Is the Packers Run Defense Good Enough?

Packers fans all remember how last season ended. The San Francisco 49ers literally ran right over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, rushing for 285 yards and four touchdowns in a 37-20 defeat that saw 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo throw only eight passes all game.

Clearly, the Packers needed to improve their run defense this season if they hoped to return to the Super Bowl. Through four games, the Packers run defense is better than it was a year ago, but how much better is still a big question.

At the quarter pole, it’s difficult to say exactly how good the run defense is this season. The good news is that the Packers have allowed just 105.8 yards rushing per game thus far, ranking them 9th in the league. But that number is a bit misleading. The Packers are still giving up 4.8-yards per rushing attempt, which ranks them 25th in the league.

Through four games, the Packers defense has faced some quality runners like Dalvin Cook, Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara. The best reason for the Packers run defense not giving up a lot of yards has been the outstanding play of the offense.

In Week 1, the Packers had a 12-point lead by halftime, forcing the Vikings to play catch-up and pass a lot in the second half. In Week 2, the Packers had a 10-point lead on the first play of the second half when Aaron Jones ran 75 yards for a score. The Lions had to throw the football after that. The Falcons also trailed 20-3 at halftime and couldn’t run the ball much in the second half as a result.

Only the Saints game in Week 3 was close until the Pack pulled away midway through the fourth quarter. In that game, New Orleans ran for 122 yards in just 20 carries (6.1-yards per carry) and put up 30 points. Of course, the Packers scored 37 to earn a big road win.

There are several reasons for the mixed performance by the run defense so far. Injuries have obviously played a role. The Packers have been without their best defensive lineman, Kenny Clark, since Week 1. Clark’s ability to occupy blockers and even get a push against opposing offensive linemen allows him to make tackles or free up teammates to make stops. Clark is expected to return this Sunday against Tampa Bay.

The Packers have also been without their most experienced inside linebacker and leading tackler, Christian Kirksey. The Packers were hoping that Kirksey would be an upgrade over the departed Blake Martinez who signed with the New York Giants as a free agent.

Kirksey did not get off to a strong start to the season and has since been placed on the injured reserve after going down with a chest injury during the game in New Orleans. He has been replaced by Ty Summers who had never played a snap on defense before Week 3 of this season.  

Rookie Kamal Martin was on his way to starting opposite Kirksey at ILB before he got injured during training camp. Martin has been designated to return from the IR and the Packers have another couple of weeks to activate him or he will be shut down for the season. Expect Martin back in the lineup shortly.

Raven Greene also missed the season opener in Minnesota and didn’t play extensively until Week 4 against the Falcons. Greene is the Packers best player at the hybrid safety/inside linebacker position that Mike Pettine likes to run on many plays and a healthy Greene should help strengthen the defense against both the run and the pass.

Getting some of these players back in the lineup should help improve the run defense a bit. It would also help if the Packers improved their tackling. The touchdown Kamara scored against the Packers in Week 3 is the most obvious example, but the defense still takes poor angles to the ball carrier too often and allows opponents to break tackles and gain extra yardage. This is something the coaching staff can work on during practice throughout the season.

But the bottom line is that Pettine does not place an emphasis on run defense, believing that in most instances, teams will be unable to sustain long drives by running the football even if they’re gaining four or five yards per rush. Offensive breakdowns, penalties, big plays on defense or turnovers will often disrupt drives before they result in touchdowns and that’s a tradeoff Pettine has indicated he is willing to make. In the long run, he has been right most of the time using this philosophy since Matt LaFleur became head coach last season.

Pettine prefers to emphasize pass defense which he feels is more important to preventing points in the modern NFL than run defense is.

The Packers defense will willingly give up rushing yards and rely on their defense to bend but not break on long drives. They are confident they can hold opponents to a field goal or stop them from scoring altogether while the high-powered Green Bay offense scores enough points to force opponents to play catch up and become one-dimensional as a result.

