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Cheesehead TV Matchup: Week 5 Defense

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Cheesehead TV Matchup: Week 5 Defense

Be Ready For The Bootleg

When you play defense against a Mike Shanahan offense you have to be aware that there is nothing he likes to do more than run the bootleg out of the playaction stretch play. Wherever he has been in his career this play has been an essential competent of his offense, working in tandem with the zone blocking scheme he helped make famous when he was winning Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos.

I asked Matt Bowen, one of the founders of the National Football Post and a former safety with both the Packers and Redskins, about what the Packers defense should be looking for when it comes to the boot play on Sunday. He said the defense needs to key on a few different things.

"The secondary and linebacker reads versus boot action comes down to low hat vs high hat" said Bowen. "In the boot game, the offensive line will turn (we used to call it elephants in a line) with a high hat. That tells you pass read right there. Forget about the backfield action. The O-Line will turn and run (with no cut blocks). But, the key is the strong safety. He has to know the difference from film study on what is a down block from the tight end and what is boot action form the tight end. He has to be patient with that read and not flow to the line of scrimmage too quickly with his eyes in the backfield."

You can bet Darren Perry is spending a good deal of time with Charlie Peprah, Derrick Martin and, yes, Jarrett Bush going over the above this week. Whoever gets the start opposite Nick Collins (it sounds like it will be Peprah if he is healthy) will no doubt be targeted early and often by Shanahan and company until they prove they've internalized the work Bowen mentions above.

Of course, the other problem for the Packers is the fact that their defense has been terrible in regards to letting quarterbacks scramble for major yardage against them. Even lumbering Shaun Hill ran for a huge gain last week, running untouched up the middle of the field after the Packers secondary was run off deep and the pass rush failed to get home. Donavan McNabb will certainly put even more pressure on the back end of the defense with his threat to either run or pass out of the boot action.

  • The Cooley Problem

Chris Cooley had a near-career day the last time he played against the Packers, bringing in nine passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. While the scheme for the Packers defense has changed, much of the same personnel that had trouble with him that day - Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Brady Poppinga - will be on the field trying to stop him on Sunday.

Dom Capers' defense was absolutely gashed by the Lions' tight ends last Sunday on a variety of screens and delayed crossing routes. With Nick Barnett most likely out for the year and Brandon Chillar out for the foreseeable future (Rob Demovsky reported this afternoon that his injury is not season ending) the prospect of using A.J. Hawk or Desmond Bishop to slow down Cooley seems downright scary.

My hunch is that Capers will play the Redskins very much as he did the Cowboys last year - he will leave Woodson manned up on Cooley 90 percent of the time as he did against Jason Witten. The Cowboys receivers are worlds better than what will be trotted out by the Redskins on Sunday. Tramon Williams will most likely be counted on to negate Santana Moss with the rest of the secondary taking turns playing man and zone versus the likes of Joey Galloway and Anthony Armstrong.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (7) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

CSS's picture

Does Capers ever designate a 'spy' to account for mobile QB's like McNabb?

Is the emphasis on the collective 'D', or will he take a guy like Bishop (just an example) and tell him McNabb is his responsibility?

Any thoughts on who they would designate in that type of role? You hate to limit a guy like Matthews with that type of role because it involves frequently sitting down on a play and reacting, not attacking.

PackerAaron's picture

I can't remember him ever doing so but I think Bishop could be used in this regard - absolutely agree that using Matthews would be a complete waste.

ZeroTolerance's picture

My fear is that Matthews may be used more in drop back coverage, limiting his pass rushing role.

davyjones's picture

Putting Woodson on Cooley makes all the sense in the world. Tramon has been pretty stellar and ought to be at least adequate on Moss. If whoever is in at other safety (Bush/Underwood/Lee) can't handle Joey Galloway...we got ourselves a big problem. But I think they may surprise us with OK play, especially if Neal is back healthy and they can get some pressure from the front. Jenkins, Raji, Pickett, & Neal are key to success of fillin safety and LB.

KurtMc's picture

Is this a time to use a modified 4-3 alignment, rushing 3 DL's & haveing a 4th as a contain guy for McNab? Maybe a modified Nickel if the DOM has anything like that?

NoWayJose's picture

I think your Woodson-Cooley hypothesis is dead on. That's exactly why I think our defense will hold up well on Sunday. This team does not gave the WRs to keep us honest (ie keep Wood outside).

On the other hand, this will be the first "cagey veteran QB" we have played this year... Bad memories of last year come to mind.

MarkinMadison's picture

ESPN reporting that Albert Haynesworth's younger half brother killed in a crash. Haynesworth with his family. On the football side, no note as to whether or not he intends to play this weekend. On the human side, this is obviously a sad tragedy for Mr. Haynesworth. Deepest sympathies and prayser for him and his family.

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