Cory's Corner: Packers Defense Must Be Disciplined

Sean McVay is a master schemer and will test this Green Bay defense. 

Jared Goff is coming into this game with a banged up thumb on his throwing hand. 

Goff, who is from sunny California, has played his entire college and pro career in California. He is 1-1 in his career when the temperature is below freezing. However, that doesn't tell the story. Goff has a miserable completion percentage of 47 with no touchdowns and five picks. The temperature for the NFC Divisional Playoff will be hovering near 20 degrees at Lambeau Field. 

Yet, I still don't think the Packers will blow the Rams out. 

The reason: Sean McVay. Remember, it was McVay that vaulted Goff into a Pro Bowl passer and it will be McVay trying to outscheme the Packers defense.

This may be hard to understand because Goff is clearly not right as we was 9-for-19 after John Wolford sustained a neck injury in the opening quarter last week. That's why this game is going to come down to defensive discipline from the Packers. 

Goff led the NFL in play-action yards in 2018 by a whopping 214 yards and the Rams were second in the NFL in scoring by tallying nearly 33 points a game. Yet, the Patriots confused McVay and the Rams into a 13-3 Super Bowl loss. 

"They played six on the line all day, which kind of limited the space to get the runs in there," said Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth following Super Bowl LIII. "They played an open-field 6-2 almost, but ith one guy in the middle — almost a little bit of goal line. And they played a lot more zone than they played all season, so that kind of shook it up a little bit."

Goff led the NFL in play-action yards in 2019 and was sixth this season. What McVay does is put the pieces perfectly together. With two minutes left in the first half and the Rams on the Seahawks 5 in last week's wild card game, Goff made a looping turn to hand it off to Cam Akers. The brief appearance of play-action made defenders pause for a split second and caused Akers to end up in the end zone without being touched. 

Just like Green Bay's playbook, any run can be flipped into play-action. McVay is going to see how aggressive Darnell Savage, Christian Kirksey and Krys Barnes are playing at the line of scrimmage before trying to sneak some play-action in. 

McVay and Goff know that Goff cannot dropback normally and be successful. I would even make an argument that even if Goff was healthy, the Rams cannot win this game straight up. 

Offensively, the Rams need McVay's scheming to stay afloat. Akers is averaging 23 carries a game in the last four — including games with 28 and 29. That is the perfect recipe to add spice to an already potent play-action game. 

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine must continue to preach how important it is to play the ball. Giving up a big play because of a failed assignment to the Rams' wounded offense is akin to Green Bay committing a turnover. Pettine's crew must win this game of chess because in the playoffs, teams don't need any help. 

This game will showcase what kind of leadership this defensive unit really has. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (18)

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TarynsEyes's picture

January 16, 2021 at 07:26 am

The longer it takes the Packers to get a two score lead, the more the pressure builds on the defense to 'win' the game. The closer it becomes a last possession win for either team scares me. I don't care what the rankings say, the defense has its suspects and anyone of them can implode quickly at the wrong moment.

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murf7777's picture

January 16, 2021 at 07:32 am

True, the Rams are not built to comeback and if they get down by double digits or especially more than 15 Goff will throw INT’s and game over. That said, our D is key to the win.

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murf7777's picture

January 16, 2021 at 07:27 am

Stop the run, make them one dimensional and we win by double digits. If not, watch out for a dog fight. Thank you Gutey for picking up Snacks as I think he will make a big impact in this game. Also, a thank you to Seattle for letting him go.

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ricky's picture

January 16, 2021 at 08:07 am

The Rams could well be thinking of using Barnes' aggressiveness against him when he is in there. Savage seems to be on an upward learning curve, and at least some of that probably comes from the mentoring of Amos. But what I'd like to really see is Rodgers change up his real snap count. On a very regular basis, he does a hard count at around 15 seconds or less on the clock, trying to get that "free play" by drawing the defense off side. Every team seems aware of this- it doesn't work. But what if the ball was actually snapped on that count? It would take that "split second" for the defense to react, giving the Packers an advantage. Do this two or three times, and the defense will be a bit more edgy, and the possibility of getting a penalty would seem to increase.

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Guam's picture

January 16, 2021 at 08:30 am

I would give some credit to our new secondary coach, Grey, for helping Savage too. He has developed good secondaries everywhere he has been.

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mnbadger's picture

January 16, 2021 at 09:09 am

great point Ricky about our snap count and cadence. Currently, a d-lineman could be blind and still get off the ball quickly if he's listening. when was the last time it worked?Though it may be hard to change this late into a season without causing our own miscues. GPG

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NitschkeFan's picture

January 16, 2021 at 09:30 am

I agree with you ricky that at times it is frustrating to watch Rodgers wind the playclock down to the last second with his hard count. But what he is also doing at times is watching how the linebackers and DB's react to his hard count. At times they will move in a way that helps illuminate what the defensive scheme will be that play. And the Rams often use deception to confuse the offense, so Rodgers i suspect will do this a lot against the Rams hoping to see them tip their coverage plans.

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PeteK's picture

January 16, 2021 at 10:33 am

and to see if anyone is twitching towards a blitz or not.

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Leatherhead's picture

January 16, 2021 at 09:04 am

I’m confused. All year, I hear it’s about “playmakers” making “splash plays” and now you’re trying to tell me it’s about teamwork and discipline?

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

January 16, 2021 at 12:01 pm

No one is surprised that you are confused. Confusion is your natural state.

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Leatherhead's picture

January 16, 2021 at 02:31 pm

Yeah, but I find it’s better to know I’m confused than it is to be certain about things and be wrong.

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mnbadger's picture

January 16, 2021 at 09:16 am

It's playoffs, cream will rise to the top. The fact that we wear cheese on our heads bodes well for us! Execute. Pack 23-19. GPG

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sohankhan's picture

January 16, 2021 at 09:50 am

The Green Bay Packers come out of their bye week and hit the road to visit the Los Angeles Rams, who are the lone undefeated team in the NFL at 7-0. Here's a look at this series - past, present and future.

FOR FREE :https://kotvlive.blogspot.com/NFL/

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GregC's picture

January 16, 2021 at 10:47 am

Not sure where you get your forecasts, but according to NOAA the temperature during the game should be 30-35 degrees. The "below freezing" stats won't really apply. I agree that McVay's play design and play-calling are the biggest challenges for our defense. I was impressed by how the Rams manufactured that win against a Seahawks defense that had been playing well in the second half of the season. I do think the Packers will be fine if they stay disciplined though.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

January 16, 2021 at 12:09 pm

33°, 8mph wind, 25° wind chill at game time according to Dark Sky.

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canadapacker's picture

January 16, 2021 at 02:03 pm

Two things that always have gotten to me this year - we defer and then let the other team march down the field the odd time we get them off the field nicely we usually score but not often enough. When we defer and get the ball back to start the 2nd half we go three and out. Just wonder about deferring if we cant stop them. Because when we dont win the toss and the other team defers we usually march down the field and score. No matter which scenario we need to score on our first possession of the second half - that usually kick the other team in the uknowwhere. Just would like to see us do what we did to the Titans.

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tonys247's picture

January 16, 2021 at 02:29 pm

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