The big question is, will this strategy work well enough against quality opponents when it counts in January and (hopefully) February? Is this defense good enough to pull this off? The secondary is strong and the pass rush has the potential to be strong. If the run defense is at least average and this strategy is sound, that may be enough to get the Packers to the promised land.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (83)

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Spock's picture

October 17, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Tackling, "It's grab, grab, grab. What the (heck) is going on out there?!" I'm happy that Keke, Lancaster, and others have had some game experience with Kenny being out (and we didn't lose). So, IMHO the Defense SHOULD be better with Clark coming back this week. All we as fans can do is hope that Pettine has learned from the debacle with the 49ers game and has a plan. We shall see. GPG.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 17, 2020 at 01:35 pm

The Packers have sucked at tackling for basically a decade. I'm glad Reggie White can't see them playing patty cake with the opposing ball carrier.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:04 pm

Fingers crossed, Spock. I think the defense looks a bit better this year, but we still haven't seen how much because they haven't been tested much. The only relatively close game was in New Orleans. Thanks for the comment.

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Since'61's picture

October 17, 2020 at 12:27 pm

The run defense needs to improve or they will get clobbered by play action passes. Also if they can’t stop the run the defense will not get off the field. Our opponents best defense is to keep Rodgers off the field.

Clark returning will help plus the return of Gary. We will need better tackling and better penetration up the middle and in holding the edges. If we can our opponents one dimensional until we open up a 2+ score lead our defense can hold out.

Bottom line is that our run defense and our tackling needs to improve. Thanks, Since ‘61

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gr7070's picture

October 17, 2020 at 03:02 pm

It's been clearly shown in sabermetric studies that the ability or effectiveness of ones run game has absolutely no effect on play action passing effectiveness.

This is simple fact.

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Since'61's picture

October 17, 2020 at 04:37 pm

If that is true why does every team in the league include play action and RPOs in their and they have for decades?

Bart Starr was a master of using play action on 3rd and short and then hitting either Max McGee, Boyd Dowler or Carroll Dale for a long gain and usually a TD.

Why are so many plays designed to hold LBs in place or to move them away from the area where the receiver will be open?

I’m not sure what is your source of information but I would be interested in seeing the data. Thanks, Since ‘61

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 17, 2020 at 04:47 pm

Some baseball website?

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gr7070's picture

October 17, 2020 at 05:41 pm

I posted up a reply with a half dozen links and it won't publish. Cheesehead site thinks it's spam.

For starters your first 3 paragraphs have nothing to do with rushing. They only have to do with the value of play-action.

Play action is very effective, very valuable.

Again though, rushing effectiveness has no impact on play action effectiveness.

Some of the brightest minds in football have shown this: 538, Football Outsiders, MIT (yes, that MIT).

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egbertsouse's picture

October 17, 2020 at 05:50 pm

In other words, to have success with play action you have to run but you don’t have to be effective at it. That makes sense. I’m being serious, not sarcastic.. I agree with that.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:12 pm

So it's the willingness to run not necessarily the ability to excel at it that makes play action effective.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 18, 2020 at 01:39 pm

If you show run and cannot produce results, the play fake will, subsequently, be ignored and the QB targeted.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 18, 2020 at 01:57 am

Cheesehead limits the number of links you may append to a comment. Not sure if it is one or two. The first link is pretty good and references date from SIS, PFF, and nflscrapR, all pretty well known outfits. The second link is by Ben Baldwin of Football Outsiders, also well known.

https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/2020/01/18/nfl-analytics-study-running-...

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2018/rushing-success-and...

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gr7070's picture

October 17, 2020 at 05:46 pm

Google "running doesn't matter for play action" and the first many articles are good ones.

Google anything similar and you'll find tons of articles, studies, etc.

It's commonly known by anyone who reads about advanced football analytics.

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PhantomII's picture

October 17, 2020 at 07:20 pm

Everything matters. Run it twice in a row for NADA then try play action and drop the pass....It's called a three and out. Not making a first down always matters no matter how you dress it. The weather matters, the turf or grass, the officiating, injuries, player depth, down and distance, special teams, home/ away, travel, stadium noise strength of opponents offense/ defense. Luck (good/bad).

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:11 pm

It would be interesting. I think what he's saying is the effectiveness of the running game isn't the issue, just the willingness to make the fake, but I shouldn't speak for someone else. I would also be interested in seeing the numbers.

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gr7070's picture

October 17, 2020 at 11:16 pm

Gil, see a few of my other replies. I linked one article and mentioned what to Google in another.

There are countless articles and studies that have proven this fact.

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gr7070's picture

October 17, 2020 at 11:16 pm

Gil, see a few of my other replies. I linked one article and mentioned what to Google in another.

There are countless articles and studies that have proven this fact.

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Oppy's picture

October 17, 2020 at 06:02 pm

Running effectiveness probably wouldn't matter, because football players aren't taught to react differently to a successful running play vs. a play by a team that might not be as successful. You still attack a run the same way.

