NFC: Stopping Rodgers a must for Arizona
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals watched virtually defenseless as Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers tore them to shreds -- first in a preseason game, then in a meaningless regular-season finale.
Whatever tactics the Cardinals have that might give Rodgers problems are being saved for tomorrow's wild-card game. Whether anything Arizona does will work against the Packers' quarterback may determining the outcome.
At first glance, pressuring the quarterback would seem to be a solid plan. Rodgers has been sacked 50 times, tied with Ben Roethlisberger for most in the NFL.
But only nine of them have come in the seven games since right tackle Mark Tauscher returned to the lineup. "They just changed their lineup a little bit and I think they probably simplified their protection," Cardinals defensive coordinator Bill Davis said.
Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said the defense must be diverse and unpredictable.
"I think pressure is not always the answer because he gets the ball out quick and he understands that," Whisenhunt said.
The Cardinals play an aggressive style that works best when the team is at emotional peak. The aim will be to disrupt Rodgers' rhythm. Arizona will move players around, especially Pro Bowl starting safety Adrian Wilson, to try to confuse the Packers quarterback in his first playoff game.
The Cardinals were sixth in the league with 43 sacks -- by 13 different players. Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett and defensive end Calais Campbell lead with seven apiece.
Dockett is the disruptive force up front and Campbell, at 6 feet 8, can be an imposing presence. They are taking aim at Rodgers.
"There's a trend that teams that beat him, they usually get to him and knock him down a lot, make him a little nervous back there, get rid of the ball a little faster," Campbell said. "If you let him sit back there, he'll pick you apart."
Rodgers, of course, played behind Brett Favre for three seasons.
"He's had a lot of time to sit back and dissect it," Robinson said, "and once he became the surgeon, he's done a pretty good job of cutting people up."
• NFC wild-card playoff: Green Bay Packers (11-5) vs. Arizona Cardinals (10-6), 4:40 p.m.
• Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
• TV: WPGH.
• Line: Pick (471/2).
First Published January 9, 2010 12:29 am