When I re-watched the Eagles' first game against the Packers earlier this week, one thing that stood out was how effective defensive end Juqua Parker was.
He only played 19 snaps, but Parker had two of the Eagles' three sacks on Aaron Rodgers. He followed that performance up with sacks against the Lions and Jaguars. After Parker posted four sacks in the first four games and showed he could hold up against the run, Sean McDermott moved him into the starting linenup ahead of Brandon Graham.
But since Week 3, Parker's had as many sacks as he had in that Packers game: 2. He was injured in Week 11 and missed games in Weeks 12 and 13. The notion that McDermott might get more with less from Parker seems like it fits here. Check out this chart of Parker's playing time this season:
|No. of snaps||Pct. of snaps|
|Week 1 ||19||30.2%|
|Week 11||8 (injury)||15.69%|
As you can see, Parker's been on the field quite a bit since he returned from injury (and after Graham was sidelined). When Parker gets a rest, Darryl Tapp usually takes his place at left defensive end. But it's worth noting that Parker got quite a bit of playing time earlier in the season too - specifically in Weeks 5 through 7.
After returning from injury, Parker had just one QB hurry and one sack in Weeks 14-16.
On the season, Tapp has 10 QB hurries, fourth on the team behind Trent Cole (34), Graham (13) and Parker (12).
Against Minnesota, Tapp played 18 snaps; Parker played 41. Parker actually had several shots at Vikings quarterback Joe Webb, but failed time and again to bring him down behind the line of scrimmage. A refreshed and effective Parker could produce nice results for McDermott and his defense, especially considering that in the last seven weeks of the season, Parker played only three full games. If he's not effective, it'll be interesting to see if McDermott moves Tapp outside more against Green Bay.
Overall, the defensive line will need to come up big against Aaron Rodgers. This unit was the focus of the offseason. Andy Reid, Howie Roseman and company decided they could survive with their secondary as long as they improved their pass rush. With the season on the line Sunday, that factor looms as large as any.
Here's a breakdown of participation on the defensive line. I did not include Week 17 when most of the starters sat:
|Player||Pct. of snaps|
|Jeff Owens||1 play|
If you missed it from late Wednesday night, I posted another installment of What they're saying about the Eagles. Not a lot of love for the Birds in this matchup.