FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots were showering Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers with praise all around Gillette Stadium on Wednesday.
Head coach Bill Belichick called Rodgers “tremendous at everything” during his news conference with the media in the morning. All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis said the Packers signal-caller is “the best in the league.” And he didn’t stop there.
“They’re top in every category in the passing game,” Revis said about the Packers, whom the Patriots face Sunday at Lambeau Field. “We believe that Aaron Rodgers is our biggest test yet, so, we respect those guys.”
Patriots fans and fantasy football owners alike are wondering who Revis will cover this week. Jordy Nelson is the Packers’ leading receiver, with 68 receptions for 1,066 yards and nine touchdowns, but 5-foot-10, 192-pound Randall Cobb doesn’t trail too far behind with 58 catches for 837 yards and 10 scores.
“They always get open,” Revis said about Nelson and Cobb. “That shows you that they understand the game. They’re very experienced. You can tell they have a lot of chemistry with Aaron Rodgers.”
The Patriots faced similar threats last week in Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and the Detroit Lions. Revis covered Tate, who is similar to Cobb, and fellow cornerback Brandon Browner handled 6-foot-5, 236-pound Johnson with help from safety Devin McCourty.
Since Browner (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) matches up well with Nelson (6-foot-3, 217 pounds), we could see a similar game plan this week. It certainly was effective against the Lions.
Revis will have to spend most of his time in the slot if he covers Cobb, who lines up inside on 89.5 percent of his routes and catches 74.4 percent of his targets. Cobb has the highest “wide receiver rating,” which measures passer rating when a wideout is targeted, in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Rodgers hasn’t thrown an interception when targeting Cobb, and he only has thrown one pick while targeting Nelson.
The beauty of the Patriots’ coverage plans are they’re never easy to predict. So while it’s logical that Revis would handle Cobb and Browner would cover Nelson, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Belichick could deploy a zone-heavy scheme or force Revis and Browner to stick to one side apiece rather than trailing a receiver. Belichick rarely sticks with one coverage scheme throughout a game, too, as the Patriots mixed Cover-1 and Cover-2 man with Cover-3 zone against the Lions.
Revis had success against Rodgers in his first and only matchup against the Packers, allowing only one catch on four targets for 11 yards in 2010. Revis spent most of his time in that game covering veteran receiver Greg Jennings, who’s now with the Minnesota Vikings.
Thumbnail photo via Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports Images