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Tomlin on the Packers


Coach Mike Tomlin offers some insight on the Steelers' opponent this week – the Green Bay Packers. Q. Aaron Rodgers leads the NFL with a third-down passer rating of 127.9, and Peyton Manning is second at 112.7. That's a large gap. What has made Rodgers so effective?
A. They're doing it in a variety of ways. He was getting sacked a lot earlier in the year, and they've adjusted what they're doing schematically. He's getting the ball out of his hand, they've got some quick passes, etc. They've got a corps of wide receivers capable of picking up big chunks after the catch. Rodgers does a nice job of including all of his eligibles. He's really doing a nice job of moving those guys.
Q. What does Rodgers have that makes him a special quarterback?
A. I think he has a nice combination of all skills. He has a nice touch on his deep ball. He's got very solid short-ball accuracy. He can throw it into man coverage, into some of the shallow, underneath areas that define West Coast passing. He definitely has better mobility than he's given credit for, because he has over 200 yards rushing this year. When you give him an escape lane, he consistently punishes people, and that's something we have to be aware of.
Q. What does receiver Donald Driver do that separates him from other people?
A. One thing I know about this league is that when you've done it at the level at which Donald Driver has done it for a long time there are no shortcuts or secrets. This guy is a hardcore worker. One of the things that stands out about his game is that he's always scrapping for every single yard. A lot of times you see wide receivers step out of bounds or duck down when they're in traffic and they know there's nothing left for them to get. This guy is always fighting, clawing, scrapping for every inch, and that's something you have to respect about him.
Q. Both of their backs – Ryan Grant and Ahman Green – are averaging over 4 yards a carry. Are their skill-sets different?
A. They are, actually. Grant is a slasher, a vision runner. He's really doing a nice job, already over 1,000 yards. Ahman made his hay in the league as a breakaway guy. He's probably not that guy anymore, but he does have great vision and experience.
Q. Green Bay is No. 1 in the league in first-down yardage allowed. How does the Packers defense accomplish that?
A. It starts up front for those guys – the defensive line and the linebacking corps. They have two interior ILBs in their 3-4 in A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett who are very good at what they do, and everything spins off their action.
Q. Clay Matthews is a rookie OLB who has eight sacks. How would you evaluate his play?
A. You see the natural pass-rushing skills with some of the other things he's doing in terms of hand-usage and dropping into coverage. I think he's rounding into a very complete player, probably what they envisioned when they drafted him.
Q. The Packers are plus-18 in turnover ratio. How have they accomplished that?
A. They're an opportunistic group because of guys like Charles Woodson and Nick Collins. When you watch the tape, those guys end up with the ball in their hands a great deal, and that's the name of the game. Part of being a good defense is being on the sideline, but you have to get yourself there. Charles Woodson is having an NFL Defensive Player of the Year kind of year, and Nick Collins is having a Pro Bowl caliber year.
Q. What are the keys for the Steelers in the game vs. the Packers?
A. We have to take the fight to them. We can't be out-tempoed. That was one of the disturbing thing about the game in Cleveland. We got out-tempoed by the Browns. It starts there for us, and we have to make significant plays at significant moments.

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