The Lass Word: Pack Actually Better Than Top Teams at 4th Quarter Defense

Still, it's never okay for a defense to relax.

I hear you.   I know.   Despite how well the Packers play, it gets so frustrating to see their defense get soft late in the game  and give up tons of points, giving their opponents hope and keeping the outcome in doubt.   It happened again last Sunday night.   Green Bay took a 41-10 lead into the 4th quarter, only to lay back and watch the Bears run off 15 unanswered points and close the lead to 16, with just under 4 minutes still left in the game.   I shudder to think what might have been if Chicago had recovered that onside kick and got the ball back.

If you follow the Packers, it will not surprise you to know that Green Bay currently ranks 21st in the league in average points allowed in the 4th quarter.   But it may surprise you to know that they are doing better in that category than several other top playoff contenders.

According to teamrankings.com, no fewer than six of the best teams in the NFL allow more 4th quarter points on average than the Packers.   That includes the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs.   The Buffalo Bills are 23rd, the Tennessee Titans are 24th, the Chiefs are 25th, the Cleveland Browns are 27th, the Seattle Seahawks are 31st, and the Las Vegas Raiders are dead last at 32nd. 

What does this mean?   Well, since these teams are among the winningest in the league, obviously they are not allowing opponents to come from behind and beat them.   What they are doing is exactly what Green Bay often does, except more so.   They are getting substantial leads, and then going soft and giving up a lot of points.   Some might interpret this to mean you can overcome mediocre 4th quarter defense to win a Super Bowl.   Well,  I don't know about you, but this does not make me feel any better about the Packers late game struggles.   I can't help but think it's going to come back to bite them at some crucial point of the season.   The defense needs to close games.

It should be pointed out that six of the top ten teams in least 4th quarter points allowed are also playoff contenders..   The Los Angeles Rams are number one, allowing an average of just 3.5 points per game in the final frame.    The undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers are 2nd,  the Tampa Bay Bucs are 4th, the New Orleans Saints are 7th, the Indianapolis Colts are 8th, and the Arizona Cardinals rank 10th.   So it's clear there is value in having a defense that has some killer instinct.

There is no shame in playing "prevent" defense with a lead in the final period.   The logic behind it is solid and practical.   The key is, you have to play it WELL.   It's clear the Packers struggle to do this.   I went back and studied three drives from the Bears game:   the one at the end of the first half, and the two scoring drives in the 4th quarter.   I came away with several observations as to why the "prevent" doesn't seem to work for Green Bay.

First is the lack of pressure on the quarterback.   This is the point where the pass rushers are supposed to be able to "tee off".   But with a consistent four man rush, the Bears offense had five lineman to block four pass rushers.   On those three drives, Chicago ran a total of 42 plays.   By my count, the Packers brought extra rushers on just 5 of those plays.   One of those really doesn't count, as one of the DL's, I think it was Keke, at first dropped back into coverage, and then decided to rush late when there was no one to cover.   When you know your opponent has to throw the ball on virtually every play, you have to get a few sacks and multiple pressures on the QB.  More blitzes would help.   Yes, that leaves you vulnerable in the areas vacated, but the passes are being completed anyway, so what have you got to lose?

I also noticed a lack of aggressive attack by the back seven.   They seem to wait until the ball is caught in front of them before moving up to tackle.   Teams that play prevent effectively have inside linebackers, safeties and corners who anticipate the target and break on the ball.   Again, when you know the other guys are going to throw, you should be getting more picks, or at least more PBU's.   Now, the Packer defenders may be instructed to allow the catch and focus on the tackle, but that is conceding yardage and points, which is a mindset that should never be acceptable.   And it leads to the next observation.

If you're going to play back and allow the catch, for goodness sake MAKE THE TACKLE!      On the TD drive to end the first half, Raven Greene whiffed badly on a short pass in the flat to Darnell Mooney.   Then a few plays later, whiffed even worse on a short flip to David Montgomery.     On the first scoring drive of the 4th quarter, Christian Kirksey missed on a short throw over the middle.   On the final touchdown, the Bears lined up with four players in a bunch formation to the right.   The Packers had only three defenders out there to cover.   Jaire Alexander and Will Redmond were waving frantically at Kirksey to come out and help.   Kirksey was slow to react, and then missed the tackle on Montgomery who burst across the goal line.

