Eagles defensive ends must swoop in on Rodgers

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:44 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA - Trent Cole is 6-foot-3 and weighs 270 pounds. The question is, does the Philadelphia Eagles defensive end scare anybody, keep offensive coordinators and offensive-line coaches up at night the way that Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews seems to?

In the City of Brotherly Love, Matthews' name pops up every day at every media conference. With 13.5 sacks, Matthews finished second in the league in that all-important department and set his name in lights in the season opener against the Eagles when he collected three sacks, one of which was on quarterback Kevin Kolb that drove him from the game ushering in the year of Michael Vick.

As Matthews said this week in Green Bay: "Michael Vick maybe owes me a thank you or something."

Cole had his first sack of the season in that game as well, which ended in a 27-20 victory for Green Bay — but few took notice.

On the season, the dependable Cole ended the campaign with 10 sacks, tops on the team and almost one quarter of the franchise's pedestrian-like 39 sack total.

While Matthews' name rings alarm bells and the look of panic in these parts, it will be up to Cole and company to put some heat on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers is exceptional at picking up and exploiting the blitz, so it will be up to Cole and fellow end Juqua Parker on the left side to supply some heat, to flush Rodgers from the pocket and get him on the run if they can't get him on the ground.

If Rodgers has time, he'll pick the Eagles apart. It's as simple as that.

The problem for the Eagles is that their two ends look as if they're running on fumes and in a lose-and-you're-gone scenario, that doesn't bode well. Cole has just one sack in his past five games while Parker, who is a lightweight at 250 pounds, is playing on a bum knee and has just two sacks and one hurry in the five games he's played in the second half.

"We need to make sure we keep him fresh for those critical situations in a game where we need him out there and need him out there to produce," defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said of Parker and how they plan to use him and keep him fresh.

It all adds more pressure on to Cole's shoulders. "You've got a quarterback who likes to get the ball off (quick)," Cole said. "You've got to change your pass rush up. You've got to go straight to him, no more juking and all that crap. You've got to go straight to the quarterback, one line, a straight line, that's the quickest way.

"He can run and he can throw and he's a very accurate thrower — so what we have to do is get on him quick and as fast as possible and go from there."


Videos

Photos