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Packers Defense Ready to Get Option Teams "Out of the Way"

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Packers Defense Ready to Get Option Teams "Out of the Way"

Green Bay Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji. Photo by Corey Behnke of CheeseheadTV.com.

All offseason long, or at least since the league's schedule came out in April, the beginning of the season has been highly scrutinized by the Packers for facing dual-threat quarterbacks in Weeks 1 and 2.

After paying a visit to the dangerous Colin Kaepernick out in San Francisco this past Sunday, the Packers come home to greet the similarly threatening Robert Griffin III this weekend.

As far as the Packers defense goes, they're ready to put these teams that are liable to use the read-option behind them.

"Going into the season, thinking two option teams, get them out of the way Week 1 and 2," said defensive lineman B.J. Raji. "That's better than seeing them Week 8, Week 9. We look at that as a positive, and we gotta get this one."

Preparing for the option in football––any option, triple or read––stresses a defense. More time is needed to prepare for an offensive system that's out of the ordinary. The Packers were dealt the benefit of seeing teams known to run the read-option at the beginning of the season, allowing them several months to prepare.

There's no guarantee Green Bay won't see the option in the middle or late in the season, but the likelihood decreases dramatically.

The quarterbacks they'll be seeing, especially within the NFC North twice a year, are the more typical pocket passers––Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Christian Ponder.

But for the time being, they still have to be prepared for option football and RG3 invading Lambeau Field.

"At the end of the day, you have to go play football," said head coach Mike McCarthy. "He's a gifted football player. He's a big part of their offense obviously, like most quarterbacks, but he has a dynamic that's different, and that's what we're preparing for."

If Washington's season opener was any indication, however, Griffin might not be the threat the Packers envisioned.

After partially tearing the ACL and LCL ligaments in his knee last season, Griffin was brought back slowly under coach Mike Shanahan, not playing a single snap during preseason action.

Perhaps that's part of the reason Griffin appeared rusty in the team's season opener on Monday Night Football against the Philadelphia Eagles, although Griffin wouldn't admit it.

"That's an excuse. I'm not in the business of making excuses," Griffin told Packers reporters in a conference call. "We were responsible for the way we played. We didn't play very well in the first half. We turned it on in the second, but it was too late by then. So we just got to make sure we play 60 minutes."

Griffin insists he feels good, putting trust in an entire offseason's worth of practice that laid a foundation. But his statistics from Washington's first game speak for themselves.

On the night, Griffin completed 30 of 49 passes for over 300 yards, which on the surface, seems good. But it was his two interceptions that were most costly. And on the ground, Griffin took off only five times for 24 yards, hardly the rushing output people have come to expect.

In fact, Washington ran the read-option only two times in the season opener, according to Chris Russell of the ESPN Radio affiliate in Washington.

With the way the Packers shut down the 49ers run game in Week 1, combined with concerns about RG3's health, perhaps Washington will be scared to operate out of the read-option at all.

So will all the Packers preparation have been for naught?

"We're playing what we see on film and what they've done in the past," said Raji. "He still presents himself as a good player. We obviously know he's not the same as he was last year, but he's pretty effective still."

Dealt an 0-1 record, the Packers can't afford to take Griffin or Washington lightly. The loser of Sunday's game, after all, will be forced to dig themselves out of an 0-2 hole and face an uphill battle to even qualify for the playoffs.

"The bottom line is Green Bay didn't win. We didn't win," said Griffin. "You got to teams that are hungry to get a win and they've got to meet on the field in Green Bay."

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (16) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Al Katraz's picture

Watched numerous games this weekend and noticed that many defensive lines were much more svelt than the packers. They could move to the left and or right quickly on running plays to shore up the holes.
That quickness allowed them to play a 4 3 and still be able to pass rush and help the dbacks in passing.

Jolly, Raji, and Pickett are only effective shoring up the runs that are at them but have no ability to help out on end runs leaving the lone backer to make that tackle.

Not sure what the Pack are trying to do with that defensive style but the offensive side of the game changed a lot in two years and the defense did not.

Franklin Hillside's picture

Mike Neal and Datone Jones are used as down lineman and have speed.

Lee Krohn's picture

On obvious running plays the safety comes up as well. We shut down the 49ers running game. They would have exploited any problem we had.

Dave's picture

You're sort of describing the 3-4 defense in general there, not sure where you're going with that.

Jroc's picture

Svelte, as in: slender, especially gracefully slender in figure; lithe?

Seriously?

Jamie's picture

Did someone really just say the Packers D-line isn't as svelt as other teams?

Please tell me I'm imagining that...

C's picture

You didn't imagine it. But Al did imagine that he actually "watched other games", let alone focus on the defensive line play. Quality trolling.

JakeK's picture

Get over yourself ... Just because someone offers up another view point doesn't mean he's trolling. ... The Packer's D-Line has been an issue for the last two seasons. ... It hasn't proven anything yet this year after only one game. .... Just try, for once, to be a little more objective.

C's picture

Nice...to...hear...from...you...Rocky....i...see....you...still...aren't...over....that...stutter..........

JakeK's picture

????

JakeK's picture

Jamie
Take all your aliases & Go-Away.

Sir Cheese's picture

That's calling the kettle black Cow

Jamie's picture

There are two aliases that use more ellipses '...' than I do.

It just so happens both aliases offer nothing more to any post on this site than over-exaggerated negative 'worst case scenario' angled Packer commentary.

Those two aliases are...?

You guessed it...jakek (pronounced jackie-kay) and cow42 (pronounced cowtard or cowtaint).

It's not a coincidence folks.

djbonney138's picture

"You got to teams that are" -*two

themasterfake's picture

he wrote it how he said it

Dave's picture

lol

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