If Aaron Rodgers plays on Sunday, he knows full-well the type of defense he’ll be facing.
Rodgers, who suffered a knee injury against the Bears in the season opener but returned to lead the Packers to a comeback win, told Green Bay media members this week that there are “no weaknesses” on Minnesota’s defense.
“You look at all three levels,” Rodgers said. “A lot of times when you’re playing a defense, when you think about the team, you can maybe name three or four guys off the top of your head that you know about or you’ve seen play, but it’s totally different with this team. You know most of them because they’re big names. There’s a lot of big names on that team, a lot of guys have gotten paid, [signed] second contracts and made a lot of plays for a number of years.
“And Mike obviously is a fantastic coach,” Rodgers added of Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who spoke highly of Rodgers earlier this week. “He has those guys prepared, he has a great scheme that other people have tried to copy across the league, and, I’ve said this most times we’ve played Minnesota, I think that’s the biggest compliment – the type of imitation that’s tried to go on with the stuff he’s done for years.”
Vikings running back Ty Montgomery also spoke about the Vikings “really good, sound” defense.
“This is a solid group,” Montgomery said. “Their front’s really good, the second level – the linebackers – are really sound as well, and it’s a diverse group of linebackers. And then obviously their safeties. We all know who Harrison Smith is [Andrew] Sendejo, has well. It’s overall a good defense.”
In addition to the Vikings returners on defense, Minnesota also added defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who had an impressive outing in Week 1 against the 49ers.
Packers guard Lane Taylor spoke about being prepared for meeting Richardson at the line.
“Strong, athletic guy who can play 3-technique,” Taylor said. “You have to be sound against him. He can do more than just be a big guy. He’s not just like a linear guy; he can kind of do it all. It’s important to stay in your technique.”
Here are other highlights from the Packers talking about the Vikings this week:
LB Clay Matthews on Kirk Cousins’ development:
“He’s a polished quarterback. He’s very smart, he knows what defenses you’re in, we’ve got to do a good job of showing one thing and giving him another. He knows where he wants to go with the ball; he’s got some playmakers that he hasn’t had in the past, now all over the board on offense. I think that’s going to help him out. And throughout the preseason, obviously it’s limited work, and throughout Week 1, he’s shown exactly the type of quarterback he is. He’s not going to make many mistakes, he’s going to fit the ball in, he knows where he’s going with it, and he can take advantage of teams if you present one thing.
“We have to do a good job of disguising and mixing it up a little bit to try to get him off the spot. We’ll see if it’s like the first time we played him [in the 2015 Wild Card game] or like the second time [in 2016] because those went two very different ways.”
Cousins completed 29 of 46 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown (passer rating of 91.7) for Washington in a 35-18 loss in the 2015 playoffs. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 375 yards and three touchdowns (passer rating of 145.8) in a 42-24 win in 2016.
Matthews on impressions of Dalvin Cook:
“We think he’s going to be a premier back in this league – not only in the NFC but in the NFL. He’s big, strong, physical, and you saw, even on that run in which he fumbled the ball [in Week 1], I think he broke something like four tackles. So, he runs behind his pads. He’s definitely somebody who we feel as if he’s going to be largely involved in the game plan … obviously in running the ball, but out in space as well, trying to dump the ball off. We think he’s going to be a good one, and hopefully we can kind of keep him in check because they have a number of playmakers on that offensive side of the ball.”
CB Jaire Alexander on facing Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen
“They got two primary targets; we’ve got six, seven, eight DBs who all can go, so, you know.”
C Corey Linsley on matching up against Linval Joseph
“It’s a combination of his length, he’s got long arms, he’s a big man. He doesn’t move easily. And he’s strong. He’s not just a big, plodding guy in there. He’s a strong, athletic guy.
“All their guys complement each other. We’ve seen them for a number of years now. They’re a heck of a defense, and we’re going to have to do some things against them and give it our best.”
CB Tramon Williams on what Cousins adds to Minnesota’s offense
“We have to be smart defensively. We have to give him different looks pre-snap so he won’t be able to tell what we’re in. And if we can do that, then we can make him think on the run. But if not, he is very, very good if you let him know what you’re in before the snap count. He can pick teams apart.”
Packers DC Mike Pettine on familiarity with Vikings OC John DeFilippo:
“We worked together [in Cleveland], actually in 2015 I spent an entire year on the offensive side of the ball, so I was in the game-plan meetings [with DeFilippo], so we spent a lot of time together. So I know how he thinks. He and I have had, especially that year, a lot of deep conversations about football concepts in general. I was helping him from a, ‘Hey, here’s how to attack a defense,’ and I was getting his perspective from the offensive side, as well.
“But I think that’s a little overblown just considering the timing of that, and now he spent that time in Philly. So I think he’s done a real nice job incorporating a lot of the elements from the Philadelphia offense – you can see it in what the Vikings are doing, and it’s only enhanced what I thought was a pretty good system back in 2015. John is smart, he’s tough-minded, he’ll change his game plan each week. It’s not like we can just watch the Niners film and say, ‘OK, here’s what we’re going to get.’ He works, and he tries to get one step ahead of you.”