That being said, commitment to the run game (rushing attempts), certainly makes a difference in PA passing effectiveness.

If a defense doesn't believe you are going to run the ball in a certain situation, they are not going to attack the LOS immediately on the snap of the ball even if an offense is "showing" run. When an offense has demonstrated to a defense that they will run the ball, the defense is more likely to honor the run and "bite" on the play action.

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Coldworld's picture

October 17, 2020 at 07:06 pm

It’s human nature if the threat of a run is credible.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:14 pm

Very true. Again, the amazing thing is we're only talking about a split second hesitation which in the NFL is enough to give the receiver an advantage. Thanks for commenting, Oppy.

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mnbadger's picture

October 18, 2020 at 09:00 am

my only question is if the run game isn't successful in base defense, can't you have your backfield look more closely for pass, thus defending the pass better? GPG

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:10 pm

Do you have a link to this gr7070? Be interesting to see it. Thanks for commenting.

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Cheesey51's picture

October 17, 2020 at 06:33 pm

looking forward to C&G's return. Should definitely improved the D

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:15 pm

No doubt. Getting our best lineman back and our Pro Bowl lineman back should definitely help and Gary seems to have taken a step forward this year. Thanks for commenting, Cheesey51.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:06 pm

The tackling will need to be better over the long haul. Let's see how they handle a close game. I think Clark's return will be a big boost and Gary will certainly help. The season is still young. Let's see what this team can do over 16 plus games. Thanks for the comment, Since'61, always good to hear from you.

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cheesehead1's picture

October 17, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Well said, the D has been our achillies heal for many years. I honestly don’t know how we improve the tackling. It’s been poor far too long and still hasn’t improved. Keep our no turnover streak going and I think we win.

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Since'61's picture

October 17, 2020 at 04:38 pm

Agree on the turnover streak but it’s possible our opponents won’t commit turnovers when we play them.
Thanks, Since 61

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SpikeHyzer's picture

October 18, 2020 at 08:28 am

Since a person's user name appears at the top of every post they make, I thought it would be pertinent to let you know that on social media you neither need to say thanks--or use any sort of closing word as you would in a letter, such as sincerely--and you should not sign your name at the bottom.
It's simply redundant and considered bad form online.

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Since'61's picture

October 18, 2020 at 11:30 am

You are relatively new here. I’ve been posting here since 2010 back to the Jersey Al’s All GBP days.

My closing salutation is not about redundancy or form. It is about having the opportunity to share and discuss our thoughts about Packer football with my fellow Packer fans. It is also a recognition of appreciation to Jersey Al and Aaron Nagler for keeping this a free forum for our blogging community.

It is also to thank all the article contributors and all those who post here with excellent comments usually well thought out and professionally written without becoming personal.

If this means that I am in bad form then I will gladly accept the responsibility for it. In the real world I am a 3 times published author and I have yet to read where saying “Thank you” is bad form. However, if you can refer me to a source of etiquette for blogging forums I will be willing to review it. Until then,
Thanks, Since ‘61

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 18, 2020 at 03:08 pm

Thanks, '61.

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PhantomII's picture

October 17, 2020 at 05:01 pm

Basically pick up any Ravens Defensive player who was on the 53 for a season. Or better yet double the Ravens DC salary and get him away from them. Money well spent.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:17 pm

Probably but also probably unlikely. Couldn't the Ravens (or any team) block a "lateral" move? If you hire a defensive coordinator and keep him at defensive coordinator I think the team he's with can block that.

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PhantomII's picture

October 18, 2020 at 12:11 am

I believe you are right unless it's a contract year. Maybe they could match? probably DC/ assistant HC. Pettine still doesn't quite have the talent to say what he can really dial up yet. Our ILB 's are looking better and the DL is improving. Our CB's are doing well but nicked up. Safeties are slow to improve so far.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

October 18, 2020 at 08:33 am

I'm not sure the S position has been bad. It's similar to Preston being asked to cover (it's really why he's not putting up numbers this year and could start rushing the passer again this week with Kenny and Keke up front).

Likewise, I don't think this scheme uses safeties that much, except in coverage and to clean up plays that weren't contained (they've been mediocre at the former and bad at the latter though). I honestly think play making opportunities are down for Preston and the Safeties.

