Best vs. Best: Will the Jets Blitz?

They probably will, but opposing defenses have backed off on attacking Aaron Rodgers this season after he lit up blitzing defenses in 2009. It's worked, with the Packers' production down 4.9 points per game.

It would be out of character for New York Jets coach Rex Ryan to scale back on his attacking ways on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

However, that's what the Packers' offense frequently has seen this season. On tape, they see a defense that likes to blitz. On Sundays, they see a defense that's content to play coverage.

"I was surprised by the amount of coverage that Minnesota played — not a lot of pressure," Aaron Rodgers said. "I think that's a lot of past game experience that we've had of them. When you look at this week against the Jets, they do bring pressure, where I think if you watch our games this year against common opponents — Miami, Buffalo — those teams decided to play a lot of two shell and not bring a lot of pressure and had some success. So, I think they've got to look at that as, obviously they're going to do their own thing, but that's a pretty good blueprint there."

Rodgers is right. Last season, the Packers scored a franchise-record 461 points, or 28.8 points per game. With the opposition picking apart the Packers' handiwork during the offseason and the offense struggling to counter those adjustments, their scoring average is down to 23.9 points per game. The offense has sputtered against a steady diet of the Cover-2 schemes that the Chicago Bears have run for years. By playing Cover-2, defenses are willing to accept fewer big plays by their pass rush in exchange for fewer big plays made down the field by Rodgers and his receivers.

The Jets almost certainly won't go down that road — at least to that degree.

When you match wits with Ryan, "You know it's going to end up being a blitz drill," Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told reporters in Minneapolis recently.

The Cover Story for the upcoming Packer Report Magazine is all about beating the blitz and the last-second adjustments that are made before the ball is snapped. For information on subscribing, click here.
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The Jets can afford to be so aggressive because they have supreme confidence in the man-to-man coverage abilities of starting cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, though their depth is suspect with Drew Coleman supplanting first-round pick Kyle Wilson as the third corner.

However, Rodgers' ability to dismantle blitzing defenses might turn Ryan conservative by his standards.

Last season, when Rodgers led the NFL in passing efficiency while being blitzed, he was blitzed on 11.3 passes per game, according to STATS. This year, the blitzing rate is down to 9.7 passes per game. On the other side of the coin, the Jets blitzed opposing quarterbacks on 17.5 passes per game last season and have stepped it up to a whopping 22.8 passes per game this season.

The league average for blitzing last season was 13.8 passes per game, according to Doug Farrar at Football Outsiders.

Whether the Jets blitz as much as usual or back off because of Rodgers' history, the Packers need to eliminate the communication breakdowns that plagued them last week. On at least four occasions, Rodgers threw it short to a receiver who was going deep or threw it deep to a receiver who had broken off his route. Rodgers and the coaches attributed it to a successful coverage disguise by the Vikings' secondary, which turned "gray" — Rodgers' word — the normally black-and-white decisions on route adjustments.

Those problems have been a point of emphasis this week as they prepare for an aggressive Jets defense that will mean a lot of on-the-fly adjustments be made by Rodgers and his receivers. To beat the Jets' blitzes, Rodgers and his pass-catchers must be seeing the same thing.

"They have a challenging package in terms of the things that they do and bringing people from different directions and trying to overload you here and there," receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said of the Jets' defense. "It's always important to be on the same page but especially if there's any communication that has to go on at the line of scrimmage with what they see on the field. Hopefully they're seeing it together, seeing it the same."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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