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Letters To LeRoy Butler


LeRoy, I am very pleased that Green Bay won this past weekend, but do you think it is a huge concern that Green Bay can't stop the run, especially with Priest Holmes coming to town this week? - Paul (29 Palms, CA)

I understand your concerns. Priest Holmes is by far the best weapon in the league. The Packers' coaching staff will be working diligently all week to figure out ways to stop him in both the run and the pass. On first and second down they'll be employing a lot of eight-man fronts, and on third down they'll be covering him with a defensive back. It's going to be a challenge for the defense, there's no question.

Is the Packers' special teams good enough to stop Dante Hall next week? What do they have to do to do so? Thanks. - Clay (Salt Lake City, UT)

Currently the Packers special teams is ranked No. 1 in the NFL in terms of punt coverage. They're second in the NFC in kickoff coverage. That shows that coordinator John Bonamego has them playing well together. As for my specific thoughts regarding Dante Hall, you'll have to check out my weekly game preview this Saturday.

That was a great prediction on Darren Sharper's interception this week! What typically goes on in a locker room during halftime? Is it spent discussing strategy, spreading encouragement, yelling? Just like against the Seahawks over the weekend, it seems like some games really shift momentum after a half. -- Hsing (Urbana, IL)

At halftime it's a combination of all those things. Mostly you make sure that your game plan is intact, you check for injuries and you try to make adjustments.

Players will break out with their position coaches and go over strategies. For example, last game the Seahawks had success in the first half running something we call an H-2 split, where the fullback goes one way and the tailback goes another. Shaun Alexander got some big gains on that play in the first half.

But in the second half the Packers made an adjustment, having the linebacker make a stronger move to the outside while the defensive back lined up to play the cut-back.

Those kinds of adjustments are the things you try to make at halftime.

What specific adjustments did you notice the Packers made defensively at halftime in the Seahawks game? - Bob (Hartland, WI)

I already mentioned one specific adjustment. In general, in the second half the Packers played more man-to-man on the perimeter and played more combination coverages in the middle. That allowed them to defend the run with an eight-man front, and still have some guys deep on passes in the middle.

The Packers also went from blitzing on the outside to adding more pressure up the middle, which prevented Matt Hasselbeck from stepping up in the pocket.

What does it mean by putting men "in the box?" Justin - (Nazareth, PA)

Basically, 'the box' is an area 5 yards into the defensive side and 5 yards into the offensive side. As a defensive player, when you're 'in the box' you're in the blocking scheme. That means the center will assign someone to pick you up.

If you're at linebacker depth, you're in the box.

Hi LeRoy! I realize our current strategy is run, run, run, and follow it up with some play-action passes later in the game (which seems to be working fine), but I can't help notice the extremely under-used talent in Tony Fisher, Antonio Freeman and Wesley Walls. Why aren't these guys getting the ball more? - T.J. (Baraboo, WI)

Antonio Freeman had only one catch Sunday, but it gave the Packers a crucial first down on third-and-3. Tony Fisher scored on a great run. Wesley Walls was open on a few plays, but Brett Favre only hooked up with him once.

So all three of those players contributed to the Packers' win over the weekend, and I understand wanting to get the ball to them more, but you have to look at who they play behind.

There are only so many plays to go around, so if Freeman gets more plays, Donald Driver gets fewer plays. If Fisher gets more carries, Ahman Green gets fewer carries. If Walls gets more plays, Bubba Franks gets fewer plays.

All three of those guys you mentioned play behind Pro Bowlers. That pretty much answers your question right there.

When you played for us you were clearly a "defensive general" on the field. You backed up your leadership with great play. Who do you see as our defensive general this year and for the future? -- Mike, Staff Sergeant USAFR (Baghdad, Iraq)

Thanks for the compliment. I'd definitely say that Darren Sharper is the Packers' current and future field general on defense. His play against Seattle demonstrated that he's a student of the game and he knows how to get the defense into proper formations.

Being a leader on the field isn't easy, but I think Sharper fills those shoes very well.

What's up LeRoy! Now I know you have heard this many times over the last couple of weeks, but it's so glaringly obvious: Why don't the Packers blitz immobile quarterbacks like Matt Hasselbeck and Jeff Blake? We saw what happened in Arizona when you let a quarterback stand in the pocket and complete passes. I realize Ed Donatell can't open the floodgates every play, but we have tough corners that have proven they can play man-to-man coverage, so bring the biggest playmaker on the defense, Darren Sharper, up to the line to make plays. What are your thoughts? Go Pack! - Chris (Milwaukee, WI)

I agree with playing an aggressive style of defense. I liked playing that way, and I think every NFL player wants to be part of an attacking defense.

The Packers proved they can attack in Chicago against a guy that's actually pretty mobile in Kordell Stewart. When they meet up with Kansas City's Trent Green, I expect they'll try to throw off his timing with a lot of blitzes.

Timing is everything for an offense, so if the Packers can throw off Green's timing, they can control the tempo of the game.

I agree with your assessment that the Packers have the personnel to blitz, largely because of their great corners, Al Harris and Mike McKenzie.

I think you'll see those blitzes more often in the coming weeks. However, fans need to remember that whenever you blitz it's sugar and salt. In the fourth quarter Sunday the Packers brought the heat on Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks completed a 24-yard pass on third-and-7 that was dangerously close to going the distance.

When you blitz, all it takes is missing one tackle or the cornerback getting turned around for just a moment to give up a big play.

As a fan, you have to be prepared to give up some big plays if you're going to blitz. You just have to hope that in the end your defense makes more big plays than their opponent.

It seems professional defensive players are geared up for the "Highlight Hit," as apposed to making textbook tackles. Is their any way to coach these players on making sure tackles? - Jim (Rockford, IL)

That's a great question! In the NFL, sometimes you're known as a hitter and sometimes you're known as a tackler. The most important thing defensively is to be a tackler. You do that by putting your head on the ball, wrapping up the player and squeezing as the guy falls and you try to fall on him.

When you hit a guy, you're basically looking to make a kill shot. It sends a message and it often knocks the ball loose, but the conservative and effective way to bring a guy down is by tackling him.

Any coach will tell his player to tackle rather than hit a ball carrier.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002.

Every Monday you can come to to ask LeRoy questions that he will answer along with his Tuesday column.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website,*

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