One of the biggest stories from week 1 of the NFL came out of the Redskins vs. Steelers game. Newly-acquired All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman consistently lined up on the left side of the defensive formation. Meanwhile, All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh’s primary offensive weapon, lined up almost every play on the opposite side of the field.
Brown was defended on almost every play by Bashaud Breeland – we understand if you’ve never heard of the fourth-round draft choice from 2014.
The predictable result was that Brown had a dominating performance – eight catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns. All happened when Breeland was defending him. Equally predictable was the score, 38-14 in favor of the Steelers.
It looks like the Packers’ starting cornerbacks on Sunday will be Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, with LaDarius Gunter possibly sharing duties with Rollins. Assuming Sam Shields misses the game due to a concussion, Randall – the Packers’ 2015 first-round choice and emerging star – is the team‘s best healthy cornerback by a good margin.
He’s probably their best cornerback period, but undeniably with Shields out.
The Vikings have one receiver who is decidedly better than the team’s other choices: Stefon Diggs. Against the Titans last week, Diggs had seven catches, out of nine targets, for 108 yards. At 6’ and 195 pounds, he is neither big, nor strong, nor highly athletic, though his 40-yard dash time was a swift 4.46 seconds.
The other top wide receiver against Tennessee was Adam Thielen, who went undrafted in 2013. He had four catches for 54 yards – a step up from his best year, when he had 137 receiving yards in all of 2014. At tight end, Kyle Rudolph is a veteran, but not a dominant, presence – he had four catches for 65 yards last Sunday.
As a rookie last year, Diggs surprised people by immediately becoming the Vikings’ top receiver. That’s not saying a lot, though, as he only totaled 52 catches for 720 yards. Trailing Diggs was wide receiver Mike Wallace, who is now with the Ravens (493 yards). Behind him was Jarius Wright (443 yards). He has managed only 1,774 receiving yards in his four years in the league.
Though Diggs shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as Antonio Brown, he’s the best passing target the Vikings can come up with. He was Minnesota’s only wide receiver to finish among the top 98 receivers in the league in 2015.
To sum up, the Vikings don’t have a star receiver, and they don’t have any depth at the position either. Whichever quarterback is out there, the Packers should christen the new stadium by throttling the Vikings’ anemic pass attack.
That’s if they play smart.
Though the Packers have customarily kept Sam Shields on the right side of the defense and Randall on the left (and Tramon Williams before him), it would seem that the Packers should pit strength against strength, by having Randall position himself across from Diggs – wherever Diggs lines up.
In April, the Redskins signed Norman to a five-year, $75 million deal, making him the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history. There is almost universal agreement that the way the Skins utilized him last Sunday rendered their new defensive star a non-factor in the decisive loss to Pittsburgh.
We’ll soon find out if the Packers match up Randall and Diggs, or if they’ll copy the Redskins’ blunder.
I don’t know if there is going to be a big drop off in performance between Bridgewater and Bradford. Contrary to the belief of millions of spam eaters and Jesse Ventura voters, Bridgewater was not a good quarterback. Bradford may throw a few more picks, but unlike Bridgewater, he can throw the ball farther than 20 yards down field.
Also the Packers need to watch out. Adrian Peterson is taking snaps at quarterback.
Bridgewater is at least mobile. Bradford is like a statue in the pocket.
To Rob’s point of having Randall follow Diggs all over the field – I would say not if Randall isn’t comfortable on the other side.
last year I thougt and said Randall was bad in covering good routes and I hoped he would learn.
He did of course blew that Fitzgerald assignment so lets see what he has learned.