Behind Enemy Lines: Part 2

Can the Packers stop Mark Sanchez and LaDainian Tomlinson? That and more as Jets insider Kristian Dyer and Packer Report's Bill Huber continue our preview of Sunday's game at The New Meadowlands.

Kristian Dyer: Which Mark Sanchez do the Packers think will show up — the one who went five games without an interception or the one who had two picks in his last game?

Bill Huber: Coach Mike McCarthy praised Sanchez when asked about him on Wednesday but it wasn't lavish praise by a long shot. McCarthy referenced the three-step drops, play-action game and movement stuff that's a young quarterback's best friend.

To be honest, I don't think the Packers are worried about Sanchez. That's not a slight on the quarterback, because he's talented and he's got a darned good pass-catching group. Dustin Keller could have a monster day against a defense that can't cover tight ends. It's just that with LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene running against a depleted front seven, the Packers know their only hope it to slow the Jets' run game and force the ball into Sanchez's hands.

KD: Clay Matthews had a great start to the season but has "just" 2.5 sacks since Week 2. Is he able to revive the numbers again and consistently get after the quarterback?

BH: It's been a range of issues for Matthews. One, he's clearly drawing more attention from opposing offenses. When you lead the NFL in sacks — and have the most sacks in NFL history through 20 games — that tends to happen. Second, he missed the final 20 minutes or so of the Week 5 game at Washington and all of the Week 6 game against Miami because of a hamstring injury.

Last week against Minnesota, after barely practicing all week, he was held without a sack but made the defensive play of the game when he forced right tackle Phil Loadholt to tackle him by his face mask. The 15-yard penalty pushed the Vikings back to the 35-yard line in the final moments of the game. Third, he needs some help. Last week, Matthews basically had to go it alone because their second-best pass rusher, Cullen Jenkins, missed the game with a calf strain.

Matthews is healthy and Jenkins is going to give it a go on Sunday. Matthews is explosive and relentless. Whether it's left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson or right tackle Damien Woody, they'll have their hands full. Given what I'm going to say in my next answer, Matthews needs a monster day for the Packers to have a chance.

KD: LaDainian Tomlinson has shown through six games that he still is one of the most feared players in the league when he gets into the open. Does the Green bay defense have enough team speed to contain him?

Tomlinson has turned back the clock.
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
BH: Speed isn't a question. They've got plenty of speed on defense. Now, do they have enough able bodies? Starting inside linebacker Nick Barnett, the heart and soul of the defense, is on injured reserve after wrist surgery. Starting outside linebacker Brad Jones is on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury that requires surgery, and his backup, Brady Poppinga, is on injured reserve because of knee surgery. Undrafted rookie Frank Zombo will start in their place. Starting defensive end Ryan Pickett probably won't play because of a sprained ankle. Jenkins has the calf and a broken hand. The No. 1 backup defensive end, Mike Neal, is on injured reserve after shoulder surgery.

Whew. Did I miss anyone? That's a banged-up front seven — so banged up that Howard Green, who you guys cut on Monday, was signed late Wednesday, didn't get to Green Bay until after Thursday's practice because of storm-related travel issues, practiced Friday and will play on Sunday.

KD: Aaron Rodgers has the ability to make impromptu decisions and really improvise with the best in the game. Is there anything that can rattle him?

BH: No, nothing rattles Rodgers, though this week's matchup against Rex Ryan's defense is just so intriguing to me.

I wrote two stories on Rodgers vs. the Jets' blitzes this week at Packer Report. Rodgers led the NFL in passer rating against the blitz in 2009 and ranks fifth against the blitz this year. It helps that he sees the Packers' blitzing defense all offseason and through training camp. More than most teams, the Packers use their running backs in pass protection, and Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn are tremendous at stuffing blitzers. His receivers are experienced So, there's a definite comfort level for Rodgers.

But, my goodness, you look at the stats put up by opposing quarterbacks against the Jets' defense and you wonder if it's a typo. Less than 50 percent accuracy for the season? That's incredible.

KD: Surely Green Bay fans must like with some glee — along with Jets fans — at the decline that is Brett Favre this season. Is Favre still revered at Lambaeau or has his popularity been unzipped a bit the past two seasons?  

BH: Unzipped. Nice! What, Jets fans didn't like it when Favre retired and swore that he would never un-retire to play for another team (cough, Vikings, cough)? Darn it, Woody Johnson just meant so much to him! I know nobody here could have ever guessed that Favre would — amazingly!! — ask for his release and basically force his way to Minnesota. Nope, never saw that coming ...

Anyhow, after the Packers-Vikings game, I have never, ever heard the stadium so loud. Out in the concourse, as we walked from the press box around the stadium to get to the locker room, it was deafening as fans celebrated. One of my writers for my magazine is Art Daley. He's 94, in the Packers Hall of Fame and has seen it all during his career. Not even he remembers the stadium being so loud after a game. Yeah, there was glee in beating Favre. There's also glee in beating the Vikings. Favre or no Favre, that's the main rival for the Packers.

So, hopefully, Favre retires after this season and there's some closure on an ugly part of franchise history. It's unfortunate it had to end this way. Favre meant so much for this team. That seems obvious but some fans need a reminder of that on occasion.

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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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