For those of you who haven’t read Tom Silverstein’s piece on defenses adapting to the Packers’ offense, I recommend it. Read it here. The gist of the article is that more and more defenses may be figuring out our offensive system. His sample size for “defenses” he admits is very small (Bears, 49ers). But I would expand that sample to include the Giants last year as well as the Chiefs. All 4 teams mixed up their defenses, gave Rodgers different looks – and dropped the safeties deep, all while keeping plenty of pressure up front.
But the timing of the article is a bit curious. This isn’t new info at all. In fact, I’m a bit surprised more teams haven’t simply adopted the Bears cover 2 system when playing the Packers considering how well it’s generally worked against Rodgers. The Bears have been doing this to us for the last few years – often making life difficult for Rodgers. Rodgers has had some OK games against the Bears (mostly just because he’s fantastic) but I’m guessing his stats against Chicago are worse than they are against just about anyone else. I’m guessing too that if asked (perhaps after a few beers), Rodgers would say he dislikes playing against the Bears D more than any other. (Without a few beers, he might say something like “I like playing them because it’s a good challenge…”).
Of course the key to being able to drop 2 safeties deep is having fast, talented LBs and CBs who can cover lots of space as well as having a strong pass rush. The 49ers and the Bears have that (though San Fran is better than Chicago in this regard). And as Silverstein points out, the success of this defensive model is also greatly affected by the quality of the opponent’s running game. I actually put 9 of 16 points in a confidence pool on the Vikes to win outright over San Fran this past Sunday because I just didn’t like the way their defense matched up with AP. And sure enough, he did enough to open the door for some easy passes for Ponder to make (with some help from a high quality O-Line performance too).
So like Silverstein, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Seattle keep their safeties deep until we can get either Cobb or Benson going to keep them honest. This may also force McCarthy to tap into some of the apparently many unused plays in his playbook. Creativity may be the other cure here.