On Sunday, the Packers played the Steelers at 3:15, followed by a 7:30 start for the Minnesota Vikings. I had the luxury of watching both games, and noticed one key difference between the two—coaching.
Early on against Pittsburgh, Green Bay came out in a regular formation, and Aaron Rodgers was getting hit over and over by the Pittsburgh blitzes. As the game wore on, so did the number of Wide Receivers in the game for the Pack, who ended up playing almost all of the second half in four and five receiver sets.
Coach Mccarthy noticed something when they began doing that—the Steelers rushed three, and on occasion four defenders when they spread them out. With Ryan Grant getting nowhere in this game, Mccarthy left it in the hands of Aaron Rodgers, who finished with 383 yards and three td's. Sadly, the Packers defense took the game off, and the Pack lost a shootout on the last play.
And then the Vikings started. Minnesota came out in a regular formation, and had trouble running the ball once again. In similar formations, Brett Favre was getting hit over and over by the Panthers pass rush, notably Julius Peppers.
The Vikings needed to make a change, or else Favre was going to get hit all night and they were going to lose. So, Coach Brad Childress did...
As a matter of fact, instead of trying to spread the Panthers out, or use the Tight End to chip Peppers, Childress instead tried to take Favre out of the game, essentially giving up.
Now, as we all know, no coach tells Brett Favre what to do, and Childress was overruled by his quarterback. Favre played the rest of the game, and got hit over and over again, before an ugly interception finally ended the massacre.
Make no mistake, the game against Carolina cannot be blamed on Favre. (Although, a player should never overrule a coach) Bryant McKinnie, Artis Hicks, and Phil Loadholt had no chance against Peppers last night, similar to the Packers would not have had a chance against Pittsburgh's blitzes.
But one coach made adjustments, and the other didn't. One found a way to give his quarterback a chance that he took full advantage of, and the other was bound and determined to run his offense, and if the offensive line couldn't protect Favre, he would just take him out.
This loss for the Vikings, I believe, falls squarely onto the lap of the coaching staff. If the same happens in the playoffs, what will Childress do? Will he make the needed adjustments, or will he be bound and determined to win a certain way?