Defense Has Something To Prove

If there is one aspect of this year’s Packers team that Packernation is yet to be sold on, it is the Packers vs Read Optiondefense. Through 13 games, we have seen some great plays, and the addition of Julius Peppers has been a plus. The drafting of Ha Ha Clinton Dix has been a great improvement and Morgan Burnett has upped his safety play as well. But the second half of Monday’s game against the Falcons has had Packers fans once again questioning not just the defense, but also the defensive coordinator.

Early in the year, the Packers were weak against the run, but moving Clay Matthews to the inside linebacker position seemed to be, if not a remedy, at least an improvement. But in the Atlanta game, we saw the Packers defense taken apart in the passing game…not by a bevy of receivers but pretty much by Julio Jones alone (to the tune of 250+ yards). The Packers defense is 20th against the pass and 25th against the run and that fact has the Buffalo Bills thinking this defense can be a remedy for their lack of scoring. 

This week’s matchup will certainly be no picnic for Green Bay. For Julius Peppers to get to the quarterback, he will often have to go through top 20 tackle Cordy Glenn. This could neutralize one of the Packers threats. And while I like what I have seen out of Clay Matthews at inside linebacker…does anyone else out their think he is less than happy at the position? He gets a sack and walks away. I really don’t think Clay is himself…not from the standpoint of play, but where is the animated, fun loving, talkative Clay Matthews of past years? I am not so sure all is well in that regard.

I don’t expect to see Daniels and Guion do much more than take up blockers in this game, but that means the Packers will have to get their pressure the more traditional way for a 3-4 defense, by stunting the linebackers and flying to the ball. Matthews has been doing this and Sam Barrington has also shown the ability to hit hard and secure tackles. Kyle Orton gets rid of the ball quickly and so we will have to get to depth and close in on him quickly. It all starts up front and Orton is a veteran decision-maker, but he is not mobile. If the Packers can close in, they should be able to disrupt his timing even if they can’t bring him down.

gbhaWhile I was one of the many who were baffled and, frankly, angry that the Packers let a single receiver gain so many yards in one game, I think the Packers will have this fixed. Coach McCarthy said their were some “communication problems” which I take to mean the defense was not passing receivers off properly in zone coverage. To me, the problem is not the communication but the zone coverage. I don’t know how many snaps in the second half we played zone but it seemed like we went into a two-deep look hoping to ride the game out with the big lead we had accumulated in the first half. I can see why coaches do this because they are playing the odds with a “bend don’t break” mentality but I think if we’ve learned anything this season it is to put your foot on the gas…and keep it there!

I don’t think this game will offer the Packers a chance to play prevent defense so that won’t be an issue. Green Bay’s defense will be much closer to the hard-hitting, exciting defense we saw in the Patriots game. I like that the Packers are not afraid to cheat HHCD down into the box and then trust him to back out into coverage but I  would like to see him blitz more from that position. At the beginning of the year, I thought we were going to get back to the safety blitz and I thought Ha Ha was the guy to do it. On the LeTroy Guion tipped ball that was almost an interception, HHCD had a clear lane to the quarterback but backed out into coverage after losing five yards to the receiver anyway. If he would have shot the gap, he would have put “Mattie Ice” on ice. I think Green Bay will have to take risks on defense to get a free runner to the quarterback if they want to be successful. I like Clay in the middle at the outset to stop the run, but I would like to see him switch back outside later to get a pass rush going.

In short, the Bills are anticipating a Packers defense that opens the door to scoring. I say we get it together as a defense and slam that door! If they can do that against the Patriots…they can certainly do it against the Bills.

Go Pack!

Defense Has Something To Prove
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