I have to congratulate you. That was a hell of a game on Sunday! It was exactly what this team needed to silence the doubters and to get some confidence back in your team.
We finally saw a flash of the team that Packer fans have fallen so deeply in love with, and that the rest of the league has come to fear.
Up until now, it’s been either the offense or the defense clicking at opposite times.
However, I think you finally put the league on notice about how dangerous this squad can be if they ever get completely in sync.
The key series in this game came when the Redskins got the ball back, right after the safety in the 1st quarter, and DeSean Jackson failed to get into the end zone. Then Clay Matthews and Co. let them know that against this determined defense, nothing comes for free.
That’s also when the offense seemed to figure out that despite their struggles, this team has the potential to be something special.
Even though he was still getting a ton of pressure from the Redskins defense, Rodgers looked more confident then I’ve seen him in a long time.
Davante Adams was the other player in this offense who felt the spark. I’m still not quite sure how to feel about his future, but in this game he played like he belonged, and made the key catches that got the offense started.
It was also great to see you sprinkle in a few more screens around the running plays, and even add in some of your old flare with the end around. It was this variety of plays that opened up the edge and the seams for Rodgers to make a couple of amazing throws and get back in rythym.
Somewhere along the line #12 forgot he is the most accurate quarterback in the league and just started lobbing the ball in the general direction of his receivers, instead of putting it precisely where he knows they will be.
I saw a couple of routes where James Jones and Randall Cobb appeared to be covered but had a step on their defenders. I’m pretty sure Rodgers saw them as well and opted to scramble to the outside and throw the ball away, instead of taking the risk.
I hope your not the one telling him to do that. Those thread the needle throws he used to make were his life blood, and led to a ton of “yac” because the d-backs tried to jump the routes, instead of making the sure tackle. For a team that doesn’t have a solid deep threat, “yards after catch” plays can have the same effect by the stretching the field and opening up the underneath routes.
I have to admit, you were right about sticking with A-Rod no matter what, and letting him set up the run once he got his groove. I’ll definitely give you that, but you have to find a way to get him to trust himself again.
Throwing the ball away is smart, and maybe the main reason why he has such a low interception rate, but we’ve seen about enough of it for one season. We want to see the “surgeon” take chances, and carve up these defenses once again, like we know he can.
And whatever you do, please don’t shackle Rodgers too tightly to the playbook or your offensive system. We know he is so much better when he’s allowed to improvise and create. That’s why he has mastered the “no huddle offense” and the “free play.” Those are the times when he forgets that he’s having a bad year, and just lets it fly.
Now that the fairy tale round of the playoffs is over. I don’t have to tell you how big of a challenge you have ahead of you with the Arizona Cardinals.
We all know you can punish them, even at their own stadium, but you won’t do it by “chasing your tail” for a quarter and a half.
I would suggest you start right in with those screens and draws. Make their defenders doubt themselves, then let Rodgers go for the throat.
On defense, pick one aspect of their game (preferably the run) and shut it down, like you have proven you can do so many times against other opponents.
Make Carson Palmer have to beat you through the air, and watch as these young corners and safeties pick his pocket, and send him packing.
The d-backs may be your youngest, least experienced unit, but they are also one of the most complete, especially when Matthews is helping them by getting pressure on the quarterback.
About that guy, don’t listen to anyone in the league that tries to tell you the “Claymaker” is a washed up underachiever. He made the Pro Bowl while playing a brand new position, and I’ve barely heard him get any attention.
But as fans we see him make an impact of one sort or another on almost every play, and we appreciate him for it. He is the heart and soul of the defense and the team as a whole, and we need to make sure he knows we have his back.
Back to Arizona for a minute. I think you will be glad to hear that, I already did some of your homework for you.
Only three teams (Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Seattle) beat the Cardinals this year and they all did it in similar ways.
All three teams won by chewing up a ton of yards with their main running back (Todd Gurley, 146 rushing yards, Le’Veon Bell, 88 rushing yards, Christine Michael 102 rushing yards), but the interesting part is none of those guys scored a touchdown. In all three situations that was the quarterback’s job (Nick Foles, 3 passing TDs, Landry Jones 2 passing TDs, Russell Wilson 3 passing TDs).
So your strategy for an easy win is basically laid right out in the open for you. Pound the ball with Lacy between the 20’s and then let Rodgers clean up in the red zone.
On defense your strategy is just as simple, focus on the run and let Palmer pass. He had (362 passing yards, 1 TD, and 1 int, against St. Louis, 421 passing yards, 1 TD, and 2 int,against Pittsburgh, and 129 passing yards, 1 TD, and 1 int, against Seattle).
This plays perfectly into the Packers bend but don’t break style of defense. Even if Palmer slings the ball around and throws a TD or two, he will make mistakes, you just have to have your players ready to capitalize on them.
Another interesting fact is that both the Seahawks and the Rams beat the Cardinals in Arizona. So it is very possible for you to win and move on to the NFC Title Game.
As you get deeper in the playoffs I know things can get ultra stressful, so if you need someone to bounce an idea off of, or just want to shoot the bull over a beer, I should still be able to fit you in at some point this week.
Until then, good luck and Go Pack Go!