Cory's Corner: New Philosophy Is Cause For Concern

We really shouldn't be surprised that the Packers cannot stop the run.

Green Bay has overhauled its roster. This team has a new philosophy. It wants versatile, quicker players that can be used in multiple ways and in multiple sets.

However, what advances one end of the defense, doesn't exactly help the other. During the Packers 1996 Super Bowl run, Gilbert Brown started all 16 regular season games. He only tallied one sack but he was the catalyst behind Fritz Shurmur's amazing defense. Reggie White, LeRoy Butler and Santana Dotson got all the love, but it was Brown that ate up space and made opposing offenses continually stare at third-and-7.

The Packers don't have that guy. They have the surprising talents of Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith, combined with Kenny Clark. But the front seven doesn't have that hole-plugging guy.

And it shows in the stats. The Packers are giving up 142 yards a game on the ground, which is 26th in the league. They are also giving up five yards a carry, which is an awful 29th.
In case I need to remind you, the Packers play the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Ezekiel Elliott is one of the top running backs in the league. He has gotten off to a slow start because he missed all of training camp, but he is still tied for third with 10 rushes of 10 yards or more.

So why can't the Packers do what the Saints did and corral Elliott to 35 yards on 18 carries? That was also at a racous Superdome, arguably one of the toughest places to play at night.

The Packers' best run defenders on the defensive line are Kenny Clark and Tyler Lancaster. Clark has only missed 45 defensive snaps this year and cannot always be that hole plugger. Lancaster is a situational player, but he has played 62 percent of running downs.

I was surprised when the Packers released Mike Daniels right before the season. Green Bay made a decision that it wanted to move forward with versatility, not be stuck with players that can only do one thing. I get that, but having versatility doesn't mean sacrificing other aspects of your defense.

Especially when you play in a division that resides in punishing winter weather. Stopping the run has always been ground zero for opposing defenses. Take that away, the offense gets predictable and then you take advantage.
Stopping the run showed up in the second preseason game. Mark Ingram sliced through the No. 1 Packers' defense pretty easily. Many shrugged it off simply as the preseason. However, those warts have remained and will more than likely remain for the rest of the season.

The Packers need to have a balance of versatility and specialization. It's hard to win by being one-dimensional on offense, and it's nearly impossible to win by doing the same thing on defense.
Without that hole plugger, stopping the run will be an uphill challenge. And it will put even more strain on the secondary in order to get off the field. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (64)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Sureshot's picture

October 05, 2019 at 06:24 am

If we can finally have Martinez and Burks patrolling the second level, there should be less runs of 10-15 yards.

But to prevent all the short runs of 4-5 yards, the guys upfront need to be more effective disrupting the line of scrimmage, holding the gaps and pushing everything in front of them.

If Mike Petine trusts the talent of his secondary, he could shift the balance toward the run defense to be more effective in this area without risking too much in the air.
In a word, back to a real 34 defense unless it's 3rd and long

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mrtundra's picture

October 05, 2019 at 08:09 am

In the past two games, Martinez looked like AJ Hawk, out there. Tackles being made 6-8 yards past the LOS. Martinez should grow his hair longer.

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dobber's picture

October 05, 2019 at 07:54 pm

I don't think that's been on Martinez...

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stockholder's picture

October 05, 2019 at 07:39 am

If were going be good, Kenny Clark can't get double teamed. Adams must return. And "The 4-3-4" should be played. Lowrey should be playing in front of Preston Smith. He was there in college. And Gary still an option there. Until we get the people to help Clark out. Forget Gary at OLB.

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mamasboy's picture

October 05, 2019 at 04:23 pm

Lowry ahead of P. Smith? Hmmmmmm.. NO

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stockholder's picture

October 05, 2019 at 05:08 pm

He played there in college and won NFL player of the week there. The packers have moved him over sometimes. But they have him going against a LT most of the time. So just don't say No , as it has happened.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 05, 2019 at 05:12 pm

He's a DE not OLB. Cannot remember Lowry at LB for Ferentz.

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stockholder's picture

October 05, 2019 at 05:36 pm

How can Lowrey play Lb at 300 ills? He's always been a DE.

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dobber's picture

October 05, 2019 at 06:47 pm

He played for Fitzgerald at NU.

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Oppy's picture

October 05, 2019 at 06:00 pm

Kenny Clark routinely gets double teamed, and he plays the Double team as well as nearly any NT in the league. Last week was the first time I've seen Clark get pushed around.

Moreover, you WANT a NT to be double teamed. That's pretty much their job. Eat up two blocks. If you have a NT that doesn't attract double teams, you don't have a NT.

I guess if you want to make Clark a 4-3 DT, that's a different thing... But guys as strong and good as Clark are probably going to attract double teams more often than not regardless of how you place the pieces around them.

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Handsback's picture

October 05, 2019 at 08:08 am

Pick your poison, die by teams running on you or passing on you? Pettine has picked the run and by the end of the year...he will probably be right.
However, it doesn't mean that the Packers will give up the run, it just means they feel the odds are better that you can't beat them running the ball verses passing. The Cowboys do both, and this may be one of those games where Pettine has developed a system that he hasn't played yet so the Cowboys won't know what to expect. Essentially the Cowboys were beaten in NO by not being able to change blocking changes because they couldn't hear.
Won't be the case in Dallas but also won't have Smith at LT and their RT is not 100%.

Remember the Giants game against Buffalo in the SB? Parcels and Belicheck decided to sacrifice the run defense so they could stop the pass. It worked and they won, just barely, against a better team. So expect the Packers to take one or the other away from the Cowboys and make them beat them with their lesser weapons.

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Lare's picture

October 05, 2019 at 08:09 am

Although another run stopping nose tackle would be nice, I think it would help if players were more disciplined in their angles & tackling. A lot of times you see guys over-running plays and end up out of position to make a tackle. It helps if players just are where they're supposed to be and make the tackle when they're supposed to.

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Tarynfor12's picture

October 05, 2019 at 11:20 am

" A lot of times you see guys over-running plays and end up out of position to make a tackle."

Seems as though Matthews is here and coaching.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 05, 2019 at 12:42 pm

I laughed....

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 05, 2019 at 05:10 pm

Clay's staying at home in Wade's D and getting 6 sacks so far this season. It helps when you have All-Pro talent like Donald and Brockers inside. Gutekunst gave Lowry the extension, see if he can earn it.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

October 05, 2019 at 05:30 pm

Mike Daniels has 2 tackles in 2019 he's not the solution Cory. The Packers have one of the top defenses in the NFL. They're top 5 in pressures, sacks, and turnovers. Why can't we as fans enjoy the success? The Eagles gashed us with the run game and the Packers would have still won that game without the referees bailing the Eagles out multiple times.

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cpabandit's picture

October 05, 2019 at 04:48 pm

Jonathan, the referees didn't bail out the Eagles. It was the Packers 1st and goal at the 1 yard line that bailed out the Eagles. High school RBs would have scored from the 1 yard line! If they scored and the Packers D stopped the Eagles on their next drive (and they did), the Packers would have had the ball needing a field goal to win.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 05, 2019 at 05:17 pm

No confidence at the edges with Bulaga out and Bhaktiari hurting. THe Eagle secondary was dinged up, that's where you attack. Graham dropped one TD, Rodgers should have played the brush off and gone to Shepherd, but the last time he held to ball a long count, Barnett when blind-side and stripped him. MVS has to extend his hands and catch that ball or force the P.I.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

October 05, 2019 at 05:30 pm

Cpabandit, bad redzone playcalling didn't help. I'm more frustrated by the challenge not being overturned. The blatant endzone pass interference for the last play of the game not being called/overturned.

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Oppy's picture

October 05, 2019 at 06:01 pm

Refs didn't bail out the Eagles.

The Packers ST play did, though.

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Packer Dave's picture

October 05, 2019 at 08:30 am

I don't think it's fair to think of our run defense as something that was neglected coming in to the season. Gute signed the Smiths who can set their edge well, and we had ascending guys like Lowery and Adams to pair with Clark. Lancaster isn't holding up his end of the bargain right now. I really thought he would come in this year and surprise - he better put it together as the season goes on or he will be replaced be Keke or a 2020 draft pick.

Maybe Pettine will find some way to get Goodson and Summers to contribute?

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 05, 2019 at 05:21 pm

Lancaster has been getting blow back on more than one occaision. Lowry's "pad level" IS too high, he has tomget lower. THe first game against the Bears the D line was driving lower. The Eagles O line is the best in the NFC/NFL.
Really need an ILB to step up inside next to Martinez. A safety is a joke playing that spot.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

October 05, 2019 at 05:49 pm

How do Packer fans feel about CM3 having 6 sacks as a Ram? I knew Clay still had something left in the tank. I felt bad seeing him get yet another bogus roughing the passer penalty and suffer another injury. Even with CM3's success with the Rams I feel like the Smiths were an upgrade for 2019 and beyond especially.

Edit: Do people not realize in my post I'm saying I'd glad the Packers dumped Clay and got the Smiths? All I was asking is if the rest of CHTV felt the same even with CM3 having stats once more.

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dobber's picture

October 05, 2019 at 09:14 am

Clay who?

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Since'61's picture

October 05, 2019 at 02:25 pm

Cookie!!! Thanks, Since ‘61

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Gort's picture

October 06, 2019 at 01:59 am

and milk!

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CoachJV's picture

October 05, 2019 at 09:28 am

.

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CoachJV's picture

October 05, 2019 at 09:27 am

I don't feel bad at all... P. Smith has 5.5 sacks already, and he's younger and healthy, not missing a month or more like Clay... so I feel great about it.

Z Smith has 5 Sacks already, and is also young and healthy... much better than Nick Perry could ever hope to be.

Nope... I don't feel bad at all. And sentimentality doesn't win games.

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murf7777's picture

October 05, 2019 at 08:38 pm

Where are you coming up with your sack totals? Preston has 4.5 and Z has 3. I really like the smiths but Matthews would’ve been great to rotate in or play ILB right now! He has 6 sacks and other impact plays. Feel bad he broke his jaw. Matthews always will be one of my favorite packers.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 05, 2019 at 11:09 am

Don't miss him running himself out of the play,which he did missing sacks and looking silly.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 05, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Clay can still move and close. Rams still have Brockers and Donald flushing QBs. At least a couple of his sacks were unblocked or against a TE.

CM3 is out for at least a month with a broken jaw.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 05, 2019 at 05:23 pm

He was exposed in coverage last game and the Donald/ Brockers combo keep the heat off of him as Fowler gets more doubles.

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dark42's picture

October 05, 2019 at 02:08 pm

Clay didn't have anyone else taking up double teams to free him in GB. With the Rams he has Donald doing that. I find it hard to believe he would have 6 sacks if he was still with GB. :)

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Tarynfor12's picture

October 05, 2019 at 05:24 pm

In GB,Clay got to where he couldn't win the one 1v1 against any LT,RT.

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Stale peeps Eater's picture

October 05, 2019 at 08:45 am

Our GM orchestrated quite a draft this year. I love what we've seen from Darnell Savage and the potential he may have. However, I sometimes think the price to get Savage was too high (3picks). Had we stayed at 30 and Savage was off the board, S Juan Thornhill would have been a nice consolation prize. Those two 4th rounders could have added S Amani Hooker and ILB Mack Wilson. Wilson was considered the 3rd best ILB in the draft and would have been the best on the roster not named Martinez. Outside of having a big, wide run stuffer better ILB play would certainly made for better run defense. Better safety depth wouldn't hurt either.

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marpag1's picture

October 05, 2019 at 09:18 am

Whatever.

Aaron Donald of the Rams is 6-1 280 pounds. He is easily the best defensive tackle in the league, almost certainly the best defender in the league, and quite possibly the best NFL player, period.

Gutey's supposed "new philosophy" notwithstanding, Aaron Donald would be the smallest defensive lineman on the Packers roster. I would not be in the least bit surprised if he is the smallest starting DT in the league.

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Since'61's picture

October 05, 2019 at 09:37 am

Cory - the ‘96 SB winning Packers played a 4-3 defense. The DL included Reggie White, Santana Dotson, Gilbert Brown and Sean Jones. Yes, Gilbert Brown was the anchor but the other 3 DLs on that line were better players than anyone on the current Packers DL.

Currently the Packers play a 3-4 and the DL consists of Kenny Clark and who?? Lowry, Lancaster, Adams are decent players but they are nothing special at least at this point in their careers. Adams, when healthy has shown that he might evolve into a solid player.

The point is that we still need 2 ILBs. Martinez is not effective behind the current DL and we still don’t really know anything about Burks. The Smiths can hold their respective edges but teams are gashing our defense up the middle, not on the edges.

Given the players we have Pettine needs to come up with a new approach to stopping the run. Otherwise Dallas and other teams will stay on the field and play keep away from Aaron Rodgers all game. Thanks, Since ‘61

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GVPacker's picture

October 05, 2019 at 09:53 am

Agree wit you Since '61 Dean Lowery is 6"6" 300lbs but seems to be getting pushed around! He's gotta put his Big Boy Pants on and Kick Some Arse!

