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Packers defense will be thrown into the fire early in 2017

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Packers defense will be thrown into the fire early in 2017

Start fast.

We hear it almost every year, from every team. On the surface, the logic of the phrase makes sense in the context of an NFL season – you don’t want to bank losses early and create a giant hole to try and climb out of.

Generally speaking, teams don’t want to use the first few weeks of a season to properly acclimate their young players to the speed of the game. But depending on the quality of the team and how their schedule shakes out, those handful of games can be invaluable in turning wide-eyed rookies into bona fide contributors.

The vast majority of those teams, though, can’t afford that luxury. They need a consistent, high-level effort from everyone involved from the very beginning.

Luckily for the Packers, they’ve got an offense that can, and often times has needed to, cover for shortcomings in other facets of the game. Despite a couple short runs of inconsistency in recent years, Green Bay has been able to count on phenomenal quarterback play, timely playmaking and elite offensive line play to get them through.

Defensively, the picture hasn’t been quite as pretty.

In 2016, for example, the Packers allowed opponents to rack up 400 or more yards seven times in the regular season. In five of those games, opposing quarterbacks threw for at least 300 yards. Even during the “run the table” portion of the season, in which the Packers won eight consecutive games, they allowed 350 yards six times, including four contests in which they surrendered 400 or more.

Basic statistics, sure, but they’ll make you cringe just the same.

Within the first five weeks of 2017, the Packers will have to deal with the likes of Julio Jones, AJ Green and Dez Bryant. In week six, they travel to Minnesota, where last year Stefon Diggs torched them for nine catches and 182 yards (not to mention the 12 catches, 202 yards and two touchdowns Adam Thielen put on them in week 16). In week seven, Drew Brees, who has the most 400-plus yard passing games in league history, comes to Lambeau.

And those are just the passing attacks Green Bay will be up against. Whatever you think of Eddie Lacy, he has shown he is more than capable of turning in impressive performances on the ground, and he comes to town in week one. Ezekial Elliott ran for 157 yards and 125 yards in two games against the Packers last year. The Vikings will surely think they’ve got something in Dalvin Cook, and former Viking Adrian Peterson returns to Lambeau with the Saints.

Long story longer – the Packers simply don’t have the luxury of a feeling out period on defense in 2017. The rookies, especially in the secondary, are going to be thrown into the fire, while their veteran teammates will be tasked with proving they’re a whole lot better than what they showed last season. A healthy group should help with that, but the execution will still have to be stellar right from the get-go.

Those within the organization, along with most fans, got their wish with a midseason bye week in 2017. The first seven games, however, will be as stiff a test as the Packers could face in that stretch, and the ability of the defense to start fast will be paramount to the success of the team during that time.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (34) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Daver62's picture

Hi I think you like so many others
absolutely overrate the Packers oline to me they are nothing short of just average.If rogers wasn't running for his life on almost every play and he had Tom Brady like legs he would get sacked in excess of 60 times a year. I would then like to hear you say the packer oline us elite.
Dallas oline is elite packers not even close

Spock's picture

Daver62,
This is (I think) your first comment on CHTV? The Packer's O-Line sometimes blocks for close to 10 seconds. Aaron Rogers is hardly "running for his life"! You either haven't watched the games or (sorry if I'm wrong about this) simply trolling this website. Even the game announcers routinely point out what a great job the Packer's O-Line does. Heck, even Troy Aikman who many (it's a mystery to me why) think is biased against the Packers made a comment during the Dallas playoff game that the Packer's o was under-rated and deserved as much praise as the Cowboys O-Line!

pooch's picture

Dave is spot on,o line hugely over rated.How many 4-1 in last 3 years and the lugs couldnt open a hole.God i hate that zone blocking shit

CAG123's picture

Yeah what games are you watching? Rodgers has plenty of time to throw there are even times when he's extended plays and the oline is still giving him time to throw. Both games against the Giants, The Dallas playoff game, the season finale against Detroit, the Seattle game are just a few off the top of my head.

