“It is [crazy]. It really is,” Bostic said. “Even just saying that. You always preach going in stopping the run, making a team one-dimensional. But it’s like, making a team one-dimensional and putting the ball in the best player’s hands is like, do you really want to do that? But that’s what it’s going to take to beat them. It’s going to take all 11 guys out there . . . playing within the defense, playing within the rules.”
Bostic’s thoughts line up with the Redskins’ defensive philosophy. Every week, they want to shut down the run first and foremost. Part of the problem for the unit early in the season was that it was ineffective against the run. Washington ranks 27th in the NFL with 131.6 rushing yards allowed per game.
The Redskins rank 15th in pass defense (229.8 yards), but they haven’t faced a slew of elite quarterbacks. Rodgers has thrown for 3,065 yards (ninth in the league) and 22 touchdowns (sixth) with two interceptions. The interceptions are the fewest among quarterbacks with at least 353 attempts.
Stopping the run against this particular Packers team becomes vital, considering the team is more balanced than in recent years. Aaron Jones ranks 14th in the NFL with 645 rushing yards, and his 11 rush touchdowns are one shy of the league high. Jamaal Williams is a nice complement to Jones in the backfield.
“When you have a balanced attack, it helps out the quarterback,” Redskins defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said. “And anytime you help out Aaron Rodgers, huh, that never [goes] well. Plus, [Green Bay’s] defense is playing lights out. I feel like this is one of the most complete teams out of Green Bay that I’ve seen in a while. … If we can stop the run and dominate the line of scrimmage, that’ll definitely give help to the defensive backs.”
Allen explained that in addition to stopping the run, the goal is to reset the line of scrimmage and push the pocket from the interior. The Redskins don’t want Rodgers getting comfortable in the pocket.
Still, it’s a risky prospect to dare Rodgers to beat you. Washington’s pass defense has improved in recent weeks, and there could be some confidence from the fact the Redskins sacked Rodgers four times and kept him from truly getting loose in a 31-17 win last season.
Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said the run-first philosophy “definitely” remains despite the presence of Rodgers.
“Anytime you’re playing in the National Football League, you have to stop the run,” Manusky said. “We did a good job Sunday stopping [Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey]. We’ve got to do the same thing against this team, and then they have a very good quarterback to take the balls down the field, quick throws. He does a great job. He’s a Hall of Famer.”