Packers: Whether to blitz Eli Manning

November, 24, 2012
11/24/12
8:00
AM ET
Here's an interesting trend to keep in mind as Sunday night's matchup approaches between the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants.

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers has pulled back notably on blitz packages in his past two games as the effectiveness of his standard pass rush has increased. But if you expect that approach to continue Sunday night, you should realize that Giants quarterback Eli Manning torched the Packers' standard rush in two games last season.

First, let's look back at least season. In the teams' Week 13 regular-season matchup, Capers used his standard rush on 53.7 percent of Manning's dropbacks. In the divisional playoff game, Manning faced the Packers' standard rush on 60 percent of his dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Against the standard rush in those two games combined, Manning had a 93.5 Total Quarterback Rating (out of 100). He threw five touchdowns, completed 65 percent of his passes, averaged 11.8 yards per attempt and did not have an interception. Against the Packers' blitz, on the other hand, his QBR was 21.0.

The Packers put themselves through a defensive makeover during the offseason, and recent improvement seems to have turned Capers' thinking on the topic. The chart shows the five highest and five lowest percentages of standard pressure Capers has used since joining the Packers in 2009. Their past two games represent the second- and third-highest percentages in his tenure.

Why? Quite simply, the Packers have played really well when sending four or fewer pass-rushers during their five-game winning streak. Over that stretch, opposing quarterbacks have completed 48.1 percent of their passes, thrown one touchdown and been intercepted three times -- for a QBR of 34.9 -- against the Packers' standard rush.

Herein lies one of the fun subplots for the inside football crowd. Last season's history suggests the Packers might want to pressure Manning. The Packers' most recent play indicates they don't need to. Let's see how it plays out.

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