Prior to this season, the Packers have had some success against Adrian Peterson. From 2009-2011, they’ve had at least one game where they held Peterson to under 100 yards rushing. In November of last year, their 31st ranked defense held Peterson to 51 yards. So it is possible.
Over the years, when Peterson has hurt the Packers, it’s been by bouncing runs outside after drawing everyone in. That was never more evident than today’s game.
The Packers’ defensive line actually did a very good job clogging up the middle. Raji, Pickett, Wilson, Worthy, et al caused Peterson to have to stop and look to bounce outside. When the Packers have had success stopping Peterson, there have been players outside waiting for Peterson. In last night’s game there was mostly no one.
Correction. In a few cases, Tramon Williams was there, but it was still like having no one.
All week, Mike McCarthy kept talking about how their focus was on stopping Peterson. Supposedly, they spent an unusual amount of time in practice (for this point in the season) on tackling drills.
I really thought defensive coordinator Dom Capers would have a special plan for Peterson today. I was sorely disappointed. The entire Packers’ defense kept getting sucked inside, showing little positional integrity. Capers played it like Peterson was just another running back. Despite all the talk, there was nothing special for Peterson.
So what should the Packers do?
OLBs Stay Put: On many occasions in this game, the Packers’ OLBs joined the pile in the middle in an attempt to stop Peterson. In way too many cases, Peterson had nowhere to go, so he just bounced it wide to where there was plenty of open space. If the OLBs had kept their outside position, Peterson would have had a far different game. Perhaps he would have gained a few more yards up the middle, but that’s much preferable to letting him run in space where he has only safeties and corners to deal with (and run through).