Being one-dimensional may not be so bad for Packers

Since we’re down in Dallas and out of mom’s basement for the week, we occasionally run into “real reporter” problems.

One issue: We have hours of recorded interviews and seemingly no time to comb through them looking for posts.   So it’s time to start combing.

I sat down with Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin Tuesday and asked about the temptation to simply ignore the run altogether against Pittsburgh.

“I think a team would play into the hands of the opposition if you throw every down,” Philbin said.  “Your quarterback will be in one spot and you would be asking your offensive linemen to sit back there and block every single blitz and every defensive line game and every twice.  I don’t know that you can do that.”

The Packers did it a year ago.  Green Bay called 48 passes against Pittsburgh during 2009’s 37-36 loss, and that was with Ryan Grant on the roster.

Right tackle Bryan Bulaga would be tested in pass protection if Green Bay floods the field with receivers, but the best way to Pittsburgh is to throw 40+ times.   (Philbin said the Packers don’t go into a game with a set pass/run ratio in mind.)  Tom Brady and Drew Brees  averaged 44 attempts against the Steelers this year.  They picked Pittsburgh apart with short precision passing for 655 yards, five scores, and one pick.

Pittsburgh’s secondary depth is the closest thing their defense has to a weakness and there’s no reason to think the Packers can have any success running the ball on early downs.

We suspect they won’t try to run as much as Philbin implies.  Balance is overrated.

31 responses to “Being one-dimensional may not be so bad for Packers

  1. “Your quarterback will be in one spot and you would be asking your offensive linemen to sit back there and [b]block every single blitz and every defensive line game and every twice.[/b] I don’t know that you can do that.”

    Is that what he really said? What does “every twice” mean?

  2. “The Packers did it a year ago. Green Bay called 48 passes against Pittsburgh during 2009′s 37-36 loss, and that was with Ryan Grant on the roster.”

    I’m pretty sure any team would throw that much when Polamalu isn’t playing in the game.

  3. Yes, that’s the way to beat the Steelers, all right. I saw a quote from McCarthy that strongly implied we’d see lots of passing. Somewhere in the quote, he used the phrase “I don’t want to run into a wall just to run into a wall” or something like that.

    Not only passing by doing so with multiple WRs to spread the defense and get a nickel DB on the field. The Pack’s 3rd WR vs the Steelers 3rd CB is a matchup I’m sure the Packers want to exploit. It’s gutsy to go empty with 5 wides vs Pittsburgh but the Packers went 5 wide more than twice as much as the rest of the NFL combined.

    Personally, I believe that means they need to have their best pass protectors in the backfield, no matter if those guys don’t run as well as other guys. That means more Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn, who are both outstanding in blitz pickup, and less James Starks, who lacks the experience to recognize the complex blitzing Pittsburgh does.

    That’s what I think the Packers will try to do this Sunday. It is their best chance to have success against an outstanding Pittsburgh defense.

  4. Balance is not overrated. Last years game is different than this year, and the Superbowl for that matter.

  5. ARod said it best himself when he said that they need to run enough to open up the play-action pass. Also, don’t totally discount James Starks….he can run and always falls forward for a couple of yards.

  6. ” Balance is overrated”

    How about controlling the clock using the run? Is that overrated as well? You can bet the Steelers will be doing their best to keep Rogers off the field using this tactic.

  7. The Jets got things rolling in the second half with a lot of action for Tomlinson and Greene, but, then, Pittsburgh was probably easing off a bit by then, plus both those guys are easily better than Kuhn or Jackson.

  8. but the best way to Pittsburgh is to throw 40+ times

    So if a team throws over 40 times it is now called a Pittsburgh?

  9. Polamalu and McFadden didn’t play in last year’s game. AR won’t be picking on Tyrone Carter and Joe Burnett, and he won’t be throwing to Finley, who caught 9 balls that day.

  10. Total smokescreen. Every time MM says they are looking for 30+ rushing attemps, they come out 5 wide 75% of the time. The opposite is in play here. We’ll see alot of Jordy and Jones in matchups against their nickel guys, which will be exploited, but I’ll bet my left nut they make a serious effort to keep it somewhat balanced.

    Look at the numbers in the playoffs, so far.

  11. You may have to recant your “balance is overrated” statement after Sunday, Rosenthal.

    50+ passes leaves Rodgers vulnerable to consussive-hits, Ints, and strip-sacks…along with some big plays.

    A balanced O can be just as productive, with lesser downside risk.

    Expect the Steelers to be balanced, while the Pack will at least try to be.

  12. “…but the best way to Pittsburgh is to throw 40+ times.”

    Actually, from here the best way to Pittsburgh is to take the Mass Pike to 84W and ride that all the way in.

  13. Yeah, no team can run effectively against the Steelers, so you need a QB who can get the job done by mostly throwing and Rodgers is definitely one of the QBs who can do that. The Steelers haven’t really face a pass heavy team this year, I guess (with the exception of the Saints and the Patriots, which were both losses and their secondary were kind of a suspect. Still, this should be a great SB, two elite defenses unlike last year’s offensive showing.

  14. The Steelers will have to do two things overall if Packers do try to go with a heavy passing ratio per play …40+ pass plays.

    One, they will obviously need to disguise their defensive scheme’s pre-snap with a lot of motion and adjustments by LB’s and CB’s …especially w/ Troy seeming to keep picking alternate spots and sides when moving up and back from O-Line.

