The Green Bay Packers have struggled mightily against Adrian Peterson in two meetings this season. The sensational back ran for 409 yards in two games and made the Packers pay for their sloppy tackling technique.
The worst part was that, in the second meeting, the Packers put all their defensive focus on Peterson, so not only did the Minnesota Vikings destroy them in the run, it also left a lot of opportunities for Christian Ponder in the passing game.
I think Ponder will be more like the Ponder of Week 13 (12-of-25, 119 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, 41.9 passer rating) than the Ponder of Week 17 (16-28, 234 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 120.2 passer rating).
So what can the Packers do about Peterson?
No, seriously – does anyone have any ideas? Besides the Packers going back in time and not wasting their number six pick on A.J. Hawk? (Okay, that was mean – Hawk has actually put together one of his best seasons this year. But still…)
The best approach to harnessing Peterson is probably just to keep him off the field as much as possible. This means long, extended drives from the Green Bay offense. Though they have shown that they can have those type drives, it is pretty contrary to their pass-first, explosive offensive style. The run game in Green Bay is improving, but the Packers aren’t about to get a new identity out of the blue.
Defensively, the players talk a lot about being “gap sound.” They must remain in their assignments and resist the temptation to go for the big play or turnover. Too often that’s the cause of missed tackles or blown coverages.
If the Green Bay defense sticks to their assignments and trusts their preparation, they have a chance to limit the big runs by Peterson. More importantly, since Peterson will find a way to get his yards, if they stay on their covers, they can limit the Vikings passing game and make Minnesota one-dimensional.