With the New York Jets having an extra week to prepare, the Green Bay Packers offense is expecting their upcoming opponent to throw everything–including the kitchen sink–at them when it comes to the blitz.
"They are coming off a bye week, so we anticipate potentially unscouted looks, especially when you have a high-volume pressure scheme as the Jets do," said head coach Mike McCarthy. "I think that is definitely the norm. But they do a very good job with their pressures and that is going to be a big challenge for us in New York on Sunday."
Under head coach Rex Ryan, the Jets have become one the most blitz-heavy teams in the NFL. A year ago, their defense could do very little wrong, especially against the pass–a direct product of their blitz packages.
Conversely, the Packers a year ago were a pretty darn good offense facing the blitz. Had this match-up occurred in 2009, it would would have been the immovable object vs. the unstoppable force.
According to STATS, the Jets were the best team in the league in blitz situations against the pass last season allowing opponents to complete only 136 of 280 passes (48.6%) for 1,507 yards with 2 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, good for a 54.0 passer rating.
The Jets have had less success with the blitz this season for a variety of reasons. Chief among them, both cornerback Darelle Revis and outside linebacker Calvin Pace have missed time this season with injuries.
But the Packers know they're still dangerous and can still provide a pass rush without so much as the luxury of a moment's notice.
"They run a lot of crazy blitz packages that we need to be able to sort out and identify fast," said offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga. "You've only got–what is it?– 25 seconds to kind of get things identified and the play called in, and it's going to be loud and noisy. So we need to be able to do things and really study the tape hard this week and be able to recognize things quick."
Thankfully, for the Packers' sake, they have a quarterback that's thrived against the blitz. A year ago, Aaron Rodgers was the top quarterback in the league in blitz situations completing 125 of 180 passes (69.4%) for 1,699 yards with 11 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, good for a 112.7 passer rating.
In order for him to replicate that success, Rodgers thinks the onus is on his pass protection, whether it be the offensive line or running backs, to protect his back.
"It starts with the guys up front," said Rodgers, "and I hope last week is the beginning of something special, because the way they protected really forced the defense into just abandoning the rush and trying to jump and tip balls.
"That, as a quarterback, that's your best friend there. When I can wake up Monday and Tuesday and have my body feel that good, that's really encouraging from my standpoint."
While not as blitz-happy as the Jets, the Vikings are regarded as having one of the best front sevens in the NFL, and the Packers held them without a sack.
Pass protection this week will be at a premium as Packers receivers anticipate facing man-to-man coverage and will need every available moment to get separation from the Jets' superb corners, Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
'They do want to play a lot of man coverage," said Rodgers. "They have the personnel to play a lot of man coverage. They're a tough, talented defense and it's going to be a big test for us."
McCarthy credits facing the Packers' own defense in practice for what they've been able to accomplish against the blitz.
It certainly hasn't hurt that defensive coordinator Dom Capers has brought his own creative pressure schemes to Green Bay to give the offense plenty for which to prepare.
"We’re like every other team in the league, we practice against pressure and we have an opportunity to train against our own defense that is pressure-oriented," said McCarthy. "So I am sure that has definitely helped us the last two years."
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