We all know the Eagles' defense loves to blitz. We know it is part of defensive coordinator Jim Johnson's genetic code. We have seen it. We have seen the quarterbacks doubled-over as a result.
But here's the question:
Do you blitz Kurt Warner?
Everybody knows the downside, about how a quarterback who can get rid of the ball quickly can beat a blitz -- and often with drastic consequences. That remains Warner's reputation, even though he's a hundred years old. No, he doesn't like to get it. Yes, he gets skittish when he gets thrown around a little bit. But if you blitz and don't get there, he will take out the fillet knife.
Some stats for the conversation. The Eagles and Cardinals both have thrown the ball a bunch this season, and they had almost identical pass attempts while being blitzed, which makes for a decent basis for comparison. With that, these are the stats for Warner and Donovan McNabb when they were blitzed this season.
Warner: 64.5 % completions, 7.86 yards per attempt, 14 TDs, 4 INTs, 103.8 rating.
McNabb: 54.9 % completions, 6.62 yards per attempt, 10 TDs, 5 INTs, 81.9 rating.
The difference is clear enough. The question is, if you are the Eagles, what do you do about it? The first time they played, it seemed as if Johnson released the hounds in the second half after the Eagles had built a big lead. Before that, he was more willing to let his four down linemen handle the pass rush alone.
What to do this time? Same thing. I wouldn't go crazy on the blitz. There is no question that they have to get to Warner -- it is the key to the game for the Eagles -- but I think you try it with the four linemen first. You can adjust later and take more chances if the game dictates. But in the beginning, they should use their eight-man defensive line rotation to its fullest and see if they can build the pressure.