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Gameday Perspective from Igglesblog.com

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by mattwill, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. mattwill

    mattwill Cheesehead

    Joined:
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    by Tommy Lawlor - http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com

    There are several reasons to think that the Packers will win on Sunday.

    They are hot, having won two games in a row. They played well in the game before that, almost pulling off a huge upset of the Patriots. We're riding a two-game losing streak and struggled the week before that, needing a miracle to beat the Giants.

    The Packers clearly have a better defense. And we know this is the time of the year when you must play good defense. They have a veteran coach in Dom Capers and the kind of versatile playmakers which gives them the ability to do all kinds of creative things.

    The Packers are a good Red Zone team, on both sides of the ball. We are inconsistent with our Red Zone offense. Our Red Zone defense is very consistent, unfortunately they are consistently bad.

    Green Bay is the healthier team right now.

    Joe Theismann picked them to win. Joey Sunshine forgets more football in a second than most civilizations will learn in a lifetime.

    I've gone back and forth on the game for the last several days. I'll figure out some angle that makes me think we're definitely going to lose. As I start to get comfortable with that notion something else will hit me and I'll switch my train of thinking. Green Bay. Philly. Packers. Eagles. Ugh. Very confusing.

    Trying to put things as simply as possible, Green Bay was 8-6 two weeks ago and fighting to just get in the playoffs. They beat a despondent Giants team and a Bears team with nothing to play for. Now the Packers are the flavor of the month.

    We were 10-4 and the flavor of the month before the whole postponed game/Vikings debacle. That was followed by the Dallas scrimmage. We're now 10-6 and our football Q rating has taken a major dive.

    It bothers me that everyone is so quick to assume the Packers will shut us down. We had one bad game against the Vikings. They held us to 14. Somehow that trumps the games where Vick led us to 35, 28, 26, 59, 27, 26, 34, 30, and 38 points. Am I the only one confused by that? Green Bay scored 10 points last week. Does that mean we ignore the fact their offense generally played well during the year?

    I understand Green Bay has a very good defense. We have a very good offense. We will score points. They will blitz us and that is the key area of concern. Andy Reid, Marty Mornhinweg, and Michael Vick know this going into the game. We'll build our gameplan around handling their blitz. Some people argue that we haven't handled the blitz well all year. Yes and no. We do give up too many sacks, but we also burn the blitz a lot. Go back and look at the point totals above. The goal of the blitz isn't just to hit the QB and get pressure, but to stop the offense. Would Buddy Ryan be happy with a game where we gave up 28 points, but got six sacks and lost? No, of course not.

    The biggest question in this game is whether our defense can do anything against their offense. The stats will likely say no, but that's what makes the playoffs so interesting. One game scenarios get tricky.

    Back in 2006 Dallas finished 4th in scoring and 5th in total offense. They traveled to Seattle for a Wildcard game. The Seahawks finished 19th in scoring and total defense. Their secondary was hurt by injuries and they added bodies off the street just a couple of weeks before the playoffs. Conventional wisdom had Tony Romo and Terrell Owens destroying that defense. Final score, SEA 21, DAL 20. Romo only threw for 189 yards.

    Obviously there are plenty of games where a mediocre defense was lit up by a good offense. Heck, we've had good defenses that got lit up in the playoffs. My point is that things can change in the postseason. Seattle rose to the occasion on that day in '06. We could do the same on Sunday.

    STRATEGY

    Will we run the ball? Green Bay is vulnerable to the run. Shady McCoy said he expects to run more. He made mention that there will be opportunities to run on the Packers 3-4 defense. The problem with that is that against us they mainly play a Nickel look. Was he spreading mis-information or just confused? Who knows. We can still run on their Nickel.

    I just want touches for McCoy. We had luck with screen passes in the first meeting. I'm fine with using them. Running is always good with me, of course.

    The real key to our offense having success is for Vick to get back to doing what he did early in the season. He dropped back, found the open man, and got him the ball. Vick wasn't lockend into big plays. He wasn't forcing the ball to any one receiver. Wee Willie Keeler said the key to batting was "hit 'em where they ain't". The key to passing it to "throw 'em where they (defenders) ain't".

