* Whether concussed starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers is ready to go, or backup Matt Flynn makes his first career start, all eyes will be on coach Mike McCarthy’s gameplan. With leading receiver and third-down security blanket Jermichael Finley out for the foreseeable future, the Packers are under fire to start running the ball more. But McCarthy seems to love the passing game, and it will be interesting if he chooses to run more two-blocker power sets as he did sparingly against the Redskins, or if he tries to go spread out of the shotgun with four wide receivers…a strategy that did not work down the stretch.
* Bryan Bulaga did a nice job in his first start in place of the injured Mark Tauscher, but if you are only as good as your last play, Bulaga will need to have a short memory. The Redskins did a nice stunt on the Packers’ final play that resulted in Bulaga tripping up with guard Josh Sitton, giving Jeremy Jarmon a clear path to Rodgers’ chin and giving the Redskins the game-defining interception. While Bulaga is promising and had as good of a game as any of the offensive linemen, it will be interesting to see if the Dolphins have studied tape of that play and mix it up with the rookie tackle.
* Rising star Vontae Davis decided to give the Packers some bulletin board material this week by publicly declaring that Green Bay favorite Donald Driver could be his father. Perhaps at any other time, we could expect the Packers to return the message on the field in spades, but Driver is coming off one of his worst games in his career, with four dropped passes. Add to that the possibility that Flynn could be the one throwing him the ball, and Davis may not have to eat his words at all. However, while the Packers may be down, they’re not out…and this might be just the kind of motivation the offense needs to wake up.
* If Clay Matthews is healthy enough to come back and play this week (hamstring), he’ll be in for a little creepiness. Coming off a bye week, every offensive lineman for the Dolphins had a full-color picture of Matthews hanging up in their locker in preparation for the NFL sack leader. If Matthews comes back and plays, keep an eye on the Dolphin line to see if they overplay wherever Matthews lines up on the field.
* Special teams should be a Pandora ’s Box for both teams this week. The Packers again struggled in nearly every phase of special teams against the Redskins, but the Dolphins had an all-out meltdown in their last game against the Patriots. A blocked field goal, blocked punt, and allowing a return for a touchdown directly led to the firing of Dolphin special teams coach John Bonamego. There have certainly been whispers advocating the same fate for Packers special teams coach Shawn Slocum.
* Dolphins weak OLB John Wake has quietly been posting numbers comparable to Matthews this year (4 sacks and 6 QB hits), while speedy rookie Koa Misi will be rushing from the 3-4 that the Dolphins operate from. The pressure will be on Bulaga (Wake) and Chad Clifton (Misi) this week to keep whomever is under center safely in the pocket. If Clifton struggles early, watch for the Packers to make a quick switch to TJ Lang on the left side of the line.