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Tarynfor12's picture

October 05, 2019 at 11:12 am

" Given the players we have Pettine needs to come up with a new approach to stopping the run. "

A new approach to stopping the run should have been part of Pettine's scheme from the start with ability to adjust as needed. What Pettine has obviously failed to do is have a scheme or in game adjustment to stop the run from the start,halftime and end.

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4thand10's picture

October 05, 2019 at 10:26 pm

I called it. I said they were going to be short on DL after Daniels left. And they are, there is not even enough to rotate or play base 3-4. There were so many positions of need, but i wanted Christian Wilkens drafted. But, we needed the Gary pick and we also needed the Savage pick. Would have been nice to walk out with a high DL pick because at some point Clark is going to have to get spelled a rest during games.

Hopefully there is a plan because usually what happens when your playing 2-3-6 or 2-4-5 is you end up with injuries to your secondary because there is not enough beef up front . See Capers entire history of running a 2-4-5 against strong running teams. I think petine will make adjustments....hes a much better coach than what we had.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 05, 2019 at 12:56 pm

'61 you are correct as usual. The lack of discipline in the run game was glaring in the Eagles game. Add the injuries to secondary last week and the backside got exposed. Question is can Pettine get the kids to stay and not chase and play their gaps. How the Packers cover their key hybrid/slot DB may decide this game. Pettine does have his work cut out for him.

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4thand10's picture

October 05, 2019 at 10:16 pm

Exacly right since 61.

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sam1's picture

October 05, 2019 at 09:55 am

Like I have been saying all along LaFleur is way over his head and personal judging really hasn't improved with this new regime. I said ti then and will say again it was a huge mistake to let Daniels go. Good analogy Packers want to get rid of players that were here with the old regime just like Trump wants to get rid of Obamas things and look where we are now a MESS!

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Swisch's picture

October 05, 2019 at 10:11 am

If older players were spying on LaFleur; and leaking his conversations to the press; and trying to get him fired -- it would be good to get rid of them.
Without getting too political, the holdovers can be the ones creating the mess.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 05, 2019 at 12:54 pm

GB has $8.9M (OTC) to $9.6M (Sportrac), of which $7.91 is due to releasing Daniels. I never doubted that GB would be better with Daniels on the field. Keeping Daniels meant having $1.0M to $1.7M in cap space.

Fans wouldn't be talking about acquiring a WR or defensive help if the cap space were that tight. Fans can look at just 2019 but GMs have to look at 2020 and beyond as well.

[By the way, I made a mistake in my last article: the 2020 projections for cap space haven't been going up even though there seemed to be no obvious reason. OTC and Sportrac have been assuming that GB will rollover all $9M into 2020. In other words, GB still is projected for have about $14 to $15M in cap space for 2020 plus whatever it rolls over from 2019. I didn't look closely enough to realize that OTC/Sportrac were both adding in current cap space to their 2020 projections since that wasn't the focus of the article.]

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Since'61's picture

October 05, 2019 at 02:30 pm

I think Daniels has 2 tackles on the season and he is currently injured. How would that have helped the Packers? Not to mention the waste of cap space. Thanks, Since ‘61

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 05, 2019 at 05:59 pm

They have remembered his name from four years ago, so it makes sense to them.

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czechomatic's picture

October 05, 2019 at 04:46 pm

Facts are apparently inconvenient for you to consider, so it's best for you to troll elsewhere. But then again you have an opinion just like everyone has an a$$#@!÷ and you're entitled to it.

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sam1's picture

October 05, 2019 at 06:06 pm

So you recognize yourself in the body part?

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Gort's picture

October 06, 2019 at 02:07 am

Football only - no politics!

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Swisch's picture

October 05, 2019 at 09:55 am

It's not one or the other -- stop the run or stop the pass.
It's keeping the opposing offense guessing from week to week, and within a game.
I'm hopeful Pettine is going to design a variety of innovative looks from our defense -- including run blitzes -- and that our new cast of defenders will get better and better in stopping the run and the pass.
I'm excited about our dynamic defenders improving with experience and growing together as a superior force for sacks and turnovers, as well as tackling running backs for short gains.

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Packers2019's picture

October 05, 2019 at 10:02 am

This is my concern.

