We did a Q&A with Mike Burke of BirdsFan.com back during Week 1 of the season when the Packers invaded the Linc for the season opener. A lot has changed for both teams since that time.
Today, we find out what’s been going on with the Eagles as the Packers prepare to travel back to Philadelphia for the playoffs…
Cheesehead TV: It’s been said the Eagles have really only played one good quarter out of their last 12. Why can they turn that around?
Mike Burke: The end of the Giants game wasn’t exactly something you run into everyday. I’m not sure if they were too built up from it and just played down to the Vikings, but it wasn’t the Eagles we’re used to seeing. They had a good game plan in blitzing Vick over and over as he failed to make reads on the blitz.
I’m not going to count the Week 17 game as anything for the Eagles because it was more like a preseason game.
Vick was able to start looking at tape for the Packers a bit earlier with him getting some extra rest. He’s had plenty of time to review what he did wrong against the Vikings and how the Packers might show him similar looks. Vick is going to need to do a much better job of recognizing blitzes and putting the ball where it needs to be as a result of it.
CHTV: Everyone knows Mike Vick can hurt you with his feet, but can he hurt Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Nick Collins and company with his arm as well?
MB: I am confident in Michael Vick’s ability as a passer. It’s something everyone’s been skeptical of because all the highlights we saw when he was in Atlanta were with his legs. However, he’s really shown us a whole new side of his game this year and has been incredibly accurate with his passes.
Outside of his accuracy, the thing that has surprised me the most has been the way he progresses through his reads when sitting in the pocket. He’s not forcing passes. He’s been checking off receivers and finding the open man.
The Packers will try to keep him away from being comfortable in the pocket, but he can do some damage if he’s protected well.
CHTV: Trent Cole nearly dominated Packers tackle Chad Clifton in their first meeting this season. Why has his sack production dipped as of late?
MB: Cole has a reputation around this league now. He has seen a lot of double teams this year. Despite the attention, he still recorded a double-digit sack total on the year.
The Eagles were hoping that Brandon Graham would come in and take some of the pressure off of Cole but it didn’t exactly pan out. It also looked like Juqua Parker was going to have a beast year after the first game against the Packers but he has been mediocre.
With no dominant compliment, teams have been able to focus more on Cole so his numbers aren’t as high as they could be.
CHTV: Asante Samuel is capable of stopping nearly any receiver, but the Packers have a lot of good ones. How are they going to stop the receivers not lined up across from Samuel?
MB: That’s the million dollar question right now. It’s pretty incredible that the Eagles are heading into the first week of the playoffs and don’t know what to do about their corner situation (outside of Samuel). There’s debate about whether Dimitri Patterson or Joselio Hanson will be the starter opposite Samuel. Regardless, both will play a lot as the Eagles will be running out of their nickel defense often.
Patterson originally looked like a solid option but has been exposed as of late. Hanson also struggled when he was forced into a starting role.
Although Hanson may be listed as the starter for Sunday, I think he’ll run on the inside in the nickel situations with Patterson on the outside. Both players will need to play better then they have as of late. The Eagles have struggled stopping the pass lately, and that doesn’t bode well against a team that throws the ball like the Packers.
CHTV: Clay Matthews had three sacks against the Eagles in Week 1. Are double teams the answer against him or how will the Eagles attempt to stop him?
MB: The good news is they have film on what Matthews did to them from the first game and can learn from it. They’re going to have to show him a lot of double teams because of how dominant he is. I think they’ll primarily look to line a tight end up on his side to provide help blocking.
I expect the Eagles offense to look to utilize the screen a lot and hope that they can get Matthews to over pursue. Vick can buy some time with his feet as the screen sets up, but Matthews is going to be hard to contain.
CHTV: Your score prediction?
MB: 27-24 Eagles.
CHTV: Thanks, Mike and good luck!
You can also find my interview at BirdsFan.com for a Packers-perspective on the game.