Green Bay Packers defensive back Charles Woodson has been cleared to play in this weekend’s wild-card matchup against the Minnesota Vikings (via Packers.com). Woodson is coming back from a broken collarbone suffered in Week 7 against the St. Louis Rams.
After the secondary’s performance in Minnesota last Sunday, Woodson's return is refreshing for a defense that is in desperate need of better tackling: The league’s most physical running back is coming to play against Green Bay once again.
Not only does Woodson bring a reputation as a solid tackler and run defender, but he also brings a mentality that no other Packer can replicate.
He brings physicality.
The Packers have shown to be a finesse team at times. They have struggled with injuries all season, and they tend to struggle with physical teams. Four of their five losses in 2012 came against teams with physical reputations (San Francisco, Seattle, Minnesota and the New York Giants).
If they want to win games in January and hopefully February, they must create a mindset that emphasizes physicality in all three phases of the game.
Mike McCarthy’s squad has made progress regarding its physicality in 2012, even without Woodson. Over the second half of the regular season, the running game and overall defense have improved. Before Adrian Peterson ran wild in Week 17, the Packers defense had only allowed 81 rushing yards per game the previous two weeks, against Chicago and Tennessee.
However, last week the Packers let the Vikings rush for over 200 yards for the second time this season.
The Vikings were able to run wild because of the Packers’ lack of physicality in the secondary. According to Bryan Hall of Pro Football Focus, 153 of Adrian Peterson’s 199 yards rushing came outside the numbers.
The return of physicality in the secondary is the key to containing Adrian Peterson on Saturday night. The Packers must turn 20-yard runs into five-yard runs.
Physicality will come in the form of Charles Woodson.
Woodson will inspire the secondary to bring the effort necessary to bring down Peterson. It will take endless pursuit and gang tackling to win in the playoffs. Woodson will bring those things due to his physical mindset and his leadership.
Don’t just expect the savvy veteran to make plays; expect other members to step up their efforts due to the return of their leader.
It all comes down to effort. Who wants it more?
If the secondary does not want to tackle “AD”, expect an early exit for the Green Bay Packers. If it steps up its physicality, the Packers should be a favorite to advance to Super Bowl XLVII.
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