Favre, Offense Prepare For Eagles' Blitz Packages

When quarterback Brett Favre studies the Eagles defense, he sees a group of experienced players that has the chemistry, smarts and bravado to do what they want, when they want to, and he expects nothing less from the Eagles in the 2007 season opener on Sunday at Lambeau Field. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Eagles Gameday

When quarterback Brett Favre studies the Philadelphia Eagles defense, he sees more than just the array of blitzes and disguises veteran defensive coordinator Jim Johnson puts into his scheme.

He also sees a group of experienced players that has the chemistry, smarts and bravado to do what they want, when they want to, no matter the conventional wisdom, and he expects nothing less from the Eagles in the 2007 season opener on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

"If (Johnson) wants to corner blitz with a certain look, I don't think he questions whether or not his guys will get it," said Favre, who has been studying bits and pieces of film on Philadelphia throughout training camp.

"They just play. If they're going to corner blitz, they're going to corner blitz, and they don't care. Maybe you hit one on them occasionally, but they're going to keep rolling the dice."

Watching a group of confident, veteran defenders like Jevon Kearse, Brian Dawkins, Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, and others, open up the "blitzbook" in certain situations actually reminds Favre of the offense he ran a decade ago in Green Bay. Favre felt with such a veteran cast around him, he could push the envelope on offense, and throw caution to the wind at times, to go for the game-changing play.

And more often than not, it was successful, much like the Eagles and Johnson have made many of their blitzes, unorthodox to maybe everyone but themselves, work for them over the last several years.

"They're good enough to give you a basic look and bring a corner or safety blitz, and you go, 'That's just so unsound, there's no way they can do that.' It kind of breaks every rule you've ever studied," Favre said. "It's exotic looks without being too crazy, and I say that from their end. They have guys who have done it, done it well, and seen it work."

Favre is perfectly aware he no longer has that level of experience surrounding him on offense, so the answer to countering the Eagles isn't necessarily to get even more exotic, or more aggressive, than they are.

It's games like Sunday's where Favre will be challenged to take his shots down the field, but only when they make sense and aren't too high on the risk meter. Particularly when the Packers are hoping to field a top-flight defense of their own in 2007 they hope can win the turnover and field-position battles on a regular basis, lessening the burden somewhat on the offense to come up with the big strike.

"We have to be willing to take chances, educated chances, but that's easier said than done too," Favre said. "I'm not afraid to pull the trigger, but I don't want to hurt our team and put us in a bad position.

"I think they're asking me to win games without losing them. I would say the same thing -- let the defense do their job, allow the guys around you to play, but when called upon, make good decisions and limit mistakes."

{sportsad300}The Eagles' blitz packages are designed around forcing those mistakes, or as Head Coach Mike McCarthy says, "challenging your protection schemes." As they did most of 2006, the Packers max-protected Favre in Philadelphia last October, and he wasn't sacked in 44 pass attempts.

But the offense produced just three field goals in that game, all in the first half, and McCarthy confessed on Wednesday that he felt his team played it "too close to the vest" last year.

"When you do get behind against that particular team, you're playing uphill," McCarthy said. "That's to their strength."

Whether or not the Packers attack the Eagles any less conservatively, though, the onus is still on the offensive line and a stable of young running backs to be able to pick up the blitzes and give Favre a chance to "just play" himself.

"This will be one of the biggest challenges we're going to have all year schematically," second-year guard Daryn Colledge said. "They do a little bit of everything. You never know what they're going to do or where they're going to come from, especially if they put you in a bad position, third down and long.

"We have to control the downs and we have to put them in a position where they're uncomfortable, and they've got to figure out what we're doing, not us trying to figure out what they're doing."

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