You might say, who is this hurting?   So the Packers win by 16 instead of 31.   So what?   Well, I'll tell you who it's hurting.   Tim Boyle for one.   This would have been a great opportunity for him to play an entire quarter and get some valuable experience.   But with the Bears continuing to pare down the lead, coach Matt LaFleur didn't feel safe enough to put him in.     The day after the game LaFleur said "you just don't want to get into a situation where you kind of clear the bench and put everybody in, and then you're putting your starters back in if they make it that much closer.   So unfortunately we couldn't close it out."

Any number of offensive reserves could have gotten in some meaningful reps if the defense had played prevent more effectively.   And then there's just the mindset that it's okay to let up, to surrender your momentum.   That is going to be fatal somewhere down the road, perhaps in the playoffs.

LaFleur claims it has his attention and that of his defensive coordinator.   "This is something that Pettine and I have talked about, just in terms of how aggressive do you really want to be?"

A Packers win always feels good, but it would feel even better with a solid, complete and aggressive finish.

 

OUTTAKES

•  Quote from ESPN radio show host Mike Greenberg:   "Aaron Rodgers has Packer fans talking Super Bowl, and he's doing it with guys like Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan.   No offense to them, but they are not exactly Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelsey".

•  The light seems to be coming on for safety Darnell Savage.   He reminds me of Darren Sharper.   Sharper was terrible his first year or two.   Remember, he was responsible for Terrell Owens catching that TD pass that knocked the Pack out of the playoffs in 1998?   But Sharper went on to become one of the best safeties in the  league.   Savage may be on the same arc.   Sadly, Sharper's personal life was a mess and he is currently serving prison time for sexual assault. 

•  I feel a bit sorry for Tramon Williams.   After not getting an offer to return to the Packers, he finally signed with the Ravens hoping for one last shot at another ring.   I saw where he got in the game Wednesday against the Steelers because of injury.   Unfortunately, the Ravens have been ravaged by injury and Covid-19 and appear to be going down the drain.

•  Sunday's opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, will mark the return of tight end Richard Rodgers to Lambeau Field.   He has always been a favorite of mine since catching the Hail Mary pass in the Miracle in Motown back in 2015.   And he's having a decent year for the Eagles, with 24 catches for 345 yards and two touchdowns.

•  The Eagles are every bit as much of a mess on offense as the Bears.   This could be a good opportunity for the Green Bay defense to play that elusive complete game. 

 

 

 

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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Comments (57)

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splitpea1's picture

December 03, 2020 at 03:34 pm

Spot on. You should be given strong consideration for the new DC position during the off-season. Make sure you hire a tackling instructor, because we've needed one for a long time.

Seriously, though, this defense needs a whole new frame of mind with regards to tackling, preparedness, alignment, aggression...and we'll see how they're going to address personnel.
I've said this a couple times before: the front office and coaching staff need to be on the same page if this is going to be done right and with reasonable expedience.

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 03, 2020 at 07:14 pm

I agree, move Pettine, now. Create some energy and get the whole defense playing as one.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 03, 2020 at 04:15 pm

If the defense is going to play soft, then yes, it needs to tackle and also come up fast to limit gains. Too often I see the DBs break down and wait for the ballcarrier to reach them. There is a fine balance there, since breaking down is part of tackling well, but so is limiting gains.

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dobber's picture

December 03, 2020 at 05:09 pm

"Too often I see the DBs break down and wait for the ballcarrier to reach them."

Too often we see Raven Greene or Will Redmond come in hot and whiff completely, too.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 03, 2020 at 05:44 pm

I like tackling. Tackling is good. You have to be able to cover and tackle, both. I would remind you we let a good tackler walk over a relatively small amount and his replacement has not been as good. We want Superman at that ILB spot....a guy with sideline to sideline speed who can cover top TEs and also stack 320 lb guards in the hole.

When the prevent costs us a win, let me know. As the article says, many top teams give up fourth quarter points. We’ve played 44 quarters of football ball, and in two of them, Minnesota and Chicago scored 39 garbage time points against our prevent. Without those two quarters, this is a top ten scoring defense.

