The current fan poll on vikings.com asks for the fans’ opinion on the most important factor in tonight’s Vikings-Packers game. The overwhelming choice by fans, with 49% of the vote, is pressuring Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers.
It’s pretty hard to make a case for anything else, and the task of pressuring Rodgers will be a lot easier for the Vikings if Green Bay starting LT Chad Clifton doesn’t play. Clifton is battling an ankle injury and did not practice at all this week. Earlier in the week, Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said that if Clifton didn’t practice, he wouldn’t play. It remains to be seen what McCarthy will ultimately decide.
Clifton’s status for the game is of ultimate importance because, as the fans appropriately decided, tonight’s outcome may hinge primarily on the Vikings ability or inability to get to Rodgers and pressure him. If Clifton goes tonight, the Packers will have a dependable player to counter Jared Allen’s pass rushing ability. If Clifton doesn’t go, Green Bay will once again have to shuffle their offensive line, something that hasn’t yielded good results in 2009.
So far this season, Rodgers has been sacked 12 times. Although the pressure he’s faced hasn’t caused him to make mistakes – he has 0 INTs this season – sacks and even pressure disrupt the passing game.
If Clifton can’t go, starting LG Daryn Colledge would slide over to LT, starting C Jason Spitz would move to LG and backup Scott Wells would be the starting C. So Clifton’s absence not only creates an irregularity at LT, but all along the left side of the line and at C. In addition, the Packers will likely provide Colledge with help via chip blocks from TEs and RBs, giving Rodgers fewer targets in the passing game.
But it’s not all doom-and-gloom for Green Bay. Maybe Clifton will play, rendering all of this speculation useless. Or, if Clifton doesn’t play, Colledge might step in and play well against Allen. He’s a starting lineman on an NFL team for a reason – he knows how to play the game.
Either way, everyone will be keeping an eye on whether Clifton plays tonight or not. If he does play, we’ll be treated to a great matchup between Allen and Clifton. If he doesn’t play, Allen has an even better chance to treat us to a few of his hog-tie dances.
Tags: Jared Allen
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 1 Comment »