Wayne Larrivee's Packers-Vikings scouting report III: When Green Bay has the ball

 

Aaron Rodgers & the Packers offense vs. Mike Zimmer's Vikings defense

Rodgers has a 4-4 record in games against a Mike Zimmer-led defense
- Rodgers vs. Cincinnati (2009-13): 0-2 record, 73.5 passer rating
- Rodgers vs. Minnesota (since 2014): 4-2 record, 101.6 passer rating 

- Though Rodgers’ numbers against Minnesota in the Zimmer era since 2014 look impressive, they are actually his worst against any NFC North opponent in that span: 4-2 record, 62.1% completion rate, 238 passing yards per game, 13 TD's, 2 interceptions, passer rating of 101.6.

Double “A” gap blitz vs. Packers offense

The signature of the Vikings defense of head coach Mike Zimmer is the “Double A Gap” blitz. The Vikings employ this defense quite often on third downs and it has been highly effective. Minnesota is first in the league allowing just 25% conversions by its opponents on third downs.

Keep an eye on two linebackers, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr. They will line up tight inside the hash marks, one off the right shoulder of the center, the other off the left. Some call this “sugaring” the”A” gap.
  
The key to this alignment are the safeties, Andrew Sendejo and Harrison Smith. They will be lined up on the hash marks at or close to the second level of the defense.

From here Zimmer can do a single or double A gap blitz up the middle with the safeties taking away the escape route for the quarterback, or if it’s a run call, the running back.
 
Another scenario would have one or both of the safeties blitz from the outside with one or both linebackers coming from the inside. The cat and mouse game at the line of scrimmage for the quarterback becomes "who is coming, how many are rushing or is anyone coming on the blitz?" 

They disguise their intentions as well as any defense the Packers will see this season.

This also stresses the interior offensive line because they don’t know how many they will have to contend with at the point of attack. So keep an eye on the linebackers and safeties, especially on third down when you see a little sugar in the “A” gap. 

WR Jordy Nelson vs. CB Xavier Rhodes 

Jordy Nelson 
- 2017 Season: 19 receptions, 230 receiving yards, 6 receiving TD - Leads NFL with 20 receiving TD since 2016
- 2nd in Packers history with 68 career receiving TD 's

Xavier Rhodes 
- 2017 Season: 18 tackles, 3 passes defensed, 1 tackle for loss
- Tied-5th in NFL in interceptions in 2016 (5)
- Selected to 1st Pro Bowl in 2016
- Nelson and Rhodes face each other twice a season as NFC North foes - Nelson missed both matchups in 2015 (ACL)
- Rhodes missed their Week 2 matchup last season (knee) 

Because he is the hot receiver of late, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Vikings put Rhodes on Davante Adams. If this is the case, it will be interesting to see what that assignment does to the productivity of the Packers fourth year receiver.

Vikings defensive ends vs Packers offensive tackles

Danielle Hunter vs Bryan Bulaga  
- Hunter's numbers: 14 total tackles, 9 solo, 3 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 17 quarterback hits, 2 passes broken up
— He ranks 2nd among 2nd-year NFL players with 18.5 sacks, the 5th most by a player in his 1st 2 seasons with the Vikings. He wins with speed and quickness and he will outwork you for the sack.

Everson Griffin vs David Bakhtiari or Lane Taylor
- Griffin's numbers: 18 total tackles, 16 solo, 7tackles for loss, 6 sacks (has a sack in all 5 games this season), 27 quarterback hits to lead the team. He has 1 forced fumble. 
- Since becoming a full time starter in 2014, he has 36.5 sacks, ranking 4th in the NFL.
- Named to consecutive Pro Bowls in 2015 and 2016

Griffin is the most complete of the defensive ends, a star performer who can win on so many levels speed, power discipline.

The Packers will have to make sure they get Hunter and Griffin blocked and will have to commit resources to that objective. Yes, I mean running back and/or tight end help in pass protection.

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