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Point of Veau: Packers Defense Racking Up Plenty of Sacks, But It's Not Helping

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Point of Veau: Packers Defense Racking Up Plenty of Sacks, But It's Not Helping

No one can blame Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers for failing to come up with ways for the Packers to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

The Packers are among the NFL's leaders in sacks this season and generally have been for much of Capers' tenure in Titletown.

Currently, the Packers rank third in the league with 38 sacks, tied with the New Orleans Saints. Last year they ranked fourth with 47 sacks.

Since 2010, the Packers have accumulated 161 sacks, which ranks No. 2 in the NFL over that span, behind the St. Louis who are No. 1 with 171.

But the fact that the Rams rank No. 1 in the league since 2010 goes to show how little the cumulative amount of sacks means to the success of a team. The Rams haven't had a winning season in the past four years and not surprisingly, haven't qualified for the playoffs either.

It's actually been over the course of the past month that the Packers have racked up a high percentage of their sacks, over the same stretch they've played their worst football of 2013.

With 14 sacks over the last four games, the Packers defense is ranked No. 2 in the NFL over that timeframe.

Of course, the last four games also coincide with the loss of Aaron Rodgers due to a broken collarbone. Minus Rodgers, the Packers offense has been stalling, they've been punting more often, and the defense has been on the field for a longer period of time.

Through the first seven games of the season, the Packers defense had been on the field for an average 60.7 plays per game, whereas the last five games (including the game Rodgers started but left after only one series) they've been on the field for an average of 10 more snaps per game, 70.8.

When you're on the field more often, it stands to reason that you're going get a few more sacks.

Defensive success is more closely related to coming away with turnovers, which the Packers haven't done very well this season. Green Bay has only 14 takeaways, which ranks tied for 27th in the NFL.

All this isn't to say there haven't been some silver linings for the Packers defense this season. They've been able to get after opposing quarterbacks without Clay Matthews being the far and away leader.

It's been a true team effort for the Packers this season with at least 13 players contributing at least one sack, which ranks tied for third in the NFL. They also have seven players with at least three sacks, tops in the league in 2013.

Despite missing four full games and parts of a few others, Matthews leads the way with six sacks this season, followed by Mike Daniels with 5.5, A.J Hawk with five and Nick Perry with four. Brad Jones, Datone Jones and Mike Neal each have added three sacks.

The secondary is also chipping in with four defensive backs with at least one full sack, a statistic that ranks No. 2 in the NFL. Tramon Williams has 2.5 sacks, but Micah Hyde, Davon House and M.D. Jennings all have one as well.

In order to have success moving forward, it's important for the Packers defense to play well in all phases of the game. The Packers might have a good pass rush, but it means little when the run defense is getting gashed.

It's also incumbent upon the secondary to capitalize on the pressure and hurries created by the pass rush. Several easy interceptions have been dropped by the likes of House and Williams this season.

Right now, ranking among the NFL's leaders in sacks means little to a team mired in a five-game losing streak. Moral victories would eagerly be traded for actual victories, the type that keep the Packers alive in the chase for a spot in the playoffs.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (36) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Sacks don't paint the whole picture...

My question is where do the Packers rank in terms of actually applying pressure to opposing QB's vs. other teams?

billy's picture

exactly...no pressure, no pressure, a bunch of first down, then maybe a few sacks...how can you get so little pressure on QB's and still get sacks is amazing....

Tarynfor12's picture

The hows, whens and whys need to be pasted along side the stats on the sheet and a clearer picture is seen.
As much as numbers can make all seem great..game tape will devalue those numbers quickly.

TheWiscoKid's picture

Really?! Really. Well I'm going to start them in the 1st round of my fantasy playoffs and they're gona wreck shop against the FAIL-cons. Book it!

TheWiscoKid's picture

Anits no coincidence that the run defense became horrid right around the time aaron went down. They were on the field MUCH more because we couldn't do anything on offense, hence they were often tired/injured. You can hitch the 0-4-1 record you pointed out to Aaron's wagon, as well.

