Q:What makes Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb such tough matchups for defense? How difficult is that back shoulder pass to defend that Aaron Rodgers and his receivers have down so well?
BB:Back shoulder is tough because, especially with a guy like Nelson who has real good height and length and speed. As a defensive back, you never really want to let the receivers get on top of you and get behind you. At the same time, they're so good at that back shoulder throw that if you even start thinking about that and then Nelson runs by you, it's all over. I'd say it's a really tough play to defend because of the accuracy and timing with which Rodgers throws it and the length and ball skills of Nelson in particular. They all do it, as you mentioned, but Nelson is really, really good at it. Cobb is a tough matchup. He's usually inside in the slot. Good speed, good quickness, good playing strength, real good with the ball in his hands; he's an excellent ball after catch player, also a returner. Problems with him are his separation and ability to get open, but also then getting him on the ground after he has the ball because of his quickness and playing strength and elusiveness. And he's a smart player. He reads coverages and openings well and seems to have a very good rapport on the field with Rodgers.
Q: **Yesterday you were talking about Green Bay's ability to start fast and get out to a lead. Can you talk about that? Also, according to the Minnesota play-by-play guys, Green Bay is first in takeaway-give ratio, their ability to produce turnovers. Can you talk about that factor as well?
BB:Well, turnovers are huge. Not only do they not turn the ball over and get turnovers, but they're also the best in the league at converting turnovers into touchdowns. They're a very opportunistic team. They play good complementary football. They're an explosive team. They can get the ball away from you. They can pretty much score from anywhere and they're explosive in the kicking game. They have an excellent return game and [they're] solid on special teams. Those are all problems. Obviously, the whole getting ahead thing, you know, they've been so far ahead of some of these teams that they've played early in the game it's like they're almost running out the clock in the middle of the second quarter. We've got to try to find some way to stay competitive in the game to at least turn it into a game and not be trying to play from 28, 31 points behind in the first half.
Q:Has that been a particular strength of your team recently?
BB:Right, but we're playing Green Bay in Green Bay. That's where they've been very dominant really in terms of getting ahead and playing from ahead, first quarter. The numbers are staggering: 128 to 9 in the first half and [opponents] get outscored by 110 points in four games. It's got to be of historical type proportions, but we have to find some way to do that. Like I said, the games got so far away from Chicago and Philadelphia that no matter what you have, what kind of game plan, whatever you're trying to do, the game got out of hand so fast, they had no chance really to be able to do it.
Q:Corey Linsley is a rookie; Bryan Stork is a rookie for you. How have both helped solidify the offensive line and play well? In Linsley's case, he was drafted in the fifth round and Bryan in the fourth round. Can you describe the burden on a center as a rookie and all the things he has to grasp and how important that role is to the overall function of the offense?
BB: **That's a real interesting question. Linsley is a guy that we were all over too at Ohio State. Obviously after we took Stork there in the fourth round, we weren't really planning on coming right back and taking another guy at the same position, but he was a guy that we spent a lot of time on and had a lot of interest in too. He's done a good job for the Packers; started all year and playing behind two very experienced players at guard, similar to Bryan's situation here. There is a lot to that position, especially the learning curve and being a rookie. It's on a lot of levels, starting with things like the cadence. A guy like Aaron Rodgers or Tom [Brady] that use a lot of different cadences to try to draw the defense offside or to try to get some type of an indication of what the defense is going to be in, all the different no-huddle communication that makes everything happen just so much quicker. It's one thing to have 40 seconds to hear the play and think about your assignment and go out there and do it. It's another thing to cut those times in half or maybe even a third where you still have the same job to do, you just don't have that much experience of hearing and doing all those things. The communication, the snap counts, the decision-making on the fronts and how to treat different personnel groupings that we see on defense – nickel, dime and multiple defensive end packages and guys that are standing up and guys that are down and so forth and so on – those are all decisions that really run through the center and the quarterback and then are communicated to the rest of the line. Yeah, it's a tremendous amount of responsibility. It's a lot of preparation time and then a lot of recognition and decision-making that happens very quickly on the field, especially when they start stemming fronts or walking guys up in and out of the line of scrimmage. Things like that really spins the wheel a lot faster. Like I said, that's all just in addition to basic plays or snap counts. Snap count with the center is so, so critical to the quarterback and the timing of it, the security that the quarterback has of the ball being in his hands in a certain rhythm and tempo, whether that's in the shotgun or under center. Yup, there's a lot, there's a lot going on there.
