Thursday night’s game featuring the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints confirmed something we already knew – We live in a passing era. Between Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees over 730 yards were thrown for on 84 attempts to 17 different targets and the ball was handed off less than 50 times. And it’s not just that…
By my count both teams played with either a 3 or 4 WR set on over 50% of plays. 10 years ago that was unheard of, now its becoming the norm. Offenses are forgoing an extra tight end or leaving a running back out of the backfield to simply throw the ball. Elite QBs (which certainly applies both Rodgers and Brees) are making their reads pre-snap, getting the ball to playmakers to take advantage of potential mismatches and allowing the play to develop. An example of this would be Rodgers short pass to rookie WR Randall Cobb that led to a 32-yard TD. Another would be Rodgers touchdown pass to WR Jordy Nelson where Roman Harper was playing a good 5 yards off of Nelson, Rodgers spotted that pre-snap and Nelson was his first read. That play too was run out of a 4 WR set. All this is going to do is lead to a surplus of dime packages with teams routinely having to play four cornerbacks.
So what does this mean for the Vikings… all of our CBs must be ready play. In the olden days you needed two quality corners. Now it’s more like 4 or 5. The Philadelphia Eagles have loaded up on that position spending heavily on Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Joselio Hanson. The New England Patriots as well with Leigh Bodden, Devin McCourty, Darius Butler and Jonathan Wilhite. Oh and by the way, both the Patriots and Eagles are in the mix of Super Bowl favorites. Our seasons outcome may already weigh heavily on the likes of Cedric Griffin returning from two torn ACLs, Marcus Sherels proving he’s more than a preseason hero, Asher Allen being more than an okay dime package guy and Chris Cook finding his potential. As of right now Antoine Winfield is the only one not to fret about. But the thought of a combination of 4 of our CBs on the field where one simply can’t afford to blow their assigned coverage gives me the wiggles.
Guess we’ll know more by late Sunday afternoon if the purple can keep up with this trend. Philip Rivers and Chargers will be a tough test.
Jon Merckle may be followed @thevikingpig