Brandon Jackson Should Have A Big Game
This may come as a shock to Packer fans but Brandon Jackson can do the job that he'll be asked to do starting this Sunday afternoon against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills are one game into their transition to a 3-4 defense under first year coordinator George Ewards. Against the Dolphins, Edwards played two high safeties almost exclusively and he rarely blitzed. And if that's how he treats Chad Henne, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, I can't imagine he'll drop a safety down and dare Aaron Rodgers and company to beat him.
If the Bills do indeed stay with seven men in the box, Brandon Jackson should be able to make a living running through the middle, especially to the weak side of the formation. (Football tradition holds that the way to attack the 3-4 is by running weakside and I think the Packers will follow suit here) Look for three or four iso-power plays from John Kuhn as well to not only bring a change of pace but to keep Jackson fresh. (Kuhn's leg drive was amazing last week)
Of course, getting through a three man line is one thing - doing something when you get to the second and third level is another. Packer fans have long bemoaned Ryan Grant's inability to either break tackles or evade the final tackler when he reaches the secondary. While I don't think Jackson will be a huge improvement in either of these areas, I do believe he has a bit more ability in both.
This will be the second week in a row the Packers will be facing a defense that has lost it's best linebacker (Paul Posluszny sprained his knee last week and will not play) This bodes very well for Jackson and the running game as a whole. Take a look below at Jackson running through an arm tackle plus how well he navigates the missed block of Josh Sitton at the line of scrimmage.
One of the other areas that has caused fans consternation about the running game over the years is the "running into the back of the offensive lineman" phenomenon. Ryan Grant has been the leading culprit, but everyone from Brandon Jackson to DeShawn Wynn to Vernand Morency has been guilty of it at one time or another.
This past Sunday, the play below from Jackson was encouraging if only because there have been many times where we've seen running plays similar to this where Grant has taken the handoff and kept heading left right into Daryn Colledge. Jackson sees the perfectly formed cutback lane, hits the hole, and picks up 10 yards.
The combination of the Buffalo defensive philosophy and Jackson's ability should make for a good day on the ground for the Packers this Sunday.
- Rodgers Should Take What The Defense Gives Him
As well as the prospect of two deep safeties with limited blitzing plays out for Brandon Jackson and the running game, the exact opposite is true of Aaron Rodgers and the passing game. Last year Rodgers was by far the most accurate quarterback in the NFL when pressured. (In a sign that there could be peace in our time, the stat geeks at both Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus agree on this point) Where he has occasionally struggled over the last two seasons is when defensive coordinators sit back and make him drive the length of the field. And you can bet the Bills will be doing plenty of sitting back, keeping everything in front of their safeties and forcing the Packers to put together nine, ten and eleven play drives.
One of the reasons the Bills can play this way is the talent they have in their secondary. Terrence McGee, Drayton Florence, Donte Whitner and Jarius Byrd could possibly be the most talented CB and safety tandem the Packers will face this season. Along with Reggie Corner and Ashton Youbouty, this is the rare secondary that has the depth to matchup well with the Packers' receivers.
Which makes it all the more important that Rodgers relax, take what the defense gives him, and run the offense. The Bills have seen the tape from the Eagles game. You can be sure they will try to get Chad Clifton and especially Mark Tauscher isolated one on one with their outside linebackers on passing downs. And you can be sure they will try to rush no more than four on any given down.
Most importantly, when Rodgers is presented with a 3rd and two and has a wide open reciever, as he does below, he should just hit it and take the first down rather than continually looking downfield:
Rodgers will have ample opportunities in the short and intermediate passing game against the Bills. He needs to fight the urge to push the ball downfield, work the ball down the field with the short passing game and make the Bills pay when they finally start bringing a safety down into the box to stop Jackson and Kuhn.
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