Now that we’ve dissected the “Peterson Problem” here and here, it’s time to turn to the guy who really won the game last week for the Vikings: Christian Ponder. The Packers made a huge mistake by being passive and letting Ponder get comfortable. This was the exact opposite approach they took against Ponder in the first meeting of this season.
Rightfully so, Packers fans are up in arms again over Dom Capers’ use of the soft zone / 3-man rush last week, specifically on 3rd downs. The one play that has caused the most consternation was the 3rd and eleven with 2 minutes left in the game. Capers went to the three man rush with only one DL. With no pressure, Ponder found the soft spot in the zone for a 25-yard completion that kept the Vikings game-winning drive alive.
While one could argue that Casey Hayward did not execute his drop properly, thus creating the open area, this is not just about one play. Throughout the game, Capers kept the blitz in his pocket, especially on third downs.
Keven Seifert of the ESPN NFC North Blog uncovered some very pertinent statistics from the Packers – Vikings two meetings this season (full article here):
Overall, the Packers sent 5 or more pass rushers after Ponder 60% of the time in Game 1, and only 44% in Game 2. But wait, that’s not even the good part: