Q: What makes Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb such difficult matchups?
MP: Obviously, they are two of the most explosive and most competitive and extremely difficult to cover receivers in the league. I think they both possess great ball skills, the ability to control their body, track the ball through the air. They have great hands. They have really good speed to be able to separate. Jordy Nelson is a physical guy. He can use his size to body up or position up a defensive back. He does a great job at stacking DBs [defensive backs]. When he gets downfield he can really stack them. With a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, who can put the ball where he needs to put it, he can shield the defender with his body. Cobb has extreme quickness, short space quickness, and can separate at the top of the routes. He does a great job of using his ability to change direction to separate from the defender. Like I said, both of them have extremely good hands, and they both are exceptional at yards after the catch and run after contact, where they can stiff-arm a defensive back or get away from the first tackler and create that extra yardage. So, just getting the ball not only downfield but getting it to them in the short passing game and allowing them to create yardage and separation and space and distance, they are really both phenomenal at it. They both have high numbers as far as explosive plays and big gains, both downfield and in the short passing game, like I said, and turning those into long yardage gains.
Q:** Facing excellent receivers is nothing new for you guys. What does it say about the entire defensive back group, but specifically Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis that they've answered the call every week against these top-notch opponents?
MP: For us, this is the NFL. Every week everyone is extremely, extremely talented and very good and very dangerous. Otherwise they wouldn't be in the league. Obviously, this is a huge challenge for us this weekend [with] all of the receivers and skilled players they have. Aaron Rodgers does a phenomenal job controlling this offense. Cobb, Nelson, [Davante] Adams, [he] gets the ball out to those guys. The tight end position, [he] does a good job of getting them the ball. When he sees the one-on-one matchup, he really does a great job of scanning the field, and also he gets the ball to the check-down to the running backs, too. Whether it's [Eddie] Lacy or [James] Starks out in the flat or down in the check-down area, he's going to distribute the ball to the open receivers. I think as a full offensive unit this is a huge challenge for us to be able to handle the passing game and also the run game. Eddie Lacy is a really strong, powerful runner; breaks a lot of tackles. Starks is extremely quick and fast and can get out to the edge and turn a small gain into a big play. The run game for these guys is very important. They do a phenomenal job of mixing in enough runs. Aaron Rodgers will get them into a situation where they can run the ball when you are trying to defend the passing game, and you might be a little light in a situation and now they hand the ball off and you are trying to deal with that situation. It's a really large challenge for us this week.
Q: With regards to Alan Branch, how has he been able to assimilate himself into what you guys do as quickly as he has?
MP: I think every week our guys defensively are going to plug in where we need them to plug in and try to help us win and to achieve the game plan. Specifically just to Branch, coming here later in the season, he's trying to adapt to the different techniques and the different systems that we run here. He's a big guy, has some power, some length and is strong [and has] some good quickness off the ball. He can present a problem for an offensive player. I think we are just trying to get him on board with what we do here and how we play technique and how we play with the front. Certainly, he's trying to improve and get better every week.
Q: How important is it for the defense to try and disrupt Aaron Rodgers' rhythm?
MP: I don't think it takes too long to turn on the film and figure out that Aaron Rodgers is playing at an extremely high level right now, and obviously even higher at home, which is where we have to go face these guys. I think he's really dialed into what they are trying to do and how they are trying to attack the defense. I think every week teams are trying to figure out how to get him out of that rhythm and how to take him out of his game. He's just done a good job of continuing to do what he does at an extremely high level. We've really got to try to do whatever we can to make the day difficult for him and try to keep the pressure on him. He's playing at a very high level right now, so it's not hard to see that on film. He's really the driving force right now with this offense.
Q: Akeem Ayers and Jonathan Casillas have come into this team and have contributed from the get-go. Why do you think their transition has been fairly seamless and what has allowed them to be productive for you guys right away?
MP: We go into the game every week with a certain amount of active players, and everyone that is active we expect to contribute and play at a very high, positive level. It's really no different for a guy that just got here this week as opposed to someone that's been here for many, many years. We have expectations the same for everyone. Specifically talking about those two in-particular players, I will say those guys work extremely hard. They are true professionals as far as their ability to study, learn the game, understand what we are doing from the systems standpoint and have matriculated into what we are trying to do defensively fairly quickly from their study and their work ethic. They have really fallen right in line. We have great guys on defense. I say this all the time, but I can't stress to you the importance of the leaders that we have on defense – Vince Wilfork and Dont'a Hightower and Devin McCourty and [Darrelle] Revis and [Brandon] Browner, the list goes on. The way that these guys approach and attack each week to try to learn the opponent, study their film and prepare themselves to play every week is really a tribute to their professionalism. I think that's something that can't be understated. As a group, these guys work extremely hard to get ready to compete every week. We have a difficult task every week and this week is no different than the next. It's a very huge challenge for us to get ready to handle.
Q: You've mentioned Eddie Lacy's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. As a runner what kind of challenges does he present to your defense?
MP: You turn the film on and you watch him run the ball with power. He does a great job of running with his pads over the ball – what we call with his pads over ball – where he's protecting the ball and he's taking contact on with his shoulders, which makes it very difficult to tackle a runner like that. On first contact, he's usually running through arm tackles or he does a great job of spinning out of difficult situations. He's constantly driving his legs. He's got extremely good lower body strength to push a pile or drive through a tackler. It's a big challenge for us to get a guy with this size and this strength and the ability that he has to get through small spaces in the line of scrimmage and then burst into the secondary and into the linebacker level at a very high pace downhill and running with a full head of steam. It'll be a big challenge for us.
Q: How would you characterize Mike McCarthy as a play caller and the symmetry between the call that's relayed from the sideline and the way it's executed by the quarterback?
MP: Coach McCarthy and Coach [Tom] Clements, the offensive coordinator, they do a phenomenal job of getting this offense ready to go every week. You're talking about an offensive staff that has worked together for a long time and has a lot of experience with each other and how the system works, and I think they do a great job. It starts with the head coach. He prepares his team and his offense extremely well every week. They are obviously prepared and ready to go at an extremely high pace, fast pace right out the gate. They do a great job of executing the game plan that they are trying to get done. It doesn't take long to look at an offense like this and realize that they have everything going in the right direction. They really understand their strengths, their weaknesses, the skill positions, the strength of the offensive line, what they do well at the line of the scrimmage, what they do well at home versus on the road. That starts with the head coach, Mike McCarthy, and rolls right to the offensive coordinator, Coach Clements. I think you've got to start there, and then, obviously, Aaron Rodgers, with his professionalism and the way that he attacks and approaches the game, his film study, his dissecting of an opponent's defense and understanding and looking at the different components of that and trying to get tips or tendencies based on the players that you may have and the things that they are doing. They do a phenomenal job. I don't think you can state that high enough.