We’ve got some weak offenses and some cold weather coming and it wouldn’t surprise me to see us choke out some offenses. We’ve made progress all season long. We got Greene back, and Clark, and King. We’re gelling.

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Guam's picture

December 03, 2020 at 11:01 pm

No fan likes the prevent and always wants their defense to dominate. However there is a risk to continuing to play aggressive defense when you have a large lead. Just ask the Houston Oilers who many years ago had a 32 point lead early in the third quarter of a playoff game in Buffalo. The Oilers continued to play aggressive defense all through the second half - the same defense that had held Buffalo to 3 points until early in the third quarter.

Unfortunately for Houston that aggressive defense started giving up big plays over the top and the Oilers went on to lose that game in overtime. The next day the Oilers fired their DC and their secondary coach. A prevent defense probably would have won the game.

There are many other examples of a defense going horribly wrong and losing a game that was won, but this is the most memorable (in fact it is immortalized as "The Comeback"). More importantly NFL teams and defensive coordinators remember these games too. The prevent defense is played for a reason.

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Befuddled's picture

December 04, 2020 at 05:58 am

There are also many examples of the prevent defense "preventing'" teams from winning. Your one example if it is a true example of an aggressive defense allowing a team back into game is just that. One example. Of all the games played since then where a team has played prevent and lost outnumber your one example. The phrase "prevent defense prevents you from winning" has been around for years and is not without merit.

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Guam's picture

December 04, 2020 at 07:48 am

Interesting that I provided one example of my assertion (a rather famous one and definitely true - look it up) and you provided zero examples of yours but conclude that there are more games lost by prevent defenses than lost by aggressive defenses. Do you have facts to back that up?

I agree that prevent defenses can lose games, but so can aggressive defenses. Most fans seem to assume that if an aggressive defense has contained a team for a half it will automatically do so for the remainder of the game. Not necessarily so and I provided the most famous example of one that didn't. There are others just as there are examples of games that have been lost by prevent defenses.

As to which is more prevalent, I will take my lead from the conventional wisdom of most NFL teams - play prevent with a big lead. I will not assume that I know better than most of the experts in the profession and I will trust their judgement that playing prevent provides more wins than playing aggressively.

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 05, 2020 at 11:24 am

More like the Oiler offense tanked the second half. Pedal to the metal.

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Guam's picture

December 05, 2020 at 10:47 pm

That too, but it doesn't absolve a defense of blowing a 32 point lead with less than a half to go.

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Lphill's picture

December 03, 2020 at 04:39 pm

If King could catch it would have been a much different outcome.

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Coldworld's picture

December 03, 2020 at 04:52 pm

But not a different debate or a less relevant one

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Leatherhead's picture

December 03, 2020 at 05:30 pm

I think the outcome....a win....would be the same. Only the score might have been different.

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wildbill's picture

December 03, 2020 at 04:57 pm

Sometimes I feel that the players are not just playing a soft prevent, with a large lead, but also playing not to get hurt. Sadly lazy tackling technique will get your hurt more often than making a strong,hard, tackle. I’ve hated the prevent defense the first time I saw it years ago but I feel the fans are more upset about final scores and the players are just wanting to end with a win and be healthy

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Bure9620's picture

December 04, 2020 at 04:47 am

They are playing to not get beat by a big play and forcing the offense to drive the length of the field, we had some guys dinged up in garbage time.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 04, 2020 at 10:54 am

After a completion, the entire offense has to hustle to line up and snap the ball. Rinse and repeat. Clock keeps running.

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canadapacker's picture

December 03, 2020 at 05:19 pm

Totally agree with us playing too far off - at the end of the first half and to end games when leading. We need to be close enough to punish the receivers especially if the pass is a little off. You can keep one or two deep to stop the homeruns but there shouldnt be 20 yards from the line of scrimmage with everybody else - 3 or 4 plays and they are in the red zone.