Perhaps that changes again with some blitzing, but I think that may be the only way to get measurable production from the safety group, and I don't think Pettine will tinker much with the scheme unless it's to surprise teams in the play offs. He's not tipping his hand yet until he saees what we have as far as talent.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:07 pm

The no-turnover streak is a big factor in winning games. That added with bend but don't break, give up FGs but not TDs or get a timely turnover. It's a slim margin for error against better opponents but so far so good. Thanks for the comment, cheesehead1.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 18, 2020 at 01:37 pm

Need hard hitters to begin with. Too much money in the Game, nowadays. Why risk CTE is the other reaction.

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Bearmeat's picture

October 17, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Short answer: No. It's not good enough. They're not going to blow out the best teams on their schedule. Even if it doesn't catch up to them until January, it WILL do so then - and it'd mean the end of the season at that point.

Apart from critical injuries, this is the single biggest worry the rest of the year. It must be better than it is right now.

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mnbadger's picture

October 17, 2020 at 01:06 pm

let's enjoy all of the positives more than we fret over the negatives. trust the coaches and players to improve and hope for a few big plays to take them over the top. GPG

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:19 pm

Hope the coaching staff can manage this area. It's clearly not priority one but if their strategy is sound, maybe it doesn't have to be. Thanks for the comment, mnbadger.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:18 pm

I agree, Bearmeat that it is a big concern for this team. Hopefully they get the job done when it counts most. Still 12 regular season games left. Thanks for commenting.

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ShooterMcGee's picture

October 17, 2020 at 01:01 pm

I hope that the instinctive hard hitting Barnes with the return of Martin and Kirksey give us an ILB group that can Help stop the run. They have to be an upgrade over Martinez and BJ Goodson.
Next we need better tackling from Savage and Amos. The amount of missed tackles and bad angles from these 2 is unexcusable. For their draft position and FA contract amount$ they must play better. As an example on how to tackle they need only watch Jaire. That dude is small but ferocious.

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fansince1959's picture

October 17, 2020 at 05:43 pm

glad you at least mentioned Barnes---sounds like a real find

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:22 pm

He's looked really good so far and has graded out well also. Imagine what he'll do with more experience. Thanks for the comment, fansince1959.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:21 pm

Agree on the bad angles Savage and Amos have taken at times this season and it's been an unpleasant surprise. I also think the ILBs when healthy will be an upgrade over last year's group. Really liking what I'm seeing from Barnes so far and eager to see what Martin can do when he returns. Thanks for the comment, ShooterMcGee.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

October 18, 2020 at 08:40 am

It's hard to get good angles when you're playing coverage, as our safeties are, and the reason they are taking the bad angles has been the mediocre play up front and the downright bad play from most ILBs.

The plays on which they are taking bad angles are almost all plays in which the tackle should have been made before it reached the 3rd level.

You can't fault them for tryin to come off coverage and become the mop up tackler and not getting fabulous results.

The scheme just won't allow them opportunites.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

October 18, 2020 at 08:42 am

And Jaire ONLY makes those ferocious plays when he blitzes, makes a mistake and blitzes, or knows that his coverage assignment hasn't been targeted and he can leave that responsibility and go for the ball carrier (which says more about his being better able to read the play than the Safeties than his ferociousness; I simply think he's a sound and fundamental tackler, not a ferocious Mike Singletary type).

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

October 17, 2020 at 01:48 pm

Hey Gil,
Interesting article, as usual.
A major aspect of the Packers team is how well they are moving the ball mixing the run, short pass...thus eating up the clock. Remember the Vikings game and the disparity in "Time Of Possession"? That alone will make a defense better: the players will be fresher and more energetic; expect them to swarm to the ball. An additional benefit by keeping Brady on the sidelines is to help keep him out of rhythm. I don't expect a close game here with the Packers winning around 31-17 with a two touchdown cushion.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:24 pm

I love the optimism Ferrari-Driver and always appreciate the kind words. Holding on to the ball and taking a lead definitely helps the defense. I think it's been a big help so far in the first four games. Tougher to do that consistently against top opponents though. Thanks for commenting, always good to hear from you.

