Can the Packers beat the Eagles without Aaron Rodgers?

Can the Packers beat the Eagles without Aaron Rodgers?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Bob McGinn was in the news this week for his unfortunately-timed article “Packers could win without Aaron Rodgers,” a story that ran two days before the All-Pro quarterback suffered a broken collarbone. Oops.

McGinn tempted fate, writing “Fools will cry that I'm jinxing Rodgers and the Packers” before inadvertently forecasting with stunning accuracy Rodgers’ going down “early Monday night against the Chicago Bears.” Oops.

Somewhat lost in the aftermath of McGinn’s column and Rodgers’ subsequent injury was the point that the Packers will be just fine without the 2011 NFL Most Valuable Player. How is that working out so far anyway?

They certainly weren’t fine against the Bears, who went on to defeat the Pack at Lambeau Field with journeyman Seneca Wallace at the helm. Wallace completed 11 of 19 passes for 114 yards with an interception and no touchdowns in the loss, dropping Green Bay to 5-3 on the season.

Wallace it turns out is one of the reasons McGinn insisted the club would be okay.

They've never had to make do without possibly the finest player in the league. Losing Rodgers to major injury would be the nightmare of all nightmares. He makes everyone's job easier.

Yet, no organization would be better equipped to handle it than Green Bay.

Having spent much of the week researching the long career of No. 2 quarterback Seneca Wallace and the brief career of practice-squad quarterback Scott Tolzien, the guess here is that even if the Packers were to lose Rodgers early Monday night against the Chicago Bears they'd find ways to finish 11-5.

That’s it, that was the crux of the argument. McGinn must not have spent too much of the week researching the long career of Seneca Wallace, because even a cursory glance reveals his record as a starter is 1-8 since 2009, 6-15 all time.

Assuming Rodgers were out for the remainder of the regular season, Wallace would have to go 6-2 the rest of the way to get the Packers to 11 wins. That sounds optimistic for a guy that wasn’t even on an NFL roster last season.

Football Outsiders would seem to agree that’s a tall order. Here’s the entry on Wallace in the 2013 Almanac while he 10th-year veteran was still in camp with the New Orleans Saints, one of three organizations he’s spent time with this year.

Seneca Wallace, NO: Seneca’s appearance in the Big Easy says more about the team’s uneasiness about having Luke McCown as the backup QB than any confidence in Wallace. If either player sees significant time behind center this season, 2013 will be even worse than the 2012 debacle.

With Wallace under center, the Packers are just another one-dimensional offense, the likes of which the Eagles have handled this season. Only two teams have scored more than 21 points against Philadelphia’s defense, and none in the past five games.

Of course, I risk pulling a McGinn by pointing this stuff out. Obviously the answer to the question “Can the Packers beat the Eagles without Aaron Rodgers?” is sure they could.

The Birds will have to sell out to stop Eddie Lacy and Green Bay’s second-ranked ground attack, and even that provides no guarantees. If Wallace can hit on just a couple of big plays to deep threats Jordy Nelson or James Jones, that might be just enough offense to win—especially if bad Nick Foles shows up.

But bad timing aside, this idea that the Packers are anywhere near as formidable without Rodgers in the lineup is absurd. On the contrary, Green Bay is teetering on the brink of disaster right now. The Eagles must take advantage.

Eagles mailbag: Carson Wentz's skill, running backs, center spot

Eagles mailbag: Carson Wentz's skill, running backs, center spot

The NFL found a way to prevent the Eagles from winning this weekend: Don't let them play. 

Yup, the Eagles are riding high at 3-0, but an early Week 4 bye has them waiting to play again until Oct. 9 in Detroit against the Lions. 

Thanks to a hot start from rookie Carson Wentz and the defense, the Eagles have been one of the biggest surprises of the NFL so far and have Philadelphia buzzing. 

As always, thanks for your questions. We'll dive right in: 

Wentz's ability to extend plays doesn't make his receivers better, but it certainly gives them more opportunities, which is really just as good. 

This skill is something Wentz really takes pride in. He wants his receivers to know that no matter how broken the play is, it isn't dead until the whistle. In that regard, the comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers make plenty of sense. And his receivers love the idea of having extra seconds to get open. 

During the Chicago game, Wentz really showed this ability. He showed he can move around and out of the pocket while also keeping his eyes downfield. It was just a matter of time before he hit big on one of those plays. 

Sure enough, he did it in the third quarter against the Steelers. I broke down that play using the tape and it showed a unique skill set out of a quarterback (see story)

https://twitter.com/faux_micahGreg/status/781171954241851392

We had a few questions about running backs, so we'll let this one speak for them all. 