If Aaron plays, I say we beat them by at least 14 and dominate on D, not just contain their offense. We'll also win out and, hoping the lions lose twice, we play pretty well in the playoffs, as everyone seems to forget how good our team was with Aaron Rodgers and a lot of injuries. Only 2 players missed practice yesterday. This could be a legacy defining moment forAaron Rodgers and the Packers organization. Go Pack Go.

PackerPete's picture

I remember a press conf where McCarthy talked about the percentages of scoring on drives where a sack is given up by the offense being drastically lower than on drives where the O didn't give up a sack. Don't remember the percentages, but what would interest me is how the Packers do in that category - if they get a sack on a drive, how much does the percentage of scoring for the opposing O go down, and how does that compare to the rest of the NFL?
For my untrained eye, I just never get the warm and fuzzy even if your D forces a 3&11+. I still am nervous as hell that the other O picks up the 1st down. Whereas if our O faces 3rd&11+, it's pretty much over, especially since Aaron had to leave injured.

zub's picture

Sacks are a lot like dunks in basketball, mean nothing, points allowed, time of possession, and first downs given up are the true measuring sticks.

Its worth debating that Mathews is over paid as it relates to the salary cap and his or any player's potential to get hurt

Longshanks's picture

I agree zub!! Matthews is without question overpaid. For the amount of time he spends injured and all the offtime he spends getting his hair just right, I'd say Joe Packer fan got the shaft on that lucrative deal he just signed.

The defense actually played better when he was out which is quite the opposite for the offense when Rodgers went out. Clearly Matthews is overpaid when his absence doesn't result in a dropoff in wins or defensive rankings.

Now if he would be a leader that would help. He doesn't even do that. I am really starting to get tired of Mr. Matthews. I need to see a whole lot more out of him at this point.

Longshanks

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

The Packers defense have been getting sacks, bounced off their collective chin by opposing offenses. They looked so promising for a stretch there, I really thought they would step up when 12 went down. Not only did they not step up, they instead decided to quit playing altogether. Shame.

PackerPete's picture

they did manage to score more points against the Lions than the O. Yes, they certainly fell apart, but I don't get why people are not harder on the O and everybody is calling for Dom Capers' head.
Here is how the Lions started out on O against the Packers D:

fumble
FG
fumble returned for Packers TD
INT

The Packers O scored 3 measly points with a FG, and that was aided by the fact that the Lions kick-off guy kicked the ball out of bounds and they could start at the own 40. Without that, I doubt they'd have scored a point. Maybe the Packers D gave up after they saw that their O couldn't do anything...

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

The O is culpable as well, I'm not disputing that. But this D gave up long, demoralizing drives two weeks in a row to end the games... No pride, little effort. And they got owned in Detroit. Owned.

PackerPete's picture

not disputing that they got owned in Detroit. But how demoralizing is it if you actually start the game alright, give the team a 10-3 lead, intercept another ball right after that, and your O doesn't do squat the whole game? with your offensive super play-calling HC after the game only talking about missed tackles?
If you see how few points the O scored in the almost 5 games without #12, it's laughable to expect any wins. He was injured on the first drive having put them into FG range which as converted, and Burnett scored against the Lions. Take those points away and you are looking at 72 points total in 5 games, an avg of 14.4. And that is inflated by the 26 points in 5 quarters against the Vikings. The avg in the other 4 games was 11.5 pts. Not going to win many games with that in the NFL, even if the D would be the best D in the league...
And all we hear from McC is that Flynn now has the first full week of practice as starter. On Monday, we'll probably hear that he had to split some reps with #12 and didn't really have a full week of starter practice reps...
Yes, not big on the D right now, but I just think the O gets off way to easy from all the comments I am reading.

