Packers offensive line faces massive test vs. Eagles defensive front

Oct 2, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (91) and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (97) against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 2, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (91) and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (97) against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

Now healthy, the Green Bay Packers offensive line has been playing its best football over the last two games. However, this group is going to be tested against a very good Philadelphia Eagles defensive front.

Among the many issues that have plagued the Packers offense this season, offensive line play has been one of the bigger problems, which, as already alluded to, has been due to injuries.

Through 11 games, the Packers have utilized nine different offensive line combinations this season. In fact, it wasn’t until the Dallas game that Green Bay had its preferred starting five for an entire game.

The issues up front have had a negative trickle-down effect on the rest of the offense, including, and most notably, that it has limited the playbook. Green Bay has felt the need to rely heavily on the quick passing game, and that has led to some reluctance to push the ball downfield. This has resulted in defenses shrinking the field by playing closer to the line of scrimmage.

Robert Tonyan has been asked to chip, which limits his impact in the passing game. There has also been an unwillingness to lean on the run game at times—not to mention that Aaron Rodgers has looked hesitant in the pocket on numerous occasions.

But in the last two games, things have improved, although still not perfect by any means. Green Bay racked up over 200 rushing yards against Dallas, and the offensive line has held up well against two very good pass-rush units—however, running against Tennessee was a nightmare.

Like the Titans, the Eagles have a defensive front that has been one of the best at both stopping the run and getting after the quarterback. Philly ranks second in run defense by DVOA along with totaling the seventh most pressures, according to PFF ($$), and the third most sacks.

"“Collectively, it’s all the guys,” said Matt LaFleur on Wednesday when discussing the Eagles’ defensive front. “You can’t just zero in on one guy. They do a great job of presenting some situations, whether the offense is in dropback situations where they present and get one-on-one matchups for their guys, and I think they all feed off each other. So I think, just collectively, that’s one of the best defensive lines in all of football.”"

The Eagles are able to create this pressure by primarily rushing just four defenders and rarely blitzing. This is, in part, why the Eagles’ defense leads the NFL in turnover differential, including most takeaways. With a four-man rush getting home, that means extra defenders can drop into coverage, and it allows the Philadelphia secondary to play much more aggressively.

"“They have a really sound scheme,” added LaFleur. “I think they do enough to keep you off balance and to keep you guessing from an offensive standpoint. But they’re able to generate pressure with four, or really whether they’re playing five down linemen or four, they’re able to generate pressure that way, and that kind of opens you up a little bit. The more people you have in coverage, the easier it is to cover people up and to get those interceptions.”"

For the Packers, any sort of success that they are going to have on offense beings with getting the run game going, as it creates opportunities in the passing game and sets up play-action, where Green Bay has been very effective this season.

The Packers tried to do this early on against Tennessee but failed. This resulted in more shotgun snaps, fewer of the core LaFleur concepts being utilized, and a greater reliance on the passing game–something that this team just isn’t good enough to do consistently.

Tennessee put the Packers in a no-win situation. Either continue running the ball for two or three yards, or try to spread things out, which isn’t a strength of this offense.

I expect the quick passing game to be a part of Green Bay’s game plan in an effort to minimize the Eagles’ pass rush, but it can’t be the only way for them to move the ball–trying to put together long scoring drives regularly isn’t a good recipe for scoring a lot of points. The Packers should once again try to establish the run right away as well — for reasons already mentioned — and they may try to run out of shotgun more, which is where they found the most success against Tennessee.

Just as the Titans were able to do, the Eagles are also well-equipped to put the Packers in a similar no-win situation on Sunday because of their dominant defensive front. It won’t be easy, but coming away with a win will require a top-notch performance from the Packers’ offensive line. If not, well, it’s going to be another long night for this Green Bay offense.