What to watch in Packers vs Cardinals: Can Green Bay contain Kyler?

Five things to watch as the Green Bay Packers take on the Arizona Cardinals.

Can Green Bay contain Kyler Murray?

The Packers defense has been surprisingly good in the first seven games of Joe Barry’s tenure, when most expected there would be some serious teething problems.

Granted, the unit was abysmal in week one, but so was the offense. The red zone has also been a huge concern, but the D-Train stepped up last week and got four stops from inside their own 20.

Where the defense has struggled though, is preventing quarterbacks from getting loose and scrambling for significant yardage.

The Packers have struggled to stop the likes of Jared Goff and Taylor Heinicke from running free in their secondary so far this season, now they will face a much stiffer test in the electric Kyler Murray.

However, it’s fair to say Green Bay probably didn’t place too much emphasis on Goff and Heinicke’s ability to run when putting together their game plan for those opponents. They will no doubt have a strategy to attempt to contain Murray, the question is whether they can implement it successfully.

Potential for miscommunication issues

This could be a factor on both sides of the ball against the Cardinals. The Packers have not held a real practice all week, and the absence of key personnel could impact the cohesion of both the offense and defense.

With Davante Adams all but certainly out, Allen Lazard definitely out, and the status of MVS still up in the air, there is a good chance the Packers are forced to rely on the likes of Malik Taylor, who is just back from the COVID list himself, and training camp darling Juwann Winfree to play a significant number of reps.

It would not be surprising to see several instances where Aaron Rodgers and his receivers are not on the same page, and I’m sure Fox will be primed and ready with their ultra-zoom camera to pick out Rodgers glaring at his pass catchers after a botched play.

The obvious issue on defense is that Joe Barry will not be calling plays, with Jerry Gray deputizing. This seems to have almost gone under the radar, as many people seem to think the Packers missing Adams is the greater loss.

Jerry Gray is a seasoned coach and has experience calling plays, but missing your usual defensive co-ordinator is kind of a big deal. With the calls being run through inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti and then onto De’Vondre Campbell, there is certainly the potential for confusion.

Matt LaFleur’s game plan

Even if the Packers are without Adams, Lazard, MVS and Bakhtiari on offense, Matt LaFleur has proven his ability to do some of his best coaching when his team is undermanned.

Brian Gutekunst and his personnel staff have spent the last few years building a roster which boasts a diverse range of talent, which has allowed LaFleur to change his gameplan each week depending on their opponent.

The Packers still have an elite backfield tandem of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, a decent receiver room boasting Aaron Rodgers’ trusty sidekick Randall Cobb, the reliable Equanimious St. Brown and the yet-to-arrive Amari Rodgers, and a plethora of different tight end options in Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis and Josiah Deguara.

Green Bay has won all six games Adams has missed in the LaFleur Era. Whilst that doesn’t mean the team are better without 17, it’s not a coincidence and speaks to the quality of LaFleur as a game planner and caller.

Can the Packers run the ball?

The running game struggled to get off the ground against the Washington Football Team, as Green Bay could not open holes for Jones and Dillon against a stellar defensive front.

The offensive line has generally been much better in the pass game than the run this season, but the Cardinals do not pose as much of a test in the trenches, especially with JJ Watt declared out of Thursday night’s game.

It will be crucial for the Packers to run the ball efficiently this week so as not to fall behind the sticks and allow Chandler Jones to pin his ears back, especially with Rodgers relying on a compromised group of receivers in the passing game.

Hopkins vs Stokes

Eric Stokes has come such a long way in a short space of time, and the truth is, he’s had no choice. The fact Stokes has played so well in his rookie year has allowed the Packers to survive without Jaire Alexander to this point.

However, he has taken his lumps at times and on Thursday faces his toughest test yet in DeAndre Hopkins.

Hopkins has been carrying a hamstring injury but is expected to play, and will still be a nightmare for Stokes and the rest of Green Bay’s cornerbacks to defend, even at less than 100%.

A player like Hopkins can singlehandedly take over a game. Stokes, along with Rasul Douglas and company must prevent that from happening.

-------------------------------------------------------

Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @Marko7LW

4 points

Comments (18)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Coldworld's picture

October 27, 2021 at 05:16 pm

We haven’t tried to stop opposing QBs running thus far from what I have seen. If we don’t vary that approach it will be long night. As far the rest of the D goes, the personnel looks like being similar to last week. That may help.

On offense, we have to expect more stunts to fool the young linemen and have to play together not as disjointed individuals in the middle. That’s key to getting our run game going as well as our players. We have played better D lines, especially with Watt out. No excuses this week, our O line has to protect and open lanes. Running successfully should help the line as the game progresses if we establish it.

As for the catchers, LaFleur and Rodgers are just going to have to trust them. We won’t win by throwing to Cobb all the time: we have to get all the catchers involved and sow some confusion with personnel and usage.

Go for it offensively. The only way to win this is to remain aggressive, trust the skill payers and hope the inexperienced rise to the challenge. On D, keep containment and blitz: not easy, but we have to pressure the QB and take away the run option.

3 points
3
0
PewAuKeeFan's picture

October 27, 2021 at 06:00 pm

"the reliable Equanimious St. Brown"

Now now... let's not get ahead of ourselves! 😊

There is a reason why ESB did not land on the initial 53 man roster.

13 points
13
0
LLCHESTY's picture

October 28, 2021 at 12:16 am

After his run on Sunday one of the announcers said "you can see why they love him in Green Bay" and I wondered where that came from. Hopefully he shows up tomorrow night.

