Mark Sanchez proved he’s got plenty left in the tank in the Birds’ 45-21 drubbing of the Panthers Monday night. He also kept the ball out of Carolina’s hands by keeping the Eagles turnover-less.
It was a nice tune up, but the real test for Sanchez will be in Green Bay Sunday at 4:25 p.m.
The Eagles are 5-0 at home, but how will they fare in the hostile environment of Lambeau Field?
They also haven’t yet competed in cold weather this year and will have to vie with a 28 degree high temperature.
Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks on the planet and he will surely put the revitalized Eagles defense to a thorough test this weekend.
Here are three storylines Metro is keeping its eyes on.
Can the Eagles defense keep it up?
Not long ago, the Eagles defense (and special teams) produced 32 fantasy points in their win over Carolina. They sacked Cam Newton nine times and forced five turnovers, one of them a pick-six.
The dynamic defense might have a tougher time doing the same thing against Rodgers.
“These guys are very hot and they’re very hot at home,” Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. “Aaron Rodgers is playing as well as you’ve ever seen him play. His receivers are catching everything. They’ve got a great plan, they have a big running back [Eddie Lacy] that will run downhill. They’ve got a balanced attack, they’ve got a very accurate thrower, a good decision maker [who] can get out of trouble. [He] makes good decisions, hasn’t thrown very many interceptions.”
Stick with the running game
Philadelphia ran the ball just 23 times last week, gaining a lackluster 37 yards. One of the best running backs in the league, LeSean McCoy, ran the ball only 12 times for 19 yards.
If the Birds want to beat the Packers, they need to do a better job on the ground. Solidifying a productive run game doesn’t only make the offensive multidimensional, it also keeps the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands. And that’s a good thing for the Eagles, who possessed the ball for only 21:55 minutes last week.
Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur isn’t concerned about McCoy’s lack of production a week ago.
“McCoy is a pro,” the coach said. “Much like receivers have production in bunches, he comes out here and he’s very steady with his approach.”
Keep Sanchez’s options open
Perhaps one of the reasons Mark Sanchez had such an impressive game last week (332 yards and two touchdowns) is because he finally has weapons in his arsenal — something he may not have been blessed with in New York.
Sanchez has gone 7-for-7 in the red zone in his seven quarters leading the Eagles offense. This on the heals of the Birds falling to the bottom of the NFL in the red zone under Nick Foles.
He has been quick to throw away the ball to avoid a sack, has been accurate enough to keep the ball away from the opposing secondary, and has led Jordan Matthews and Brent Celek to breakout games.
Back in Houston, he aided Jeremy Maclin and LeSeanMcCoy to breakout performances. And don’t forget, he also has Zach Ertz, Darren Sproles and Riley Cooper lining up next to him as well. There are a lot of options for Sanchez, and hopefully that will lead to continued success.