In that light, Packer Report talked to the position coaches on Thursday to see what needs to be done for the Green Bay Packers to get a handle on Adrian Peterson. Specifically, the coaches were asked about where their units need to improve following Peterson's 199-yard performance on Sunday.
Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac
Perhaps surprisingly, the defensive line turned in a strong performance. B.J. Raji, in particular, was disruptive as he continues a superlative second half of the season. Raji (four), Ryan Pickett (three) and C.J. Wilson (three) combined for 10 run stops (a solo tackle to force an "offensive failure"), according to ProFootballFocus.com.
"We just need to be a little bit more disciplined," Trgovac said. "Their effort was outstanding. The thing I told them was, ‘Your effort was outstanding. We're going to need that same effort but we're going to have to play a little bit smarter and understand what he's looking for on this block or looking for on this run; when you can try to get in on a play and when you can't. We can't let those plays where he's bouncing into the middle of the line and we've got him down and then he's bouncing it back out. He's good at that; that's what he's good at it. We've got to stay a little bit more disciplined.'"
Inside linebackers coach Winston Moss
"Just do their jobs," Moss said.
That's essentially been the mantra of the defense as a whole all week.
"There just needs to be a mind-set that you've got to trust that the other guy's going to do his job," Moss said. "Whatever the play call is designed for you to execute, all you've got to do is execute it and let the other guy control his gap that he's supposed to or fill and make the play when he's supposed to. It's as simple as that, nothing more, nothing less. There's no magic."
In this case, the tired sports cliché of "trying to do too much" seems to be accurate, if the coaches are to be taken at their word. Effort wasn't the issue on Sunday.
"That effort can be misguided," Moss, a former NFL linebacker, said. "What I said before almost encompasses everything: If everybody just simply does your job when you're supposed to do it, then everything takes care of itself. And make the plays you're supposed to make. Now, a great back is a great back. He can make people miss even when you're in position. From that standpoint, you get guys to rally (to the ball), get him down and play the next play and move on. At the end of the day, we will limit his impactful production if we simply hang in there and be controlled across the board when he gets the ball."
Outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene
"Leverage," Greene said slowly. "Keep him leveraged. My group, we did not play well keeping him leveraged to the rest of our brothers on our defense. We have to keep him leveraged."
In other words, it's the outside linebackers' job to keep Peterson from bouncing runs to the outside. Keep Peterson bottled up inside and there are more defenders in position to get him to the ground. Otherwise, Peterson will be in the clear and looking at one-on-one matchups against a defensive back.
Greene, also a former NFL linebacker, repeated Moss' belief that the players were trying too hard to make the play.
But, he added, it's "better than giving no effort at all."
Safeties coach Darren Perry
Perry's analysis boiled down to two words.
"Just finish," Perry said.
Perry welcomes back Charles Woodson to the lineup but Woodson won't be the savior. In the case of the defensive backs, their success in the run game is highly dependent on the defensive line and linebackers.
"He's a great back and there are going to be some guys that miss him," Perry said. "He's one of the best for a reason, but you've got to rely on other defenders getting to the ball and not relying on one guy. A guy like this, you want to make sure you've got good gap integrity and not give him vertical seams where he can get going downhill, because when he does that, he's very strong and he can break tackles. You've got to get him going sideways a little bit and that comes from everyone playing with gap integrity."
Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt
Whitt is sick of hearing about criticism of Tramon Williams' tackling.
"This last game, I'm going to be 100 percent honest with you, especially with the running back, he tackled well on the running back," Whitt said. "I happened to watch the game (the TV copy), I guess whoever the commentator was was highlighting Tramon, but that wasn't Tramon's play. The ball wasn't supposed to get out there to him in the first place. The one tackle he missed on the fullback, on the pass out there, he went and hit a 250-pound guy. I liked the effort and the violence that he hit with. He didn't make it but there's nobody that's going to make 100 percent of the tackles. I have no issue with how he tackled this game."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.