There are two big things that will help the Packers in 2009 and they both revolve around familiarity.
1. We’re used to the NFC North. I know that sounds simple but let me explain. There were no massive changes to any of the NFC North teams. Same old, same old. The Bears got Cutler. That’s about it. Otherwise, the Packers can prepare for those teams like usual. No big surprises or changes during the week leading up to those games. Buckle down, watch film, study, practice, and beat the team you’ve known for the previous 3-4 years like you usually do.
2A. 3-4 Familiarity. The other NFC North teams are 4-3 defenses and their offenses practice mostly against, yep, the 4-3 because that’s what they run. You think the Bears are going to be doing a lot of 3-4 practices this summer when they’re not going to run it in the season? The 3-4 will not just give those teams fits because it’s awesome and we have great players and a good DC, but because they just aren’t used to it. Lord knows we’ve had problems with it in the past. Now they’ll know what it felt like.
2B. 3-4 Familiarity. We’ve already started practicing the 3-4 defense. It’s our scheme now. Rodgers and the offense will get real familiar with the 3-4 soon and it’s a good thing because we play FOUR teams who run the 3-4. I’m tired of being on the losing end of games against the Cowboys. The 3-4 was always a key reason why. They run it well and we just aren’t that used to it. Gameplan and practice all you want that week, but they’ve been practicing it and gameplanning it for 5 months. It’s just damn hard to turn it on. Well we won’t need to hit a switch this year. We’ll know the drill. Aaron will smell the trouble coming this time where he might have missed it before. The blockers in the backfield will know their assignments well and not get confused as random linebackers attack. Our offensive coordinator said “Down the road it's going to pay dividends for us.” You hear that, Dallas? Dividends! It’s on, Dallas.
This Packers team isn’t stuck in a corner practicing ONE scheme or ONE system. Coach McCarthy said that we’ll be using more man blocking on the line as well as zone blocking. Best of both worlds. That helps the defense when teams give them both. They won’t go “durr, this is man blocking! We only did zone in practice!”
Dom Capers has said there will be a mix of man coverage and zone coverage. Best of both worlds. This is likely to help Al Harris who can get picked on by bigger receivers. It also sets them up to make big plays and confuse the playcallers on the other team. Capers is good at disguising looks and we have some of the best corners in the league along with some hard hitting safeties in Bigby, Rouse, and even Nick Collins.
We’ll be more prepared in 2009 than we have in any previous year I can remember.