Rodgers major obstacle
Dolphins must face cold in Green Bay — plus an elite QB
Miami Dolphins defensive back Bobby McCain has vivid memories of the coldest game he has played in during his career.
It was the Dolphins’ AFC wild-card playoff loss to the Steelers two seasons ago, where the high temperature in Pittsburgh was 16 degrees.
“I’ve never played in a game that cold ever in my life,” McCain said. “I literally had snot bubbles freezing on my nose.”
The Dolphins may not be playing in conditions as cold in Sunday’s game against the Packers (3-4-1) in Green Bay, with temperatures expected to be in the low 30s for the 4:25 p.m. kickoff, but the cold, biting wind at Lambeau Field could affect the Dolphins just as much as the standout quarterback they hope to slow on the other side.
“Our guys know this: we’re going on the road in a place that’s a very difficult place to play with a Hall of Fame quarterback,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said complementing Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.
“I don’t want to piss [New England Patriots quarterback] Tom Brady off, but he’s probably the top guy.”
Rodgers and the Packers (3-4-1) are coming off of road losses against two of the best teams in the NFL this season, in the Los Angeles Rams and Patriots, and will host the Dolphins (5-4) in their first home game in a month.
Miami had its best defensive performance of the season, featuring four sacks and four interceptions, to disrupt New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold in a 13-6 home win last week.
The win helped the Dolphins become one of 13 NFL teams to have a record above .500 at this point in the season.
Gase, who rather fawn over Rodgers’ playing style than game plan for him, knows the Dolphins may not be able to match last week’s statistical output defensively against the Packers. The Dolphins figure to have their hands full with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
But the Dolphins hope to apply pressure on Rodgers, keep him from scrambling out of the pocket, and keep the Packers’ receiving targets in front of them to keep Rodgers at bay.
“When I see him play, the guy doesn’t make a lot of errors. He looks like he’s playing jayvee football compared to everybody else,” Gase said of Rodgers.
“It’s just unbelievable how effortless he makes the game look. Our guys know that. They know when you play a guy like this, you better bring your A-game. You better make sure that everybody is on the same page. Throw the records out. It doesn’t matter because of who we’re playing.”
Rodgers has completed more than 60 percent of his passes for 15 touchdowns and just one interception this season.
He has also gradually regained his mobility while playing through a knee injury he suffered in the season opener.
“He’s getting better,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of Rodgers. “It’s been better each week. But it’s a big injury — something that I think he’ll be dealing with as we move forward.”
Still, Rodgers is a threat when he is on the move.
And Rodgers has a slew of receivers ready to break their routes and get into space when they know he has escaped the pocket.
Leading receiver Davante Adams (58 catches, seven touchdowns) and former University of Miami great Jimmy Graham (32 catches, two touchdowns) are Green Bay’s leading receiving targets.
Rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown are
getting opportunities with Randal Cobb slowed by a hamstring issue in recent weeks.
“You just have to be ready for it,” Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard said.
“He can get out of the pocket. He can do a lot of great things, so you just have to be ready for it, stick on your man and just do your job, [and execute] the game plan that we have for him.”
McCain, like many Dolphins players, is excited to play in Lambeau Field for the team’s first trip to Green Bay since 2010.
And the Dolphins know what a stellar defensive performance against Rodgers could do for their playoff chances this season.
“It’s an exciting opportunity and I can’t wait,” McCain said. “I want to see in person what he’s all about, and I know he’s one of the great ones.”