Saturday, January 12, 2013
Packers-49ers II: Charles Woodson's impact
By Kevin Seifert
We had a few discussions late this season on the Green Bay Packers' defense before, during and after linebacker Clay Matthews' hamstring injury. It's not too hard to figure out; Matthews has 15 sacks in 13 regular-season and postseason games.
But what about the Charles Woodson factor? How did Woodson's fractured collarbone impact the Packers defense, and what will his presence mean for Saturday night's divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers?
As the chart shows, the Packers' defense was predictably better this season when Woodson was on the field. But what's interesting is that defensive coordinator Dom Capers was significantly more aggressive in terms of sending extra rushers -- especially when one of them was a defensive back.
In his first game back since suffering the injury, Woodson was on the field for all 63 of the Packers' defensive snaps. In that game, the Packers sent at least one extra rusher against the Minnesota Vikings on 48 percent of their dropbacks. For context, consider that the Packers' blitz rate for the season was 40 percent -- and that was the fourth-highest in the NFL.
Game plans are always opponent-specific, but at the very least I think we can agree that Capers has a bigger playcard at his disposal with Woodson on the field. The 49ers will no doubt expect the same thing.