Daily News football writer Paul Domowitch tells you the things he will keep his eyes on during the Eagles-Packers game Sunday:
1. Covering the tight end. To say the Eagles were atrocious in covering the tight end last season would be an understatement. They gave up 102 catches for 1,079 yards and 10 TDs to TEs in 17 games. They’re hoping the addition of Ernie Sims, who will play in nickel as well as the WILL spot, and switching Akeem Jordan over to SAM will improve their ability to defend the tight end. They’ll get an early test Sunday from the Packers’ Jermichael Finley, who caught 44 passes in the last 8 games in ’09 and has become Aaron Rodgers’ go-to guy.
2. Eagles’ ground game. Blink and you might miss it. In their 4 losses to 3-4 defenses last season, the Eagles averaged just 15 rushing attempts. Considering that the Packers finished first in the league against the run last season, and considering that Andy Reid has no idea what to expect from center Jamaal Jackson, who is just 8 months removed from ACL surgery,Reid probably isn’t going to need much coaxing to have Kevin Kolb heave the ball 50-plus times.
3. Pressure on Rodgers. One of the most amazing things about Aaron Rodgers’ phenomenal ’09 season – a second straight 4,000-yard season, 30 touchdown passes, just 7 interceptions and league-best third-down passer rating – is that he did it despite getting some of the worst protection in the league. He was sacked a league-high 50 times. The Eagles need to be able to get consistent pressure on Rodgers with their front four so that they can keep 7 defenders in coverage most of the time.