Favre: Scheme Made it Easy

Charles Woodson was not the only player questioning the Packers' defensive game plan on Monday,

Charles Woodson wasn't the only player who had some choice words about the game plan for the Packers' defense that unfolded in Green Bay's 30-23 loss at the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.

Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre, a former teammate of Woodson and several other players on Green Bay's defensive side, didn't hold back after his heavily watched first game against the Packers to stick it to them with a scathing critique.

Favre had just diced and sliced defensive coordinator Dom Capers' new 3-4 scheme for 271 yards and three touchdowns on 24-of-31 throwing.

"I think their scheme, more than anything, enabled us to hit some of those big plays," Favre said. "I think, if anything, we were able to take advantage of their scheme."

Favre was especially critical of how Woodson and fellow veteran cornerback Al Harris are being used in the defense, which was overhauled from the 4-3 scheme Favre went against in practice for 16 years until the Packers traded him to the New York Jets after he un-retired in August 2008.

"Al and Charles have always played bump and run, in your face, and to take them off of that and to play them back (in zone coverage) has got to be a difficult transition for them," Favre said.

Woodson's postgame gripes Monday had nothing to do with his positioning on the field and everything to do with how others were aligned. He indirectly pointed the finger at Capers, head coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson for personnel decisions made and repercussions that ensued in the first four weeks of the season.

The 2-2 Packers are in their bye week and won't play again until Oct. 18, when they will host the Detroit Lions.

Woodson's frustration with how the defense performed against Favre — he faced next to no pressure in a scheme designed to be aggressive and heavy on blitzing, wasn't sacked and didn't throw an interception — compelled him to bring up the name of Anthony Smith.


Charles Woodson and Brett Favre meet after the game. Jamie Squire/Getty

The Packers cut Smith, a safety they signed in the offseason as a restricted free agent who was a product of the 3-4 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, at the end of the preseason. The move caught many by surprise because Smith displayed playmaking skills in practice and the exhibition games and seemingly was pushing incumbent Atari Bigby for the starting job at strong safety.

With his job secure following the release of Smith, Bigby promptly suffered a serious knee sprain in the Sept. 13 season-opener and remains out indefinitely.

The Packers haven't been able to find a suitable replacement.

Aaron Rouse didn't cut it as Bigby's fill-in in Week 2 and was subsequently released.

Derrick Martin, acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens before the season started, took over the last two games. Martin, though, was guilty of being out of position to provide over-the-top help on a few of Favre's big throws Monday. Martin was replaced in-game by Jarrett Bush.

"My mind keeps going back to Anthony Smith," Woodson said. "I don't know if we win this game if we have Anthony still on the team. But, the decision to get rid of a guy that knows this defense in and out and made plays for us in the preseason, not being able to have a guy like that who can come in when Atari goes down, that's a big dent in this defense.

"If the outcome would've been different, who knows, but I think we would've played some of those things a lot better," Woodson added.

McCarthy downplayed Woodson's comments the next day.

"I don't think I have a problem (with him) at all," McCarthy said. "I have talked to Charles about Anthony Smith, and I'll say this about Charles Woodson, he's as competitive a player that we have not only on our football team but probably in the National Football League.

"I'm sure that a lot of that was emotional, emotionally driven. These are things that are talked about. I don't ever shy away from an opinion that does not agree with mine. Every decision we do make here is obviously with a lot of thought. I don't think we have an issue."

McCarthy acknowledged, however, that getting Bigby back on the field, possibly for the next game, would be of help for a secondary that is out of sorts in the early going this season.

"Having Atari back would definitely give us the experience there in the communication aspect of it," McCarthy said. "The ability to have (free safety) Nick Collins playing more in the back end is definitely a strength of our safety play. ... That's something that we need to clean up. It's definitely factored in our first four games."


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