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Jaqu’eau's picture

October 17, 2020 at 02:05 pm

While the defense can improve in some areas, there is no area that is a major liability. We would all like them to be a bit more consistent overall, but this is a sounnd defense with some real play makers. The packers rank #1 in the number of three-and-outs. tackling has been a frustrating issue at times, but it is not consistently an issue throughout entire games. Through their four games, they rank 17th (average) in scoring defense after playing teams that all rank in the top 2/3rds in the league in points scored. In the two games against teams that rank the lowest (19th, 21st)- far from the worst-in scoring, including ATL, who were considered an offensive juggernaut leading up to the game, the packers have held them to an avg of 18 ppg. Over the last three games, the defense is averaging a very respectable 11 points per half, and ranked 7th and 15th in the 1st and 2nd half, respectively, while ranked 1st in second quarter defense. This defense is more than capable of propping up the offense on an off day.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:26 pm

I hope so, Jaqu'eau. You are spot on about this defense not having a major liability. They have been inconsistent at times, but there is not gaping hole here. The big question if this team is going to be a true contender come January and February is whether this is good enough to get it done against top contenders in the playoffs. Thanks for commenting.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

October 17, 2020 at 11:28 pm

Gil,
I was a little dismayed to see the nfl.com piece deriding both the Pack and Seahawks and claiming the Rams are still the best team in the NFC.
I'd be interested to see your take on the teams the Pack may have to get past and the strategic challenges each pose.

I also had a thought that Preston may have the biggest benefit from the return of Clark and others for one reason: he was probably that guy who you knew was doomed when he was back pedaling in pick up hoops but was equally scary coming at you downhill after he got the ball. Maybe that's why he can't cover and it's not a good role for him.

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Lphill's picture

October 17, 2020 at 02:20 pm

I don't think we ever see Kirksey again , I think his injury is worse than reported, I'm wondering if putting Keke and Clark as ends with Lancaster in the middle might be a better combination against the run?

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PhantomII's picture

October 17, 2020 at 02:49 pm

That would be interesting if Z and Gary were next to Tyler w/ 6 DB's

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:28 pm

No doubt it would be. Wouldn't be shocked to see it at some point, either.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:28 pm

I hope he's not going to be out that long but we shall see. Any information on Kirksey or just a feeling, Lphill? I would hate to see him miss significant time for a third straight season. As for your suggestion on the DL, it is intriguing. Thanks for commenting.

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ImaPayne's picture

October 17, 2020 at 02:42 pm

Run D? How about they aren't running because the pass d is 29th in the league. Last year I thought if teams came out passing the pack might not have had the record they did.
These are healthy players right now. Alex just is too slow to cover and is getting beat, petine has the others playing off, not covering man. It's pathetic. Might be bite you in the ass week.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:32 pm

The pass D is ranked 19th in yards allowed per game right now and some of those yards came in "garbage time", especially against Minnesota. Jaire Alexander is presently ranked very highly by PFF and has a very strong cover grade.

I hope Pettine will adjust to the offense he's playing and strategize accordingly. We shall see how the pass defense and the run defense holds up against Brady and the Bucs.

Thanks for the comment, ImaPayne.

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PhantomII's picture

October 17, 2020 at 02:42 pm

Pettine has above average DB play. Average ILB play and Average DL play. He throws multiple DB's into the secondary to help back up the weakened DL by his scheme and the good not great secondary play. Basically our DL is not strong enough to stand pat because of talent and our DB's are multiple because of talent in his scheme. When the DB's don't backfill gaps soon enough or take bad angles and whiff tackles it can get bad. Having Clark go down has a net positive effect on the DL because our other players are getting more reps and learning how to disengage from blocks and make plays. Kirksey going down the same has happened at the ILB position. We are getting better on the run literally. Our offense has continued to put up points and opposing Offenses have had to abandon the run to catch up. What I would like to see is if the opposing offense is chipping our OLB w/ a TE that Pettine put a LB/Safety over the TE's nose in man coverage which will limit chipping our OLB inside and running around him. That would help tremendously in that scenario which is why SF destroyed our DL in NFC Championship game. Blitzing our secondary in certain scenarios would be great also. A cross block on the DL and blitzing a LB in Brady's face a few times would get him shaky also. Our Defense is getting better with key reps and Lowry playing less. To bad King is not playing.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

October 17, 2020 at 08:56 pm

You summed up much of what I was thinking and it's honestly the DL play that has been the weakest, even if Keke and Adams have improved with recent reps (as you allude to later, it has been when they've been beaten that causes our DBs to fail to read and fill and then subsequently take bad angles).

I honestly believe that all clears up with Clark back in the fold, Lowry to the bench, and Keke and Adams in more secondary roles to Clark or at his side. I view Kirksey going down as a positive as well, not only because he wasn't as good as I expected, but for the development of Summers (and are we finally going to see a healthy Greene for more than a few games each year?).

