When the NFL schedule was released in April, the first thing Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis checked was the number of top quarterbacks the Eagles would face.
At that point, he knew Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers loomed on Nov. 10.
Now that the Eagles are preparing for the Packers, Davis no longer is game-planning for Rodgers. The Packers' Pro Bowl quarterback is expected to miss Sunday's game at Lambeau Field with a fractured left collarbone. Coach Mike McCarthy said the Packers were preparing veteran Seneca Wallace to start.
"It looks right now like Aaron wouldn't be playing, and we'll probably get Seneca or whoever they choose to sign," Davis said."So right now, you always have a plan for their passing attack, and you don't know what's coming at you."
And just like that, the Eagles might have an advantage at quarterback. It's not a given, but recent performance favors the Eagles.
Wallace is 33 and has 21 career starts. He did not appear to be a major threat while relieving Rodgers in Green Bay's 27-20 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night. He finished 11 of 19 for 114 yards, and the Packers' typically potent passing attack stagnated.
Foles excelled in the Eagles' 49-20 win over Oakland, when he went 22 of 28 for 406 yards and an NFL-record-tying seven touchdowns.
The Eagles resumed practice Tuesday with Foles taking the first-team snaps. Foles uses a "24-hour rule," allowing himself to celebrate a win or lament a loss in the previous game for one day.
"The 24 hours is over, so I move forward, and now it's time to get better," Foles said Tuesday.
The Packers at least know what to prepare for with Foles, which will be his biggest challenge. With more tape of Foles, defenses will find ways to defend the second-year quarterback.
He has had only one poor performance this season, against Dallas. He has totaled 13 touchdown passes without an interception, completed 62.7 percent of his passes, and has been a part of three of the team's four wins.
But a lesson can be learned from the last time Rodgers missed a start. In January, a resting Rodgers watched backup Matt Flynn throw six touchdown passes. Flynn has since struggled to become a starter in Seattle and Oakland, and was released by Buffalo on Monday. There's a difference between a successful spot starter and a franchise quarterback.
"I think consistency," Foles said. "Defenses are going to adjust. They get the game film we just watched, and they see what we do well and will try to take that away.
"It's the ability to play the game and adapt as the game's going on, to know you studied film all week on this, but they came out in a different coverage. How are you going to react to it? Is it going to fluster you, or are you able to flourish in it because you're prepared, and you're ready to go, and you know where to go with the ball?"
When Foles watched film of the Raiders game, he saw correctable mistakes, just as he did after his poor performance on Oct. 20 against Dallas. Foles identified a quick screen that should be thrown better, run fakes that must be carried out, and times when he could more adeptly move the pocket. He also continues to refine the fundamentals that stood out after the Cowboys performance, such as those involving foot speed, keeping his left shoulder down, and the trajectory on his deep passes.
"I can't worry about that when I play," Foles said. "I just have to work on it naturally. That's stuff I work on out here. And it's a thing I did well that I'll continue to work on."
If he plays close to the level he played against the Raiders, Foles will show he is more than a backup quarterback and spot starter. That's the niche that Wallace has built in the NFL. Three of his starts came with Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as the head coach in Cleveland. Davis was on Shurmur's staff, so he also is familiar with Wallace.
Shurmur said Tuesday that Wallace "knows how to play this game" and has "a good set of legs on him." Shurmur and Davis also pointed out that Wallace has experience in a similar offense.
When Wallace entered Monday's game, Davis said, the Packers used their fullback more than they typically do. They run more three-receiver sets with Rodgers. He also said the slew of Packers offensive options, including receivers James Jones and Jordy Nelson and an improved rushing game, can aid Wallace.
But this team is different from the one Davis noted on the schedule in April. The offense Davis was preparing for Monday now requires an adjusted game plan.
"You prepare for all of it, but you major in certain different things," Davis said."So we would have majored probably in one plan with Aaron Rodgers, and now we'll adjust and see how they plan to do it."
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