Stopping Adrian Peterson: Time for Packers to Bring Back the Big Oakie? All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Packers Vikings Adrian Peterson
Packers will be chasing Adrian Peterson once again

Prior to this season, the Packers have had some success against Adrian Peterson. From 2009-2011, they’ve had at least one game where they held Peterson to under 100 yards rushing. In November of last year, their 31st ranked defense held Peterson to 51 yards. So it is possible.

Over the years, when Peterson has hurt the Packers, it’s been by bouncing runs outside after drawing everyone in. That was never more evident than today’s game.

The Packers’ defensive line actually did a very good job clogging up the middle. Raji, Pickett, Wilson, Worthy, et al caused Peterson to have to stop and look to bounce outside. When the Packers have had success stopping Peterson, there have been players outside waiting for Peterson. In last night’s game there was mostly no one.

Correction. In a few cases, Tramon Williams was there, but it was still like having no one.

All week, Mike McCarthy kept talking about how their focus was on stopping Peterson. Supposedly, they spent an unusual amount of  time in practice (for this point in the season) on tackling drills.

I really thought defensive coordinator Dom Capers would have a special plan for Peterson today.  I was sorely disappointed.  The entire Packers’ defense kept getting sucked inside, showing little positional integrity. Capers played it like Peterson was just another running back. Despite all the talk, there was nothing special for Peterson.

So what should the Packers do?

OLBs Stay Put: On many occasions in this game, the Packers’ OLBs joined the pile in the middle in an attempt to stop Peterson. In way too many cases, Peterson had nowhere to go, so he just bounced it wide to where there was plenty of open space. If the OLBs had kept their outside position, Peterson would have had a far different game. Perhaps he would have gained a few more yards up the middle, but that’s much preferable to letting him run in space where he has only safeties and corners to deal with (and run through).

Spy Peterson: One option might be to use a spy. A player who’s main job is to be mirror Peterson to whatever side he bounces to. It’s no guarantee of anything, but at least there would be ONE player in position to maybe hold Peterson to an eight yard run instead of a 40 yard run. By coincidence, the player that could be best suited for this role is supposedly returning for the playoffs: Charles Woodson. The advantage of using Woodson would be that if it is not a running play, you have a wily veteran DB who knows how to read the passing routes and quickly drop into the right spots.

Big Oakie: Back in 2009, Caper’s first season, the Packers gave up 141 yards to current Packer Cedric Benson. With Stephen Jackson coming up next, Capers devised his “Big Oakie” variation of the packers base 3-4 (Oakie) defense. In the big Oakie, the Packers bring in a fifth linebacker to play a hybrid safety/linebacker position (they used Brandon Chillar in 2009). The package is best used against teams that are heavily one-dimensional towards the running game. Does that sound like anyone we know?

I’m no genius defensive coordinator. Hell, I’m not even a below-average defensive coordinator.  But I do know the Packers have to do something different than what they’ve done against Peterson this season. These are just a few thoughts that come to mind.

But surely Dom has an even better idea, right? Right? Dom?



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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for


26 thoughts on “Stopping Adrian Peterson: Time for Packers to Bring Back the Big Oakie?

  1. Hoping Dom reads your posts Al. You’ve nailed it. When they go soft zone they are flat footed and can’t respond to the action fast enough. Shadowing AP is a great idea because at least one player will be moving toward him instead of standing and waiting and getting faked out of their jocks. Or knocked on their asses.

    MM has got to get that Offense playing from the minute they leave their houses next week. These slow starts suck.

  2. GB offense played a good game but this game reminded me of a few seasons ago when our offense would put up points in the 4th quarter to only have our defense give up the game losing drive in the final couple of minutes. Why aren’t we talking about the stupid zone coverage we played on the third down with around 2 mins left in the game that Casey Hayward screwed up on?

    1. You might have nailed it Russ, but I won’t lay the blame entirely on Hayward, there’s plenty to go around. What the hell were they doing in Zone in the first place, what the hell was Tramon thinking, he doesn’t play for Detroit! The problem I saw most of the game was poor play be the safeties other than a couple plays, and hopefully Woodson can help that. Time to wake up the troops or the war will end next Saturday!

  3. Well I was hoping what happened to the Pack last season in the play-offs would be a wake up call and maybe it has. Lets just hope this was the wake-up we needed before the tournament starts. Lets just hope this was another hard fought battle to help the team come together. Lets just hope that was the warm-up game we needed for all the players that have been injured. Lets just hope that the remaining injured starters playing will be what we need. Lets just hope MM & DC have a whole new bag of tricks for the play-offs!

