“It is [crazy]. It really is,” linebacker Jon Bostic said, via the Washington Post. “Even just saying that. You always preach going in stopping the run, making a team one-dimensional. But it’s like, making a team one-dimensional and putting the ball in the best player’s hands is like, do you really want to do that? But that’s what it’s going to take to beat them. It’s going to take all 11 guys out there … playing within the defense, playing within the rules.”
It’s a proposition easier said than done. The New York Giants did a splendid job slowing Aaron Jones and the Packers‘ run game last week, and yet still got their doors blown off. Making an offense one-dimensional isn’t helpful if that dimension can just pick you apart with ease.
Even still, it’s notable that in the three games prior to last week’s performance, Rodgers had been visiting a grassy knoll in Strugglesville for a stretch, with an 81.9 passer rating, 61 percent completion percentage and just two TDs in the previous three games, two losses and a narrow home win over Kyle Allen‘s Panthers.
The Packers‘ offense has been at its most potent this season when Jones is ripping off runs and motoring the operation. In Green Bay’s three losses this season, Jones has yet to break 40 yards rushing.
“When you have a balanced attack, it helps out the quarterback,” Redskins defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said. “And anytime you help out Aaron Rodgers, huh, that never [goes] well. Plus, [Green Bay’s] defense is playing lights out. I feel like this is one of the most complete teams out of Green Bay that I’ve seen in a while. … If we can stop the run and dominate the line of scrimmage, that’ll definitely give help to the defensive backs.”
It’s a well-worn NFL cliché to enter trying to stop the run first. Coaches have been preaching it since the forward pass was legalized. The best defenses can do both but slow the pass first. Of Football Outsiders’ top 10 teams in defensive DVOA through Week 13, seven rank in the top 10 against the pass. Of those seven, four rank outside the top 12 against the run, including two outside the top 20.
The Washington defense has been midlevel most of the season, ranking 20th versus the pass and 19th against the run, per Football Outsiders’ metrics.
“Anytime you’re playing in the National Football League, you have to stop the run,” defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. “We did a good job Sunday stopping [Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey]. We’ve got to do the same thing against this team, and then they have a very good quarterback to take the balls down the field, quick throws. He does a great job. He’s a Hall of Famer.”