DThomas's picture

I don't know about the OL this year, but in the previous few seasons the Packers have fielded one of the best pass blocking OLs in the league. Rodgers does run around a lot but he also holds onto the ball longer than most other QBs. McGinn has him responsible for 16 ½ of the 45 sacks surrendered - that's more than one-third of the sacks. The OL was charged with 21 ½. Don't get me wrong, Rodgers' TD/INT ratio makes up for it, but the OL has a tough job protecting him.

4thand1's picture

Rodgers loathes throwing ints. He'll take a sack and live to play another down. Look at the PFF ratings on the o-line, then spout off.

pooch's picture

WTF all the dislike???You know the run o line israted one of the worst in the NFL

Since '61's picture

Opening the season against Seattle and Atlanta will give us a pretty good idea about our defense after the first 2 games. At least we're playing Seattle at home and their offense is not as potent as Atlanta's. Hopefully Lacy shows up at +260lbs. with the Seachickens. Opening Atlanta's new stadium and facing Julio Jones will likely result in an early season torching but our young defenders will still have 14 weeks to recover after that game. And there is always the possibility that Rodgers puts up 50+ points and we win 55-51. In spite of our recent FA and draft pick additions to the defensive side of the ball I don't have any confidence that this defense will step up big in 2017. Maybe 2018 and possibly 2019. I hope that I am pleasantly surprised and the defense plays better than I expect this season but I'm not holding my breath that's for sure. Thanks, Since '61

Packmaniac's picture

Maybe they'll grow immensely, maybe they won't.

Samson's picture

The Pack always has young players. This hasn't meant squat in the last six years. -- Stroh, once again, is making a guess based on "nothing".

croatpackfan's picture

I just wonder, do any of you really counts that Packers will play against Atlanta with No 5 CB as No 1 (like Packers had to last year in NFCCG), that they will lose their top SS in the first Q and that they will play with D players as part of OL? Do you really count on that?
When Packers were just a little bit more healthier (earlier in the season) and Atlanta were little bit more banged (Julio Jones), result was loss, but as I remember it was something like 32-33 for Atlanta (Packers played with Jackson & Davis as RB that game!).
Oh, yeah, I can see how logical are all comparisons many of you are doing...

DThomas's picture

It's great to get off to a fast start but remember the 2010 Packers started the season 3-3. Of course all of their playoff games were on the road. IMO it's much more important for the team to be playing it's best football going into the playoffs. This is particularly true of the defense this season.

Samson's picture

Peaking means nothing if the talent just simply is not there. -- Stroh is just starting his pre-season BS that GB is the "team to beat". -------- They just simply aren't. -- The NFC has several teams that are head & shoulders above the Pack. -- TT, the GM is inept. That's been the problem for the last six seasons.

Nick Perry's picture

"The NFC has several teams that are head & shoulders above the Pack. "

What are you talking about? Several Teams??

The only team in the NFC who might be better than GB is Atlanta and we'll have a shot at them in week 2 and the playoffs I'm sure. Matter of fact the teams who win the NFC South one year seem to fall off the planet the next.

Dallas in NO WAY will duplicate what they did last season. You don't lose 3 of your 4 starters in the secondary, replace them with rookies, and expect be be 12-4. Not when the front 7 isn't much to talk about either.

Seattle might be better this season but that OL is still going to be weak. Once "Beast Mode" retired that running game in Seattle retired with him. The secondary isn't as good as it was a few seasons ago and what's more evident than ever is when you take them away from home they aren't close to being the same team.

EVERY NFC team has holes so to think there's several teams "Head & Shoulders" above the Packers is just wrong. I have a feeling more than anything it will come down to injuries and a few lucky bounces of the ball in determining who's the best in the NFC.

