What can only be described as welcome news to the many critics of Packers Defensive Coordinator Bob Sanders (this blog included), Mike McCarthy has indicated that the Packers of 2008 will look a bit different in how they get to the quarterback. Indeed, PFT's headline is the ever-popular "(Insert your team here) Promise More Aggressive Defense" that gets fans all excited before they actually ever see said defense in action.
The biggest deficiency in the Packers' game towards the end of the year was their inability to hit the quarterback. Many things played into this, from scheme to injuries to the teams and quarterbacks they played. But the biggest culprit was Bob Sanders and his conservative nature. Time and again, the Packers had the advantage on their opponents, putting them in 3rd and long, only to have completion after completion break their backs, especially against Dallas, New York, and...the Bears.
It's the last one that's the most egregious. Go back and watch that second Bears game. (If you have the stomach.) Facing sure-fire Future Hall of Famer Kyle Orton, the Packers allowed the Bears completion after completion as Sanders inexplicably came out in his base defense, with the safeties well over 15 yards from the ball on many plays. On a day when even Brett Favre was having trouble completing a 5 yard pass, Bob Sanders played conservatively against KYLE ORTON. That was the game when Sanders' competence came into question.
But today, the news is that the Packers will blitz linebackers and even (gasp!) members of the secondary in an attempt to generate a monstrous pass rush and eliviate some of the pressure on the four down lineman. (I have no doubt Corey will particularly like McCarthy's use of the phrase "full onslaught"). It's heartening to know that McCarthy took a long look at his defense and decided something needed to change. And it's great that the Packers plan to be more creative in their use of pressure. But is Sanders the man to dial that pressure up? I'll take a "show me" approach to this one.
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