2

January

Packers Drive Rewind: Rodgers Owns the Vikings’ Secondary

Jordy Nelson

Jordy Nelson’s TD catch tied Sunday’s game against the Vikings at 34 in the fourth quarter.

Let’s keep it positive for this week’s Packers Drive Rewind and focus on Green Bay’s game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter.

The Situation
Down 34-27, the Packers get the ball at their own 22-yard line with 7:54 to play.

The result
Aaron Rodgers overcomes a sack and a penalty, and leads the Packers on an 11-play touchdown drive that ties the game at 34. Green Bay’s defense was so impressed with Rodgers’ effort that it decided to let the Vikings march right back down the field and win the game on their ensuing possession.

Play 1: Rodgers to James Jones for 12 yards

This is what happens when Rodgers can just stand in the pocket, find a favorable matchup, and exploit it. It looks so easy. Jones is one-on-one with A..J. Jefferson and it looks like Jefferson doesn’t want anything to do with him. Jones takes advantage of the loose coverage and runs a nice hitch route for the easy catch. If the Packers offensive line can pass block like this consistently throughout the playoffs, Green Bay will win the Super Bowl.

Play 2: Rodgers sacked for an eight-yard loss by Everson Griffen

Remember the last play where the Packers’ offensive line blocked so well? The opposite happened here. Griffen beats Don Barclay on his outside shoulder and Rodgers is a smidge late in recognizing it and stepping up in the pocket before being thrown down by Griffen. There’s no doubt that Barclay has boosted the Packers’ running game, but he’s a liability in pass protection. He’s going to need some help in Saturday’s rematch.

After a two-yard pass to Jermichael Finley, Barclay is flagged for a false start, leaving the Packers with a third and 21 at their own 23.

Play 4: Rodgers to Finley for 20 yards

John Kuhn gives Barclay a little bit of help, which leaves Barclay’s side open for Rodgers to scramble. Rodgers has to scamper around because Jared Allen gets upfield on Marshall Newhouse and Kevin Williams ends up in the backfield after a crazy-looking spin move. It kind of looks like Williams ends up back there almost by accident. From there, it’s all Aaron Rodgers. Not many other quarterbacks can make this play. Finley does a nice job of recognizing where Rodgers is heading, then floating to an open space in the zone. Rodgers lofts a perfect pass over Jefferson, who came up just a little too far and put too much space between him and Finley. Finley does a nice job to catch the ball and get both feet down.

2

January

Packers Stock Report: Playoff Time Edition

Greg Jennings

Packers WR Greg Jennings is rising after Sunday’s game.

For the last three years, I’ve always been confident whenever the Packers play because they had the best player on the field.

No matter who the Packers were playing, what the score was, or how slow the Packers started, I always felt good because I knew that Aaron Rodgers played for Green Bay and would probably find a way to win the game. He was the best player on the field and the best player on the field typically comes through and leads his team to a win. Not always, but usually.

When the Packers play the Vikings in the playoffs on Saturday, Rodgers will not be the best player on the field. That title will belong to Adrian Peterson, and it scares me.

The Packers are better than the Vikings in almost every facet of the game. But as long as Peterson is carrying the ball, the Vikings will have a shot. I shouldn’t be nervous about Saturday, but I am. And it’s all because of Peterson.

Hopefully, for at least one night, Rodgers regains his best-player-on-the-field championship belt. Rodgers can then worry about getting the Packers to another Super Bowl and defending his best-player-on-the-field title next season.

On to the stock report:

Rising

Adrian Peterson
I don’t think I’ve ever put a non-Packers player in the rising category. Usually I put players from the other team in the falling category so I can mock and ridicule them. But as a football fan, I have to show respect to Peterson. He lead his team to the postseason and left several Packers defenders limping off the field. It was agonizing to watch as a Packers fan, but fascinating as a football fan.

B.J. Raji
The finger-wags got a little annoying. Don’t wag your finger, B.J., when the other running back is going for 200 yards on your defense again. Other than that, Raji was a beast. Peterson got a lot of his yards when he bounced outside. He often had to bounce out because Raji plugged the middle. If Peterson wasn’t able to bounce out, it was because Raji grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground.

Greg Jennings
It was nice to be reminded just how silky smooth Jennings is in both his route running and running after the catch. He’s an artist (pronounced ar-teest). He also made himself a boatload of cash.

1

January

If the Packers Want to Stop Peterson, Defense Needs to Be Tougher

Tramon Williams

Packers CB Tramon Williams needs to step outside his comfort zone and tackle Adrian Peterson if the Packers want to win on Saturday night.

People usually think of toughness as some intangible trait, something that can’t be measured by an actual set of skills or statistics. People also use the word toughness as an adjective, a cliche to just throw out there when they really can’t explain why their favorite team can’t make a tackle, catch a pass or win a game.

I hate using words just to use words. Words mean things. And if you use a word, it better mean something.

If the Packers want to avoid another one-and-done in the postseason and beat the Vikings on Saturday, they need to get tougher on defense. Here’s what toughness means in the Packers’ case:

  • Doing things you’re not comfortable doing. This is for Tramon Williams. I know you’re not comfortable tackling. Maybe it’s your shoulder, maybe it’s something else. Either way, you need to get tougher and tackle. Packers fans applaud your toughness when you clamp down on Calvin Johnson or Brandon Marshall. That’s great. But you’re a No. 1 cornerback. Playing the other team’s top receiver is what you’re supposed to do. True toughness comes when you take on Peterson and bring him down before he reels off another big gain on your side. Teams win championships when players do things they’re not comfortable doing and do them well.
  • Owning your gap. The Packers looked very conscious of gap assignments against Peterson Sunday. They seemed to get the concept of maintaining gap responsibility, but had no idea what to do when Peterson came into their gap. If you beat your blocker, or at least fight him to a draw, standing in the gap flat-footed is not good enough against Peterson. You need to own your gap, not just hang out in it for a while. If Peterson comes into your gap — the gap you own! — you need to be in a position to make a play and bring him down. Standing flat-footed and reaching with your hands won’t do it. You also can’t wait for your teammates to come help you out. Peterson gets his big yards when he runs through your feeble attempt at a hand grab and cuts back to where your teammates used to be before they came to help you. Peterson runs aggressively. If you want to stop him, you have to at least match that aggressiveness.