Tuesday, November 24, 2015

15 things you don't know about the Packers

Here are 15 things you don't know about the Eagles' Week 1 opponent: the Green Bay Packers.

15 things you don't know about the Packers

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will play the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will play the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

During the season, I usually watch a previous game on the Eagles' opponent and provide observations.

But since it's Week 1, I had to go a different route.

Below are statistically-based nuggets on the Packers. The Green Bay chapter in the Football Outsiders Almanac helped on several of these.

1. As you probably know by now, the Packers led the NFC in turnover differential last year with a +24. The Eagles were second at +15. What you might not know is that this stat doesn't always translate from year to year. In 2008, the Giants led the NFC with a +9. They were a -7 in 2009. In 2007, the Bucs were a +15. They came down to a +4 in '08. And in 2006, the Bears led the NFC with a +13. They were a -1 in 2007.

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2. On offense, no team ran play-action less often than the Packers. That's good news for the Eagles' linebackers and Nate Allen, who won't have to worry about biting on the fakes and getting beat in coverage.

3. Seventeen percent of the Packers' pass attempts last season were outside the pocket. The Eagles have been raving about their speed on defense. Let's see how disciplined they are and how fast they look when Aaron Rodgers rolls out.

4. The Packers were one of the best, if not the best, screen team in the league last season. They averaged 8.4 yards per play on running back screen passes, the second-best average in the NFL.

5. The Packers went with an empty backfield on 8.1 percent of their pass plays. That was the second-highest percentage in the NFL. The number probably makes Sean McDermott's eyes light up, but that means the pass rushers have to get there in a hurry.

6. Defensively, the Packers are unlikely to send more than five players after Kevin Kolb. They rushed more than 5 just 5.4 percent of the time in 2009. That means the Eagles are unlikely to see more players than they can block. But it also means communication along the offensive line will be crucial.

7. Opponents averaged just 3.4 yards per carry against the Packers in 2009 when they ran out of single-back sets. Interesting because the Eagles averaged 5.1 yards per carry out of single-back sets last season.

8. The Packers' starting offensive tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are 34 and 33, respectively. The players they'll be blocking - Trent Cole and Brandon Graham - are 27 and 22.

9. Packers cornerback Charles Woodson had nine interceptions and four forced fumbles in 2009. In the past two seasons, he's had 16 interceptions. However, Woodson was also fourth in the NFL in defensive penalties last season. It'll be fun to see how DeSean Jackson fares against one of the league's best.

10. Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings had 474 yards after the catch last season. Only Dallas' Miles Austin had more among NFC wide receivers. Jennings averaged 16.37 yards per reception. Only three NFC receivers had a higher number - Jackson was one of them.

11. Jennings had 12 catches of 25 yards or more. Only four players had more. Again, Jackson was one of them. And finally, Jennings converted 23 third-down catches for first downs, fourth-most in the NFL.

12. The Packers' No. 2 receiver, Donald Driver, has had 1,000 yards or more in six straight seasons. He averaged 15.2 yards per catch last season. Driver is 35, but that was his highest average since 2000.

13. Running back Ryan Grant had seven carries inside the opponents' 3 yard line last season. He got into the end zone on six of those - the best percentage in that situation in the league.

14. Grant ran for 61 first downs; only four RBs ran for more. He had 793 yards on 1st-and-10, the fourth-highest total in the league.

15. Aaron Rodgers had 39 completions of 25 yards or more, tied for second-most in the NFL. No player was sacked more than Rodgers, who went down 50 times. He also lost four fumbles - fifth-most among quarterbacks.

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About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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