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Rodgers elated over Packers' defensive acquisitions

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Rodgers elated over Packers' defensive acquisitions

-- One could argue it's been a long time since the Green Bay Packers have had a formidable defense to accompany a surging offense.

If all goes well, 2019 could be a great year.

On top of the coaching staff adjustments on the offensive side of the ball with the hiring of new head coach Matt LaFleur, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy to aid Aaron Rodgers, the Packers spent big in free agency on acquisitions they hope get their defense over the hump.

Between outside linebackers Za'Darius and Preston Smith, as well as safety Adrian Amos, the Packers will spend just over $19.1 million dollars on those three contracts in year one. The cap hit for each player increases each season thereafter, signifying the acknowledgment of Rodgers' dwindling championship window entering his age 36 season.

On top of the defensive trio general manager Brian Gutekunst targeted in free agency, the Packers spent both of their first-round picks in April's draft on pass rusher Rashan Gary and safety Darnell Savage, who was already running with the first-team defense in minicamp.

While these new additions are finding their niche with Mike Pettine, returning players are hoping -- even expecting -- for a collective jump as a unit in their second season under the team's defensive coordinator.

"It's great," Rodgers told Chris Simms of NBC Sports this week. "Everything's new for those guys; they're going into their second year with Mike Pettine, but there's just a different feel.

"Blake [Martinez] is stepping into his role as a middle linebacker and owning it. We brought in some really good leadership with Adrian Amos at safety. We drafted a young kid who's really talented."

A hidden perk behind bringing aboard (Za'Darius) Smith is the flexibility he offers. While he'll be able to flip inside as opposed to standing up on the edge, doing so can open up a spot for either one of Gary or Kyler Fackrell, who is coming off of the first double-digit sack season of his career.

Pettine showcased his ability to not only disguise blitzes but send blitzers from various locations in his first season as the Packers' coordinator. Between the outside linebackers, interior defensive linemen -- Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark form one of the best duos in the league -- and a secondary who saw a multitude of free rushes at the opposing quarterback in 2018, the sky is the limit.

"I think the coolest thing is really the two outside linebackers. Just watching them just kind of fit in is really cool, Za'Darius and Preston -- and they're hungry. They're young kids who haven't won anything yet, so as an old guy, you love to see that.

"As much as you love the veterans, it's good to have some new energy and I like what our GM did bringing those guys in."


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (12) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

4thand10's picture

This D is going to be fun to watch.

Nick Perry's picture

I think everyone is elated over the acquisitions Gute made this offseason. Not only has the talent gotten much much better, but the coaching staff IMO is much much better too.

Last season when McCarthy hired Pettine he stuck him with the same ole assistant coaches who have been in GB for years. As much as I liked Joe Whitt, I disliked Winston Moss just as much. New coaches were necessary to turn this around and I think the Packers did a pretty good job with their hires.

The D-Line, OLB, and Safety positions all improved in a HUGE way in the offseason...EVERY level of the defense took a huge leap. Not only with the quality of players and coaches, but with depth this team hasn't had in years.

This is going to be so fun to watch. Not only has everything just I mentioned happened, but several writers and former teammates just re-inserted that HUGE ass chip on Rodgers shoulder with everything said and written.

49 days to kickoff!

Bearmeat's picture

I do think the defense will be better, but slow your roll a bit. They need to prove they can stop an elite QB a few times before we start calling them any sort of defensive led team.

Coldworld's picture

It’s going to be a work in progress, but at least at this point we have a roster that has more depth and has addressed the glaring black hole positions we went into last season with. That plus a refreshed (leaving aside potentially better) coaching staff and attitude and I think it will be fun again.

Nick Perry's picture

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised what multiple pass rushers, safeties, and actual NFL quality coaching (at LB position) can do.

Packer Dave's picture

Compared to the last few years we finally have the personnel to generate sustained pressure. That always equates to more TO and better field position.

Hopefully the tide will turn and we'll see this team win time of possession every game.

Guam's picture

On paper our defense should be much better, but I want to see it on the field before I start throwing out too many bouquets. I have been disappointed by pre-season hype too many times in the last few years not to be a bit jaded. Here's hoping the hype is real this year.

murf7777's picture

Guam, I couldn’t have said it better. With all the draft capital spent on D over the past 5 years each pre season I’m thinking Top 10 only to be disappointed. Just maybe with FA this is the year. Can’t wait to find out!

flackcatcher's picture

While I have high hopes, I have watched this team get destroyed in back to back seasons mostly by injury on the field, and some ugly back stabbing by the Packer president and QB1. The latter hangs like a greasy stench, that all happy talk will not make what happen go away. On plus side the Packers have a young dynamic GM who is quickly rebuilding the team with one of the best defensive minds in the game, and a young HC who is considered one of the better offensive planners in pro football. So there is real reason for the high hopes we Packer fans share for this season. But I will wait till I see how this team performs, when the pads come on for now.

Freezn's picture

I believe that Mike will have a very hungry defensive line with strength speed and size and I believe Zadarius will bring an attitude our defense has not seen in a long time. With two new good linebacker coaches I believe the ceiling is the limit for the defense.

Rick F's picture

This is a fast athletic defense with good design. Pettines ability to create game plans with multiple looks and flexibility is going to cause chaos. He needed certain players to run the scheme at a high level and Gutekunst delivered that. Gutekunst has built a talented young roster to work around Rodgers and Lafleur will strike balance to the offense. The upgrade in proven talent will shine through. Rodgers is going to shut a lot of people up after this year. I think he will play with a huge chip on his shoulder. The packers will make the playoffs this year.

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

There will be a LOT of improvement on both sides of the ball. Going to be fun!

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