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Jonathan Gannon on Aaron Rodgers: 'He does things that other guys can’t do'

The Eagles' DC has plenty of history with the four-time NFL MVP

PHILADELPHIA - No prompting needed.

When Jonathan Gannon took to the podium Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex, the Eagles defensive coordinator already had the name holstered.

"Big challenge coming in this week with Green Bay and A-Rod [Packers QB Aaron Rodgers], and we'll be excited to play on Sunday Night Football," Gannon said.

The four-time NFL MVP is set to arrive at Lincoln Financial Field in the midst of a rare down year for the Packers, an organization that has had Hall of Fame quarterback play for three consecutive decades, beginning with Brett Favre's emergence in 1992.

It was laughable to suggest that the heir to Favre in Green Bay would ultimately be even better but that's exactly what's happened with Rodgers, perhaps the most skilled quarterback who's ever played the game.

One former NFL executive told SI.com's Eagle Today: "You can debate who's the best of all time but no one has ever played the position at a higher level than Rodgers.

Gannon knows firsthand what it's like to deal with Rodgers dating back to his days in Minnesota as the assistant defensive backs coach.

“I played in the [NFC North] division with [Rodgers] for four years,” Gannon said. “So I think I’ve been a part of teams that have played against Rodgers and Green Bay both with Mike McCarthy and Matt LaFleur a good amount. Maybe the most ever, this quarterback.

“He’s a special player. That’s all there is to it. He’s going to the Hall of Fame. He’s one of the best that’s ever done it.”

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While Rodgers has been known for elevating the players around him for most of his career that hasn't been the case in 2022 and the Packers will arrive at 4-7.

A banged-up offensive line, receivers the QB doesn't necessarily trust, and a defense with plenty of holes especially since losing start pass rusher Rashan Gary has been too much for the now 38-year-old Rodgers to overcome.

He has thrown seven interceptions, his highest total since 2016 when he also had seven. Rodgers still has six more games to race past that number and perhaps threaten his career-high in picks of 13 set all the way back in 2008.

Even with that context, no defensive coordinator is sleeping much when Rodgers is on the schedule, and surely not Gannon who has seen what Rodgers can do against top-five defenses in Minnesota.

Philadelphia's defense comes into Sunday night's game No. 2 in the NFL overall, first in takeaways, first in interceptions, and first in yards-per-play allowed. The group has allowed 17 or fewer points in a league-best eight games.

Lately, though, Rodgers has started to sync up with speedy rookie Christian Watson to the tune of five touchdowns over the past two games and that's enough to spook some.

“[Watson is] big and fast,” Gannon said. “The guys I talk to about their rookie skill sets are our offensive coaches. I’ll ask [offensive coordinator Shane Steichen or Moorehead], ‘Hey, did you like this guy coming out?’ And they’re all like, ‘Yeah, yeah, big and fast, and has got a big-time catch radius.’"

The good news is that the Eagles have two savvy, veteran cornerbacks in Darius Slay and James Bradberry who can make things difficult for any young receiver. The bad news is any perceived lull related to an underwhelming supporting cast could be catastrophic against this QB.

“[Rodgers] can beat you a lot of different ways, so we’re going to have to be on it,” Gannon said. “... He does things that other guys can’t do."

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Football 24/7 and a daily contributor to ESPN South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen