DALLAS – There is some type of machismo at work when it comes to the Green Bay Packers and domes. Most of the offensive players refuse to confirm there’s an advantage with Cowboys Stadium serving as host of Super Bowl XLV.
Receiver Greg Jennings, however, is not of those players.
“That's all I can do is smile,” said a clearly relieved Jennings. “I mean, you go from playing in Chicago in January, late January, to Dallas and they close you inside a dome. You can't do anything but smile.
“Obviously the surface is going to be perfect. The atmosphere is going to be unmatched. … Obviously we play well inside. But in a game like this, game of this magnitude, it didn't matter if we had to play in the park.”
There’s no doubt that coach Mike McCarthy’s offense operates at a higher level in perfect conditions.
The Packers are 11-6 in dome games under McCarthy and the team averages nearly a touchdown more inside (30.6 points) than outside (24.3). The Packers have averaged 381.6 yards in domes, compared to 356.3 outside.
But it’s not the tough-guy thing to say when you live in Green Bay and play in the storied “frozen tundra” eight times a year.
The Chicago Bears ranked No. 4 in the league in scoring defense during the regular season, but the Packers struggled more than usual with just 14 offensive points in the NFC championship. Aaron Rodgers threw for 244 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. The offense was 2-for-11 on third downs.
“We felt there's a lot of things as an offense we didn't quite get done on Sunday the way we're capable of doing,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said about the game. “So each game's kind of unique, and the weather for the game in Dallas obviously is going to be a controlled environment.
“If we do a good job protecting our quarterback and our receivers do a good job running their routes, and Aaron's accurate with the ball, it will probably help them. If we don't block real well and he's on his back half the afternoon, it probably doesn't matter what type the weather is.”
Rodgers plays as well as any quarterback regardless of location, but his numbers are simply better indoors. He holds a 111.5 passer rating in 12 starts in domes, including the playoffs. Since 2008, Rodgers’ 111.5 passer rating indoors ranks No. 1 in the NFL. He’s thrown for 300 yards in seven of those 12 starts and three of his top five single-game passing totals have come inside.
Rodgers’ career passer rating is 98.4 during the regular season.
“I get to wear my favorite shoes,” is all Rodgers would say about the dome. “My feet won't hurt, and that's nice. They're just real comfortable. I'm a Nike guy. I have been my entire career. … I've really worn them my entire career. They're just really comfortable.
“Anytime I can, I like to wear them.”
The perfect conditions can’t help but be a bonus for kicker Mason Crosby. Footing isn’t an issue. Wind won’t be a factor. There’s trust with each kick.
Crosby is 5-for-6 on field goals kicked indoors this season with the lone miss coming from 50 yards in the 48-21 win against the Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs.
“You just know what to expect,” Crosby said. “There’s not going to be any elements in pregame that you have to adjust to and figure out. Just hit the ball.
“It’s always nice getting inside in a big game like this.”
Of course Crosby is thrilled with the comfy combines and the rest of the offense should echo Jennings sentiments.
But they haven’t.
James Jones admitted there’s a benefit from a preparation standpoint – there’s no concern about field quality or what to wear – but held firm in his original opinion.
“I don’t think it’s that much of a difference,” Jones said. “We put up 40-something points on the Giants (at Lambeau Field) in the cold.
“When we’re clicking it don’t matter if it’s snowing, raining, lightning, thundering – we’re rolling.”