It didn’t take Bill Belichick long to recall what Aaron Rodgers
did against his defense the previous time that the Packers faced the Patriots.“He killed us Davon House Jersey White ,” Belichick said of New England‘s 26-21 loss in Green Bay in 2014. “He does everything well. … He’s one of the great quarterbacks in the National Football League. No question about it.”Four years later, not a lot has changed about Belichick’s affinity for Rodgers or his abilities as the Patriots prepare to host Green Bay on Sunday night.It presents the latest challenge for a New England defense that has had issues slowing teams down this season, particularly in the secondary.Following the departure of defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to the Lions, the Patriots have struggled with consistency in 2018.They currently rank in the bottom half of the NFL in both total defense (25th, 383 yards per game) and passing yards allowed (22nd, 227 yards per game).Stopping the pass was a major issue in both of New England’s losses.Blake Bortles threw for 376 yards and four touchdowns, including a 61-yarder to Dede Westbrook in the fourth quarter of the Jaguars‘ 31-20 win in Week 2.A week later, Matt Stafford had just nine incompletions and passed for 262 yards and two touchdowns in leading the Lions to a 26-10 victory.And though the Patriots were able to pull out a 43-40 win against the Chiefs, it came despite Patrick Mahomes lighting up the defense for 352 yards and four TDs through the air.The similarities in all those games were the ability of the three quarterbacks to create time and space with their legs.Rodgers isn’t expected to be as mobile as he continues to be slowed by the knee injury he sustained in Green Bay’s season opener. But he’s still managed to complete 61 percent of his passes while throwing for 13 touchdowns and just one interception.Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty was with the Titans in 2016 when they beat the Packers 47-25 in a game that saw Rodgers throw two interceptions.But he said he isn’t counting on getting anything less than Rodgers’ best this time around.“I really don’t want to compare anybody to Aaron Rodgers, so I won’t go that route,” McCourty said. “At the end of the day Kyler Fackrell Jersey White , however many football games you can play in preparation to help you get ready for this guy. … He’ll probably be the best quarterback we play against this year for sure.”Likewise, Rodgers is expecting to see various defensive looks from Belichick to get him off his game.“Bill is a phenomenal coach and he’s always going to have his guys ready to play,” he said. “They do a number of different things — they don’t just always major in one specific thing. They’re going to try to combat what you do best and take it away and get you off schedule and lock down the guys they want to take away and make you beat them with your third and fourth options.”New England’s secondary has shown improvement during its five-game win streak. Part of the reason is the support it has gotten up front from the defensive line.A week after giving up 31 points to Chicago, the Patriots responded by limiting Buffalo’s offense to just six points on a day in which Tom Brady and his offense struggled.The defense had three sacks, including two from linebacker Kyle Van Noy. But the play of the game came from safety Devin McCourty, who picked off Buffalo quarterback Derek Anderson late in the fourth quarter and returned it 84 yards for a touchdown.New England’s 11 interceptions are tied for the second-most in the league through eight weeks.Defensive end Trey Flowers said helping the secondary find similar success against Rodgers will hinge on their ability to speed up Rodgers in the pocket.“We definitely will need to try to contain him as much as we can,” Flowers said. “You flush him out the pocket and he’s still good. Keep him in the pocket and he’s still great. We just gotta continue to push and get him rattled up a little bit and do the best we can.” When Mike McCarthy abdicated playcalling duties for the Green Bay Packers in 2015, he clearly recognized the need for him to be able to make important in-game decisions without the clutter of playcalling questions looming over him. The collapse in the NFC Championship Game against Seattle towered over this decision. It’s hard enough to make the right call to go for it on fourth down without having to also think “What play are we going to pick?”Instead, the Packers lost Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams struggled with injuries, Eddie Lacy battled his weight http://www.packerslockerroom.com/authentic-justin-vogel-jersey , and Aaron Rodgers appeared to lose faith in his supporting cast, coaches included. The offense never got on track, even once McCarthy re-took control of playcalling. Fast forward to 2018 when the offense once again looks disjointed, the two-time MVP quarterback looks jumpy and