OPPOSING VIEW: Packers know they have to contain Lions defensive line to win

Posted Oct 5, 2013

Green Bay Press-Gazette beat writer Pete Dougherty takes a look at Sunday's Lions, Packers game

This week's opposing view comes from Green Bay Press-Gazette Packers beat writer Pete Dougherty. He’s been with the Press-Gazette since the late 1980s and became the newspaper's primary Packers reporter in 1994. In 2000, he was voted Wisconsin sportswriter of the year. He can be followed on Twitter at @PeteDougherty

1. The Packers are off to an uncharacteristic 1-2 start. What were the biggest deficiencies in the two losses to San Francisco and Cincinnati?

Dougherty: Against San Francisco, in retrospect they had a flawed defensive game plan. Kaepernick killed them in the playoff game last year with his scrambling, so this game they played contain with their rushers rather than go for sacks, and didn't blitz much. He beat them with his arm. Looks like the best way to play him would have been to blitz more. Against Cincinnati they basically gave up 14 points on fumbles -- one went for a touchdown, the other set up the Bengals at the 2. Both of those teams probably will end up with good records, so though they were losses and being 1-2 is bad, they weren’t alarming defeats.

2. Green Bay ranks in the top 10 in every major offensive category, including rushing, what has the addition of that threat meant to quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the passing game?

Dougherty: In the long run it should help him a lot. The Packers had to find a way to get defenses out of the two-deep shell they played most of the time last season, which took away much of the Packers’ quick-strike ability and turned them from an offensive juggernaut in ’11 into just a really good offense last year. Running the ball better is the best way to change the way defenses played them, so if they keep this up in the run game, they should be one of the top two or three scoring offenses in the league at the end of the season.

3. How does the Green Bay offense plan to attack a very talented Detroit defensive front, led by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh?

Dougherty: This will be a major problem for them and any team that plays the Lions. The teams that have had the most success against the Packers have had strong defensive lines that can get consistent pressure with four rushers and then drop seven into coverage, including keeping both safeties deep, as mentioned early. The Giants beat them in the playoffs in the ’07 and ’11 seasons based on that formula. This Lions’ defensive line appears every bit as talented as those, if not quite as deep, so Detroit has the personnel to play that type of game. Major challenge for the Packers. This is where the run game will be a key factor.

4. The Packers defense has had to concern themselves with receiver Calvin Johnson for the past seven years, with running back Reggie Bush now part of the equation, where must the Packers focus their attention?

Dougherty: This is why the Lions are more dangerous this season, defenses can’t take away everything. The challenge with Bush is defenses don’t know if he’s going to line up in the backfield or as a receiver, so it makes it harder to match up, because on run plays they want linebackers out there but when he’s a receiver they’d prefer to have a defensive back cover him. This will put a lot of pressure on their safeties, who have coverage responsibilities to help on Johnson deep but also on Bush on passes to the perimeter.

5. Green Bay ranks 28th vs. the pass and has just two interceptions on the year. Is the secondary missing some of the playmakers they've had in the past?

Dougherty: Yeah, their best safety, Morgan Burnett, missed the first three games because of a hamstring injury but will play this week. Cornerback Casey Hayward also hasn’t played yet this season because of  a hamstring injury and won’t play this week. Hayward replaced Charles Woodson as the slot corner in the nickel last season and was an upgrade over the declining star – Hayward had six interceptions and was excellent in coverage. The Packers have missed both players, especially Burnett because he was by far their best safety.