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Stir the pocket, set the edge

This week we're up against one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL. It seems like Donovan McNabb has been the only player reporters have been asking about, and for good reason. When a quarterback is a threat through the air and on the ground, it puts a lot of pressure on the defense.

I've played against the Eagles three times, so I know their offense pretty well. And everything filters through McNabb, and then running back Brian Westbrook. They're a very dangerous 1-2 punch.

The key for us on defense is to establish a pass rush early. We have to put pressure in No.5's face and have him scrambling back there and hopefully throw a few balls to us. And I don't think we need to do that by blitzing. I feel really good about creating some pressure with just our front four linemen. The guys that we have on this defensive line can all rush the passer. Antwan Peek, Jason Babin, Mario Williams, Seth Payne, Travis Johnson. All of us can get there. It's just a matter of us all sticking to the game plan and trusting one another.

I'll start at defensive end, but I could rotate inside on passing downs, which I'm comfortable with. That's been my role my first four years in the league. Whenever we go inside against those guards, guys like Mario and I, we have to utilize our quickness in that situation and use it to our advantage.

It'll be my job to get a good push in the middle on those pass plays to disrupt McNabb. To stop scrambling quarterbacks, you have to stir the pocket and set the edge, because a guy like McNabb, he's looking to run. When a pass breaks down, he's looking to make something happen with his feet.

A lot of our success will depend on rush integrity, which means maintaining your gap and responsibility. The worst thing you can do against a quarterback like McNabb is lose contain, because he's going to take it and run on the outside, and he can run all day, especially if you're in man coverage.

Persistence and aggressiveness will be important. Like I said, the Eagles will dink-and-dunk the ball, which usually means shorter dropbacks. It's tough to get pressure as a pass rusher when the quarterback gets rid of the ball quickly, but sooner or later McNabb is going to have a five-step or seven-step drop. That's when all the hard work will pay off.

Also, don't forget to be loud when we're on defense. The only thing that can rattle a quarterback as much as a good pass rush is a stadium full of screaming fans.

Thanks for checking in.

Take care,


P.S. Keep the e-mails coming. I'll get to those soon.


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