We have a shut down corner and a solid corner in King. We also have had solid safety play. When you have solid options on the back end you should be able to put those guys on an island so you can bring more guys up to stop the run. That still has not worked.

This is a bigger problem than gap control. This is players on the D-Line. We need someone else besides Clark. Also, Martinez is not worth the money he will get in FA. We need two ILBs that can handle the run and coverage duties.

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Swisch's picture

October 05, 2019 at 10:10 am

I can't help but wonder if Rashan Gary would make an awesome inside linebacker.
Also, I'm wondering if we can start gradually getting Ty Summers some snaps there.
It may be that Martinez, like Kenny Clarke, is simply being asked to do too much. Give these guys some plays off; and trust some other guys to help out more.

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dobber's picture

October 05, 2019 at 08:02 pm

Martinez has played just about every defensive snap for the last 2+ seasons. I think his conditioning is fine.

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murf7777's picture

October 05, 2019 at 08:48 pm

Hmmm, and where do we find those two ILB who can do both, stop the run and cover the pass? Martinez is pretty darn good player. He has AFC pro bowl numbers, check the stats. If he was in the AFC last year he probably would’ve been pro bowl and he is second in tackles again In the nfl. Not the problem.

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Qoojo's picture

October 05, 2019 at 10:24 am

Pretty much totally disagree with calling Brown the catalyst of the defense. Reggie White was the catalyst, and the one that made it all work. He required double and triple teams, and just made it all work. It's no coincidence that the defense fell off a shelf without White. Once White was gone, it ushered in a decade plus of crap defenses with only a couple blips here and there of respectable defense. Just look at the difference that first year with White gone and Brown still playing.

Also, what you are calling a philosophy, I call year two of a rebuild. It's not fantasy football. You can only acquire and improve a team so much in one season. Next year, FA options will be more limited due to salary cap and using it so much this year, which will cause the ignorant fantasy football fans to complain because in their minds trades and players are always available.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 05, 2019 at 12:40 pm

What Cory forgets is this Packer team is dancing on the knife's edge since the beginning of the regular season. Rebuilds always leave a team thin in depth with unknown players backing up core backups and starters. Future vs now is tricky at best, add cap space restrictions and decisions become very dangerous for your teams GM. Much depends on growth of the young players and the health of the starters. At this moment, both are X-factors but trending downward. We fans all know that this season would be a bumpy ride, with all the youth on both sides of the ball and sidelines. Perhaps a bit less hot take and a grounded realism might make the season better.....

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TheBigCheeze's picture

October 05, 2019 at 10:31 am

"Especially when you play in a division that resides in punishing winter weather."----two of the four NFC North teams have domes.....lame statement......

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dobber's picture

October 05, 2019 at 08:00 pm

True, but the Packers play their home games in the cold.

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Lphill's picture

October 05, 2019 at 11:40 am

Yes let’s see Ty Summers help against the run and maybe Martinez can stop getting fooled going the wrong way and not watching the ball . He looked lost against the Eagles.

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murf7777's picture

October 05, 2019 at 08:52 pm

He’s a very good player who I agree didn’t have a good game against philly. I give him a game pass.

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jgando12's picture

October 05, 2019 at 06:05 pm

Many of the retorts here are spot on valid.
But there is artistry in delivery.
If we have to beat da Boys to get where we wanna go.
I’d rather win in January.

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dobber's picture

October 05, 2019 at 08:07 pm

"If we have to beat da Boys to get where we wanna go."

It's hard to win road games, especially against quality opponents. I don't think Dallas is as good as they're puffed up to be, but they're a good opponent. There's no shame in losing a road game to a good opponent.

That said, if the Packers are a playoff team, they've got to get a leg up on other potential playoff teams. Picking up a road win against Dallas helps to cover for that harsh home loss to Philly.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 05, 2019 at 09:41 pm

The coaches are saying that the problem with our run defense is gap control. It involves discipline and some patience. Our best defensive tackle is getting double teamed and pushed out of the play. It’s up to the other players to fill that gap within their role on defense. Get off their blocks quicker. Pettine thinks it can be fixed. I don’t know if it will be totally fixed but I do think it can be improved. What I would hate to see is that we stop the run, only to be whipped by the pass. In this game I worry more about a mobile QB than a strong run game from Dallas.I don’t want us to load up against the run only to be beaten by Dak as he escapes the pocket. A quality MLB would be nice but they don’t grow on trees so we wait until Burks and Greene can return. Until then it’s going to remain a weakness.

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