PHILADELPHIA -- Talk to the Eagles and you sense they would love to beat Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. If they have to settle for beating the Packers without Rodgers, well, that’s not such a bad alternative.
“It goes both ways,” Eagles center Jason Kelce said. “You do always want to play against the best. That being said, they’re probably at a significant disadvantage for this game. Winning is the biggest priority. I want to play against the best, but if he’s not in there, I’m happy to have any advantage.”
Seneca Wallace, Rodgers’ 33-year-old backup, started a game against the Eagles way back in 2008. Wallace was with Seattle at the time. Defensive end-turned-linebacker Trent Cole is the only Eagles defender still with the team from that game.
There is more familiarity among the Eagles coordinators. Pat Shurmur was the Cleveland Browns head coach in 2011 and 2012. Wallace was the Browns’ backup and started the last three games of the 2011 season.
“One thing about Seneca, he's a veteran player,” Shurmur said. “He knows how to play this game. He's got a good set of legs on him. And he can move around and make throws. I think he's got a very strong arm, and he's played long enough in their system, Mike's [McCarthy] system, to be efficient.”
Of course, Wallace got his opportunity to play for McCarthy because Shurmur cut him during the 2012 training camp.
Bill Davis, the Eagles offensive coordinator, was the linebackers coach on Shurmur’s staff, so he saw plenty of Wallace in practice.
“Being around Seneca, I know he's a great move quarterback,” Davis said. “The boots, the sprints. He's a very athletic guy. Knowing that Seneca can get out of that pocket and has great escapeability, the back half of the coverage has to cover longer. Now instead of covering for three seconds, you're covering for five, six, possibly seven. There's a big difference in the mobile quarterback for us.”
Ultimately, the Eagles know their challenge went from Rodgers, one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, to a journeyman backup in the snap of a collarbone. It certainly looks like a lucky break.
“I don’t see it as a break,” Eagles cornerback Cary Williams said. “I see it as an opportunity to go out and play football. Aaron Rodgers is a monumental part of their organization, a huge part of their offense, a tremendous player, a great athlete. You hate to see a player like that go down, because you want to go out there and compete against the best.”
They won’t get that chance. They’ll have to settle for a better chance to win the game.
“I don’t think they’re going to change up anything,” Williams said, “but I don’t think we’re catching a break. I think Seneca Wallace is a capable quarterback. He’s a savvy veteran. Obviously, he knows how to play the game. He knows how to get the job done. If he wasn’t that guy, he wouldn’t be in the NFL anymore.”