DE Tyrone Crawford: The Key to Containing Aaron Rodgers
The Cowboys defense goes against the hottest player in the NFL on Sunday when they host the Packers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has been red hot during the Packers’ 7-game win streak. He’s shredding defensive backfields with his arm and alluding defensive linemen with his legs.
Cowboys defensive end Tyrone Crawford knows all-to-well about Rodgers’ nimbleness in the pocket. Two years ago during the 2014 postseason, Crawford and the Cowboys were unable to corral Rodgers during the 26-21 Divisional Round loss at Lambeau Field.
“The guy makes crazy plays no matter what,” says Crawford. “I don’t know how he does some of the things he does passing that ball.”
So what’s the key this weekend against Rodgers? Two years ago, he was hobbled by a calf injury, yet still avoided sacks. This time around, he’s healthy and playing lights out.
“We have to keep our lanes and make sure we don’t have two B-gap rushers and stuff to make sure he doesn’t get out of the pocket,” notes Crawford. “Just keep our lanes and try to keep him in the pocket. He’s uncomfortable when it’s tight and we’re all in the pocket with him. But as soon as he gets out of there, he’s a free player and he makes big plays.”
Earlier this season when the Cowboys beat the Packers in Week 6, the defense harassed Rodgers. They forced Rodgers to fumble and throw an interception. Overall, the Cowboys totaled 4 takeaways in the 30-16 win.
But during the Packers’ current 7 game win streak, Rodgers has not thrown an interception.
Has the offensive line done a better job of protecting him over the past two months, or is he doing a better job of buying time to throw?
“They’ve always had a good offensive line and they protect well, but he definitely buys some of the time,” says Crawford.
Matt Ludtke via AP
“He bounces around back there and makes some things happen.”
Crawford returns to game action this coming Sunday after missing the final two regular season games with shoulder and hamstring injuries. Those two weeks off, plus the bye week during the Wild Card Round, have him rejuvenated.
“For me it was huge because obviously I have a couple of bumps & bruises I’m trying to heal up,” he notes. “Just to get that rest was good. I’m feeling pretty good. Even if I do have bumps & bruises, I’m putting it to the back of my head and going to play in this game.”