6 points
6
0
jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 28, 2021 at 07:55 am

Fox C crew strikes again.

2 points
2
0
jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 28, 2021 at 07:54 am

I literally put that in my clipboard for a "WUT?"

1 points
1
0
porupack's picture

October 27, 2021 at 06:01 pm

Hard to see a win if the pack cannot dominate lesser foes. But at least we have a linebacker, or maybe two. The silver lining is that a lot of backups and rookies will get a schooling and gain some experience if they can at least win some good share of their one on ones.

3 points
3
0
jh9's picture

October 27, 2021 at 06:45 pm

Yes, we’re 6-1. However, we haven’t faced the best teams yet - the kind of teams we’ll face in the playoffs. What concerns me is our ability to stop the run. The Packers defense has given up an average of 4.9 yards per attempt. That is the second worst average in the league. It hasn’t bitten us yet, but it will when we play the better teams, like Arizona.

0 points
2
2
Swisch's picture

October 27, 2021 at 07:17 pm

Exciting opportunities for backups to get on the field and make a contribution.
I hope Rodgers will throw the ball to his inexperienced wide receivers with a certain openness. I hope he doesn't glare at them if they make mistakes, and goes back to them. Don't make them tense and tentative with public rebukes. Give the likes of Taylor and Winfree and Amari Rodgers a real chance to show themselves as determined and talented.
***
In the 2011 Super Bowl win over the Steelers, Jordy Nelson had a couple of terrible drops but still contributed mightily.
In the 2016 playoff loss to the Cardinals, Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis came out of nowhere to have the games of their careers as wide receivers.
***
As I noted in another comment, I'd like the Packers to play this game with some enthusiastic abandon.
We're far away on the road during a short week, with lots of players sidelined. Since we're likely to lose, embrace the new guys and try some new plays.
Play to win with maximum effort, but with more freedom and even more fun. We might pull out a victory, anyway.
In any case, be dignified and dashing, and play it all the way through to the end.

1 points
6
5
PatrickGB's picture

October 27, 2021 at 07:30 pm

If their QB gets a few yards running, thats ok. If he gets a lot of yards running, that’s not good. And if he uses the threat of a run to throw touchdowns, that’s killer. The team can get by with the first two situations but not that last one.

3 points
3
0
jannes bjornson's picture

October 28, 2021 at 01:57 pm

If he runs and gets injured, that's OK....

0 points
0
0
Leatherhead's picture

October 27, 2021 at 08:40 pm

If it were me, we’d

😎 play a five man defensive front that focuses on keeping the QB in the pocket.
😎.make Murray throw it underneath. The sooner it’s out of his hands, the better.
😎. Play zone so that the DBs don’t have to turn their backs on this guy.

We’ll have to rotate our DL because they’ll get tired from dancing with this guy. A pair of turnovers could tilt this game.

9 points
9
0
Matt Gonzales's picture

October 28, 2021 at 08:15 am

Agreed with all of this. Gap integrity is going to be HUGE for the DL and edge rushers. If GB can keep Murray in the pocket I like our chances. Murray is a good pocket passer, but like Wilson and Jackson, he is the most dangerous rolling out when he can survey the field and force the safeties/LBs to account for him turning upfield and taking it with his feet.

1 points
1
0
Starrbrite's picture

October 27, 2021 at 08:57 pm

Agree with LeatherHead’s plan.
As for the critical liability of losing your defensive coordinator; I don’t know how critical that will be? The special teams coach for the Raiders has won two games after taking over in mid-stream.

4 points
4
0
Guam's picture

October 27, 2021 at 09:35 pm

Arizona has film on Joe Barry's defense as well as lots of experience with the Rams version of this defense. Arizona has no film on a Jerry Gray defense. While I don't expect Gray to introduce significant changes, he may provide a wrinkle or two that the Cardinals won't expect.

3 points
5
2
Fabio's picture

October 28, 2021 at 03:16 am

I believe that for the defense of the Packers it is very important to fix the red zone and this regardless of how long Murray runs.
The team is based on the offense, so the defense of the red zone is essential to limit the great scores of the opposing teams and always give an advantage to the attack (if it works).
We had a 4-0 win on Sunday. Let's see how it goes with a much more difficult test.
Ps TNF for me means staying awake until 6 in the morning and going to work without practically sleeping .... let's hope so! (LOL)
Greetings from Italy
GPG

2 points
3
1
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 28, 2021 at 04:27 am

I am still thinking A. J. Green is the match-up concern rather than Hopkins. I could be wrong, but it may not matter. AZ is loaded at WR with Hopkins, Green, Christian Kirk and now Ertz and Maxx Williams (16 recs on 17 targets - 94% - good for a 11.4 yds/target average).

4 points
4
0
Johnblood27's picture

October 28, 2021 at 08:24 am

This is where leatherheads 5 man d-line scheme has enormous holes.

The receiving crew of the Cards is formidable and needs attention.

This looks like a good game to get Heflin some snaps, his motor would be welcome vs murray in chase mode. Lancaster and Slaton maybe not so much.

3 points
3
0
ImaPayne's picture

October 28, 2021 at 11:05 am

My observation so far this year is the Packers D which is the achiles heel of this team is slow to the ball. Henike ran around like a circus clown last week with linebackers in tow.
Murry is much faster and agile and and teams that face him without fleet of foot linebackers and corners will have problems stopping his pass and run game.
lefleur will try and stall things by running the ball and keeping our d off the field but a good passing team scores quickly and a running team does not. I'll take the quick strike team anytime.
Would not be shocked if the cards win by 21.

0 points
1
1