unsure anyone will do his job around him, and although the scheme has improved, the offense itself regressed from an execution standpoint.Maybe the problem is they’re still running McCarthy’s offense, one behind the NFL times in terms of creativity and ease of operation. Plenty of other teams have found ways to integrate rookies or play backup quarterbacks. They’ve deployed personnel much less talented than the running backs the Packers have to greater efficiency and success. The question could certainly be raised that if McCarthy isn’t here for his offense, why is he here at all? That’s a reasonable take to have, but let’s set it aside for a moment. McCarthy, as a tone-setter and culture leader, has always displayed the kind of toughness and commitment to fundamentals ingrained in the history of the Packers. He’s a quintessential Packers coach. He’s well liked by Mark Murphy and for whatever can be said about his failings Womens J’Mon Moore Jersey , McCarthy is, as he says, a highly successful football coach. So let’s assume Murphy wants to give McCarthy a chance to turn this offense around in 2019. What that likely also assumes is the offense gets back on track far enough to get this team back into the playoffs, win a game or two, but ultimately come up short of the Super Bowl. This could be enough to save McCarthy’s job outright, but not go so far as to insulate him from a directive from the front office to make changes. Is this situation even workable? That depends on who the Packers bring in to run the offense. One would have to imagine McCarthy would still want to run some variation of the West Coast principles, which doesn’t close the pool of potential candidates too far. Much of the league still relies on core West Coast concepts even if Mike Holmgren disciples like Andy Reid have incorporated a ton of new, spread schemes from the college game. The hot offensive names likely won’t settle for OC jobs, which rules out guys like Lincoln Riley and John DeFilippo — though both would be desirable head coaching candidates if Green Bay needs one this offseason. When the Buccaneers complete their predictable collapse this season, expect everyone to be looking for work. That would include Todd Monken, who brought deep shots for days to the Bucs offense. But his approach could veer too far afield (no pun intended) from how McCarthy wants to play http://www.packerslockerroom.com/authentic-jk-scott-jersey , though Rodgers would probably love to chuck it deep 10 times a game. Joe Moorehead would be an intriguing options in a vacuum, but he just signed as head coach at Mississippi State. Lane Kiffin probably has no realistic shot to coach in the NFL until at least 2020. Todd Downing, a Vikings offensive assistant, presents an intuitive fit. The 38-year-old coached Matthew Stafford in Detroit and Derek Carr in Oakland before joining the Vikings staff this past offseason and has shown himself to be an adaptive offensive mind, coaching in multiple types of offensive systems. The Vikings run their own version of the modern West Coast offense under DeFilippo, a perfect coach under whom Downing can learn. Rodgers would likely play well with the shared concepts, which would include more deep shot openings as well as schemed underneath route combinations. The cliche route is to pick a position coach from the one of the best offenses in the league, but if there’s a dark-horse candidate out there, it’s Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor. The 35-year-old now works under Sean McVay, the most creative offensive mind in football, but previously coached quarterbacks under Joe Philbin in Miami and was an offensive graduate assistant under Mike Sherman at Texas A&M. If any young coach has the right blend of experience in the Packers current system but also exposure to a more innovative approach Kevin King Jersey , it’s Taylor. How would Rodgers respond to a coach running the offense who is only a year older than he is? The Packers could have the same problem with a new head coach as well. The hope would be the improved offensive approach would help Rodgers play more often within the structure of the offense. Even if the schemes, terminology, and concepts didn’t change that much, just having a new voice in the room could turn the tide for this offense from an attitude standpoint. Rodgers appears frustrated with stale concepts and it’s possible McCarthy’s voice has grown tired. If that’s the case, the better course of action would likely just be to find a new voice altogether for the locker room. That said, such a drastic change in the tail end of Rodgers’ prime may be unpalatable for Murphy and the Packers brass. Half-measures rarely work in the NFL, but given the circumstances, keeping McCarthy in charge of the team but insisting he turn over the offense may be just the kind of injection of life this team needs.
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