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The Philadelphia Eagles were down to their third-string
#1
quarterback at the end of their playoff-clinching victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday.Nick Foles left the game with a chest injury in the fourth quarter. Foles started the Eagles’ last three games of the season http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com...ger-jersey , all of them victories that got the defending Super Bowl champions back into the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 6 seed. Carson Wentz, who started most of the season, has a back injury.Nate Sudfield relieved Foles and threw a 22-yard touchdown pass on his only attempt. Foles said after the game he was sore near his ribs and would know more on Monday.“I’m optimistic,” Foles said.The Redskins, who have placed 24 players on injured reserve this season, lost right guard Tony Bergstrom with a knee injury as they finished the season 9-7.Foles wasn’t the only quarterback to get hurt Sunday. A season in which seemingly everything went wrong for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers ended prematurely for the Pro Bowler, who left with a concussion in the second quarter of Green Bay’s 31-0 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.Although the team did not say exactly when Rodgers was hurt, he was sacked and lost his helmet on the second play of the game. He played two more series before departing, going 3 of 5 for 26 yards.Rodgers suffered a knee injury in Green Bay’s Week 1 victory over the Chicago Bears. He did not miss a start but was forced to wear a brace, and his mobility was limited. After the Packers lost three straight to fall to 4-7-1, coach Mike McCarthy was fired, and Green Bay finished 2-2 under interim coach Joe Philbin. Rodgers threw for 4,442 yards, 25 touchdowns and two interceptions this season.The Packers also lost left tackle David Bakhtiari to a hip injury and defensive lineman Tyler Lancaster to an elbow injury against the Lions.Elsewhere, fans of the NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams were audibly concerned when left tackle Andrew Whitworth left the field gingerly with a knee injury in the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers. He didn’t return, but rookie Joseph Noteboom appeared to play well in his absence. Coach Sean McVay said he was cautiously optimistic Whitworth’s injury is no more than a bruise.Rams safety Blake Countess suffered a concussion in the win over the Niners, who lost left guard Laken Tomlinson to an apparent right knee injury.The Rams earned a first-round playoff bye http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com...jr.-jersey , giving Whitworth more time to recover.The No. 2 seed in the AFC, the New England Patriots, lost safety Devin McCourty to a head injury against the New York Jets.Kansas City, the AFC’s top seed, had three defensive players injured in a victory over the Oakland Raiders: linebacker Reggie Ragland (hip), free safety Jordan Lucas (neck) and defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi (concussion).With the top NFC seed wrapped up, the New Orleans Saints rested several offensive starters against the Carolina Panthers but still lost one player to injury: versatile offensive lineman Andrus Peat (hand).Kyle Allen, the Panthers’ undrafted rookie quarterback, left Carolina’s win early with a shoulder injury that he did not think was serious.The NFC North champion Chicago Bears could be thin at wide receiver for their playoff game against the Eagles next week. Anthony Miller injured a shoulder against the Vikings and didn’t return. Taylor Gabriel suffered a rib injury a little later, leaving the Bears with only three healthy receivers.Guard Xavier Su’-a-Filo was hurt in the third quarter of the NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys‘ victory over the New York Giants. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch left with a lower-leg injury that he said was minor. For the Giants, backup cornerback Grant Haley suffered a concussion and wide receiver Corey Coleman sustained a foot injury.The Seattle Seahawks will have a question heading into next week’s playoff game against the Cowboys after starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin twisted an ankle against the Arizona Cardinals. Coach Pete Carroll said Griffin wanted to return but was held out for precautionary reasons.Linebacker Jatavis Brown injured his right ankle for the Los Angeles Chargers, who finished 12-4 and will head to Baltimore for a playoff game after beating the Broncos. Denver lost three players to injury: right tackle Jared Veldheer (ribs), center Connor McGovern (ankle) and safety Darian Stewart (shoulder).Two players suffered head injuries in the Bills’ 42-17 win over the Dolphins: Buffalo cornerback Tre’Davious White and Miami cornerback Torry McTyer, who was being evaluated for a concussion.Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis hurt an ankle against the Atlanta Falcons, and safety Isaiah Johnson injured a shoulder in the Bucs’ loss.In their loss to the Steelers, the Bengals dealt with injuries to wide receiver Cody Core (left elbow), left tackle Cordy Glenn (ankle) Rashan Gary Jersey , safety Brandon Wilson (chest) and tight end Matt Lengel (chest). Pittsburgh was without All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown (knee). The Green Bay Packers’ defense was among the NFL’s worst at generating turnovers in 2018.Only one team had fewer interceptions than the Packers’ seven, a number that represents a huge dropoff from the 17 they had just two years earlier. Under new coordinator Mike Pettine, the Packers used primarily press-man coverage schemes, largely allowing quarterbacks to predict before the ball was snapped what they would see from the defense after.Defensive coordinators largely try to generate confusion in the offensive players, but often — especially with Pettine — the attempts are focused around disguising pass rush pressure. The defense would try to sow doubt in the heads of offensive linemen as well as the quarterback, but seemingly only in terms of where the pressure would come from.This week, ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky broke down some film from the Indianapolis Colts, whose defense has been a revelation with new personnel and a new coordinator in Matt Eberflus. The Colts, Orlovsky argues, aim to confuse the quarterback by disguising their coverages.One of the advantages of pre-snap motion, something that is all the rage in modern NFL offenses, is that it helps define whether the defense is in man or zone coverage. That in turn helps the quarterback determine which receivers should be open, or at least how to move through his progressions. The alignment of certain players, such as splitting a running back out wide, can also help force the defense to show its hand early.The Colts, however, are gaming the traditional system. They will show signs that they are sitting in man coverage — lining up a linebacker out wide and sending a cornerback across the formation to follow a receiver in motion — but drop back into zone coverage instead. That runs counter to what quarterbacks are taught since youth football http://www.thepackersfanshop.com/Darnell...Jr.-Jersey , and it had some great results in the Wild Card round against the Houston Texans. Take a look at Orlovsky’s analysis:After watching that piece, it’s clear that one of the factors that Orlovsky mentioned is something that any defense should be able to execute: have a defensive back follow a receiver across the formation, then drop the whole unit back into zone. There may be a bit of a gap in the zone, but spacing the defenders appropriately and having enough awareness in the back seven to not leave portions of the field uncovered is something that most teams should be able to pull off.However, it’s the Darius Leonard piece who truly holds the key to this concept. Splitting a linebacker on a running back out wide then trusting that player to hold up in zone coverage is something that you can’t do with just any linebacker. Leonard is a first-team All-Pro this season precisely because he’s not your ordinary linebacker. His 40-yard dash at the 2018 Scouting Combine was a 4.70 — right at the midpoint for off-ball linebackers — but that’s deceiving because he pulled a hamstring on his only attempt and did not run at his Pro Day. He’s an excellent athlete with very good movement skills, essential qualities to playing coverage on the boundary.The Packers have two players who can play inside linebacker and who have the athleticism necessary to hold up in a similar role: Josh Jones and Oren Burks. While Burks’ snaps on defense dropped off to almost zero after week 9 against the Patriots this season, he absolutely has the physical ability to stay with running backs and receivers. His athletic testing puts him in the 82nd percentile or above in every movement drill, showing echoes of his past as a safety.Likewise, Jones finished out 2018 as a de facto linebacker, playing next to Blake Martinez with regularity while still being listed officially as a safety. His speed makes him a candidate here as well. The fact that he is classified as a defensive back may make this a bit less deceptive, but when combined with following a motion man on the other side of a formation, it still makes for a pair of signals to the offense that the defense is matched up in man.The cliche goes that the NFL is a copycat league. Since Mike Pettine has the personnel to do so, he should absolutely borrow this idea from his counterpart in Indy to help sow some seeds of doubt in opposing quarterbacks.
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