March 19, 2018

Know Your Opponent with : @AcmePackingCo

 The undefeated Houston Texans are walking with a slight limp after the loss of Brian Cushing and some roster changes to face none other the 2011 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Texans fans have many questions about the surprising performance of the 2012 Packers so we delve into the mind of writer Devin Shanley, with Acme Packing Company, an SB Nation blog dedicated to the Green and Gold, to learn what the Packers bring to this matchup. Devin shares his views on the Packers offensive performance, how the Packers defense can contain both Matt Schaub and the Texans running game, and identifies players Texans fans don’t know yet, but will be familiar with after Sunday night’s battle. 

Please continue to send in your questions regarding the Texans weekly opponent via Twitter using the hashtag #KYO, to @TheClaireBear23. We’ll pick the best and give your handle some airtime on State of the Texans weekly Know Your Opponent column. Thanks for playing!


@OlYeller01: What kind of adjustments will Rodgers and the Packers make to try and contain J.J. Watt?

Yikes…I just wrote something on this for Acme Packing Company and I’m not sure I like my conclusions.  The best way to make adjustments for Watt is stick to short, high percentage passes and screens.  That mixed with some chips from tight ends (here is probably D.J. Williams or Tom Crabtree) and that would be the best solution.  The only other option may be to try and get help from Jeff Saturday to take pressure off LG T.J. Lang.  Lang is having an okay year, Saturday is struggling a bit.  It’s going to be a tall order to have one or both of them shut down Watt without help.  Especially now that the running game is going back to the drawing board with Cedric Benson injured.


@txbobbumman: How much of the decline in the offense would you attribute to the loss of Joe Philbin?

This is an interesting question….it’s probably more than many are talking about right now.  It’s been well covered that the Philbin wasn’t the offensive play caller, and as a result his loss wasn’t much of a story.  Right now many Packer fans are pulling their hair out over the play calling, but I think they are missing a bit of the point.  It’s not a matter of the play calling going wonky with the Packers offense, but broader trends.  The Packers seem to be a bit off on their game plan, specifically with who quickly they can get away from a the run.  Sometimes it’s totally forgotten about until the second half.  Sometimes it’s forgotten about in the second half.  Either way it’s just not consistent.  Philbin was a cerebral and calming presence in the Packers offensive hierarchy (something that can be seen from his laid back presence on Hard Knocks).  Right now that is certainly missing in the Packers offensive mindset.


@texantakeover: Will Greg Jennings suit up for the Packers this week versus the Texans?

Maybe, probably not.  He’s got a groin injury right now and the Packers want to rest him until he’s fully recovered.  The problem is that the receiving corp, while very deep, is inconsistent without him in the lineup.  They made need his presence and toughness even if he’s not quite ready yet.


@txbobbumman What adjustments need to be made after Luck had so much success against the secondary last week?

Honestly?  None.  Luck really didn’t have a great day against the secondary from my view.  He’ll get the credit, quarterbacks always do, but the guy who played his heart out was Reggie Wayne.  The guy made near impossible catch after impossible catch as the game came down to the end.  These catches weren’t quite the ones that will make highlight reels on SportsCenter, but they are the type of catches that you see only one of a Sunday….the problem was he made like six or seven of them.  I’m not going to pull my hair out too much over that, the secondary is still worlds ahead of where it was last year at this time.  If I were to make any big change it would be to possibly move Charles Woodson up to safety more and let some of the younger guys have a crack at nickel slot. (By the way, is your name a reference to bobbumman from The League?  If so that’s just an awesome handle.)


How is the fan base reacting to Aaron Rodgers’ increased sacks and perceived lack of production in 2012 for the 2011 NFL MVP?

Not well.  Rodgers isn’t having the same year as he had last year, but he also had one of the best years for a quarterback ever last year.  This year he’s trying to do too much and trying to force the ball down the field a bit….which for Rodgers means he’s holding the ball too long.  He’s still putting up pretty good numbers, especially considering he’s played some of the best defenses in the game right now….but Rodgers is the face of the franchise.  That means he gets extra glory when the Packers win and extra blame when they lose……and right now he’s carrying his extra load of the blame.


