- Get Grant Going
The temptation for Mike McCarthy going into Sunday's game against the Vikings will be to throw the ball around the yard. His offense had major success working downfield last game against Minnesota's suspect safeties and the temptation will be even greater this week if Antonie Winfield does not suit up.
However, McCarthy would be doing himself and his team an immense disservice if he doesn't give the Vikings a heavy dose of his outside zone run. With Lang and Barbre in at tackle the line finally has the kinds of players it needs to make these plays work. Ryan Grant, for all his limitations, always runs well against the Vikings. His paltry 11 carries last time were partly due to the Packers being down early but that should all be a distant memory - McCarthy needs to run early and often, especially at Jared Allen, wherever he lines up. Seriously, early in the game, I would have Rodgers running 'check-with-me' on every play and have him call it to Allen's side every time just to let Lang and Barbre pound him. He's a different player on grass, as we saw last year in Lambeau and the year before at Kansas City. I like the matchup with Lang in particular just because he's so much more physical than Clifton in the run game. When Lang had to come in in Minnesota, the running game had long been abandoned. This time around, I hope we see more than a few after-the-whistle skirmishes between Lang and Allen.
Now, don't get me wrong - Rodgers and his receivers can make major hey against this secondary. And they no doubt will. But McCarthy can't get discouraged with the running game, no matter what the early results are. As much as Madieu Williams and Tyrell Johnson can be taken advantage off in straight dropbacks and shotgun, they can be absolutely turned inside out with a good playaction game - this was basically how the 49ers stayed in their game against the Vikings. If McCarthy can stick with Grant early, no matter how little yardage it's producing, it will pay dividends as the game goes on. This will also enable him to work more tight formations and spread things out less, which is preferable in a game where guys like Finley and Nelson won't be playing.
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