The first is to sit down, with the belief that the opponent is not good enough to systematically move the football up and down the field. This bends but does not break.
The second is to attack with the intent of creating great plays. There is confidence that the rush of passes will come home, and if not, one can win their matches. This is risk versus reward.
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry took the safe and conservative approach. Through two matches, he did not send a single lightning attack into the opposing center.
“I noticed that, but then I saw some stats that we’ve defended the fewest passes, too, in two games. So, I think there’s a bit of a correlation there,” Barry said on Thursday.
Barry’s not big on a flash. Last season, according to Sports Info Solutions, he sent five lunges out 17 percent of the time (20th in the league) and six overruns just 2 percent (29th place). With the small sample size of the two games, only quarterbacks De’Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker’s coverage level went down. Douglas’ messenger did not attack from the hatch.
“We like to bring in several people, but on the other end as well, when we choose to rush with four, the four guys we push are very efficient and very good,” Barry continued. “But I in no way want to think we’re not a pressure team because we can, we will, we love to do it. It’s just the way the two games went. We defended a few games. We’ll get to the point where we do it, but I really like our dash. The four-man component. I think it’s very effective.”
By playing it safe, Barry is betting that his four-man dash can get the job done. This is not a bad bet. Among the dash buffs, Preston Smith ranked first, and Rashan Gary ranked sixth in sprint productivity at ProFootballFocus.com, which measures sacks, hits, and sprinting on every dash pass shot. Among the inner defenders, Kenny Clarke is No. 1. These players have to bring warmth if the assertive is to get the best of Brady.
“I’ve been given a lot of protection,” Brady told reporters Thursday. “The guys up front were competing so hard. I think that’s part of the reason we run the ball so well. We’ve been able to run it a few times and… control the scrimmage line. It’s a huge challenge. Great passes, one of the best players we’ll face all year, Kenny. Clark; Preston Smith and Rashan Gary are the leaders of the rush. It’s another big challenge but we have to face it.”
The powerful four-man lunge, combined with Green Bay’s trio of cornerbacks and veteran safety, should be a winning combination. That wasn’t the equation in the first week loss in Minnesota but the Packers throttled Chicago in Week 2. The challenge will be infinitely higher this week.
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Brady is the gold standard of the quarterback. He saw every attack, every defensive wrinkle, every coordinator trying sleight of hand. There’s nothing Barry could have planned that Brady hasn’t seen a thousand times. That doesn’t mean Barry has to sit and play in the zone for four quarters on Sunday. But the risk-reward model has always tilted towards the veteran midfielder. That could mean another week as the volume of blitzkrieg drops.
“The things you have to do is to at least try to influence him because you really are not going to deceive him or deceive him,” Barry said.
“It’s the perpetual cat and mouse who will make the first mistake,” Barry added.
Douglas used the same phrase.
“You have to be smart,” he said. “You have to know that if he understands he’s coming, he has a plan for it. It’s like a cat-and-mouse game that you have to play with him. Sometimes you mix it up, sometimes you don’t.”
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