Packers Believe They Can Adjust to Slow Down Ezekiel Elliot

The Green Bay Packers know their biggest problem in October’s 30-16 loss to the Cowboys, was their inability to stop or even slow down Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliot.

Fast forward a few months. The two teams are set to meet again, this time in Jerry’s World in the NFC Divisional Playoff. And for the Packers defense, the biggest key is going to be the same — stopping Elliot.

Only this time, the Packers generally believe things can be different.

When the two teams met previously, Green Bay came in with the NFL’s top-ranked run defense. Yet, Elliot exploded for 157 yards on 28 carries. All day long, it seemed the Packers were holding their own up front, they just couldn’t get Elliot to the ground, to his credit.

However, this week, as reported by Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Packers players still feel they can hold their own. Players like Letroy Guion say they weren’t dominated up front by Dallas, each defender just needs to focus more on their jobs and not making splash plays.

“His most effective trait as a running back,” defensive tackle Letroy Guion said, “is he has great vision. Everything else, he’s like any other running back. What separates him from other running backs, he has great vision.

“When a guy makes a mistake, he attacks right where you make a mistake from. That’s what makes you pay.”“When a guy makes a mistake, he attacks right where you make a mistake from. That’s what makes you pay.”

The mistake Guion alluded to are guys not filling their gaps and voiding their assigned responsibility to make a big play. Sometimes, as Clay Matthews has shown, freelancing can pay huge dividends.

Against Elliot, the only side of the ball that pays is the defense.

“He does a real good job,” Matthews said, “of kind of finding the holes and being patient, and that’s where he makes a lot of teams pay. I’m not saying we have to do anything special, but we need to do our job. If you look at the runs he hit on us the first time, it was guys just doing too much or kind of playing outside the scheme.

“That’s what we’re focusing on this week, is being accountable and doing our job and being where we need to be.”

Not since Week 1 against the New York Giants, has Elliot rushed for fewer than 83 yards. In fact, in 11 of his 15 games played, he rushed for at least 90 yards and eclipsed the century mark seven times and the 120-yard mark five times.

So the chances of Green Bay completely shutting him down are slim to none. What the Packers have to hope, is that they can contain him. Much like with Adrian Peterson over the years, Green Bay doesn’t have to shut him out to win, they just need to hold him in check.

If the Packers can do that with Elliot, if they can stop him from wrecking the day, Green Bay will have a fighting chance to pull the upset Sunday in the same building they won the Super Bowl six years ago.

chris peterson

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