GREEN BAY—After consecutive games to open the season against teams with new-age quarterbacks and read-option offenses, it’s time for the Packers defense to take a step back in time to an opponent that’s more conventional in its approach.
In Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday, the Packers will face a Bengals team that does it the old-fashioned way, with a pocket passer, an inside/outside combination at running back, a star wide receiver and two big tight ends. The Bengals’ game is patient, ball-control football.
“Their favorite personnel group is two tight ends, two wide receivers and one back, but they use the second tight end as a fullback. That gives them some versatility to what they do,” Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said of the Bengals.
Fresh off a Monday night win over the Steelers, the Bengals are flying high as they ride into this game. They’ll test the Packers ability to play AFC North-type football.
“BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a north-south runner and likes to run downhill, whereas (Giovani) Bernard is very quick. They’re different styles,” Capers said of the Bengals’ running backs. “Green is a difference maker. Sanu is very physical. They lined him up as a running back last week and gave him the ball.”
Wide receiver A.J. Green is quarterback Andy Dalton’s favorite target. Green has caught 15 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns through the first two weeks of the season. Mohamed Sanu is the other wide receiver and he’s caught nine passes in a possession-receiver role.
Capers’ tone of voice, however, would suggest it’s tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert who are worthy of the most concern. At 6-5 and 6-6 respectively, they can create problems for shorter safeties.
“They’re very important because that’s where a lot of those matchups are,” Capers said of the safety positions. The Packers will be without safety Morgan Burnett for a third consecutive week.
One of the main issues this week is whether or not the Packers will unleash their pass rush against a quarterback who’s not likely to leave the pocket as quickly as Colin Kaepernick or RG3.
“He’s unlike the first two. He’s more your classic drop back quarterback,” Capers said of Dalton.
Capers said he was satisfied by his defense’s pass rush last Sunday against Washington.
“You saw RG3 not able to step up,” Capers said.
Dalton’s strong suit is for getting the ball out quickly, which puts a premium on Packers defensive backs holding their coverage long enough to allow Clay Matthews and company to reach Dalton.
“You’ve got to not let Dalton get into a rhythm,” Capers said. “Eliminate the big play. Steelers did a nice job on Green. We’ve got to play well on third down.
“I always look for how aggressive our guys are playing. If you’re able to disrupt the quarterback, there will be opportunities (for turnovers), and sometimes they come in bunches.” Additional coverage - Sept. 20