Pass game options grow for Packers in playoffs
The Associated Press
The options for quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the Green Bay Packers’ passing game are growing at just the right time.
It’s not just Jordy Nelson making the big plays as the Packers roll into an NFC playoff game on Sunday against the New York Giants with a six-game winning streak.
Davante Adams capped his breakout regular season with three touchdown catches over the last two games, giving him 12 for the season.
Athletic 6-foot-4 tight end Jared Cook is a matchup problem in coverage. Undrafted rookie Geronimo Allison has turned into a late-season find with eight catches for 157 yards and a score over his last two games.
Receiver-turned-running back Ty Montgomery remains a threat to catch passes out of the backfield. Fullback Aaron Ripkowski made his first career touchdown catch last week against Detroit.
“I like to think that’s the way we’ve always played,” coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday about the diversity in the passing game. “To lock (Rodgers) into a receiver or one or two or three players all the time is not really utilizing all your resources.”
And the Packers (10-6) have played the last two weeks without Randall Cobb, whose quickness gives defenses problems over the middle. Cobb, who has an ankle injury, has been limited in practice this week, though that’s a positive step after he missed practice last week.
A full complement of receivers might be needed against a Giants defense that is the stingiest in the league in the red zone (39.5 percent), an area where Cobb and Nelson usually get a lot of attention.
“Another guy that gets a tremendous amount of respect from defenses,” Adams said about the possible return of Cobb. “Having him out there will take a lot of off our run game, myself and Jordy. It frees up other guys because they’ve got to account for him.”
Though Cobb has been hurt of late, the Packers’ injury situation has stabilized on offense. The injuries in October to running back Eddie Lacy (ankle) and James Starks (knee) forced the Packers to adjust in the backfield; Cook missed time earlier in the year with an ankle injury.
At one point, McCarthy said he had to put together a midweek game plan involving 21 personnel groups, an abnormally high number. The groupings would be whittled down as the week wore on and players’ availability become clearer.
“It’s something you spend the whole offseason putting together and then you’ve got to make sure you’ve got everything in there to get you through the season. You have to add some wrinkles here and there as the season goes on,” McCarthy said.
No need for so many personnel groupings this week, according to McCarthy. It also helps to a quarterback like Rodgers, who can extend plays and find open guys.
“It starts with Aaron, and he does an outstanding job as far as taking what the defense gives him,” offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. “Spreading it around and getting more people involved, and those players making the most of those opportunities certainly helps.”