This game against Phillie - should be a lock but it isnt a lock. They play tough D and I hope we get out to a big league - but except for last game - everybody knows that we can come out in our HOUSE asleep. Lets just take it to them. Now their Oline is pretty porous and the Smiths (assuming Preston has really woken up) should be getting to Wentz. This is really going to be a test of our offense. Seattle had difficulty getting a whole bunch of points -but they have been doing that on the road. Adams knows Slay - and he will get his chance to prove that he is the best against a Dback who is in the pro bowl conversation. Our Oline really really needs to give AR time - I think that once you get past Slay - there is a good chance that Lazard MVS Tonyon can have big days.

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 03, 2020 at 05:39 pm

Whether it's the pass rush, 3-man rush, tackling, playing too far off, this team is playing a tug-o-war between the offense and defense, as like MLF and Pettine.

MLF says the defense needs to 'tighten up' and Pettine counters with 'we haven't blown a game you were ahead in, in the 4th quarter.'

This tug-o-war will likely be the reason a very important game is lost and sends the team home.

The offense miscues and struggles to get 20 and the defense 'prevents' a win, for GB, in the 4th quarter.

Weren't many waiting for such against Jacksonville in the fourth. It didn't happen, but you were waiting for it.

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CoachDino's picture

December 03, 2020 at 06:09 pm

I couldn't disagree more. The offense and defense are strategically aligned to allow for the best probability of a win. It's obvious in how they operate

The offense is Elite. The Defense is average. How they game plan is based on this, how they adjust during games is based on this, Decisions on and off the field are based on this.

Here's an interesting project. How many teams have elite performance on both sides of the ball? Should the expectations be that the defense should rank in the top 5?
What is the statistical impact of having an elite offense that dictates you play Prevent in the 4th Qtr? The same question could be asked on how the defense benefits from an elite offense statistically.

Coaching isn't about having the top ranked squad. A great majority of factors are out of the coaches control. The coaches don't select the players. There's only one coach who has final say on the strategies. The coach's job is to use what he/she has under the constraints put on them to perform to the expectations put on them by the Head coach. What are the key performance indicators that ML has put on his DC? Unless we can answer this we have a very limited idea of how the DC is doing.

Do you think the DC likes playing Prevent? A Pass first Scheme? All the players that are given to him? Most likely not, that is not a bad thing. Our nature is to optimize our "part" but that isn't always what's best for the team.

I can't tell you how many times I was sure my boss had no clue only to find out as I progressed up the ladder that there were reasons for those decisions and I just wasn't smart, aware, trained, in a position to know.

I think all of these can be seen when reading many of the articles and posts I see. Doesn't mean I don't enjoy having my own opinions but to have a strong opinion based on so little information is interesting in itself.

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CoachDino's picture

December 03, 2020 at 06:26 pm

Ok, I did a cursory review of the Offense ranking/defense ranking and ya I was right...lol...
(Used PFF)

The best record in football has the number 1 defense and the #22 offense.
KC #2offense #18 def
Seattle #1 #16
GB #5 #15

These rankings/grades need to be used as a reference not the end all but there is little doubt that the best teams don't have an elite offense and defense or even a top 5 in both. I didn't do the math but it seems on average the best teams are going to fall in the average ranking of 20 combined or a #10 offense and #10 defense.

I wonder if the media and fans are as passionate in wanting the weaker side of the balls coordinator fired and see that side of the ball with such a critical eye as we do?

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 03, 2020 at 07:08 pm

I don't believe I mentioned one single stat as a reference, nor did I mention rankings etc. I said what I said based on watching the game. Tell me you don't see the same. I don't need stats and rankings to tell or show me what I see.

If the offense and defense were working on the same page, then the weekly questions about the play of the defense wouldn't be so front page, and MLF should just say it's what we agree to do.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 04, 2020 at 07:10 am

"to have a strong opinion based on so little information is interesting in itself."

Taryn is the king/queen of having strong opinions with absolutely no information to support said opinions. Interestingly enough, she/he admits to spouting uninformed opinions by stating "I don’t need stats and rankings to tell or show me what I see". Of course. Taryn also does also not need facts in forming her/his opinions that the virus is a hoax and that massive fraud occurred during the election.

