By Carmen Vitali
FOX Sports NFC North Writer
Buccaneers apart, ahead of the Packers dropped their season opener this yr to a department rival, they dropped their season opener remaining yr in a lopsided loss to the New Orleans Saints that was once performed in Raymond James Stadium because of inclement climate in New Orleans. The ranking was once 38-3.
Then there is Rodgers’ document in opposition to Tampa Bay since the arrival of 1 Todd Robert Bowles. As defensive coordinator of the Bucs, Bowles placed on a health center in opposition to Rodgers and the Packers. Both video games have been in the 2020 season — one in the common season, one in the postseason, with the latter stinging infinitely extra. Rodgers was once intercepted in the sport. He was once sacked 5 instances. And he suffered defeat in but some other NFC Championship sport.
He, predictably, holds Bowles in prime regard.
“I think Todd Bowles has done a good job of [disguising things] over the years,” Rodgers instructed Barstool Sports. “I think he’s a really good coach. You can always tell, schematically, what coaches are the best based on how the league adjusts.”
He went on to give an explanation for what everyone knows: This is a copycat league. Teams noticed Atlanta succeed in the Super Bowl below the tutelage of then-offensive-coordinator Kyle Shanahan in 2017. He took his offense to San Francisco and in Rodgers’ phrases, now about 9 groups are operating that taste of offense — together with the Packers. The similar is going for cover, however Bowles deviates from the norm and as an alternative deploys one thing most commonly his personal. It follows the similar ideas Mike Zimmer’s defenses did in Minnesota. Those teams all the time gave Rodgers hassle, and the importance of the groups’ competition amplified issues.
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Bowles has been extra a hit in opposition to Rodgers than another trainer can declare to be. In the two conferences between Rodgers and a Bowles-led protection in Tampa, Rodgers has spent numerous time on the flooring. He’s been sacked 9 instances in two video games, together with the aforementioned 5 instances in the 2020 NFC Championship that earned the Bucs a commute to the Super Bowl.
In Week 6 of the 2020 season, with the Packers taking part in in Tampa, Rodgers now not simplest was once sacked 4 instances however he was once picked off two times, together with simply the 1/3 pick-six of his profession because of Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean. Rodgers posted the third-lowest passer score of his profession at simply 35.4.
Dean saved that ball, in fact. He’s nonetheless looking ahead to Rodgers to signal it.
But what’s it that makes Bowles’ defenses so efficient in opposition to Rodgers? What does he know that reputedly the remainder of the league does not?
Honestly, even he does not appear to have a solution.
“I wish I actually knew that and I could use it every time, but I do not know,” he stated. “We covered long enough for the guys to get some pressure, but you never, ever stop him. He may have an off day or the line may let something through but it’s never him. He’s probably one of the smartest quarterbacks I’ve ever played against. I have a respect for him because with him, they’re always in every ball game and you can’t say that about everybody in the league.”
The actual resolution most probably lies someplace in the reality that there is a component of marvel with Bowles’ defenses each time you notice them. They do not glance or behave the similar each and every time. It’s laborious to pick out up on any kind of inclinations or patterns.
“They always kind of look similar as far as the front is going to change, the pressure is going to change,” Rodgers stated Wednesday, dryly. “The looks are going to be — there’s a lot of different things they throw at you. But they’re always adapting their personnel.”
They’ll additionally use their staff in numerous techniques.
Why sure, this is protection Jordan Whitehead coated up in the 0-technique as a nostril take on. What on God’s inexperienced earth do you are expecting as an offensive lineman should you see that? Bowles’ defenses create confusion — nay, chaos — and if it can not throw Rodgers off, it will a minimum of throw off the avid gamers round him.
But make no mistake, the Packers offense, led via Rodgers, can provide that confusion proper again.
“The way they feature and set up their offense is just a lot of moving parts,” defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers stated. “It really messes with your eye discipline. They get receivers going in motion, then a tight end flashing back. Then the play action and the linebackers get sucked up and somebody’s wide open. If they stay back then they hit them with a run. Their offense is ideally suited to [Rodgers’] skill set.”
In an interview with Tony Dungy on Sunday Night Football in the season opener, Bowles went as far as to mention seeing Rodgers on the agenda is “scary.” He did not elaborate on precisely what he intended then, however he did now that he is about to stand him.
“When you have guys that can see the entire field and throw the ball from a bunch of angles and be just as accurate as if nobody was around them, that makes them very scary,” Bowles stated. “Your entire team is on notice for four quarters. You can’t cheat one way or the other. You can’t fall asleep. They don’t give you a chance to take a break. And you don’t have a breather. You gotta just constantly be on it until the game is over because they always have the threat of coming back.”
If that wasn’t sufficient, Rodgers could also be armed with a playcaller who is aware of him within and out and is proactive in his personal proper.
“LaFleur does a good job of giving him the answers to the test,” Bowles stated. “And by that I mean if it’s not the play that you see, and then you see this, check to that check. It’s like he always knows where his get out of jail free card is and a lot of quarterbacks don’t know that. They know that first option in their offense and that’s it. He knows his first, second, third and fourth option and can get rid of it that quickly. So that makes him very special.”
As ready as Bowles will probably be for Aaron Rodgers come Sunday, it is going to be as much as the avid gamers to execute it. What do you inform them a few man you simply brazenly known as “scary”?
“We expect him to make his plays,” Kacy Rodgers stated. “If he makes a play, you just have to go to the next one and keep playing. Sixty minutes is a long time. Have a short memory.”
Rodgers involves the city with an offense that appears somewhat other than what the Bucs have observed from the Packers in the previous. Wide receiver Davante Adams is long gone, and with him, 1 / 4 of the group’s touchdowns remaining yr. Green Bay had some other sluggish begin to the season, losing their season opener to the Minnesota Vikings, however then bounced again emphatically remaining week in opposition to some other department opponent in the Chicago Bears. They leaned closely now not on Rodgers’ arm, as they have in the previous, however on the legs of each operating backs A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones. The latter went off for 132 yards speeding and scored as each a runner and receiver. Dillon had 18 carries himself. The Packers is also figuring issues out via getting the flooring sport extra concerned for now, however Rodgers’ arm would possibly not keep passive for lengthy.
Facing certainly one of the league’s notoriously stout speeding defenses this weekend in Tampa may power Rodgers to determine issues out thru the air quicker than he sought after. But the Bucs are nonetheless making a bet he will be ok regardless of who’s throwing the ball. And some other chess fit between Bowles and Rodgers will ensue.
“I think he is highly intelligent,” Bowles stated. “He throws one of the prettiest fade balls. He has one of the quickest releases where it doesn’t even look like he’s tossing it. He can toss it. His knowledge of the game is one of the tops in the league, and if we weren’t playing him, I love watching him. That’s the truth.”
“Hats off to the guy. I’m tired of facing him, actually,” Bowles laughs, with a touch of exasperation. “You lose a lot more sleep facing him on the face than you do a lot of other quarterbacks.”
Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had earlier stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, together with 2020, which added the identify of Super Bowl Champion (and boat-parade player) to her résumé. You can practice Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.
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