Worztik's picture

Ya nailed it, again, Nick! I believe you just responded to the fan of one of those wanna be teams... just sayin'... ps... notice that no teams were actually mentioned by name?!?!???

vj_ostrowski's picture

I like playing Atlanta in week 2, in their regular season debut in their new house. Either our defense stacks up to a very difficult challenge and we all feel good about the type of team we've got, or they get their tires beaten off again and they've got a horrible game tape to play off of and be mad about to last them the next 14 games. Sounds like a win-win.

Bearmeat's picture

I expect the defense to really struggle out of the gate. The young players at CB and to a lesser extent ILB and DL, will take time to grow up.

Assuming health, the defense has a much better chance to be halfway decent by the end of the year than it is at the beginning.

Samson's picture

You're right. -- Just one problem. There's no guarantee that the maturation of this year's and last year's draft class will show any significant improvement in the "D" by the end of this season. --- TT has utterly failed (except for a very few) at improving the "D" through the draft.

dobber's picture

If guarantees are what you're looking for, life must be a real disappointment for you.

Of course there are no guarantees, but if you look at what happened for an Atlanta defense that was not beat up but wholly inept in 2015 and how they matured with year 2 and 3 guys and some key snaps from rookies? That's what put them in the SB last year every bit as much as Matt Ryan and the offense. That defense was playing well come playoff time.

Lphill's picture

Even as King comes along at DB the addition of House and a healthy Randall should be an improvement early on, if we get more of a push up front then we should be fine, I don't think any team looks forward to playing the Packers because of Rodgers and the offense which should also be improved with the new tight ends and running backs on board. Also if M Adams is a fast learner along with Clark , Daniels Lowery and Francois we might have very stout D line.

stockholder's picture

Your behavior really needs changing. Kindness never hurts.

Worztik's picture

The team has to have a really tough and intense feel about themselves this year! If that can be achieved through coaching, veteran advice and help or through FAs and rookies taking it upon themselves to be mature and learn their duties, that would go a very long way toward establishing our place as a top tier team... no matter whom or where we play!!! I've never been one to state which games we'll probably lose based on where and what team!!! If we go in with a defeatist attitude before the ball's put in play; we are losers! I go in planning for us to win every game cause that's what winners do... just sayin'!!!!!!

ShanghaiKid's picture

The House signing was a blessing. He's a veteran who understands the system, and can line up opposite the #1. People forget that House actually managed to limit Julio when he was torching us in Lambeau a couple seasons ago. If he's able to play press man (his strength) and King can hold his own on the other side, Capers will be able to bring back the exotic looks. House is no Revis, but he's not going to be torched by the Stephon Diggs of the world either.

vj_ostrowski's picture

Nobody forgets that - it's literally brought up every time we talk about Davon House

zekester's picture

Guarded optimism is the best phrase we all have for this Defense..it looks the pieces are there for marginal to substantial improvement to get us over the hump..all we need is the next Ezra Johnson to rush the passer and flex the pipes

4thand1's picture

The offense and AR will come smokin. The only thing that may take a while is the new TE's. Especially when none of them will see the field in pre season.

dobber's picture

The issue last season was that Cook missed all but the last 10 days of camp (I think). There was virtually no practice time for him to get up to speed, then he hurt his ankle. I'm more optimistic that Bennett and Kendricks will get enough practice reps with #12 that they won't need until week 8 to really impact the offense.

DThomas's picture

This will be Bennett's 10th season and Kendricks' 7th in the NFL. They'll have a lot of time to get in sync with Rodgers beginning a week from tomorrow and that'll continue through training camp. And even if their snaps are limited in preseason games, they'll be practicing with Rodgers and the offense up until opening day. I don't think there's any excuse for the two new TEs not to 'hit the ground running'.

Samson's picture

It's called the "Achilles' heel". -- The Pack have done little in the offseason to improve the "D". Few rookies have an impact in year one.

A couple moderate to high profile FAs during the offseason may have led to significant improvement in season 2017 (Don't ask -- that's the job of the GM). -- Rookies & projects just don't cut it.

2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. -- An all-world QB with an inept hierarchy.