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 04, 2020 at 09:11 am

Everyone here has strong opinions after watching a game. I don't believe everyone here watches a game while looking up statistics. There is however, a few that comment on games based on stats that are media driven and are likely the type that need announcers to tell them what's going on in the game, like you. Is that because you're a he/she who doesn't grasp the game on his/her own ability.

I believe there's a virus out there, I don't believe the numbers they speak to and I certainly believe it's been a political ploy used by Dem loons, and if voter fraud is a total lie to you, perhaps you need to get your he/she mental capacity checked, though I would venture it's below the 90 mark like most wannabe Karens.

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13TimeChamps's picture

December 04, 2020 at 10:00 am

HighPlainsDrifter seems to think he has some innate ability to decipher whether someone is a racist, a Democrat, a Republican, a BLM supporter or hater, a virus denyer or supporter, etc., etc....based solely on some innocuous football related comment a poster on here makes.

Over half of his posts on here are either race bating or politically driven to get a response. He's been asked by several posters on here to keep that crap out of here, but he persists. He's an attention whore and an idiot. Ignore him.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 05, 2020 at 05:53 am

Nothing innate about it. Taryn has previously admitted to her proclivities.

You seem to be opposed to those who support equal rights for all people. I wonder why that is?

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 05, 2020 at 06:25 am

Well 13, I'll have to admit that perhaps I misjudged you, to a certain extent, after reading your exchange with the troll Lphill on the Packers Periscope thread. I especially enjoyed your "An old, out of shape, retired rent-a-cop from NY" line. That is high quality work.

I still do not understand why you continue to defend deplorables such as Taryn. Assuming it is true that you have been a fan since 1962, you obviously lived through the civil rights era. You know well that minorities and females still suffer from discrimination. You know that the Taryn deplorables support a "man" who brags about assaulting women and who refers to neo-Nazis as "very fine people".

Bigots like Taryn and Lphill are not entitled to be immune from criticism simply because they post their racist screeds on a football blog. Decent Packers fans reject such hatred, as I hope you do as well.

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13TimeChamps's picture

December 05, 2020 at 08:44 am

I have no idea what Taryn stands for politically, and don't care. I wasn't defending her at all.

My issue with you is that you're constantly bringing your unwanted political views onto a football site, and coming up with conclusions about people you know nothing about.

Awhile back I posted something about the inconsistent play of MVS and how frustrating it could be. You responded, without knowing ANYTHING about me, that I was only making those comments because MVS is black, and that I was probably a right wing, Breitbart lover. All because I made a comment that numerous other posters on here have made numerous times. Even his coaches have said he needs to be more consistent. By the way, I made the same comments about one Jeff Janis when he was here. Didn't seem to bother you then.

You were so far off the mark about me it's laughable. I'm a veteran from the late 60's/early 70's, a lifelong registered Independent who votes Democrat 95% of the time, including this past election. I've never read one word that Breitbart has written, nor would I have any interest to. By the way, my wife of over 40 years is of mixed race.

I've seen you lecture other people on here as well about their supposed beliefs. I'm assuming you know as much about them as you do about me. Maybe you should just stick to commenting on the Packers while posting on this site. You won't look quite so foolish.

One last thing. Didn't you make a rather derogatory comment about Darrius Shepherd when he was cut recently? I guess that makes you a right wing, Breitbart loving racist then, huh? See how that works?

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 06, 2020 at 03:54 am

I did not make any derogatory remark about Darius.

I offered you an olive branch. I even offered you the benefit of the doubt regarding your beliefs. In return, you continue to criticize me for calling out people who oppose equal rights. In fact, you admit that you "don't care" about what the bigots believe or do. Not caring about that is a very odd position for someone claiming to have mixed race family members to take.

Trust me, I prefer to discuss Packers football. However, racism and hatred flourishes if not confronted. If that confrontation bothers you perhaps you should skip the fight.

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13TimeChamps's picture

December 07, 2020 at 02:46 pm

"I even offered you the benefit of the doubt regarding your beliefs."

Seriously? I mean really SERIOUSLY"? Who the f*ck are you to "give me the benefit of the doubt" about ANYTHING? You don't know me from Adam. I could give a rat's azz how you feel about my beliefs. And I sure as hell have no interest in justifying them to you.

