I’m sorry I didn’t have this up earlier so that Mike McCarthy could have had the benefit of my vast football knowledge. Apologies to the Packers. If we lose, I’ll accept full responsibility.
We could offer a dozen platitudes about what the Packers need to do to win — control the line of scrimmage, win the turnover battle, win time of possession, get to Kurt Warner, don’t let Beanie wells get started, etc. Those are all correct. But let me offer thing that I’d emphasize if I were the head coach.
Nothing is more important on the road — and few things are more important in the playoffs — than starting the game fast. A quick touchdown or a three-and-out followed by a score would do two things: 1) it would quiet what’s sure to be a rowdy crowd, and, 2) it would discourage the Cardinal players.
All week we’ve heard that the Packers domination of the Cards in the preseason and last week didn’t matter: The starters didn’t play that much; the game didn’t matter; the Cards played vanilla on offense; the Cards didn’t bring pressure on Aaron Rodgers, etc.
Again, all true. But a quick strike touchdown or a dominating start on defense would get the Cardinal players thinking that the Packers just have their number. That wouldn’t necessarily mean a win, but it would go a long way.
My one thought for game-planning: Do something unexpected and do it early. I don’t mean the Packers have to get cute. They should do largely what they did to go 7-1 over their last eight games.
But I’d feature someone the Cardinals have not game-planned to defend. Who? Maybe John Kuhn or Jordy Nelson or Donald Lee. If the Packers can sustain an early drive, why not throw three or four balls to Donald Lee? If the Packers throw out of a two tight-end set, the Cards will likely be thinking run. Lee takes one beat, pretends to block and then flares out for a quick screen. Or run plays for Jordy Nelson, who will be matched up on the Cards 3rd or 4th CB. Nelson is good. I still believe he was drafted in the second round for a reason. He’s incredibly athletic and football fast. Give him a chance. And even if those plays aren’t successful, they’ll leave the Cards D somewhat bewildered that the Packers are doing things they didn’t see all week.