The main reason I love playoff football in the NFL is the matchups. X’s and O’s, schemes, etc. One week to prepare for an opponent and then we get to see it played out on the big stage. That great matchup on Wild Card weekend in my opinion? The Eagles’ passing scheme vs. the Packers’ secondary.
Let’s break it down. Five things to look for in this matchup…
1. The Eagles route tree: Inside breaking routes. Andy Reid wants to see the ball thrown between the numbers and the hash. That is the west coast system and it hasn’t changed since I was playing against the Eagles in my career. The Hi-Lo concepts (10-yard square-in, underneath crosser), the slants, the deep inside curl, the angle route, etc. Philly wants to get the ball to DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy with open field in front of them. Run after the catch and work away from the defender’s leverage.
ICONThe Eagles want to use Jackson on inside breaking routes in Reid's offense.
2. Pre-snap movement: Philly will use Jackson in motion to get that free release off of the line of scrimmage. Move to the stack look (immediate Hi-Lo alert), the bunch alignment and across the formation so the Eagles’ WR doesn’t have to work at the line vs. Charles Woodson or Tramon Williams. There will be plenty of movement and shifting from the Eagles' offense to see what the Packers are playing from a coverage standpoint and to get Jackson open.
3. Physical corners: This is the reason I want to watch Woodson play football. I don’t care that the Packers’ CB will hold at times or use his hands down the field, because he is an aggressive football player. That is a key when the Packers use their press-man looks at the line of scrimmage. Be physical with the Philly receivers, disrupt the release and sit on that bottom hip at the top of the route—because that allows you to break underneath on the ball. Time to challenge QB Michael Vick.
4. The Packers’ pressure: Dom Capers is a pressure coach. With that comes more responsibility for the secondary. FS Nick Collins has to play disciplined football in the middle of the field and protect his CBs. Play with depth and be able to get over the top a vertical route outside of the numbers (which is a long run for the safety). On top of that, take good angles to the football and tackle in the open field. Woodson, Williams, etc will play aggressive, and if they get beat on a quick one-step slant, Collins has to get the WR on the ground. Live to see the next play when you are a pressure unit.
5. The deep ball: Watch for Philly to use some eight-man protection (max protection) and throw the deep vertical routes. The 7 (flag), the post and the entire playbook of double moves. Play action becomes big when the Eagles get near the mid-field stripe and they aren’t shy about running two-man routes that give Vick and opportunity to test the top of the defense. The Packers safeties have to play with depth in their Cover 2 looks and compete down the field in man coverage—because the deep ball is coming this Sunday.
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