For Packers, Bengals' 7-Up is no soft drink
The Packers are looking for their first big road win of the young season this weekend in Cincinnati as they battle the Bengals.
This is the third consecutive 2012 playoff team the Packers are facing and the season’s not even a quarter old!
NFL games are decided by matchups, teams, units and individuals this game is no exception.
There are several matchups I am looking forward to seeing, but chief among them is Green Bay third down passing offense against Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and his front four.
As Bob McGinn pointed out earlier this week in the Journal Sentinel, Aaron Rodgers had one of the longest days of his career in a 31-24 loss to the Bengals and Zimmer’s defense in September of 2009.
Rodgers believes the Cincinnati blitz packages are among the most creative in the league.
Therein lies the key match-up for the Packers offense —Green Bay third down offense against Zimmer’s creative blitz packages.
The Bengals run a defensive front that we call “7-up.” This is where you will see seven defenders at the line of scrimmage with four back in zone coverage (quarters).
Not all seven will rush the passer a couple will drop back in coverage, but who?
The problem for the offense is the blitz coming from so close to the line of scrimmage.
The reduced recognition time for identifying who will be coming is the problem.
That goes for both the blockers on the line and more importantly the quarterback’s personal protector—the back who lines up next to him in the shotgun.
This week there is another wrinkle for the Packers.
Fullback John Kuhn, who is trusted by one and all at 1265 Lombardi Avenue on third downs, will likely miss another game due to a hamstring injury.
Starting running back Eddie Lacy has not practiced this week as he goes through the concussion protocol.
The duty falls to James Starks who emerged with a 132 yard rushing performance last week against Washington.
Forget about running the football for a moment.
It is quite possible that the most important duty Starks will perform Sunday is making the right read and block against the blitz especially on third down passing situations.
With the likes of defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Domata Peko and defensive end Carlos Dunlap just to name a few in the Cincinnati front, for the Packers 7-up is no “soft” drink.