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It's about protecting Rodgers, stopping Peterson

Posted Nov 30, 2012

Coaches in final planning stages for Sunday's game between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings


GREEN BAY—Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier knows the Packers have struggled recently to protect Aaron Rodgers, and Frazier said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers resort to some of the same tactics the Bears used to beat the Vikings last Sunday.

“They went to a short passing game and it was effective for them. They did some things to offset our rush. They had a good game plan,” Frazier said of the Bears, who scored a 28-10 win over the Vikings at Soldier Field.

Might the Packers try the same tactic?

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Frazier said. “I’m sure they’re working as hard as they can not to fall into the situation they were in.”

Two teams that are polar opposites in how they move the football will face each other at Lambeau Field this Sunday in a showdown for second place in the NFC North. With a win, the Green Bay Packers will take the first of two steps toward a Dec. 16 showdown in Chicago for the NFC North lead. With a win, the Vikings will move into second place by virtue of a head-to-head advantage.

The Packers move the ball through the air, though they haven’t been nearly as productive at it the past two weeks. It’s hoped the return of wide receiver Greg Jennings will re-ignite the Packers’ passing attack.

Meanwhile, Minnesota is the league’s No. 3 rushing team with the league’s No. 1 rusher, but with a No. 30 passing game that is likely to be without its star pass-catcher, Percy Harvin.

Intrigue is everywhere, as coaches and coordinators central to this clash scurry for answers to their particular problems. Packers Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements needs protection for his quarterback, whether it be in the form of blocking or scheming. Meanwhile, Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers is facing one of the greatest challenges of the season, which is to say the threat running back Adrian Peterson poses.

“It’s a trade off,” Clements said of using tight ends and backs in helping to protect Rodgers. “You’re getting more protection, but you may not get as many receivers out and they may not get out as quickly.

“You try to mix it up. You don’t want to get the quarterback hit.”

Capers has spent the week emphasizing to his players the need to be as disciplined in their run-defense assignments this Sunday as they were in Week 6 against Houston, when the Packers shut down Arian Foster.

“Peterson is playing as well as I’ve seen him since I’ve been here. The challenge is being able to get 11 people to the ball. You’ve got to get multiple hits on him,” Capers said. “You’ve got to get him on the ground. He’s a rare guy. He’s seeking contact.”

Christian Ponder is a mobile quarterback who poses a threat as a runner on the perimeter.

“You have to be conscious of that,” Capers said.

Mostly, the Packers will be conscious of protecting Rodgers and stopping Peterson. What they do in attempting to accomplish each will likely be of considerable discussion next week.

Additional coverage - Nov. 30

 
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