XLV: Using WRs to spread out the Steelers
January, 31, 2011
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
DALLAS -- Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner threw for 377 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII, one of several reasons his thoughts will be among the most credible this week as the Green Bay Packers prepare for Super Bowl XLV.
Appearing Monday morning on ESPN's "First Take," Warner offered a specific and Packers-friendly formula for moving the ball against the Steelers.
"I've always felt that the Steelers' defense ... they're always built around the linebackers -- and specifically around those two outside guys who can rush the passer and create so much havoc. And so anytime I play a team like that, I always wanted to spread them out.
"If I had four receivers where I could force those linebackers either to cover, to get out in space, or to force them off the field, that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to take the strength of a team and attack it. That's what I would tell the Packers. You've got four great wide receivers, guys that made plays all year long. Use those receivers. Spread out the defense. Force them to do something different than what they want to."
Warner offered one caution, however.
"It leaves some short edges for guys like James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley coming off the sides," he said. "You've got to get the ball out of your hand."
Warner and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers are close friends, and they spoke last week on a number of topics. I wouldn't be surprised if this one came up. The Packers, as you might know, used at least three receivers on 75 percent of their dropbacks this season. They also used a five-receiver set 30 times during the regular season, twice the number of the other 31 teams combined.
We've already touched on the Packers' indoor passing fancy during the Rodgers era and we'll touch on it from any number of additional angles as the week progresses. But Warner's point is a valid one: The Packers have the personnel to spread out the Steelers' defense. They had four receivers -- Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson -- who finished the regular season with at least 45 receptions. Can they be as successful as Warner was two years ago? Stay tuned.