    The middle of the field is going to be the target area. In the opener Kevin Kolb was forcing the ball out wide. We had no success. Vick came in and started feeding the ball over the middle to all of our receivers. I don't know if that was a specific adjustment by the coaches or simply Vick finding the open guy. Whatever the case, that's the area to attack. You may say that GB will adjust. In the Chicago game last week the middle was open. When you blitz like the Packers do and still keep a FS deep there is going to be space in the middle of the field.

    We must protect Vick better than we have in recent weeks. When Jason Peters was hurt we built our gameplan around protection. We used formations, plays, and fakes to slow down teams. I'm curious to see if we go that route. We designed several influence plays for Jared Allen in the Vikings game. Some worked, some didn't. We could try them against Clay Matthews. I am interested to see where he lines up most of the time. He was on our right side most of the opener, but switched to the left side on the final drive and had some success. That's Vick's blind side. Influence plays tend to work better when you run them to the correct side. We'll have to see where he is.

    I am nervous about our OG situation. Todd Herremans is battling a calf injury. He practiced on Friday. Max Jean-Gilles has a gimpy ankle from last week. He didn't practice. Todd and Max are important because they have to handle the stunts, loops, and delay blitzes that GB likes to use. I would much prefer both guys to be close to 100 percent and getting a full week of practice.

    One of the things we did a good job of in the opener was scoring TDs in the Red Zone. That is a must in this game as well. The Packers defense isn't going to give you many trips into scoring territory. You must capitalize when you get the ball near the endzone.

    Vick's running was a huge factor in the first game. I think GB will try to use LB Erik Walden as a spy on Vick. They used Walden to spy Jay Cutler last week at times and that worked fairly well. Or maybe GB will use Walden and Charles Woodson as OLBs and have Matthews as the spy in the middle. Capers will come up with some twist to take advantage of the athletic rushers that he has. The problem for him is that Vick is the rare player who can beat the perfect scheme/play. You can do everything right and he still can turn that into a big gain.

    This is where the importance of fresh legs comes into play. The week off should do our players a world of good. Vick had taken quite a pounding in the last 6 weeks. The last time Vick returned from time off he ran for 74 yards against the Colts. He rushed for 103 yards in the opener when he had fresh legs. I don't know that he'll post numbers like that, but him having fresh legs will make a difference.

    We didn't really test GB with deep throws in the opener. I'm curious to see how that plays out. We love to go deep and have for some time. The Packers keep a FS way back off the ball. Getting behind him won't be easy. Getting DeSean and Jeremy Maclin to beat press coverage also isn't easy. Sending them in motion or putting one in the slot from our base package could be the way to go. We want a free release for DeSean. That allows him to eat up the DB's cushion and get open vertically.

    I do think we'll have success on offense. I don't know that we'll score 30 points, but I'll be very disappointed if we only put up 13 points or something like that. We should be able to score on anyone. We have the QB, the skill players, and the scheme that you need to have success against good defenses.

    So what about our defense. Can we stop them? Green Bay put up 27 points in the opener, but Aaron Rodgers only threw for 188 yards. They were very efficient that day. The Packers ran for 132 yards. They took advantage of good field position after some long KO returns. I actually thought we did some good things. The problem is that in the 1st half our offense was terrible (48 yards on 22 plays) and that kept Rodgers on the field a lot. In the 2nd half our offense came alive, but we had Omar Gaither at MLB and couldn't stop their run game.

    Our defense will need help from our offense. We only punted once in the 2nd half back in Week 1. The best way to slow down GB is to keep Rodgers on the sideline. A ball control attack would help Sean McDermott and his crew out quite a bit.

    I do think we can have some success against the Packers. I like the matchup of our DL and their OL. Trent Cole was a beast in the opener and he knows we need a repeat of that. Being without Brandon Graham will hurt. He was disruptive in the opener. The good news is that Juqua Parker and Darryl Tapp will go up against rookie Bryan Bulaga. Like all rookies he has been very up and down. We should get decent pressure from that side. One player who could be key in all of this is Trevor Laws. He hurt his shoulder in the Vikings game. He practiced all week, but I don't know how truly healthy he is. Laws can generate the inside pressure we need if he's anywhere close to 100 percent.

    Green Bay will not run the ball as well on us. I feel confident in that. We now have Antonio Dixon at RDT, Moise Fokou at SAM, and Parker at LDE. They helped us tighten up vs the run. Stewart Bradley didn't play real well in the first game so Jamar Chaney should be a step up, even though he's a rookie.

