Two weeks ago against Detroit, the Green Bay Packers’ defense ran nothing but its sub-package formations in a move to neutralize the pass-happy Lions.
Lining up against a New York Giants team that rarely utilizes spread formations, however, the Packers switched back to their base 3-4 defense and tabbed second-year cornerback Davon House to work primarily against 6-foot-1 receiver Hakeem Nicks.
The decision of the matching the 6-foot-1 House on Nicks resulted in play-making rookie Casey Hayward seeing only 21 defensive snaps as the slot corberback in Sunday’s 38-10 loss to the Giants.
House appeared to do a serviceable job on Nicks, who caught five of his 13 targets for 77 yards and one touchdown, but the Packers also seemed to miss Hayward’s big-play ability that has him ranked third in the NFL in interceptions (five) and second in pass deflections (20).
On his only pass deflection on the Giants' second against the Giants, which came on their second possession, Hayward nearly picked off quarterback Eli Manning on third-and-6 off a short pass to Victor Cruz.
“Obviously, with his playmaking ability, we’d like to keep him involved,” Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “It was a different game last night because we weren’t in sub as much as we have been as of late.
“They were in a lot more two-back personnel, whether it be one tight end and two wide receivers or two tight ends and one wide receiver, so that put us into more of our okie personnel. We kind of liked the matchup we had in terms of House on their bigger receivers. I don’t think there’s any question we’ve got to keep Casey involved.”
The game was tied 7-7 at the time of Hayward’s almost-pick, which would’ve undoubtedly turned the momentum early for the Packers, who drove 16 yards on the ensuing drive before Mason Crosby missed a 55-yard field goal to give the ball back to the Giants at their own 45.
“Casey was in great shape on that. It was a third down, the ball hit him in the hands. Who knows?” Capers said. “Those are the kind of plays where if you’re able to convert that they change the course of the game.”