The next big domino to a Clark/Keke front is that it would allow Preston to go back to a rushing role and keep a fresh trio with he, Zadarius and Gary. Then Raven and Martin (I saw that EQ is back, but have not read about Martin) can play the coverage role.

That not only helps our secondary, but allows more of what you suggested in terms of blitzes from the secondary, which have been highly successful when they were used (early on, when Clark was healthy).

I'll have to ponder the S over the TE to prevent chipping.

I do think it's a fast and vastly improving defense that doesn't need to make any changes, such as those suggested in a terrible Fansided article by Joe Kipp (in which he wants nothing but DLs and WRs among his 5 trade deadline targets, almost all of which are ludicrous reaches).

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:38 pm

I healthy Raven Greene helps Pettine do a lot of the things he really wants to do. I was disappointed by Kirksey's play early this season and would love to see what he can do if he gets back into the lineup. Like what I've seen from Barnes in a limited role and Summers is certainly willing at this point in his career. Martin may not be ready this week, but I'm eager to see him on the field. Thanks for the comment, SpikeHyzer, good stuff.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:35 pm

I like your analysis PhantomII. I think the experience some of our young ILBs and DL got without Kirksey and Clark in the lineup will definitely help in the long run. Let's see what adjustments Pettine makes this week and beyond. He certainly likes using the hybrid S/ILB a lot and when Raven Greene is healthy, it works well a lot of the time. Thanks for an insightful comment.

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gr7070's picture

October 17, 2020 at 03:06 pm

While it certainly would be better to have improved run D, it won't actually greatly affect the overall effectiveness of the D.

Run D just does not matter that much. Pass D is so much more important. That's where the resources need to continue to be deployed; both in personnel acquisition and scheme deployment.

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13TimeChamps's picture

October 17, 2020 at 04:37 pm

Somewhere Kyle Shanahan is smiling at comments like this.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:40 pm

Big time, 13TimeChamps, big time.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:39 pm

There is no doubt that's where the coaching staff and GM place their emphasis. Good pass D is more important than good run D in today's NFL, but obviously you can't have a complete breakdown like we had in the NFC Championship Game last year. The run defense has to be at least reliable or average to truly contend. Thanks for the comment, gr7070.

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splitpea1's picture

October 17, 2020 at 03:12 pm

The poor tackling is especially frustrating to watch when multiple defenders have the ball carrier corralled and he still gets away. I don't know what the answer is here, but I'd like to see a little more teamwork here as far as stringing the ball carrier over to the sideline or one defender managing to hold him up long enough so the other one(s) can finish him off--and maybe try a strip in the process.

It's really hard to judge the overall defense because we've played two and a half games against teams missing their top receiver. We've been in a lot of prevent, too. We're lucky to have an offense so prolific that the spotlight hasn't been so much on the defense--yet; but I'm sure it will come at some point.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

October 17, 2020 at 08:59 pm

We were missing our top DL and top TWO ILB against those teams that were missing a receiver. And our top coverage hybrid for most of that time in Greene (who made a huge difference already in one game).

I think we were down far more pieces on those chessboards.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:43 pm

There will be a test coming for this defense at some point and hopefully they are ready for it. The key is getting them ready for the playoffs when the competition is tough and there is little margin for error.

The tackling is frustrating. I see improvement over last year, but more consistency is needed. Thanks for the comment, splitpea1.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

October 17, 2020 at 11:08 pm

Saints and Vikings are top 4 in the conference and top 8 in the league in scoring (and Atlanta could claim both things before the Packers held them down to their worst game of the season).
That WAS the big test of a defense that was missing many, many of its best pieces.
The test is not tomorrow. We're at nearly full strength again (which is why Martin was not activated and no panic move was made to replace King).
The Pack win 35-14 on the strength of a dominating defensive performance that features several Tampa Bay turnovers.

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mnbadger's picture

October 18, 2020 at 09:07 am

my first guess at the poor tackling answer is to stop tackling the runner's head! How many times in open space do we swing wildly high when a blow to the waist would bring the runner down. It's almost as if the tackling technique is first designed to avoid injury, only then try to bring the runner down if you can. GPG

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Oppy's picture

October 17, 2020 at 06:07 pm

One word, say it with me:

"Packle"

That is all

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PhantomII's picture

October 17, 2020 at 06:29 pm

In order to improve our DL for the next 4 years, would you Trade the 2021 #1on Quinnen Williams 22 yrs. old NT/DT 2019 Draft , #3 overall pick from the Jets to upgrade our DL? Imagine Clark / Williams and the Smiths. A known commodity who would improve Clarks play as well as his own and also the Smiths. Less double teams. Better run "D" and More push into the pocket.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

October 17, 2020 at 09:05 pm

haha...I already commented on your previous comment and now believe you must have read the Fansided piece.