Just curious....other than making yourself feel important by posting judgmental drivel on here, what exactly do you do for the "fight"? Myself, I'm retired and spend 3 days a week being a volunteer reading tutor for elementary kids in low income neighborhoods. My 4th year actually, with this year doing it remotely. I'll be curious to hear what your contributions have been.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 06, 2020 at 05:34 am

Taryn - There has not been a single proven incident of voter fraud. Not a single one.

You need to read and take to heart Since'61's remarks on the Corey Linsley thread regarding the doctors and nurses treating covid19 patients. People like you are endangering our health care providers specifically, as well as the general public. Please listen to accepted science and do your part to protect the health of your fellow citizens.

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CoachDino's picture

December 04, 2020 at 05:50 pm

just as an fyi my comments weren't meant to be a criticism of Tarynfor12 in itself but in a more general sense. I also am way past the days of trying to "win" email or posts spats. No one wins and no one changes their mind so its useless. That's why I always fall back to IMO and how its awesome we all have our own opinions. OK that said.lol...

Strong Opinion implied basing a hiring or firing decision and/or other large impactful decisions. Having a strong opinion is a must but how you come to them is really the critical part of the equation.

Stats can not be used as a stand alone evaluator unless they carry a very high confidence level and have a proven methodology over time. One can make an argument and use stats to prove either side of it. It happens all the time. In sports I see Bob McGinn use it very effectively. Hate using politics in sports posts but both parties and media outlets use it all the time. Unless you know the methodology behind them they are of little use.

Same can be said for Observation evaluation. Human error / bias will always be a factor. then you just have competency plus the factors that can't be observed so then must be assumed. Big issue.

My points, is only that both are needed to come to the most accurate conclusions. When evaluating both should be challenged, not to be insulting but to add credibility and improve/adjust if required.

The biggest issue with not using stats is something I see on these posts and throughout our lives. Perspective.

Unless I observe every game that is played by all teams that i am comparing my team too I will be lacking any true perspective. that will most often lead to emotional and rash decision making. Not that it will even be the wrong decision, it may be the perfect decision. The issue is the probability that it is the right decision.

Same can be said for Stats and is why I always try to reference them and the fact I'm only using one source. PFF makes mistakes all the time, they are true statisticians as they are constantly evaluating and trying to improve in order to derive the best correlations.

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Gary Fritzmeier's picture

December 03, 2020 at 05:40 pm

You made mention of Richard Rodgers Hail Mary catch of 2015 and this last weekends game he made a 2nd catch of Hail Mary and it was a beauty. You'll have to open this to see it. I thought it would shown of TV but if so I missed it. https://twitter.com/i/status/1333628838358650881

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Spock's picture

December 04, 2020 at 08:56 am

Wow. Thanks for the link. One heck of an impressive one-handed catch after his team mate "dropped the ball", lol.

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CoachDino's picture

December 03, 2020 at 05:44 pm

Some good points but somewhat contradictory.

I think some assumptions ring true. Good teams are going to give up more points in the 4th qtr due to Prevent defense. If the Packers are better than most of them why is the conclusion they play poor prevent defense? Seems they are playing it better than most you are good enough to employ it. So are they actually a good prevent defense team?

How important is prevent defense when playing top competition (playoffs) hopefully we find out but most likely it will never be a big issue.

The outpouring of concern about the Packers 4th qtr points allowed, most often while using Prevent, Is fan and media driven. Most likely not a concern that will rise to the level that time and resources are prioritized over other aspects.

The reason they aren't always being aggressive with the ball in the air is simply the design of prevent. You want the defender in control to best ensure a tackle.

That brings us to the biggest concern with this defense in my opinion. Tackling!!!! be it during prevent, run plays, pass plays its the core competency that is most worrisome.

Who it hurts? seriously? We are now going to take focus away from using winning strategies to try and get snaps for our back-uop QB. that's a Come on man moment. Who cares if Tim Boyle is getting snaps. How much of the offense is he going to run in those situations anyway?

loved the article as I had no idea just how out touch many of us were on the 4th QTR prevent concerns.

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splitpea1's picture

December 03, 2020 at 06:59 pm

If Tim Boyle is getting snaps, it means that, for one, AR is on the sidelines and out of harm's way.