My prediction: The Falcons D is giving up a little over 28 pts/game. The Packers O will score 10 at most if #12 cannot play. But on Monday everybody will comment on how badly the D played...

PackerPete's picture

sorry, wanted to say: Even thought the Falcons are giving up 28 pts per game this season, the Packers O will not score more than 10 if #12 cannot play. I didn't want to say the Packers will score 28 points...

Evan's picture

"but I don’t get why people are not harder on the O and everybody is calling for Dom Capers’ head..."

Because the reason for the offensive struggles are pretty obvious - no Rodgers.

Also, the fact that the D has been bad for 4 out of 5 years adds to that. The offense doesn't have any such history of ineptitude.

PackerPete's picture

true, but even if you had the best or second best D in the league (Carolina or Seattle) this year, you would win hardly any games in the NFL if your O only scores as few points as the Packers do without #12. Carolina gives up 13/game and the Seahawks 15.5/game.
I would expect from an offensive minded HC to be able to move the ball and score more even if your franchise QB is missing. Otherwise, Aaron should walk into TT's office and ask for double the money he is getting now...

PackerPete's picture

And to put into what I really want to say and where the blame should fall:
Mike McC had the benefit of having 2 HOF caliber QBs for almost all his games as starters. Without either of his HOF caliber QBs, he achieved exactly 1 win, and that was in a relatively meaningless season finale when he could rest many of his starters against a bad team.
This season the games playing without #12 were against teams with a combined record of 28-31-1, not exactly the best of the best.
I am more and more inclined to believe what POC commented some time ago was correct - McC is not the answer and at the very least the team should look for a different play caller.

Stroh's picture

PP. You did see how Flynn moved the ball in his first stint in GB didn't you? Things have changed and niw Flynn has only been in town a couple weeks. If you wanna blame Thompson for not having a backup QB when the season started fair enough. But he at least made moves at QB when Harrell and Coleman weren't the answer. You don't learn an NFL plybook if you haven't practiced the plays. Neither Flynn nor Tolzein have had much practice running the offense.

4thand1's picture

What exactly did Billacheat do before Brady? I think he was on the verge of being fired before Bledso went down. How about Shanahan in Washington? He had Ol big teeth in Denver. Every team that succeeds has the good fortune of drafting the '"man" at QB. Everything else is gravy.

4thand1's picture

Some teams have the luxury of having a lights out defense and can win it all with the likes of a Dilpher. Rodgers can carry a team himself, this season proves it.

Ma Linger's picture

How about some perspective. If you as a defense spend twice as much time on the field as a Seattle three and out defense, then number of sacks is kind of pointless. If you sack the Qb and the next play he completes a 30 yard pass for a first down or touchdown, the sack meant zero in results. Whereas if the sack resulted in a three and out then it had significance.
The Packs sacks aren't stopping anyone. They are sporatic and untimely.
The real number is how many plays are our defensive guys spending during a game compared to other teams. That should open your eyes.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Yeah, I agree that it seems that a lot of the Packers sacks haven't been very timely. As in drive ending sacks.

I would be curious to see how many of the Packers sacks are on 3rd down, and how many are on 1st and 2nd down.

Al Fresco's picture

Here's a stat from Fox who tracks stats of all the teams. Our number one pick, the guy Ted picked to improve our pass rush and put fear in the hearts of our North division opponents, Datone Jones, has 8 tackles this year. 8
I think of the 8 2 may be sacks? Not sure.
Mathews numbers are midland but he did miss 5 games, another big chunk of the season gone by for him.
Hawk has the most tackles, twice more than anyone else. The problem, the rest of the players with the most tackles are all dbacks, not our linebackers.
There are a lot of guys standing around doing nothing on the defense.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Yeah, the fact that LB's aren't piling up stats isn't due to the fact that they have missed games. Brad Jones missed 3 games, and was ineffective in the game he returned. Mathews missed 5, Perry missed 5.

Of course DB's stats will be higher.

