“I have a lot of respect for Trent Cole’s game,” Rodgers said of the man crushing the Giants Eli Manning in above photo.
By Peter Gleason
Maybe he was just blowing smoke as he will be doing for real on Sunday during sub-freezing temps at Lambeau Field, but Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers is properly respectful of the Eagles’ defense.
“They’re getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback,” Rodgers said in a conference call Wednesday.
“They had a big day last week with all those sacks. lot of guys getting pretty high numbers in sacks. Anytime you can get pressure up front that helps with the back end. with the back-end I know adding Malcolm Jenkins certainly helps. They have solid corners and safety play.
“They’re a defense that really understands their timing for pressure schemes. Obviously it helps when you have a solid pass rush because you don’t have to cover for as long. They do a good job of mixing up with their coverages, their scheme and their pressures keeping quarterbacks off-balanced.”
Rodgers reserved his biggest props for outside linebacker Connor Barwin.
“Connor had a great game last week,” Rodgers said. “They had him spying Cam (Newton) and he did some nice things off the edge. He’s an athletic guy who does a really nice job with his hands. He’s a very smart football player. I played against him in Houston a few years back. He’s an active guy who keeps coming at you.
“But that’s their whole front. Playing against Trent Cole, I have a lot of respect for his game. He’s a high-effort guy. He’s very good with his hand placement and second and third reactions. You certainly have to be aware of how long you’re holding onto the ball and when to get it away.”
To that end, Barwin has 10.5 sacks this season and is one sack shy of tying his career best of 11.5 set in 2011 as a member of the Houston Texans. As a team, the Eagles are second in the league behind only the Buffalo Bills with 32 sacks this season.
Similarly to Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis Jr. calling the Packers the biggest test his unit will face this season, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy echoed Rodgers’ sentiments and has plenty of respect for the job Davis is doing.
“The Eagles defense is very aggressive. I like the way they play. They’re very physical. Their pursuit is excellent. They’re schematically challenging. Their game plans are distinct for their opponents each and every week. It’s definitely a team that challenges you outside of your division.”