Getting Sacks, Giving Up Sacks Problematic Vs. Vikings

The Packers know they have to put more pressure on the quarterback and, at the same time, not give up as much this time around.

One of the keys to the New Orleans Saints getting to the Super Bowl last season was putting pressure on Vikings quarterback in the NFC Championship game.

By getting a decent pass rush and putting several hits on the Ol' Gunslinger, Favre was forced into throwing two interceptions including a crucial one in overtime that a set up the game-winning field goal.

Packers defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins noticed the difference a little pressure can make.

"You see some of the games that he's played in, and other games where people have gotten some pressure on him and games where they haven't," said Jenkins. "You can definitely see the difference in him back there in the pocket."

Jenkins has personally seen the games where very little pressure has been put on Favre because he's played in two of them.

In the two games against the Vikings last year, the Packers had zero sacks on defense. Just as staggering and just as much a reason they didn't win either game, the Packers also gave up 14 sacks on offense.

The Packers are looking to turn the tables this season on both sides of the football.

While not known as a sack artist, defensive lineman Ryan Pickett still knows it's imperative to get a pass rush on Favre, especially compared to last season.

"It's vital," said Pickett. "We have to get pressure on Brett. Last two, I don't think we sacked him. That definitely can't happen this time. If we want to win, we have to get pressure on the quarterback. We have to get him down, we have to get some sacks."

If healthy, Pickett might play a bigger role against the pass than he did last season. Without the Johnny Jolly, Pickett is playing more in the nickel package more than a year ago.

But even if Pickett doesn't play, the rush has to come from somewhere. Clay Matthews is the obvious source.

It's been reported by Steve Wyche of the NFL Network that Matthews will return to action after having sat out last weekend's game against the Dolphins.

He returned to the practice field today for the first time since suffering a strained hamstring in Week 5 against the Washington Redskins. Head coach Mike McCarthy classified it as a "good workout."

"It would help a whole lot," said Jenkins on the availability of Matthews for this weekend. "He's leading the league in sacks for a reason. Him being out there definitely helps the whole defense out."

As for the offense, the Packers can't afford to give up eight sacks on quarterback Aaron Rodgers like they in the first game versus Minnesota in '09.

On one hand, however, the offensive line was somewhat snakebit by injuries last season. Chad Clifton sat out of both Vikings games and Mark Tauscher didn't come back until the second half of the season.

"Sacks are big plays for a defense," said McCarthy. "Those two games were particularly the worst that we have ever experienced or probably I have ever experienced in my career. We’re a little healthier this year with our offensive line. Our offensive line is playing at a higher level. Also, our quarterback has another year of experience, but we’ve got to take care of their front four."

Taking care of Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen in particular, who accounted for 7.5 of the 14 sacks last year, will be of utmost importance.

But Allen isn't alone. The defensive line of the Vikings is among the best in the league. Tackles, Pat and Kevin Williams, present their own set of problems and Ray Edwards is no slouch.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers knows sacks have to be avoided if the Packers are going to have any more success on third downs, which have been problematic this season. And he also knows the burden falls on his shoulders in addition to the offensive line.

"Negative yardage plays are always going to put you in difficult situations," said Rodgers. "We've had too many of those. I think we've had 16 third-and-11-pluses, and those are tough to convert. So we've got to try and avoid those negative yardage plays that put us in a hole last year, because we were having to convert some third downs that are tough to convert.

"We need to find out a way to block those guys up and I need to get the ball out of my hand and hopefully keep those sticks moving this week."

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Comments (11)

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RickyBobby's picture

October 20, 2010 at 09:45 pm

Where do the packers have an advantage?

qb - ? Rodgers is 1-11 in games decided by 4 points or less. I can't see the Pack winning by more than 1 score.

rb - 'queens (duh)

wr - 'queens (is it wrong to say I'd take moss/harvin over driver/jennings?

te - 'queens

ol - push

dl - 'queens (we sure could use neal)

lbs - if mathews plays it's a push. if not it's 'queens

s - Pack

cb - Pack

k - 'queens

p - 'queens

kr - 'queens

pr - 'queens

coach - Pack (but it's a squeeker)

venue - Pack

Add it all up...