Stroh's picture

Not too mention Datone missed most of training camp w/ an ankle injury. He had very few practices before the season started. Goes to figure he wouldn't make an impact as a rookie. But Al doesn't understand that either, which is kinda dense if you ask me! Al leaves out all kinda facts to voice his displeasure... All it does is make him look like a fool.

RC Packer Fan's picture

agreed Stroh!

4thand1's picture

They better double the sacks because they can't tackle in the open field for shit. Apparently they can't bring anyone down past the line of scrimmage. Sissy QB's are easy to tackle.

Longshanks's picture

Watch your language 4th and 1!!

Thank you,

Longshanks

analyze football's picture

I'm also in Stroh opinion

Nerd's picture

It seems to me that they've given up on Dom. They're not buying into his system, so guys are freelancing out there.

They're not all on the same page, so guys are going uncovered, gaps are being left unfilled.

Longshanks's picture

I doubt they are giving up. They are as a group not too intelligent. Lots of fuck ups as a result.

Longshanks

jyros's picture

More often than not, Capers seems to find a way to to play personal to their weaknesses.

Bibbon Hazel's picture

Well, I wouldn't say he plays them to their weakness but he certainly cant utilize a guy's strengths. Not since Woodson. Capers just lines guys up and expects them to play.Example: If the MLB is responsible to cover the TE or RB, even though the TE or RB could be Jimmy Graham or Reggie Bush and the MLB is Hawk so be it. Line up and play, and get exposed... This is Capers defense, opposing scouts say this about it week in and week out, ask Bill Michaels

Stroh's picture

You do realize that the opponent schemes to get that matchup don't you. Just like when you see a Packer in a favorable matchup. What do you think the coaches study all week? Exactly that... To get favorable matchups for your players. It works both ways...

Cuphound's picture

Thanks, Brian. That explains a lot. The defense was always designed to get picks and sacks. Capers' defense has never really held down the opposing offense's yardage. Basically, the system is designed with the basic assumption that Rodgers can just score more points. Just capitalize on the other defense's errors. But the problem is that we can't really score without Rodgers. We try to capitalize on errors, but the offense won't stay on the field long. Our defense isn't designed to contain the other offense. It's designed to capitalize on their errors to Rodgers' benefit. No QB = no benefit. With no real ability to stretch the field with passes, our mediocre O-line is harder pressed. They can't open holes as effectively, given more defenders near the line of scrimmage. We are not designed to be a run-only, smashmouth offense! The other team's offense is back on the field in no time and we can't contain them, so we get scored on.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Sack totals can be a poor indicator of pressure on the QB. DC is pretty good with the Xs and Os. Too many of our sacks come on delayed blitzes from the ILBs and blitzes from the Dbacks and are therefore sporadic in nature. Not enough come from the DEs and OLBs, at least with both CM3 and Perry missing time and/or playing hurt and not playing at the same time. When the 3 hippos are playing Dline, the opposing QB knows he is likely to have 3.0 to 3.5 seconds of unmolested time, the canny possession-type has a career day because he knows where the soft spots are and has the time to reach that window. We need Datone to be good rushing and against the run because more teams are using the no-huddle making subbing difficult.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Sack totals can be a poor indicator of overall pressure on the QB. DC is pretty good with the Xs and Os. Too many of our sacks come on delayed blitzes from the ILBs and blitzes from the Dbacks and are therefore sporadic in nature. Not enough come from the DEs and OLBs, at least with both CM3 and Perry missing time and/or playing hurt and not playing at the same time. When the 3 hippos are playing Dline, the opposing QB knows he is likely to have 3.0 to 3.5 seconds of unmolested time, the canny possession-type has a career day because he knows where the soft spots are and has the time to reach that window. We need Datone to be good both rushing and against the run because more teams are using the no-huddle making subbing difficult. The lack of consistent pressure makes our CBs look worse than they are.

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