I've been reading a couple different articles on whether the Green Bay Packers should bring the blitz. The best option is to get pressure with only four men rushing, but if every defense could get pressure on the quarterback with just a four man rush (seven dropped back into coverage), then passing offense in the NFL would grind to a halt. Obviously that's not the case. The Packers have to blitz, but the question is how much?
At JS Online is a Q&A with Daryl Ledbetter of the AJC who says Falcons QB Matt Ryan "thrives in blitz recognition" which is confirmed by Bill Barnwell at Football Outsiders, who adds that Ryan is statistically below league average for the season against a four man rush. He goes onto look back at their previous meeting and notes that Ryan was at his best when the Packers only rushed three (I hate it when the Packers only rush three in any down and distance, it just gives any quarterback too much time). While Ryan completed a lot of passes against a five man rush, it forced him to throw short and Barnwell says:
"it's fair to say that they might want to dial up some blitzes and see if it continues to force Ryan to throw checkdowns."
Blitzing Ryan doesn't result in any big defensive plays, but it does take the big play out of the Falcons arsenal. It means that the Packers should blitz, but they probably won't blitz as much as they've done in other games. Ryan doesn't react as bad to pressure as someone like QB Jay Cutler. But they can't allow him to sit back and have five seconds to throw either, which means they'll have to blitz if the four man rush isn't working. One advantage they'll have when they rush four is that LB Clay Matthews is healthy, as his shin injury was much worse back in late November.