagles this season: their offense is their strength, and their defense is their weakness. No mystery there.
This is an Eagles’ offense that set a franchise record for points scored in a season, has a quarterback who is in the top two of the MVP discussion in Michael Vick, and has a two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver at just 24 years of age in DeSean Jackson.
This is also an Eagles’ defense that has set a franchise record for passing touchdowns allowed, while allowing 23.6 points per game, ranking them 21st out of the NFL’s 32 teams in that category, and 10th out of the 12 playoff teams.
If you have watched the Eagles the entire year like most of us have, you know that if the defense only gives up 24 points, that would feel like a victory with how they’ve played at times this year. Sure, they played very well against the likes of Peyton and Eli Manning (once). But, they’ve also made quarterbacks like Joe Webb and Jay Cutler look like Hall of Famers, while letting a good, but definitely not great, wide receiver in Kenny Britt look like Harold Carmichael.
It is clear that opposing offenses in the past few weeks have one plan in the passing game: drop back, throw at Dimitri Patterson, complete the pass, repeat. Undoubtedly, this plan has definitely been working. Patterson played well in his first three games after taking over as the starter for the injured Ellis Hobbs, but his play has dropped off significantly since then.
It seems that once offensive coordinators got enough tape on him, they began to expose his weaknesses on a regular basis, and it has really hurt this Eagles defense, especially against the Giants and Mario Manningham a few weeks back.
While Patterson hasn’t officially lost his starting position, it seems clear that Joselio Hanson will start in his place this weekend after Hanson was inactive against the Cowboys with the rest of the starters. Then again, with the Packers using three and four wide receiver sets almost exclusively, both will be on the field most of the day anyway, so the point may be moot.
The inability for Andy Reid to be able to name his starting right corner back at his Monday press conference speaks volumes about the state of the Birds’ defense right now. For many years, the Eagles, while under Reid, were known for a seething defense that attacked you until you cried uncle.
Although they still blitz often, this defense doesn’t strike fear in any opposing offense’s cleats like they were known for in the early 2000’s. After watching Joe Webb and the Vikings throw through the Eagles’ secondary, there is a sense that just about anyone can pick apart this Birds’ defense right now. That makes it really scary to think about what Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings can do this weekend.