    Second, due to motions they will need to pick very specific plays on when to blitz – I actually feel that they will blitz less than anyone is going to think or predict and see if they can just drop x amount of players into passing lanes for the short dump passes.

    Looking at how the Jets Defense played the Packers and how the Bears failed to challenge the Pack in the 1st half of the playoff game – will be a key teaching point.

    GO Steelers !!!

    ps the more pass plays – the more Woodley & Harrison have a chance to get in and on Rodgers

  15. One teeny tiny note about this article. For any football media types/analysts, please study up.

    After the NE game, notice anything? Uhhm, note where the db’s for the Steelers now play.

    Answer: Way closer. Those short pass gimmes are no longer soup of the day.

    Steelers rank very high in yards allowed per attempt, either first or second.

    The easy catches are over. I say if the Packers do it, Rogers goes down and then out. They will assassinate him. Sorry Roger 🙂

  16. Packers 24th pass rushing in NFL not good for them .against the Steeler linebackers oh boy..i promise you Lebeau will have some schemes up on that line o confuse Rodgers.and timmons will sit back in pass coverage to protect against the short routes.which he is good at..will be a good game but Steelers wil have the edge

  17. The most interesting matchup in this game is Capers v. LeBeau because they know each other so well. It will be interesting to see how Capers plans for the sandlot style of Roethlisberger and how LeBeau plans for the Rodgers passing game. I expect McCarthy to try to take advantage of perceived weaknesses in our secondary, and Tomlin to try to dominate the clock by running the ball. But one thing I’m sure of … neither of those coaches is going to give reporters more than a general answer about his game plan.

  18. They should show the game in 3D to the people watching on the big screen outside the stadium for $200 tickets. That would more justify the cost.

  19. steelernation1 says:
    Feb 2, 2011 1:34 PM
    Packers 24th pass rushing in NFL not good for them .against the Steeler linebackers oh boy..i promise you Lebeau will have some schemes up on that line o confuse Rodgers.and timmons will sit back in pass coverage to protect against the short routes.which he is good at..will be a good game but Steelers wil have the edge

    You make some good points or opinions on what you think may happen.

    Bear in mind, Capers is pretty good in his own right and surely will throw something into the gears against Pittsburgh. Ponucey missing in the middle will be big. I still hope he tries to go though….even worse results.

    We can sit and talk who will do what all day…no one knows. I do like the fact that the Pitt D was exposed on the astro turf against New Orleans. Packers are quicker and better than that. Green Bay’s D is much quicker too.

  20. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Short passing from a 5 WR empty set is the fastest way to beat a 3-4 defense whether it is run by the Steelers or the Packers.

    Check the rest of those stats from last year:

    PIT 29/46 Passing for 472 yards
    GB 26/48 Passing for 376 yards

    PIT 19 Rushes for 65 yards
    GB 12 Rushes for 60 yards

    And be sure to read the Receiving stats, too. The Steelers hit Mendenhall and Moore for a combined 9 receptions for 98 yards and a TD.

    The secondary for both teams is completely different than last year even if some of the names remain the same.

    This game comes down to four areas:

    QBs: Roethlisberger v. Rodgers
    Receivers: #4&5 WRs/TEs v. #4&5 DBs/Ss/LBs
    Running Backs: RBs in the flat v. LBs in coverage
    Punters: Masthay v. Kapinos

    The wild card will be who has the guts to blitz more against a spread formation: LeBeau or Capers?

    Don’t underestimate how personal this match-up may be for former Steelers Dom Capers, Kevin Greene and Darren Perry.

  21. yea but when they won the superbowl in 05 they were xposed and still won,,it will be an awesome game but i think it will come down to who has most turnovers and who can run the ball better,and to be honest steelers have an edge in that category,Pouncey isnt out yet likely wont play but legursky knows what he is doing and had 2 weeks of practice to be ready,,he is a very smart player and will be good to go.

    everyone seems to forget about one key player on the offense for Steelers and that is Heath Miller,he is one of the biggest threats on offense in the league and is always left out of topics.he is always there when ben needs that go to guy in the middle or where it may be..but it will be an awesome game probably one of the greatest super bowls of all time…

    also i am not sure if the backs for greenbay can keep up with Brown Wallace and sanders…especially if they go 5 wide…i think a lot of teams are underestimating the young receivers the steelers have but either way hats off to both teams for getting there

  22. It seems like every week I seem to be hearing about everything the Packers cant do to there opponents. Apparantly this week its the Packers offensive lines inability to block the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers pass rushers. last I checked the Steelers record isnt 18-0. They have been beat this year so stop acting like your team is invinsible. Yes the Steelers organazation deserves respect for there past accomplishments but they are not entitled to win the Super Bowl. Green Bay has been earning respect this year by beating there opponents on the field. I suspect that Pittsburgh will be added to that list on Sunday night.

  23. @jarrman46 lol last i checked steelers had a better record than green one ever said they were entitled to it..pretty much u r doing the same thing as they are.and same with steelers they been winning on the field also,with a make up O-Line too boot

  24. Packers are the better team. They shouldn’t be stupid to decrease their odds of winning to a shootout which will take it to 50/50 like the game in 2009. The next such example, the wildcard game last year against the Cardinals, was a shootout and they lost that too.

    The Packers don’t need 175 yds on the ground, they only need about 75, and between Jackson and Starks they should come close. That’s not exactly abandoning the run.

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