Silencing the Vikings' Horn
By By Jay Sorgi
Next game: Sunday, November 9th at Minnesota
The Green Bay Packers' next two games may play a bigger role in determining their fate this season than any other consecutive contests, because they battle their two biggest divisional rivals.
First, it's the Minnesota Vikings on the road on Sunday - a team with which they are tied for second in the NFC North - before a contest seven days after that at home against the division-leading Bears.
"They're all big right now," says Coach Mike McCarthy on Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."
"Anytime you get in November, these games are very important. Division games are very important. Road division games are probably the toughest games you play in."
"This is a big game. We're excited."
He probably wouldn't consider himself worried about the horn, but it isn't the most beautiful-sounding thing he could think of.
"It is annoying," admits McCarthy.
"They do a great job up there with their home field advantage. Crowd noise is a big part of having success on the road, and we'll have to deal with it."
If the Packers' defense does its job, the horn won't have much hot air blowing through it during the game.
"That's a good way of looking at it. It's something they do every chance they get."
Though not recently against the Packers.
Green Bay has gone 4-3 in the Metrodome since the turn of the millennium, after going 2-9 in the "Humpty Dump" in the previous 11 years.
"We've been successful up there the last few years," reflects McCarthy.
"It's important for us to manage the noise of the crowd, and the best way to take the crowd out of the game is to score touchdowns and don't let them score touchdowns."
Rodgers Not Worrying about Shoulder Anymore
The continuing rise of the health of Aaron Rodgers' right throwing shoulder now has him to a point where he says he doesn't have to worry about how it feels.
That also has McCarthy more apt to put Rodgers into a full-time role in practice.
"He was able to do more work this week than he did last week, so he's definitely making progress getting back to (being) a full-time participant."
Stopping Adrian Peterson Means Filling In The Gaps
In the Packers' first meeting with Minnesota on Sept. 8th, record-setting running back Adrian Peterson was not a full-time participant.
The Vikings' best offensive weapon touched the ball less than 20 times in the Packers' 24-19 win, bringing criticism on Minnesota coach Brad Childress for not running him more often.
If he does, the Packers' often-gashed run defense could look appetizing.
"Adrian is an explosive back, no doubt," says McCarthy.
"He has the ability to take the ball to the house from any part of the field because he does have the speed. He's a high, physical runner, very aggressive. He tries to break every tackle.
"You just need to gang tackle him, and make sure the one-on-one tackles are low. More importantly, we need to stay in the gaps and make him bounce the ball."
Stopping Peterson, or any run game, involves something that, in football vocabulary, is called gap control.
To hold Peterson, that's a critical element of the Packers' defensive execution.
"Every defender in your run defense is responsible for a gap," explains McCarthy.
"You need to establish leverage in that gap. You need to establish yourself in your gap as fast as you can, and you need to hold that leverage. When it doesn't happen, that's how creases occur and that's how offenses run the ball successfully."