Week 17 at DET: Key Match Up

The Packers head into Detroit, hoping to complete a six game winning streak to win the NFC North.  After the Packers (4-6) start, Aaron Rodgers said he thought the team could run the table, which will no doubt be just as annoying of a phrase as “R-E-L-A-X”, shall the team pull it off.  Coach McCarthy said he loves to be in these situations as a “highly successful coach.”  The team even seems to be rallying around Rodgers as their quarterback, after he was criticized by the media for the larger part of the season. Even though he’s been injured, I think it’s fair to say we can expect the offense to put some points on the board.  Things are looking up, but the key to the game will be whether the Packers’ corners hold up against the Lions savvy wide receiving core.

The Packers’ ability to cover their opponent’s receivers will be the key to any game for the rest of the season.  When Sam Shields went down with his concussion week one, it forced all our corners to move into an unfavorable situation.  Damarious Randall is a young playmaker, who is at his best when he can jump a route and try to make a play on the ball. However, when guarding the opponent’s number one receiver, Golden Tate for instance, he must rely on his coverage skills far more.  Matthew Stafford is going to be looking Tate’s way on almost every passing play, and I’m not sure Randall will be able to handle his vast array of moves without consistent safety help.  It’ll also be a challenge for the second-year corner to tackle Tate after the catch, as he is known for his yards after catch.  He is a very heady receiver, capable of making whoever’s covering him turn their head and suddenly, he’s vanished behind them for a big play.  And unfortunately, Randall has had his issues covering double moves all season.

Quinton Rollins has also moved into a position that hurts his performance.  Rollins has a lot of playmaking ability in his own right, having played point guard for Miami (OH) for four seasons.  I love when an ex-basketball player finds his way in some other field, so I’m always pulling for Quinton, but he’s just too small to match up with most number two receivers in the league.  He’s much better suited playing as the third corner in the nickel formation.  In fact, he’s got all the tools necessary to make life difficult for the average slot receiver.

That being said, Rollins has consistently struggled in advanced roles this season, having to play as the number one and two corners at times due to injuries.  Going up against Anquan Boldin will be one of his tougher test this season, but with Gunter a full go during practice this week, perhaps the team tries to avoid that match up.  Much like Golden Tate, Boldin brings a lot of savviness to the position with his route running and yards after catch. He’s proven to be quite an issue for the Packers in the past.

Micah Hyde may be another option for the Packers this week.  He’s proven he can stick with his man.  He always seems to be in the correct position to make a play, but consistently seems to be inches away from breaking up the pass.  To his credit, the Packers decided to bench Randall for Hyde down the stretch against the Bears in week 15.  Hyde managed to deflect a crucial third down pass to keep the Bears from taking the lead.  Micah gives the team one more defensive option but, if Marvin Jones has another big game, we’ll be in a lot of trouble trying to contain Tate and Boldin.

When left in a one on one situation, the Lions should audible out of their play and attack, attack, attack.  It is worrisome how often the Packers’ corners get beat by double move.   Something the side-arm welding quarterback of the Lions would love to capitalize on, especially without his top running backs.  The Packers will have to play one of their more disciplined outings on the defensive end to walk out of Mo-town with a win.


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