  4. There were many plays that the vikes made that were fortunate and extraordinary. That won’t happen again Sat. I do agree this Pack team has weaknesses ,o line ,pass rush,but with Rogers we will always have a chance.

  5. guys on defense have to execute. may times they were in position to make plays and just didnt. can they run some four down lineman? get walden off of the field against the vikes. put neal at DE with raji and pickett inside. they need more beef up front on first and second down. force them to throw the ball. if dom comes out in nickel this week i think i might get sick.

    as far as the zone coverage goes, that call is fine. hayward did not execute. if he gets the drop like the defense calls for that pass is not even thrown. i do not know why people have an issue with zone coverage. shields peeks in the backfield and gives up a 70 yard gain in man coverage, but people are upset about one play in zone coverage.

    1. I’m not a fan of Zone coverage, maybe because the Packer never seem to play it well. But I see Tramon’s brain fart being just as big as Hayward’s, maybe bigger! The veterans shouldn’t make those kind of “Suhpid” mistakes!

      1. the packers play a LOT of zone. and i am not talking about you specifically, but many fans think anytime a defender is right there to make a play on the ball that it is man coverage, when many times they are actually in zone coverage. getting beat in man coverage is easier for many people to swallow because it is logical. when a guy finds a hole in a zone it looks more like a scheme failure than a player failure.

        in the nfl you HAVE to mix coverages. sitting in man all game long or sitting in zone all game long generally does not work. you have to mix it up. hayward has been great, but he is still a rookie.

        the long reception that shields gave up was a killer. the packers stole momentum and he handed it right back.

        tramon’s play was inexcusable. i think they win the game if he does not make that bone head move.

    2. If you’re interested in “more beef” to stop the run on first and second down, why would you pull out CJ Wilson and insert Mike Neal?

      Wilson is the second best run-stuffer on the team (only playing second fiddle to Ryan Pickett) and he’s a slightly larger body than Neal.

      Neal is more of a pass rushing interior lineman.

      Now, if you’re talking about swapping out Worthy and putting in Neal on early downs, I’ll all for it.

  6. Clay Mathews is reported as injured this am. The injury is as yet undisclosed. Rumor is concussion. That would suck big time.

    MM’s early morning Presser was cream puff questions and MM is only talking about the future, No hard ball questions on last night’s game.

    1. Any injury to CMIII sucks, a concussion could be devastating. That said, I gotta agree with McPuffy, there is no reason other than game planning for Saturday night to look back!

    2. SSP corrected its story earlier. The undisclosed injury is to Boykin not Mathews. Whew! Worthey’s injury doesn’t look good according to MM.

  7. The vikes played about as good as they can. That said, the pack gave up at least 10 points due to uncharacteristic coaching mistakes. The pack had three time outs in the Second qtr, then burn three to prevent delay of game penalties. Mm’s fault for not getting the plays in fast enough. The result, no timeouts left to challenge to third down ‘catch’ that shouldn’t have been. Seven points for the vikes. Then Dom calls a three man rush on the last drive … Felt like fourth and 26 all over again … Result, pack loses, will have to play the vikes again, then go to sf … A much harder road. What a wasted effort.

  8. To blame Casey Hayward is ridiculous! He’s been the one constant other than Matthews on this defense. Tramon Williams is a complete joke and has been since he got his money, just like most players in the NFL. Wanna see a budding great player go down the tubes? Pay him! I understand that’s not a rule of thumb but I’ll never forget Williams getting out of Peterson’s way. Williams needs to watch the 2007 NFC Championship when Jacobs ran over Woodson but Wood held on for tackle. Williams has absolutely no heart. I’ve said it 100 times and fire MM said it already, play some 4 down lineman! You have drafted Worthy and Daniels, both small for a 3-4 but ideal for a 4-3. I never gave the Vikings a chance. The last few weeks Capers has seemed to make adjustments. One he refuse’s to stop is that soft zone. It doesn’t stop anyone Dom! Bring back the Okie for the next two weeks Dom or be prepared for another one and done playoffs. So sad considering we have the BEST QB in football. Oh, the Seahawks game did screw us! We would have gotten the bye no matter what if not for that game!!!ERRRR!

    1. Past performance doesn’t change the fact that on a key 3rd down in last night’s game, Casey Hayward was sitting down in his zone well short of sticks and he got caught flat-footed peeking into the backfield while a receiver was deep in his zone waiting for a first-down catch.

      Hell, I can’t even say he was caught peeking. He was literally staring down Ponder the entire time, he had ZERO awareness of his depth or his zone.

