Packers XLV

What, Me Worried About Packers D? Check Back Sunday Night

Posted September 28th, 2011 @ 07:09pm

If someone would have stopped you on the street around Labor Day and said the Packers defense would be ranked 29th in the league after three weeks, you would have said, okay, here's my mortgage, I'll bet you my mortgage you're wrong. OK, maybe you would have wagered a Chipotle burrito or something.

But here we are, sitting nicely at 3-0, the only playoff team from a year ago to win its first three games. The Packers' streak is at nine in a row going back to the Giants game last December which kindled their historic march to the Super Bowl title. Yet the pass defense is getting torched, currently ranking ahead of only New England, a team many (including yours truly) believe will meet the Pack in Indy next February.

One school of thought is the Pack and Pats play with the lead most of the time, forcing teams out of their comfort zone and into more of an aerial attack. I'll buy that up to a point. We've also just witnessed the most prolific opening three weeks in league history, when it comes to points scored, passing yards and passing TDs. So most teams are dealing with catching up to teams' passing attacks.

The truth is the Pack, like most teams, are scrambling to get their legs under them. The lack of an offseason and the lack of live tackling in the new CBA deal has them in catch-up mode. Though they haven't been hit as hard as some teams, the Packers have also played without a starting defensive end (Mike Neal) and either a Pro Bowl corner (Tramon Williams) or a Pro Bowl safety (Nick Collins) the last two weeks and have been forced to alter the way they like to do things. Top it off with the fact that Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews are barely practicing, so as not to worsen the minor injuries they're nursing.

The good news is that while the Pack has been lousy against the pass, they've been terrific against the run, ranked #1 in the league, giving up just 55 yards per game. Just like the Steelers D they were patterned after, they are taking on an identity of an impenetrable front seven that forces you to throw and then unleashes the pass rush. While Matthews' numbers aren't there yet, the coaches insist he's playing at a higher level than he ever has. And the team is tied for fourth in the league with ten sacks through three games.

This week we'll get a much clearer picture about where this defense is. The Broncos are the definition of mediocre on offense. Kyle Orton is the de facto starter, while the entire fan base calls out for the beginning of the Tim Tebow era. The Broncos think so highly of last year's #1 pick that he's not even #2 on the depth chart. They list Tebow and A.J. Hawk's brother-in-law as co-number two's. Bronco insiders believe next year's starting QB is not currently on the roster.

Orton is working without two of his top receivers, Eddie Royal and Demariyus Thomas, giving former Gopher Eric Decker a chance to showcase his skills. But they have no Brandon Marshall, no go-to guy that could give the Packers fits. The running game, with Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee ranks 28th in the league--so they will have a hard time moving the ball on the ground.

Orton does lead the league in one category: passes deflected at the line of scrimmage, with seven so far. Look for the Packer defenders to have their hands in the air to add to that number. This is an offense devoid of true playmakers and the Packers have no business allowing them to score more than ten points.

If Orton puts up more than 250 yards (he's been averaging 210/game) at Lambeau, there is real reason for concern. This is a sandwich game between road games against the two teams the Pack beat before the Super Bowl, Chicago and Atlanta. There's no room for a letdown. This is the kind of game where the defense must re-assert itself. Or else, serious teeth-gnashing will ensue.

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Comments (17):

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on May 9th, 2012 at 11:16am

Yep, can you say trap game? This is indeed the game that lets us know if we really are going to improve week to week like last year. Hopefully, hopefully they are not looking past these guys or underestimating them. Anything less then a good thumping won't do. On the other hand... If they lose or make it close it should serve as notice that nothing is handed out in this league and you gotta earn it. AFC games don't mean as much, but we have to keep pace with the... ?Lions?! , and yeah, they're for real.

on September 28th, 2011 at 04:50pm

This is the type of game that can be scary.....remember Miami and Washington last year !! As I have said in previous blogs pass coverage from our linebackers is week. Hawk, Walden, and Bishop are run stoppers and lack the quickness for pass defense of the good and not elite backers in this league. Claymaker is more of a rushing DE even though listed as a LB. Would be interesting if So'oto or Latimore would provide better pass defense.....although doubtful So'oto at 263 lbs is fast enough. Peprah also needs to step up in Collins place. Would be nice to see the defense hold the Broncos to single digits. GO PACK GO !!

on September 28th, 2011 at 09:32pm

I don't know if it really would be cause for concern. They wont run for any yardage at all and it is hard to keep an offense under 300 yards per game. I think we are overreacting a bit with the defense. Weve just lost nick and didnt have tramon against carolina. we let up yards but we have made they key stops when needed..just like last year. After all, we are getting everybodies best shot, we are the CHAMPS! I expect us to jump out to our third 14-0 lead in 4 games, which will lead to orton throwing about 40 passes and he will probly have about 22 completions for 275 a TD and 2 INTS. meanwhile, we pour it on because this D cant stop us. 38-13 PACK SHOW

on September 28th, 2011 at 10:35pm

I am not over-confident about this game. Even though it is a home game, a letdown is possible as anything can happen on any given Sunday. The pass D needs to astep up - look what we did in the playoffs last year with several "nonames"! Go Pack - keep the concentration and put this one away

on September 29th, 2011 at 03:49pm

Packers have the 29th ranked defense? Only by the completely-useless metric of yards allowed. ¶ Don't get me wrong, the defense hasn't been great, but there have been some bright spots: a) very good in the red zone (this pretty much won the first two games) b) 5 interceptions and 2 recovered fumbles gives the Packers one of the best turnover margins in the league c) a LOT of those yards came against one of the very best offensive teams in the league. ¶ I also think the defense has been improving, and there's a lot of time left to get things ready for a playoff run

on September 29th, 2011 at 06:14pm

Very sorry that I couldn't be at the Park Tavern to watch the game this past week. Davey, I hope you plan a few more outings like that. Your thoughts? GoPack!

on September 29th, 2011 at 07:21am

Here's how I see the safety situation. Collins was the the brains and the flash. Burnett just had to take care of his little area and not screw up. Now, Peprah is the brains and Burnett is the Flash. Peprah has to have control and take care of his area and help put Burnett in position for big plays. The work is divided more evenly. Peprah will allow a couple more catches farther down field, but should live to play another down. Working together, they can minimize the lost of Collins.

on September 29th, 2011 at 09:53am

old south guy and lynn dicky guy, have u not read my comments. dom is doing exactly what i said he would do. peprah is playing strong and burnett is free. did u notice those 2 picks? peprah, like i said makes the calls and burnett just plays. look at my comments last week. i would like to see soto play, he is a different player. we should win 34 -21. denver will move the ball thru the air and will score late to make it closer then it is. go pack

on September 29th, 2011 at 12:25pm

This game shouldn't be taken lightly but it is one we could learn a lot from. Peprah can get more practice in a less threatening game, the same for Wynn and Newhouse. This should be like the cat that brings a mouse in for the kittens to practice on. Don't want to sound overconfident but in all reality this is like a pre-season game.

on September 30th, 2011 at 10:01am

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