So far the Packers have been good at winning the must win games. I’m not sure this game is quite as must win as those earlier games this year, but there definitely needs to be a sense of urgency in the Packer locker room right now if they want to pull out a win on the road in Houston. In addition to a sense of urgency here are five other keys to victory:
1. Minimize penalties. Penalties are killing the Packers this year. Yes there are a fairly high number of phantom calls and bad calls that the Packers seem to be a attracting at the moment, but there are also some legitimate calls that shouldn’t happen. You can’t give a good sound team like the Texans free downs and free yards. It’s time to cut that crap out.
2. Sustain drives. I’ve been a bit busy this week so I haven’t had time to fight things out in the comment section as I would like, but I am going to follow up on something I noticed in my posts as well as a few others, specifically when I mentioned that offense failed the team last week. I stand by that. The defense did about all that I would expect out of it and did a good enough job. Reggie Wayne was fantastic, but more to the point, the offense did not sustain anything in the second half and basically left the defense with their butts in the wind. I don’t care what era of football you are in and what style of offense or defense is being played, if you leave a defense out on the field for most of a half (especially a second half) they are going to become winded and cave. It could be a top end defense like the 49ers, it could be a bottom feeding defense like the Saints, the defense will bend and break if it is exposed too long. The best way to prevent that? Keep drives going. The means converting third downs. That means running the ball more, and more effectively. That means finding the right tempo with short passes rather than trying to get the big play. They have the talent to do this, even against a talented defense like the Texans…..they just have to have the will to stick with a good plan.
3. Make the Texans one dimensional. Easier said than done when the passing game has very good weapons and great back like Arian Foster in the backfield. That said, the Packer running defense hasn’t been straight up awful (a pleasant surprise) and the passing defense has enough talent to clamp down on the Texan offense. If the offense can do its part and ramp up the score, then all the better.
4. Devote real time to the running game. There is no Cedric Benson for this game, but that doesn’t mean the running game has to disappear. Alex Green needs to develop and get a better feel for running in the NFL and he’s not going to do that while sitting on the bench. Green’s best run was when he came out of a deep set back formation in the inverted wishbone and used in much the same way Cedric Benson was used. Keep doing that. Try giving Green 10-15 runs in same looks as Benson would get and let the kid make his cuts and go. The Packers have the offensive line to run block pretty well when they choose to, the problem is that too often that part of the offense playbook is ignored.
5. Keep double coverage on Andre Johnson. My best advice to Dom Capers? Go back to the playbook for the Chicago Bears in Week 2. Take out many of those old schemes and bring them out. Keep two guys on Johnson and a close eye on Daniels (maybe a guy like Casey Hayward or Charles Woodson on him). Dare the Texans to beat you with screens and runs alone. The tackling is well enough to stuff that most of the game. At the very least this should prevent it from becoming a shootout where there is more pressure on the offense to get away from the balance it needs.