GREEN BAY—There was urgency in Dom Capers’ voice.
“Everything is faster,” he said as he described what his defense will be facing this Sunday when the Packers host the Philadelphia Eagles.
“They lead the league in big plays. They have two explosive guys in (LeSean) McCoy and (DeSean) Jackson. Very fast tempo. Try to keep the pressure on you. They’re going to try to spread you out. You’ve got to be ready to go when that ball is snapped,” Capers said.
He is the defensive coordinator of a team facing its most daunting challenge of the season: win without Aaron Rodgers. In that quest, Capers’ defense is bearing a disproportionate share of responsibility.
Eagles rookie coach Chip Kelly is attempting to bring the “Quack Attack” he made famous at Oregon to the NFL. The Eagles are more than a no-huddle offense. They’re a no-huddle hurry-up offense. They try to fatigue opposing defenses. The Eagles try to catch opposing defenses asleep at the switch, snapping the ball before opponents can communicate their defensive calls.
“That’s their style. That’s what they’re built on,” Capers said. “You can’t substitute until they substitute.”
Building the Eagles in that mold has had its awkward moments. They were embarrassed in Denver and went without a touchdown against Dallas. Then, last week, they exploded for 49 points, behind seven touchdown passes by quarterback Nick Foles.
“He’s a very accurate thrower. He threw the deep ball as well as anybody I’ve seen. I think he’s a good decision maker. His height helps him. It was a clinic,” Capers said.
Clearly, the Packers are catching the Eagles at a bad time. Making matters worse, the Packers will be without Rodgers. He’ll be replaced in the starting lineup by Seneca Wallace, who came off the bench on Monday night and struggled in a 27-20 loss to the Chicago Bears.
Will Wallace be better prepared to replace Rodgers following a full week of preparation?
“We’re going to play our game. We’re going to run it and throw it and score some points. It’s a novel formula,” Packers Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements said.
“He has experience. He’s played in a similar type offense. He has a calm demeanor. His arm is strong enough to make the throws we want him to make,” Clements added of Wallace.
Strategy and the execution of it has never been more important than it will be this Sunday. What the Packers do on offense will largely decide the success of the Eagles’ offensive game plan.
The Packers possess the league’s No. 2 running game. If it holds true to form, the hope is it will dominate time of possession, which would greatly limit the Eagles’ intent to turn the game into a shootout. Fewer plays would certainly benefit Capers’ defense.
Wallace’s role? Whatever balance he can lend to the offense would impact what the Eagles might do to load up against the run.
“His job as a quarterback is to put us into position to win, to manage the game,” Quarterbacks Coach Ben McAdoo said. “Seneca is going to come out at noon on Sunday and run the offense.”
It would be of great benefit to Capers and his defense for Wallace to run that offense for long stretches of time.