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The Great Debate: Could Soft Defensive Scheming Cost Us A Win Against The Packers?

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In this series of posts, I seek to find the answer to questions that are brought up around here or around the various sports conversation sites. I use a realistic, low-stat opinion to generate discussion about these topics, but I also encourage the use of stats in an argument.

Today, I'm throwing out statistics or anything related to stats for this post. As you all know, I don't normally do stats, but I'm requesting that you all use your imaginations with me for a bit this time.

Come with me back in time, if you will, to the first Falcons-Packers matchup. I traveled to the local sports bar to catch the second half of the game, and I was relatively pleased with how it was going.

Turn your minds to the 4th quarter and recall a particular scenario in which the Falcons were leading 17-10 with Green Bay moving the ball frantically to attempt to tie the game.

They moved the ball quite well, and then our defense took a heroic stand on the goal line, leaving the Packers with one last play to reign the game back within reach.

It was 4th and goal from...the 10 or so, and we rushed 3 men and dropped 8. Rodgers looked, looked, and looked some more. Poor Abe was being double teamed and was pushed to the ground. He was so tired, he couldn't stand up to continue his vain attempt to get to Rodgers.

Rodgers then rolled left and fired a missile to....whoever it was. Might've been Jordy Nelson, but whoever it was isn't important for this.

We gave Rodgers all bum-diddly day to find an open man, which is easy for him to do when he's back in his La-Z-Boy recliner with no pass rush coming at him. Is that the smart thing to do? Perhaps, but it's been a recurring issue with our defense.

If we get an early lead, could easing up end up costing us the game? Follow me after the jump and let's talk about it!

This is a simple debate post to answer. Yes, soft defensive scheming would ruin any team playing against an offense as potent as the Packers. However, I'm going to delve a bit further into it and lay out what we need to do on defense in order to win this game.

This post wouldn't be the first time this issue has been brought up. Many of the readers on here will gladly nod in agreement when I say that Van Gorder likes to go soft on us when we take an early lead. We do tend to only give up chunks of yards and not chunks of points, but don't forget that this is the playoffs and anything can happen.

Let's face it. The Packers defense is good. They're even better when they can pin their ears back and rattle a QB enough to allow their ball hawking secondary to make a play.

Say, we take a 7-0 lead after a methodical, drawn out opening drive, and Rodgers comes out and starts flinging the ball every which way. Are we going to be able to stop it? If we rush 3 men, no. If we go nickel with BWilliams, I think yes.

I have never in my life seen a defense as angry as we were against the Saints. We were flying everywhere, hitting everybody, you name it. If we're going to win against Rodgers on Saturday, I think we should blitz him.

Yes, I know about the stats and how great he is against the blitz, but wouldn't that deter teams from blitzing? What if a team blitzed him more than usual? Would he eat it up? Or would he be eaten up?

Truthfully, there's no way to know unless we tried, but for a case in point, Drew Brees is a quarterback we see with regularity. We were harassing him all game long a few weeks ago and if not for some missed tackles, we could've walked out of there with a W based on solely defensive effort.

It could be argued that Drew Brees is as good as (if not better than) Rodgers at this point in their careers. Yes, Brees threw an uncharacteristic amount of INTS, but he, too, suffered without a running game for much of the season. The key difference is that Brees doesn't really try to run.

The D got to Brees, they threw his timing off,  and they caused him to make dumb decisions. I think we can do the same thing with Rodgers, but we're going to need the secondary to play the game of their lives. I think Rodgers can be rattled, especially because he's taken a few hits this year. He does like to strong arm balls occasionally, but he often does so with deadly precision. Rodgers won't make the behind the back dump-off to the RB, but he will find Greg Jennings 25 yards downfield who has also managed to wear out Dunta by running back and forth for 10 seconds.

If we take the lead, we absolutely have to keep the pressure on Rodgers. We can't sit back with 4 minutes to go in the game and watch him effortlessly lead his troops down the field because we're rushing 3 men and dropping 8. He's going to find the open man much more often when he's not facing any pressure at all. Our depth chart DBs (Owens, Williams, Coleman) are going to be abused by Rodgers's precision if we leave them out on the field for too long.

In theory, the prevent should work. It keeps everything in front of you and drops 8 speedy DBs into zone coverage to scramble the brains of the opposing QB. Well, when a handful of those speedy DBs are average and the opposing QB is secretly Megatron, things change a little bit. It is nearly impossible to cover 5 receivers for very long, and that has been proven time and time and time again.

But offenses will just dink and dunk their way down the field. 10 yards here, 15 yards there, another 12 yards over there. Next thing you know, it's 1st and goal!

Praytell, WHAT are you so afraid of? The big play? How often does the big play happen when you're in your base or nickel defense? Once a game, tops? Get your heads out of your hidey holes and put Da Police and SpoonHammer in there and go hit somebody. This prevent stuff is for people who only have a wing and a prayer left. Our DBs aren't terrible, but they look a lot better when the pass rush is working. A 3 man rush isn't going to generate any pressure against the Pack, sack totals be damned here. HOWEVER, a 4 man rush with The Police sneaking on in could very well Rodgers timing.

We don't have to get a sack, necessarily, but any kind of disruption to his timing (or, you know, his skeleton when The Police hits him) could go a long way for us. Rodgers does not commit many turnovers, though I believe he has had fumbling issues in the past. We're going to have to exploit that to the fullest, and we're going to need to get him on the ground as much as possible while keeping it clean.

If we can do these things, we will win the game. I'm telling you guys, the offense is going to look like something we haven't seen in a long time (in a good way!)

Speaking of offense, the drawback to easing up on D is potentially losing the lead, thus putting the O in a more treacherous situation. I don't like the thought of that, though I know we can handle it. The Pack's D is tough, so I'd like to be one up on them for as long as possible.

What do you all think? Is the prevent defense THAT terrible of an idea to use? It seems like it would work, but I reminisce of that 4th and goal TD by them and I do not like it as much. What would you suggest we do to stop the Packers' tough offense? Should we blitz or should we lay back? I look forward to discussing this with you all!

(Also, whoever suggested the delayed blitz the other day, you should elaborate about it in here! :D)