Packers need to be cautious facing the Vikings

Packers Eddie Lacy

It’s a short work week, and the Green Bay Packers face their division rivals the Minnesota Vikings tomorrow night at Lambeau Field. Yes, it’s the Vikings of collapsing stadium roof fame. Yes, they are the same team that brought us lots of laughs because, well, Christian Ponder. And they don’t seem as ferocious without their MVP running back Adrian Peterson.

But let me quote the great philosopher Han Solo for a moment.

Don’t get cocky.

To put it bluntly, don’t be doing any victory laps until the final whistle blows.

On a good day, it is oh-so-satisfying to send the Vikings back over the Mississippi with a resounding victory. But remember, on a bad day when things don’t go right, this is the team we tied last November. You know, that kissing your sister game where Matt Flynn did his best to neither win nor lose, but managed to keep playoff dreams alive? Yeah, that game.

Quite frankly, my brother is an ugly little thing, and I don’t fancy smooching him any time soon. And I don’t want to lose or tie the Minnesota Vikings any time soon.

So what will it take to win?

Remember this is not the Vikings of old.

Yes, there’s no AP suiting up, but that doesn’t change the fact that the team’s Achilles Heel this year is it’s run defense. And mobile quarterbacks are a bigger Kryptonite for that run D.  While Teddy Bridgewater is a tentative go with his gimpy ankle, he could very well still be a threat. The Packers defense won’t be able to stop him if they continue to through everything and the kitchen sink in a blitz and come up empty. It leaves to much open field between Bridgewater and the secondary where he could gash the Pack while they have egg on their face.

Don’t forget about Corderelle Patterson.

Patterson doesn’t follow the mold of your typical Viking. He isn’t from the Island of Misfit Toys, and he isn’t a crumpled-up, sloppy second that Minnesota found in the dumpster behind 1265 Lombardi Avenue (Hello, Greg. Why yes, I’m talking to you.) He’s a bona fide first round draft pick with all the skills and potential that goes with it. He’s got sure hands. He’s got speed. And if he doesn’t gain yards from a pass, he can also run the ball efficiently as well.

That said, Ponder is preparing for the start, and say a little prayer that Mr. Inaccurate who loves to stay in the pocket is the one suiting up tomorrow night. Not that I want anyone to be injured, but I’ll never say no to a little Ponder in Lambeau.

The Packers need to establish the run.

I’ve said this just about every week, but I mean it today. Well, I mean it other days, too. Quite frankly, the Packers cannot allow Eddie Lacy to have a sophomore slump and simply give up on him. The Vikings defense is comfortably in the middle of the pack as far as NFL defense go this year. No, not good enough to choose as your first choice fantasy football defense, but solid enough to give the Packers offensive line some hassles and put Rodgers on his back several times.

That means if Lacy can’t do it running North-South, perhaps they need to give James Starks a chance to run to daylight and not just give him one play to show his worth like he did last week. What Starks lacks in sheer cannonball strength, he makes up for it with speed. Getting the run going early and often will keep that target off Rodgers’ back.

That can’t happen unless the offensive line rises to the challenge. They have done a fairly good job now that Bulaga is back in the mix keeping Rodgers upright and safely in the pocket a little longer.  But that means they have to stop being so one one-dimensional, dig deep and remember how to block for the run.

Don’t forget the other receivers.

It means Rodgers needs to utilize all of his receivers not just named Jordy Nelson and bring the tight ends back into the fold. Be still my heart last week when we didn’t see the Zebra offense but a few plays with a 2-Tight End set. Get Richard Rodgers. He’s earning Rodgers’ trust, and that is crucial if he’s going to get more passes lobbed his way in the future. There’s something that has been sorely missing since Finley went down with his neck injury one year ago. The Packers need a tight end that can block and has nimble hands. Thursday night would be a great time to roll out the Rodgers to Rodgers Show.

Play your own game and forget about the refs.

Quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of hearing about how the refs are hosing over the Packers. While I am disappointed that the greatest professional sports league on the planet somehow manages to find officials that kind of stink, the Packers need to forget about the zebras and play their own game. Sure, that means there will be some dubious holding calls, and maybe an even worse PI call during the game. But they need to test those boundaries on both sides of the ball. Jeff Triplette was off last week. So who knows, his zebras may very well get the assignment for tomorrow night.

It doesn’t matter. You win some, you lose some. And if you’re paying attention, the crap calls tend to balance themselves out over the course of the game.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix needs to welcome #BeGreat Greg Jennings back to Lambeau Field with his own brand of Roll Tide smash mouth football.

Okay, I threw this one in for purely personal reasons because Greg, a former resident of my hometown outside Green Bay decided to take potshots at the lack of educational opportunities where he used to live. That’s my school you’re talking about, sweetie, and you just made it personal.

Hey Greg? You’re just some Viking that I used to know. Thanks for crapping all over the Redbirds. I hope HaHa blasts you (with a legal yet forceful block) into the next zip code every time you run a crossing route, because well, Roll Tide, Greggles. Roll. Tide. How’s that juggernaut QB working out for you?

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Kelly Hodgson is a writer for PackersTalk.com and you can listen to her as a Co-Host of Out of the Pocket. You can also follow Kelly on Twitter at @ceallaigh_k

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