14

January

Packers vs. Giants: Home Field and The X-Factor

Aaron Rodgers will use the hard count this weekend to help keep the Giants' pass rush at bay.

All week, the discussion surrounding the Green Bay Packers’ Divisional Round game has been primarily about their matchup with the New York Giants’ defensive line. It seems to be the biggest focal point of the whole game, especially with the young talents of Jason Pierre-Paul matching up against veteran Chad Clifton.

But there is an X-factor to this “battle in the trenches” that hasn’t been mentioned much: Aaron Rodgers’ use of the hard count.

It’s no surprise that the Green Bay Packers are looking forward to having the home field advantage. For one, they don’t have to travel, but most importantly, they don’t have to deal with a hostile crowd. As someone who witnessed the last Packers-Giants matchup at MetLife Stadium, I can attest to the impact of crowd noise.

The “twelfth man” can create a lot of stress for opposing offenses. Sometimes they will revert to a silent snap count, which affords the defense an edge in getting off the line as quickly as the offense. Other times it can create communication problems which lead to pre-snap penalties and clock management issues.

Let’s not forget, though, what advantages are provided to the home offense.

Finding ways to slow down the Giants’ pass rush will be important for a Packers victory. Common tactics include establishing a solid ground attack, utilizing screen passes and draw plays, and chip blocking the outside rushers with tight ends.

The hard count, though, can be just as useful as any of these strategies, and sometimes more deadly.

Aaron Rodgers has made it public knowledge that he works on vocal techniques as part of his quarterback training. Though he won’t share his secrets, it’s clear that whatever he does is working. His ability to work the snap count has proven extremely advantageous in getting defenders to jump offsides. And after securing a “free play,” he makes sure to take his shot down the field.

Unfortunately, I don’t have access to any statistics that could be presented in support of this statement; however, I think we have all witnessed this in action on more than one occasion this year. On the weekly Aaron Rodgers Show with ESPN Milwaukee reporter Jason Wilde, he has even admitted his frustration to referees blowing these plays dead, eliminating the chance for a big passing opportunity.

Because the big play is what it’s all about. One quick touchdown strike not only helps with momentum, it also puts pressure on the opposition to avoid jumping the snap too early.

Rodgers has been such an effective user of the hard count that I think it will be a key element of this game. In fact, if he can get at least one or two free plays to take a chance on a streaking Jordy Nelson or Greg Jennings, then it could be the difference in the game.

An X-factor could be described as a unique competitive advantage over an opponent. Sometimes it merely tips the balance, while other times it provides an insurmountable edge against the opposition. And more often than not, it is an aspect of the game that gets buried among the “hot” headlines.

Being at home and having the ability to manipulate the snap count definitely fits that description. While it won’t be a gigantic factor in the game, it could easily provide just the right edge the offense needs to be a dominant force in the face of a strong pass rush.

And of all the offensive tools at the Packers’ disposal, this is a small but mighty one.

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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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6 Responses to “Packers vs. Giants: Home Field and The X-Factor”

  1. Oppy says:

    Ahh, the hard count..

    Just another in a long line of things we were told Brett was a master of, only to find that Aaron has actually improved upon.

    It is actually hard to fathom how spoiled we Packers fans are when it comes to the most important position in the pro game.

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    • Ron LC says:

      Amen, Oppy! Bart Starr for many yeears, a drought, Brent, followed immediately by AR. Only those of us who lived with slogans like the “Pack is Back” realize what it’s like to live through QB du jour. It is really bad, really bad.

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  2. Nostrodomus says:

    I see a BIG win for the Packers!
    48-24

    three nineTEEEEN…THReenineteen

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

    Agreed Nostrodomus.

    I’m not worried about this game. Nor am I worried about SF. IMO the Saints were the only real threat to us winning it all, and now they’re gone.

    Say it with me: RE-PEAT! RE-PEAT!

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  4. Dan says:

    The Pack earned the right to play at home and to reap all the advantages. Good job men.

    Going 15-1, with our D giving up the most yards in NFL history ,is just more evidence on how great Rodgers is (and our receivers). I love the fact that we can put so much faith in our QB. Never a liability and always the main factor for winning.

    I loved Bret (until he played for the queens) but with A-Rod, I’m not wondering the night before the game that he will pull a bone-head play, or do something to lose the game. With Aaron its the opposite. I know he will do nothing but dominate and put us in a position to win.

    With the Saints losing today, I feel everything is setting up for a repeat. Big game tomorrow, but one that is win-able. Same with next week. I hope the Ravens beat the Patriots next week.

    Packers over Ravens in the SB. Don’t get me wrong, the Pack could lose any of these games, and our D will need to step up, but with the best QB in the league, I like our chances.

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  5. Steve Cheez says:

    As cool as it is to see the “free-play bomb” a couple times a game, I think credit also needs to go to the receivers and the line, as well as the coaching. Everybody has to be on the same page to keep it from being a “could’ve been”.

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