24 - 20 Packers
(I was never all that great at math)

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JoePackersNYC's picture

October 21, 2010 at 08:34 am

It's more than the personnel Ricky, it's about who sees the gameplan through the best, makes adjustments when they need to, keeps the football, and forces take aways.

The past several games, of course MM has been ugly. But I think we win this game. Just need to make plays and play smart, Fundamental Football.

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RickyBobby's picture

October 21, 2010 at 10:00 am

I can't remember the last time I watched Packer team play "smart, fundamental football". Dallas last year?

If I had to wager on which of the two teams would be smarter and more fundamentally sound I'd [re 'queens.

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nerd's laptop's picture

October 20, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Favre throws those playoff games on purpose. You really think the Strahan sack record is the only thing he's ever given up?
We see now what kind of skeletons Favre has in his closet. You think no one's been holding anything over his head all these years?
That said, yeah; hit him hard and hit him often.
END THE STREAK, BABY!
Withouth the streak, Favre will just stfu and go away.

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Overkill's picture

October 21, 2010 at 01:56 am

Good to hear Jenkins' and Pickett's enthusiasm.
Maybe we can hand out free Jen Sterger masks at the gate. Think of it, a loud, animated sea of Jen Stergers. Divinyls over PA during every timeout.

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Chris's picture

October 21, 2010 at 02:29 am

Wow, I just noticed that we have given up 18 first downs via the penalty to our opposition to only four for us. That is absolutly rediculous, that difference in 14 first downs via the penalty is a games worth of first downs, it is a wonder we are 3-3 or even have a winning record. This discrepency cannot happen against the vikes.

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davyjones's picture

October 21, 2010 at 07:39 am

One thing that gives me comfort--with all the injury problems our defense has faced, at least GB is the LEAST likely team in the league to have any of their defensive players suspended for hitting too hard.
(A J Hawk may be the safest player in the league when it comes to being at risk of fine/suspension.)

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RickyBobby's picture

October 21, 2010 at 10:01 am

Yup - unless the league starts fining guys for getting dragged 3 yards by slot receivers, AJ should be OK.

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PkrNboro's picture

October 21, 2010 at 01:09 pm

Hawk is a frustration for me.

I looked at the Miami game and saw the following...
-he always lines up a yard further from the LOS, as compared to the other middle LB.
-he is often 5 or 6 yds off the LOS.
-he seldom rushes to the LOS, once a run has occurred.
-when he does run up to an OL/DL stalemate, he usually stops -- instead of plowing into them and pushing them back.
-he very often takes on blockers -- instead of shedding/avoiding them.
-he tackles "high" -- on a runner's shoulder pads, usually in a bear hug. This allows the runner to continue running/driving, providing for an additional gain of 2-3 yds minimum. This also eliminates any possibility of him stripping the ball-carrier (however, I think this is over-emphasized at the expense of a sound, fundamental tackle).
-on pass plays, he seems to drift back without coverage responsibilities -- he's just not quick enough to close-on/break-up/tackle in those situations.

At times I thought Bishop looked like the better LB. I just can't envision Hawk coming back next year at 10mil.

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PackersRS's picture

October 21, 2010 at 10:22 am

This game will be decided by who screws up less at HC.

I could very well see Childress calling for a RB draw on 3rd and long in the last minute of regulation, in his own field, needing a TD to win.

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fish's picture

October 23, 2010 at 11:02 am

Positive Game Changers if:

Matthews is 100%
Al and Bigby have some play time,
Rodgers stops his Scared Scrambling,
Rodgers stops crying that Finly isn't playing and uses ALL his receivers,
Woodson plays with more smarts and less anger,
Capers plays smart and aggressive,
McCarthy plays 4 quarters,
D Line holds,
O Line Holds,
Rodgers finds his accuracy again,

All should be well if they keep smart. Basic concepts that we've seen for two quarters per game, but they need four quarters. When the frustration starts, the penalties start, and then games over.

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