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CoachDino's picture

December 04, 2020 at 06:51 pm

true, but not the point the author tried to make and my thoughts on his statement.

One could argue that the risk avoidance issue is lessened due to the amount of time the D is actually on the field when they play prevent and the risk adverse offense play calling when the offense is on the field BUT I agree with you as when it comes to AR any added risk could be deemed unnecessary in those situations.

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Bure9620's picture

December 04, 2020 at 04:53 am

Very similar to the great Patriots teams.....They would score a bunch of points...blow the doors off a team early and then play deep zone the rest of the game......they gave the opposing offense everything underneath, and as a result gave up a lot of yards......as a result they had a defense not ranked very high

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dobber's picture

December 04, 2020 at 07:52 am

Agreed in that rankings don't mean an awful lot. Nobody plays the same schedule, nobody has the same game scripts, nobody has the same player availability (esp. with Covid), and they're based on such a limited number of games...the playing field with regard to rankings is so uneven, it's hard to draw too much from them--at least until you're about as deep in the season as we are now when the inequities start to level a little bit more. Even then, they're not much more than indicators. Problem is: we don't have much more to lean on than that, so we're forced to make more out of the rankings than are really there.

Here's a question: If you look at the teams outlined above as those who give up a lot of 4th quarter points vs. those that don't, which teams do you think probably play more one-score games? I had my own guess and thought this might be an indicator of the impact of 4th quarter scoring, but a quick tally shows that the two sets of teams play pretty close to the same number of one score games. I found that to be really interesting.

As for the prevent stuff, let's not lose sight on the fact that the prevent is also a way to try to keep your defenders somewhat healthy by minimizing the beating they take down after down. Someone pointed out how lousy it is to lose an important player to injury during garbage time...this at least helps to minimize that.

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murf7777's picture

December 04, 2020 at 09:29 am

Actually, I think if you go back and look at NE’s defense rankings you will find that over 80% of the time they were top10 and probably over 50% of time in top 5. I didn’t go back and check but that is my recollection. Which also supports that 80% of the time the best defense wins championships.

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splitpea1's picture

December 04, 2020 at 01:00 pm

I went back and checked. Over the last 20 years, their defense was almost always ranked very high as far as points allowed, but much less so in yardage allowed.

The prevent is okay as long as you allow short gains, make the tackle immediately, and keep the clock running; but it's time to get serious again when the opponent is nearing the red zone.

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Dragon5's picture

December 03, 2020 at 06:39 pm

Good odds BAL runs the table to close reg season. Hottest teams entering the race are usually the most feared...due to confidence.

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Bure9620's picture

December 04, 2020 at 04:54 am

How are they hot??

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 04, 2020 at 05:57 am

Well, they are hot with covid19 infection.

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flackcatcher's picture

December 04, 2020 at 03:40 pm

That the Ravens even took the field is amazing in its own right. (personally, I think playing the game was amazingly stupid on the NFL's part. If the Ravens had one superspreader the Steelers season would be in deep doo doo)

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PhantomII's picture

December 03, 2020 at 10:06 pm

We got a pass rush and we got turnovers. Wow, it has been a long time coming. P. Smith set the edge and wasn't fooled by QB/RB fake.
Even Savage made 2 nice INT's. I would like our offense to score in all 4 quarters reguardless of score for consistency because...we need it. If an offense doesn't score in the 4th then the defense is on the field too long and will wear down especially if the DC is making soft coverage decisions. Instead of our offense trudging down the field methodically your competition is. Yea, something wrong with that between ML and Pettine. Offenses are there to score, how long it takes only matters if you're behind. Defenses are there to make a stop and give the ball back to the offense unless you get lucky and score yourself. What a concept.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 03, 2020 at 10:27 pm

"Any number of offensive reserves could have gotten in some meaningful reps if the defense had played prevent more effectively.   And then there's just the mindset that it's okay to let up, to surrender your momentum.   That is going to be fatal somewhere down the road, perhaps in the playoffs."

Any team throughout the course of a long season has to take advantage of opportunities to make a statement and on defense especially. And as you pointed out another great side benefit is that you're able to put in some offensive players that normally don't ge't to play that's called developing your team, it's smart.

