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Packers Should Defer Every Time

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Packers Should Defer Every Time

Just a quick response to this post from Rob Demovsky:

Three times this season, the Packers have won the toss and deferred. And all three times — at Carolina, at Minnesota and at San Diego — Capers’ defense has allowed a touchdown on the opening drive.

When asked this week if he likes that strategy, the Packers defensive coordinator said: “I do. I think it kind of puts the hat on us. Now it worked extremely well for us last year because I felt we went out and set the tone. It hasn’t worked as well for us this year because we haven’t been a real fast starting team on defense. It’s like we go into these games and we feel our way early and then all of a sudden we find our niche and then we go.”

Still, it seems like an unusual strategy for coach Mike McCarthy to employ given how his defense has struggled and how productive his offense has been this season. Why not put the ball in the hands of quarterback Aaron Rodgers to start the game?

I'll tell you why. Because you want the ball to start the second half.

Look no further than the Chargers game for an example of why deferring works. Being able to score the final points prior to the half and then getting a score on the opening series of the second half does more to break open games than any "setting the tone" opening series ever did. Going down a touchdown, especially with the 2011 Packers offense, after the opening drive is nothing. Going down two scores after the opening drive of the second half does much more to put pressure on the opposing team than scoring on the opening drive of the game.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (15) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Evan's picture

I've done this in Madden since forever. I love it.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture


dullgeek's picture

Could not agree more. I absolutely love it when the Packers kickoff to open the game (whether via deferral or the other team electing to receive). The chance to score at the end of the half, followed by a score first thing in the second half is almost like getting a turnover by preventing the other team from having an effective possession.

dullgeek's picture

I'm reminded of the Atlanta playoff game last year. Two INTs in the 2nd, one with 0:00 on the clock, plus getting the ball first in the 3rd Q = 21 unanswered points in a heartbeat. Halftime was like the 3rd turnover in a row, taking away a posession from Atlanta.

bomdad's picture

theres always the chance the captains for the other team will f'up and choose to kick off.

Tommyboy's picture

I can't believe someone other than me finally put this in writing. I feel like there are several reasons to defer and only way down the list is "setting the tone" on there.

I think that if you defer and the other team scores right at the end of the half, you don't have to treat it like a safety and turn right back at half and kick it to them again. On the other hand, what a massive game-changer it can be if YOU'RE the team that scores and gets the ball right back. You could throw 6 - 14 points on the board unanswered, resetting or enhancing the proverbial "tone"

By the second half, players also tend to be a little less jacked up, giving them maybe a better overall chance to perform like they practice.

I'd defer everytime (and in Madden, I do:)

Evan's picture

I'd love to see some stats on times the Packers start on defense compared with times they score to end the half.

I feel like it happens more than not.

packeraaron's picture

Agree on "Setting the tone." It is the weakest argument - and its the one everyone uses.

D-fens's picture

It was fine last season when the defense got stops but I disagree with the strategy the way this team is playing right now.

Especially on the road, the Packers could have put the best offense in football on the field to set the tone and take the opposing crowd out of it, instead they allowed the opposite to happen.

I think it is irrelevant to argue about scoring to end the half because that is not affected at all by whether a team defers or takes the ball to start the game. It is just how the half plays out. I also don't care what people do in Madden.

some guy's picture

I guess I don't understand the premise. I would think NFL teams would like to play with a lead no? the way Rodgers is playing, why not go and get the lead right off the bat? And if you get up a couple of scores on an opponent it starts to dictate their play calling and make them relatively more one dimensional.

Conversely, if you give the ball up to start the game, with the way the D has been playing, there is a decent change we are giving up points and will fall behind. not a big deal for this O as you pointed out, but for the underdog, the longer you keep them hanging around, the more confident they get. i'm all for throwing the first punches and trying to break a team's will. I think if we had taken the ball and scored first on the Vikes it might have been a different game (over early). But they score right away and they play the whole half with the lead. They have no pressure on them because they aren't in an early hole

as for this comment: "Going down two scores after the opening drive of the second half does much more to put pressure on the opposing team than scoring on the opening drive of the game." i agree - but you need possessions and scores in the first half to do that. if you only get 4 posessions in the first half and the other team gets 5 because they got the ball first, its hard to go up a score on them before half time. unless of course you are the green bay packers.

packeraaron's picture

That last sentence is kind of my point. Throw out conventional wisdom when dealing with this team/offense.

Kendra's picture

Arguments could be made for both choices but considering how they've managed to score at the end of the half and early in the second half and how they've been able to immediately match opening drive TDs, the strategy hasn't backfired on them.

Opening drive TDs by the opposing team don't "set the tone" for the game. The Packers won't let it. They choose not to be rattled and the offense digs in.

I usually don't like the "hey we're 8-0, what's there to complain about" response but in this case, since "tone setting" is one of the counter arguments, I think it's an applicable rebuttal. If GB loses, odds are it won't be because of their choice to defer.

MarkinMadison's picture

This works for this team because the offense is so unstoppable. Going down by 7 or even 14 in the first quarter does nothing to shake the confidence of this team. Many teams could not handle it.

Mojo's picture

I love it when we defer. If the opposing team scores, we have the entire rest of the game to get the points back. Plus, I'd rather have more possessions in the second half when the opposition D is more likely to be tired. Plus you have a better idea what is working.

I'd defer every time.

DoubleD's picture

You should Defer everytime. Why wouldn't you want to have the chance of an extra possession in the second half.

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