How does the Packers defense stop Matt Schaub and the Texans rushing attack?

I like this question because this is probably the best offense the Packers will face this year.  It’s explosive like the Lions or the Packers themselves, but also well rounded.  The key is going to lie with the Packers young front seven.  The Packers need to limit the Texans running attack and keep pressure on Matt Schaub.  Much easier said than done.  The best hope for the defense is going to be the offense really.  The offense hasn’t held up their side of the ball this year.  Meaning the offense hasn’t had many long drives and/or has not put up points in bunches.  That’s been slowly changing over the last couple weeks, but it’s still not there.  If the offense can live up to their promise (tough as it will be against your defense) and make this a shoot out then the game plan falls right into the strengths of the Packers defense.   They can rush the passer and stick with most teams via man to man coverage.  The biggest thing a shootout can do is make the running game go away.  As long as the Texans remained balanced and patient the Packers are going to have their hands full.


What matchups will the Packers exploit on both offense and defense this Sunday?

The most obvious place to exploit on defense is going to be Mister Alexander and whoever else needs to step up for the injured Brian Cushing.  The best way the Packers are going to do this is going to be through their running backs and tight ends.  The most obvious solution to this problem is going to be Jermichael Finley…but he’s a bit inconsistent.  On offense the Packers will probably attack the ends of the offensive line with their young and talented outside pass rushers.  Nick Perry has looked pretty good, as well as UDFA Dezman Moses.  Veterans Clay Matthews and Erik Walden have also had improved years.  Together it provides a nice rotation of outside pass rushers as well enough dynamic and versatile defenders for Dom Capers’ “Psycho” package.  This package is a 1-5-5 set with one defensive lineman (often standing himself) and five linebackers with a nickel back in coverage.  The package is there to confuse an offense and hide which blitzer is coming.  Tough to confuse a veteran QB like Schaub, but it does allow Clay Matthews to slide to the inside or outside and attack the weakest points of the offensive line.


Who are players on both side of the ball unknown to the casual fan who we can expect to see plays from on the Packers?

On defense the three main guys I can think of will be LB D.J. Smith, CB Sam Shields, and S Jerron McMillian.  Smith is a second year vet who is starting in place of the injured Desmond Bishop.  Smith has been okay in his time on the field.  He struggles a bit in coverage but is a strong blitzer and has a nose for the ball.  He has also gotten better each week.  Shields was the pleasant surprise of 2010 during his rookie year, but struggled in 2011.  This year he has held his own generally, but will undoubtedly be the target of much of the Texan attack.  As a result you’ll see his name plenty making tackles or possibly gambling for a big pick.  Jerron McMillian is a rookie safety.  Right now he’s only getting rotational duty, but he has shown ability  to make plays happen with two interceptions and another couple picks dropped.

On offense the main guy to watch for is Alex Green.  He’s a second year man out of Hawaii and may now be the starting running back for the Packers.  With Cedric Benson out  it’s going to be Green and the oft injured James Starks getting the carries.  Green excels in the receiving game and running in the open field so he could be a weapon the Packers turn to with screens and draws to slow down the Texan pass rush.  The other main under the radar offensive player to watch for is tight end D.J. Williams.  Williams is the opposite of Finley, where Finley is a physical specimen and matchup nightmare….but maddeningly inconsistent, Williams is a bit shorter and slower but very reliable.  He’s the best weapon the Packers have to exploit underneath or block and turn and for a quick check down pass.  If the Packers can switch to a nice dink and dunk offense D.J. Williams is going to be a guy who makes his fair share of catches.


A big THANK YOU to Devin for putting so much thought and effort into helping Texans fans understand who we’re facing this Sunday night on the national stage. You can follow Devin and the Acme Packing Company on Twitter, and be sure to stop by the blog for some great write ups regarding the upcoming contest from a Packer perspective. 



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