Williams was the only guy on that terrible list that I thought would be worth trading for because he's the youngest and best.

I just don't think, no matter how bad the Jets are, that BOTH of their best two DLs would be on the chopping block.

The rest of the article was trash, suggesting trades for aging players on expiring contracts at DL for 6th or 7th round picks, and suggesting 3rd and 5th round picks for a pair of WR prospects that make no sense (one an MVS clone, though neither has panned out yet).

This guy I like, but I absolutely do not believe he will be made available, or the price will be far higher than Kipp suspects (he seems to have the same potential as Clark and I don't think a 2nd is enough).

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:48 pm

I saw the piece also, Spikehyzer and I agree with your take on it. I don't see Gute trading something as valuable as a first round pick on a player who plays a position he doesn't value enough to draft in the first round. But the cap hit would be relatively low and no doubt Williams would love to move on to a team that actually wins more than three games this season. I think it's intriguing but unlikely. Thanks for commenting.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

October 17, 2020 at 11:19 pm

I'm glad you focused on the defense, since so many still seem to have a very negative take on it still.
It was impressive to do that to an Atlanta offense that was rolling prior, and to do enough against a very powerful New Orleans offense. Both with quite a few starters missing.
I think Gutey is like Stearns and that internal development is even more important in football (there aren't really systems to learn in baseball so much as individual positions to learn).

Could he get a guy like this? Sure. I believe the Pack has a lot of extra picks and the total is 10 right now. I'd maybe consider something like a 3rd and 5th for a guy with that kind of upside for a future top front, but I think Gutey would even consider that an overpay and pass.

I feel good about tomorrow and predict the best game yet by the defense.

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PhantomII's picture

October 17, 2020 at 11:53 pm

Yea, probably a pipe dream. Our D would be pretty Bad Ass though if it worked out. Our ILB pick-ups are looking like they're going to be pretty solid. I don't know if the Jets win much as it goes this year. I don't see their Coach lasting and GM either. Could be a firesale to reboot everything and use picks for #1 overall QB. The jets have been bad for a long time now. They just got rid of their all pro Safety???? Gute is pretty conservative. Seahawks GM would pull that trigger in a flash.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:45 pm

I don't think Gute would trade a first round pick for a D-lineman at this point, it's not a position he tends to emphasize with that big of an asset. Williams is talented and young and still on his rookie deal so the short-term cap implications wouldn't be so bad. But I just don't think Gute would do it.

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PhantomII's picture

October 17, 2020 at 11:34 pm

K. Clark was a 1st round pick? Draft picks are for only one reason, to get the guy you know will help. In the draft you are guessing right or wrong. An established talent with plenty of upside should be acquired if he pushes your team to a super bowl. Williams checks that box. Play to win or go home....AGAIN! If he's available a #30 pick in the first is nothing to sturdy a DL front for the next 4-yrs. Hopefully Gute doesn't sit on his hands like last year and hope for the best.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:14 pm

You have to be able to stop the run. When it gets colder weather and in the postseason against the best competition, lower scoring games, if you can't stop the run you never get the ball back. We have seen that time and time again.

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GilMartin's picture

October 17, 2020 at 10:49 pm

You have to be able to stop the run in January and February. You don't have to be elite at it, but you can't have a Swiss Cheese defense like we had against SF last year in the playoffs. Statistically, it is more important over the course of the season to stop the pass, but if you're super vulnerable against the run, better teams will take full advantage. Thanks for the comment, Tundraboy.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 18, 2020 at 03:05 pm

They had all off-season to secure more beef and LBs that were not perpetually injured, they may have hit on two rookie LBs. Retaining Montravious and by-passing free agency with its deep field of D linemen will probably come back to bite Gutedkunst at season's end. Pray for Home Field. Go 4-2 and call it good.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 18, 2020 at 02:30 am

SF ran the ball for TDs. Long TDs often enough. That negates the philosophy of de-emphasizing run D by relying on a penalty, mistake, stuff or turnover to get off the field.

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