DThomas's picture

I've criticized Thompson plenty but just to be clear: In 2010 the hierarchy was championship level and the next year and every year thereafter it's been inept?

croatpackfan's picture

I gave up. We are doomed.Packers D worth nothing. Zero.
Oh, my God...

PatrickGB's picture

I re-watched some of last years games. Even the ones we lost. I was amazed on how many players were injured or out. I say that even if we have a slight improvement on defense and the run game, I expect GB to win two more games over the season. However, we played lesser teams (for the most part). This year (barring injuries) we have a better offense. I see a slight improvement in our secondary. Sure, some of our opponents' have improved too but I see us better overall. As this article points out our secondary will be thrown into the fire. GB will show what it is made of in those tough games. My guess is that it will be a tough start followed by a strong finish. Just like last year. I sure hope its enough.

garyyannone's picture

I look at the Joe Mixon situation with a rear view mirror. Some of us have followed the Packers and professional football for over fifty years. The League has changed policies and protocols gradually for the best for both the player and League in some instances. Examples are the awareness about concussions and for adequate hydration. At times fans want to get back to 'the good ole days,' but those days were sometimes irresponsible and dangerous. The same can be said for issues such as Domestic/Violence. There was a time when such incidents were hidden or swept under the carpet. Or the victim portrayed as the villain. The same happened in regards to excessive substance abuse. Boys just being boys. At least now these issues can be confronted openly. Fewer skeletons in the closet so to speak. Personally, in a sociological and criminal perspective I am not supportive of total bans. Many of these situations involves families, i.e. Ray Rice, and taking the professional salary from one member affects all members of the family. I would rather see a contract restructuring that would place economic power in the hands of the victim. I was hoping that Green Bay would have drafted Joe Mixon for societies sake. What better place to receive mentor and role models than a team that has players such as Aaron Rodgers and coaches such as Mike McCarthy. And hooking him up with someone like Tony Dungy would not have seemed inappropriate. Professional football is a cross section of our entire society that still offers upward mobility to the disadvantaged. As such these issues have a huge upside to all citizens if handled correctly.

BPEARSON21's picture

Our schedule is tough right out of the gate but I agree with what most people have said it really only matters how we're playing entering the play offs.

Even if our defense gets torched by Atlanta and Seattle, or by the whole league for that matter (which I fully expect) let's try not to over react (I am talking to myself here more than anyone). After all our offense really struggled and was a big reason we were 4-6 to start last season, but then we ended up being top 10 in total offense to end the year. All water finds it's level eventually. With Rodgers we are basically guaranteed 10 wins so lets keep the big picture in mind as much as possible.

That being said, most people seem to be giving a "pass" to your young defense (and Rollins and Randall) for the first few games while they get some "experience" under their belts. Then those same people are trying to tell me our defense will allegedly be "totally different" in weeks 14,15,16... I don't totally buy into that at all.

That theory works if our secondary included all new veteran FA who are trying to learn a new system. If our secondary this year included: Davon House, and any another experienced FA CB that we could've signed this off season (AJ Bouye, Prince Amukamara, Stephon Gilmore, even Richard Sherman who could've been traded for) then I would believe that they would improved drastically as they learn the Packers system. But I don't think this theory applies to rookies.

Rookies need years to develop, not games. Look at Randall and Rollins. Many Packers fans are still very high on these guys and think they will have a big turn around. These guys are coming into their 3rd years and still have tons of development to go through.

So once again, banking on rookies (Josh Jones and Kevin King) and still developing Randall and Rollins to be a completely transformed defense come play off time is unrealistic. There will be highs and lows for our defense but I fully expect us to finish mid 20's in total defense and somewhere in the 27-31st in passing defense.

So let's keep the early games against play off caliber teams in perspective, but let's not be naive enough to think that 13-16 games later any of our young CB's will be ready to control play off caliber offenses. 2017 is more likely than not going to be another year of banking on Aaron Rodgers excellence and holding our breath on defense.... Can't wait.

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