Packers in Philly: The blitz basics

January, 7, 2011
1/07/11
10:00
AM ET
Here's what you need to know about the 'B-word' as we enter into wild-card weekend:

The Philadelphia Eagles blitz significantly more than the NFL average. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers plays well against the blitz, except when it's against the Eagles. The Packers didn't dare blitz Eagles quarterback Michael Vick during his unscheduled appearance in the teams' Week 1 meeting, but Vick proved vulnerable to extra rushers as the regular season progressed.

Got all that?

We'll start at the top, noting at the outset that all statistics in this post should be credited to our friends at ESPN Stats & Information.

Under defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, the Eagles have rushed at least five men this season on 41.2 percent of their plays. The league average in 2010 was 33.3.

Rodgers has historically performed well against the blitz, and as the chart shows, his final 14 opponents blitzed him on only 30.3 percent of his dropbacks. He threw 15 touchdown passes and only three interceptions on those occasions for a 118.3 passer rating.

In that Week 1 meeting, however, the Eagles went after Rodgers like no other team. They blitzed him on 51.4 percent of his dropbacks, forcing two interceptions. He completed a bit more than 50 percent of the passes he threw against those schemes.

On the other hand, the Packers treated Vick with caution after he replaced the injured Kolb in Week 1. They blitzed him on only four of his 31 dropbacks; that 12.4 percent mark was lower than every other Eagles opponent except the Washington Redskins.

Lately, however, teams have broken through against Vick by blitzing a defensive back. (NFC North fans will remember the Minnesota Vikings used cornerback Antoine Winfield to harass Vick all evening in a 24-14 victory Dec. 28.)

In Vick's final three games of the regular season, opponents blitzed a defensive back on a third of his dropbacks. In those situations, Vick threw two interceptions and was sacked eight times and had a 73.3 passer rating.

I don't have to remind you that one of the NFL's best blitzing cornerbacks wears a Packers uniform. Cornerback Charles Woodson has seven sacks in his past three seasons, including two in 2010, and 13.5 in his 13-year career.

I'll let you do the math on those matchups. A layman would suggest the Packers should get after Vick as often as they can. The Rodgers issue is a little more complex, but certainly he has the benefit of reviewing what went wrong against the blitz in that Week 1 game.

Two days to Philly.

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