GREEN BAY—Less is better than more, but expect more when the Packers and Jets square off this Sunday at Lambeau Field.
“You’d like to be able to play very few defenses and play them effectively enough that it’s all you need. That’s what the very good defenses have. It comes down to your execution,” Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said when asked to describe the proper balance between scheme and execution.
“The ideal situation is you’d be able to stay in one personnel group and never have to substitute,” he added.
Can the Packers rely on execution? That’s a question that needs to be answered following a disappointing performance in a 36-16 loss to Seattle in the NFL’s “Kickoff” game.
Whatever hope the Packers have of relying on execution begins with improved tackling. Coach Mike McCarthy was quick to blame the team’s poor tackling as one of the key factors in the Packers’ loss to the Seahawks.
“When we haven’t tackled well, we’ve put emphasis on it and we’ve improved. We’ve put emphasis on it this week and we expect to improve,” Capers said.
Stopping the Jets’ running game is at the heart of the Packers’ challenge to tackle better. The Packers allowed the Seahawks to rush for 207 yards. The Jets rushed for 212 yards in their 19-14 win over the Raiders. Beating the Jets begins with stopping the run and forcing second-year quarterback Geno Smith to pass.
“Eleven people going to the ball with proper leverage,” Capers said in explaining the basic tenet of successful run defense. That (reduces) the area you have to cover and you can tackle more aggressively.”
Packers Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements is similarly seeking better execution this Sunday.
“We’re looking to be more productive. We had our moments but not enough of them,” Clements said.
Jets defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson represent a formidable challenge for the Packers. Richardson is a hard-to-move run defender and Wilkerson registered 10 ½ sacks last season. Jets Coach Rex Ryan moves Wilkerson from gap to gap until he finds a weakness he can exploit.
“They’re big guys, they’re strong guys, they play hard. We’re going to have to do some things to combat what they do well,” Clements said.
Ryan is renowned for exotic blitz schemes.
“They give you a lot of different looks. We’re glad we have a quarterback that’s been through the wars and is comfortable with that stuff. They move guys around. They try to confuse you. They have a lot of schemes. They’re good football players playing in excellent schemes,” Clements added.
Don’t expect either team to stay in one personnel group and never substitute.
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