Why this team continues to take that approach is one of the reasons they're considered soft.

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porupack's picture

December 04, 2020 at 06:04 am

Very solid article Ken.

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x24's picture

December 04, 2020 at 08:48 am

Heaven help the opposition that fell asleep on Sharper

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lawatrain's picture

December 04, 2020 at 11:41 am

Heaven help any females that fell asleep around Sharper as well!

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x24's picture

December 04, 2020 at 01:59 pm

Yeah, that was the whole point...

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lawatrain's picture

December 04, 2020 at 11:53 am

Heaven help any females that fell asleep around Sharper as well!

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Since'61's picture

December 04, 2020 at 10:24 am

I don’t like the prevent defense and I never have. The poor tackling of the Packers defense makes it a poor decision to employ it even with a substantial lead as we observed against the Bears.

IMO, If you would want to preserve your lead the best thing to is play your normal aggressive defense, stop the opponent’s offense, get your defense off the field and keep your offense on the field. Unless the offense gets very sloppy with ball security the other team can’t score while our offense is on the field. I’m all for putting pressure on the opponent’s QB and forcing him to hurry his pass or get a few sacks.

We need to remember that our opponents are professional players. Make it easy for them and they will move the ball and score reasonably quickly, especially if they are one of the better offenses in the league. In this era of the NFL no lead is safe particularly if the defense doesn’t tackle well to begin with. Get stops, keep your offense on the field, run out the clock. When your offense is on the field you have control, when your defense is on the field you need to exert your will to have control. Thanks, Since ‘61

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lawatrain's picture

December 04, 2020 at 11:48 am

Good points. Would you rather be a hammer (offense) or the nail (defense) ? When we keep our defense off the field, that’s the best prevent defense. We need to keep the hammer hammering.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 04, 2020 at 11:47 am

1. The 9ers did NOT beat GB in the 98 playoffs: "Remember, he was responsible for Terrell Owens catching that TD pass that knocked the Pack out of the playoffs in 1998?"

Rice fumbled. The 9ers got away with one. The end.

2. Our passivity and lack of tackling ability, as well as lack of winning 1v1 pass rush (for what we're paying to the Smith Bros, Clark and with Gary) is frustrating as hell.

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Since'61's picture

December 04, 2020 at 01:25 pm

‘98 was the season the league played without the replay review. If we had the review that call would have been overturned.

Because of that play the league reinstated the replay review for the next season at the Packers expense of course.

As for our tackling that’s just another reason to bring the pass rush and try to force a bad throw or get a sack. Giving up
4-5 15-20 yards pass plays while playing prevent is not much better than giving up one big play. Especially against the better QBs who we are likely to face during the playoffs.
Thanks, Since ‘61

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 05, 2020 at 11:35 am

A guy like Trubitsky, you bring five and let him hit the short pass or take the sack. It would be another story if the secondary could collapse their zone looks fast enough, but they like to play peek-a-boo with the QB instead of locking on the WRs. Too soft.

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RichBeckman's picture

December 06, 2020 at 12:59 pm

I have enjoyed reading Cheesehead TV for several years now, and I am sure I will continue to do so. Lots of great info and writing. I suppose I should comment occasionally just to say that. But of course, here I am commenting with a criticism.

“So it's clear there is value in having a defense that has some killer instinct.”

Umm. No. Clear as mud maybe.

You say that “According to teamrankings.com, no fewer than six of the best teams in the NFL allow more 4th quarter points on average than the Packers.”

So, if we add in the Packers, 7 of the best teams allow a lot of 4th quarter points.

Then you say, “It should be pointed out that six of the top ten teams in least 4th quarter points allowed are also playoff contenders.”

So, 7 of the top teams allow a lot of points and six of the top teams do not.

I’m not seeing clear evidence of the 4th quarter “killer instinct.”

Now, all things being equal, I would just as prefer that my team is not giving up lots of garbage time points. But at the end of the day, all I care about is did they win the game.

My memory may be faulty (I am old and confused,) but I do not believe any of this years Packer losses were a result of garbage time points.

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