    Can we cover? This is where things really get tricky. We don't have Jermichael Finley to deal with this time around and that will help. He caught 4 passes and drew a PI call in the first meeting. We can focus on Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. We must contain Jennings. He's been red hot since their bye week (Week 10 of the season). Keep him under control and you really slow down the Packers passing attack. Driver is Mr. Reliable. He'll move the chains, but isn't much of a big play threat right now.

    GB isn't like the Colts where we know Jennings is likely to be at one spot for most of the game. Greg moves all over the place (left, right, slot). I doubt we shadow him all over the field with a CB, but that's possible. More likely is that we stress to the Safeties to know where he is and make sure to help that CB. I hope we're aggressive with Jennings. I'm interested to see what GB does. Do they avoid him vs Asante? Teams aren't throwing to Asante's side very much this year. GB may want to test his knee, though. If Jennings is on the other side most of the time we can build our coverages accordingly.

    Having Kurt Coleman at FS isn't ideal, but he's been a regular part of the defense all year. He played on defense in the season opener. He's studied for GB and faced their offense. Coleman isn't your typical rookie. He was a longtime starter at a big time school. He is both smart and instinctive. This is a far cry from Macho Harris or Quintin Demps being on the field. I think Kurt will hold his own. Wouldn't shock me to see him make a play.

    I know some people question Andy/Sean's decision to leave Dimitri Patterson as the starter at RCB. I thought that was the prudent move. DP has played really well for us at times. His cold streak came when Asante was hurt and either missed time or was playing, but less than full speed. I'm not exactly sure what to make of that. Dimitri's big problem has been penalties. He's got to tighten that up. He responded well last week to having been benched the week before. This week will be a much bigger challenge.

    I think McDermott will come out with a creative gameplan. I'm guessing he does some of the things he did in the win over the Colts. We had rookie Keenan Clayton shifting between S and LB. We blitzed quite a bit. We mixed up our coverages. McDermott challenged his players and they responded. I think the worst thing you can do in the playoffs is relax. Blitzing can be dangerous. Rodgers is very mobile and throws on the run as well or better than any QB in the league. He has great field vision and uncanny accuracy on the move. I think we're smarter to blitz off the edge and keep him in the pocket. Dimitri had success last week blitzing from the slot. Interesting twist might be to have him blitz from the slot position and have someone else out at RCB on 3 or 4 CB sets.

    We led the league in INTs and takeaways until recently. We were among the leaders in sacks. Asante got hurt and those numbers fell while he was out. He came back, but wasn't 100 percent. Will the sacks and takeaways pick back up now that he is healthy? Asante is one of the best ballhawks in NFL playoff history. He comes up big in big games. There is no guarantee that will happen this week, but you can't ignore his pedigree.

    We don't need the defense to play lights out to win. We need them to make a couple of key stops on 3rd downs and then come up with a takeaway or two. I'd love the guys to have a breakout game, but a handful of key plays will go a long way toward us winning the game.

    Special Teams will be interesting because of the weather. It will be cold and winds are supposed to be a factor. Both teams are used to playing outside so there is no clear advantage. Tramon Williams is a good PR. DeSean gives us a major weapon. Gerard Lawson will be our KOR. He showed potential last week. He has some burst and runs hard. Can he handle the pressure of the moment? Our coverage units must be sound. Porous KO coverage really hurt us in the opener. We've gotten better since then, but I'd be lying if I said I had great confidence in our coverage units.

    X-Factors

    * Green Bay's biggest deficit on the season was 7 points. Not final score, I'm talking about at any point in a game. That is mind blowing. What happens if we get out to a 10 or 14 point lead? How do they handle that?

    * Officiating. The Packers have some of the most physical DBs in the league. If the crew lets them play, that gives the Packers an advantage. If they call the game somewhat tight, we'll benefit.

    * Turnovers. They're always big, but become even crucial in the postseason.

    * Home field. GB was only 3-5 on the road this year. They did win at The Linc, but that was a much different team.

    * Momentum. GB had to win a couple of games to get in. Does that mean they are hot and dialed in? Will they let up? We're coming off somewhat of a bye week. We should be rested and ready to go. You can argue that both teams have the advantage in this situation. We'll find out who truly does on Sunday.
     

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