On Monday, Doug Pederson said that once Ryan Mathews ankle is completely healed, Mathews is still the lead back who will get most of the team's carries. I think Pederson means it. 

Still, Mathews has had injury problems for a long time and it looks like this year is no different. It had to be encouraging for the Eagles to see how well Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood played against the Steelers. While Mathews is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, Barner is at 6.1 and Smallwood is at 4.8. 

Sproles, who has 19 carries this year, shouldn't be getting as many carries as he has, but he's still going to get some. He's averaging just 2.7 yards per attempt.

That's a long answer to say this: For now, Mathews is the guy. But if he can't stay healthy, one of the other guys could and should earn more carries. 

https://twitter.com/ATONAMIS317/status/781174071400755200

I thought Stefen Wisniewski looked OK in camp as the primary backup at right guard. 

Sure, Jason Kelce hasn't looked like a Pro Bowler in 2016, but he might not be as bad as you think. Here's Andrew Kulp's film breakdown of Kelce from the Bears game, where to the casual observer, it looked like Kelce got worked (see story). We see Kelce looks bad when he's asked to block a nose tackle 1-on-1. That's never been his strength and never will be his strength. His strength is getting to the next level to block and use his athleticism. 

One more reason to not expect a change at center unless things start to go really bad is that Kelce has been really good for Wentz. Sure, there was a bad snap against the Steelers (something Wisniewski has had his troubles with) but Kelce is a veteran and has helped the rookie out plenty during the first three weeks. 

And besides, with Lane Johnson's suspension looming, the Eagles are likely going to use Wisniewski to fill it at left guard. They could put him at center and Isaac Seumalo at LG, but that would be a pretty big offensive line shakeup for a team that hasn't yet lost a game. 

No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

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USA Today Images

No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

SEATTLE -- Jake Browning threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns, Myles Gaskin added 100 yards and two scores, and No. 10 Washington was dominant on both sides, overwhelming No. 7 Stanford 44-6 on Friday night.

After months of hype that Washington (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) was on the verge of a breakout, the Huskies showed they were ready for their return to the national stage.

And they did it emphatically, handing Stanford (3-1, 2-1) its worst loss since a 41-3 setback against Arizona State in 2007.

The Huskies raced to a 23-0 halftime lead, scored early in the second half to go up 30-0 and coasted to their biggest victory over an AP Top 10 team since beating No. 5 Southern California 31-0 in 1990. That game 26 years ago announced Washington as a national contender and the Huskies went on to share the national title a year later with Miami -- taking the coaches' version while Miami topped the AP media poll.

Browning was the leader of an efficient offense that scored on six of its eight drives. He threw touchdowns of 3 yards to Dante Pettis, 19 yards to John Ross and capped the night with a 3-yarder to Aaron Fuller with 5:30 remaining. Browning was 15 of 21 and did not commit a turnover.

Equally important was Washington's ability to establish a running game. The Huskies rushed for 214 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.

Meanwhile, Stanford star Christian McCaffrey saw his Heisman Trophy aspirations hit a major speed bump. McCaffrey was held to 49 yards rushing on 12 carries, five catches for 30 yards and continued his streak of never scoring an offensive touchdown in a road game.

It was McCaffrey's fewest yards rushing since 2014 at California when he had 19 yards on three carries.

Stanford's only TD came late in the third quarter on a 19-yard pass from Ryan Burns to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

Burns was 15 of 22 for 151 yards, but Washington controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides. Stanford quarterbacks were sacked eight times, six in the first half. Stanford had allowed only four total sacks in the first three games combined.

Stanford was playing short-handed without starting cornerbacks Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder, starting wide receiver Francis Owusu and starting fullback Daniel Marx. Starting right tackle Casey Tucker limped off with an apparent leg injury late in the fourth quarter.

Takeaways
Stanford: The Cardinal were unexpectedly sloppy. Stanford committed 11 penalties after entering the week as the least penalized team in the Pac-12. There were communication issues in part due to the roaring Washington crowd, but also a lack of sharpness not normally seen from David Shaw's team.

Washington: The defense was up to the task of keeping McCaffrey under control and forcing Burns to beat them through the air. McCaffrey had 34 yards on 10 carries in the first half and forced the Cardinal into numerous long third-down situations. That allowed Washington to bring extra pass rushers to get to Burns.

Up Next
Stanford: The Cardinal head home after two straight weeks on the road to host Washington State.

Washington: The Huskies travel to Oregon looking to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Ducks.