Q:When you look at the tape, how much freedom does Aaron Rodgers have at the line of scrimmage to change and move guys around as he sees fit?
BB:Well, I don't know. That's probably a better question to ask the play callers at Green Bay. It's hard to tell when you see a play on tape if the offense is changing the play or whether they're staying with the play that they called but they're making an adjustment to it somehow, a protection adjustment or maybe a route adjustment. There are some plays that are called in the 'check with me' family. They're probably obvious either-or plays. Depending on a defensive look, it's either this or that. So those plays could be checked if the look dictates it. If the look doesn't, then you let them go. Again, that's part of the quarterback's responsibility, but when you're seeing it from the other side, you don't know whether it's a play that could have been checked or whether that's something they just had called or like I said, plays that are called that are run anyway but just if you have, as I was just talking about in the whole center position, you could have three, four, five different looks on defense. You're still running the same play, but as a team offensively, you need to be on the same page as to what you're doing and how you're handling your protection or your assignments and making sure you have everything handled properly based on what you're seeing. Sometimes those aren't really checks, they're just part of the communication of getting the play right. Like I said, when you're calling your own plays, you know what's what. When somebody else is, when you're watching somebody else call plays, it's hard to tell what exactly is going on. It could be a number of things. But in any case, he certainly has a lot of command at the line of scrimmage. The bottom line is, they run a lot of good plays so he's getting them into the right thing or getting them out of a bad play and making the proper adjustments that I'm sure they want him to make because you can see from the execution of the plays how efficient everything is. That's all part of it.
Q:How have you seen Dom Capers leave his imprint on this defense?
BB:I think Dom is rooted in the Pittsburgh system, which is what he did at Carolina, which is also what he did at Houston, now at Green Bay. There's always some modifications and adjustments, but I'd say a lot of it is pretty much the same things we saw at Pittsburgh, just substitute players for guys that we saw in those other organizations. A lot of the defenses are the same. Of course they have their own style of doing things with their players. They have adapted some modifications to their personnel and so forth, as you would expect. Fundamentally it's a similar system to what Dom has used, I'd say, most of his career as a defensive coach or head coach.
Q:Can you talk about what makes Julius Peppers so good as a pass rusher and also as a coverage guy?
BB:Well, Julius is an exceptional athlete. He's got rare, rare skills: size, athleticism, speed, ability to, I mean, he's really long, long player. His length as well as his athleticism and huge strengths of his, in addition to a lot of experience. He's seen everything, experienced it and I don't think there are too many things on the football field that would surprise him anymore. He does all those things. He can run and get around the edge, he's got power, he's got inside moves. They move all their players around a lot, so you get him in some different spots. He's a very, very disruptive guy. He's in pass rush a lot more than he's in coverage, but when he is in coverage you have to be aware of his length and the size that he presents. He's certainly a lot bigger than almost anybody else that you would see in coverage that a quarterback has to deal with. A lot of guys that a quarterback is throwing against are maybe in the six-foot range, or that type of thing. Occasionally you get a real big linebacker that you have to deal with, a 6-4, 6-5 guy, but when those guys come along, as a quarterback you've got to really pay attention to that and just recognize how much more space a player like that can take up than somebody who is four or five inches shorter with a lot shorter arms. Peppers presents a problem on all those things.
Q:The Packers play well at home. Do you talk about the uniqueness of that stadium, the tradition in Green Bay and how much that enhances their comfort at home and their ability to succeed at home?
BB:I'm not sure I really know the answer to all those questions. That's probably something they could talk about a lot better than I could. We don't play there very often so our experience in that stadium is obviously very limited. Yeah, no question, there's a great tradition there and their record is great there and so that transcends a lot of teams and a lot of players and a lot of opponents. I think the thing that we have to focus on is just really our matchup this week, is going in there this time of year with the potential elements and the conditions that we're going to have to play in against a very good football team and the way they play and how we can try to gain some advantages with our matchups and our execution, overall game plan. I think that's really more important to us at this point than Paul Hornung and Jerry Kramer and Don Hutson and all the other guys that have played there. Not to minimize what they've done, but [there's] nothing we can really do about any of that. We have to try to find a way to try to be competitive in their home stadium where they've played exceptionally well in recent weeks, just extraordinary. It's going to be a huge, huge challenge for us.