      This doesn’t mean he’s at fault for the loss; but we can’t pardon him for making a rookie mistake in a pivotal situation just because he’s been so good the rest of the season, either.

      1. I’d ‘like to add in for all the belly-ache’rs out there, that there was NOTHING WRONG WITH THE DEFENSIVE CALL. That failure was purely on poor execution by Hayward- not on the zone call or the three man pressure. Had Casey not had his head up his ass, he should have been in position to make a play on that ball.

        1. Oppy, How about this and this is just a guess. Was Hayward turning him over to the Safety. Was he expecting help? I don’t know but I saw 2 defenders for the Packers still on the back end when the receiver got behind Hayward. It seemed to me the way Hayward stopped he was totally expecting safety help. Perhaps Hayward did drop the ball on that play but without Hayward this year I’d really hate to see where this pass defense would have been.

          1. I’ll say this too, when has the soft zone worked for Capers? It’s not so much belly aching. It’s watching Capers go to that soft zone. He rarely uses it and when he dos nothing positive comes from it. It’s like the season opener. He played Bush because he thought he would be better against the run. Well the 49ers picked on him through the air. After the game Capers said he made a mistake by playing Bush or leaving him in as long as he did. I say all that to say this. It seems as though at times, Capers has a plan and refuses to make adjustments from it even if it’s not working. Sounds crazy but it seems to happen from time to time. I have total faith in Rodgers and this offense. We know the defense CAN play. They’ve shut down Foster and held Lynch under what 80 yards? Seattle has a very physical O-Line so they can hold up against those lines.

            1. This defense sends three and drops into zone situationally, and it does it more often than most fans think.

              People don’t notice when things go well. They notice when it doesn’t. Seeing as the situations when the Packers run this type of defense is typically in third and long situations, when it DOES fail, it leaves a lasting impression because the defense has failed to get off the field and the drive has been extended.

              When it DOES work, most don’t give a rat’s patooey as to what defense was called- they’re too busy cheering because Rodgers & Co. is taking the field.

              That’s my perspective, at any rate.

              As for Hayward ‘passing it on’, it still wouldn’t forgive how inexcusably shallow he was when the sticks are 13 yards deep. Yes, there’s safety help, but I have serious doubts on 3rd and long that the call was for an extremely shallow zone capped by an extremely deep one, leaving a soft spot approximately 10 yards in diameter right where the first down marker is.

              I’d bet the farm that Hayward screwed the pooch on that play.

  9. It is sometimes said that two or three plays make the difference in the game.

    The Pack had second and three or four well inside viking territory, and Rogers threw into a crowd on second down for an incompletion and then tried Nelson in the end zone on third down-and we settled for a field goal-rather than throw the 6 yard pass that was working all day, get a first down, and three more downs and get a TD. Those four more points would have made a differnce in the way the game went.

    And, the Pack stops the Vikings, and Traemon “couldn’t tackle his shadow” Williams gets a hands to the face penalty totally away from the action because he lost his cool-gave vikes a first down, Vikes then get a TD instead of kicking a field goal-another extra 4 points.

    I Agree with Al on staying home and not over pursueing Peterson.

    Hopefully, Pack beats Vikes, then beat 49er’s there, and get Championship game at home against Seahawks. Vikes had a great game plan yesterday-peterson and short passing game-still, there defense was not very good against our offense, so maybe we win 27 to 13 in next Saturdays game.

  10. The best hope for the defense is that Capers has been working on some subpackages featuring Woodson in a hybrid LB/S role (i.e. Big Okie) giving him flexibility to cover, rush the passer, or shadow a single player like AP given the situation….this has been my theory given the number of games they held him out when he was possibly ready to return.

    The offense needs to get out of the gates fast. The defense plays so much better when they are ahead. And of all the matchups in the playoffs, only Atlanta seems to have the ability to stage a comeback when down by more than 10 points if the Packers get rolling on offense; and I still am not buying what Atlanta is selling.

  11. I have a Packers D getting thier asses kicked hangover. Im just sick today. What an absolute embarrassment by the packers D. Vincent Lombardi would have had a coronary on the sidelines yesterday. Grab grab grab! The pack were playing 9-10 in the box on some plays and it still didnt matter. Vince would have admired the Viking s performance. Their Oline ,TEs, FB were masterful in executing their awsome blocking schemes.

    I know AP is a great back ,but come on, 400 yards in 2
    games? Wow..what a bunch of cream puffs this D looked like on national TV. And then making Ponder look like a all pro QB…our D backs all get a F- for yesterday s game..what a bunch of losers they were in that game.

    If this D doesn’t come out next week and play better after that performance, they just have no heart of manhood.

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