The Lass Word: Why Is It So Hard for Pack to Build a Top 10 Defense?

A decade of trying hasn't shown much progress.

The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl following the 2010 season. That year, the Packers finished 5th in the league in total team defense. The unit featured great players such as Nick Collins and Charles Woodson, and budding stars like second year players B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews.

But the following season, the bottom dropped out. The Packers' defense crashed to 32nd, dead last in total defense, including one of the worst statistical pass defense seasons in NFL history.

Nearly a decade later, the franchise has still not fully recovered on that side of the ball. Their inability to rebuild a defense capable of finishing in the top ten is puzzling at best, frustrating at worst. Their team defense rankings since 2011 are 11th, 25th, 15th, 15th, 22nd, 22nd, 18th and 19th.

After three games this season, Green Bay stands at 14th in total defense, 18th against the pass and 14th against the rush. In points allowed they are 21st.

Why hasn't the proud franchise of Ray Nitschke, Willie Davis, Reggie White and LeRoy Butler been able to recapture its defensive mojo? There are several possible explanations.

Have they had the wrong coaches? Coordinators Dom Capers and Mike Pettine are well respected around the league and both have the credentials and track record to establish their ability to build and strategize  a top ten unit.

Is it because the head coaches, Mike McCarthy and Matt LaFleur, are both offensive guys and don't pay enough attention to the other side of the ball?    Hard to believe since defensive failure could cost them their jobs.

Is it rule changes that favor offenses? Well, all teams in the league would have been equally affected by that.

More than likely, it has boiled down to personnel decisions. Green Bay's inability to field a top ten defense has not been for lack of trying. Since the Super Bowl season of 2010, the Packers have had 22 draft picks in the first two rounds. They have used 14 of those on defensive players. Let's take a quick look at  how those have turned out:

 

Nick Perry (2012-1st round)

Played seven years at outside linebacker for Packers.   Often injured, Perry appeared to break out in 2016 with 11 sacks in 14 games.   But his play declined after that and he was not brought back after the 2018 season.

 

Jerel Worthy (2012-2nd round)

In two years with Green Bay Worthy was a major disappointment with just 15 tackles and 2.5 sacks.   After being cut, Worthy hung on as a reserve for five more years with three other teams but never started a game.

 

Casey Hayward (2012-2nd round)

Had a terrific rookie year with six interceptions, but in three more seasons was just okay.   The Packers had several promising young corners on the roster in 2015 and judged Hayward would be too expensive to resign, so they let him walk.   That turned out to be a mistake as Hayward went on to several terrific seasons with the Chargers while Green Bay's young corners bombed out.

 

Datone Jones  (2013-1st round)

The Packers desperately tried to convert Jones from a defensive lineman to a rush linebacker but he never truly adapted to the position in four years.  His best year was 2013 when he had 3.5 sacks.   Pack let him go after 2016.   He hung on in the NFL for two more years but never broke out.

 

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (2014-1st round)

After four plus seasons the Packers concluded Ha Ha could only play deep center field and pick off overthrows.   He was traded to Washington and bounced to two other teams.   He was cut by Dallas in 2020 training camp.  

 

Damarious Randall  (2015-1st round)

The Packers played him out of position at corner and he was still an above average player with ten interceptions in three seasons.   Was probably the best DB on the team by the end of 2017, but was judged to be a discipline problem, openly dissatisfied, and a locker room distraction.   He was traded to Cleveland for Deshone Kizer.   Had a decent year for the Browns, who played him at his natural position of safety, but was still let go after two years.

 

Quinten Rollins  (2015-2nd round)

Ted Thompson took a chance on Rollins, who only played one year of football in college, after playing four years of basketball.   It didn't work.   After three oft-injured seasons, he was cut.

 

Kenny Clark  (2016-1st round)

Gradually improving each year,  Clark has become a top five nose tackle and this summer signed a 4 year, $70 million extension.

 

Kevin King  (2017-2nd round)

Played only 15 games his first two years because of injuries, but stayed healthy in 2019 and led the team with 5 picks.    Up and down starter in the final year of his rookie contract forcing Packers to make a difficult decision after this season.

 

Josh Jones  (2017-2nd round)

A bust at safety, Jones lasted two seasons before Green Bay waved good-bye.

 

Jaire Alexander  (2018-1st round)

Generally regarded as an above average corner who is nearing star level.

 

Josh Jackson  (2018-2nd round)

Brian Gutekunst had hoped Jackson would be the bookend corner with Alexander for years to come, but so far Jackson hasn't developed and is well down the depth chart.

 

Rashan Gary  (2019-1st round)

Learning to play rush linebacker and improving steadily, Gary has had to wait for opportunities to play but shows potential to be a star.

 

Darnell Savage (2019-1st round)

Disappointing at safety thus far.   Has all the tools and will get every chance to grow into the role.

 

So, subjectively, it could be said that of 14 defensive players drafted highly since 2011, only two (Clark and Alexander) are on track to be consistent top tier players for the Packers.   Hayward would have been a third if the team had held on to him.   The jury is still out on Gary.

Only two defensive players drafted below the second round since 2011 could be considered above average, Mike Daniels and Micah Hyde.   The Packers mistakenly chose to let Hyde walk in free agency, while Daniels spent seven fairly productive years in green and gold.   Overall, the Packers have simply not gotten enough top notch talent out of their drafts to build that top ten defense.

What about free agency?   Again judging subjectively, there have been just three defensive free agents since 2011 that have had above average impact, Julius Peppers, Preston Smith and Zadarious Smith.   Peppers was past his prime.   And despite the Smith brothers' effectiveness at sacking the quarterback in 2019, the team's overall defensive ranking did not improve.

There is one more possible explanation.   Since total defense rankings are determined by yards allowed, you can make the case that the Packers ranking is skewed by the fact that their offense under Aaron Rodgers has been so prolific that the Packers have taken big leads into the 4th quarter of many games, allowing the defense to play soft and thus allowing many more yards than would have been given up in closer games.   So by that logic the Packers defense would actually be better than appears to the eye.

Like most Packer fans, I am ecstatic about Green Bay's 3-0 start.   But I'm not at all certain the offense can keep up this pace.   The Packers have won their first three games by outscoring the other team.   The defense has had its moments, but they have had the luxury of an offense averaging 40 points per game.   Looking at the schedule, there are some pretty good defensive opponents coming up, including the Bucs, the 49ers (if they get healthy), and the Titans (if Covid doesn't wipe them out).   

Sooner or later, our defense is going to have to win a game.   Can they?   Time will tell.   Hopefully, this is the season the unit will once again crack the top ten.

 

OUTTAKES

•  If I had told you before the season began that Billy Turner would play better at right tackle than at right guard would you have called me crazy?

•  If I had told you before the season that Oren Burks would play better at outside linebacker than inside, would you have called me even crazier?

•  Tyler Ervin has been a great addition to the offense and special teams, but his limitations became clear on the first play of the 4th quarter against the Saints.   First and ten at Green Bay's own 39 yard line, Rodgers throws a swing to Ervin in the right flat.   Malcolm Jenkins is the only defender in the zip code, but Ervin is unable to make him miss.   What should have been a much bigger gain was held to five yards.   A running back has to be able to break that tackle in the open field.

•  For the third game in a row the Packers are playing a team coming off an embarrassing loss.   In week two the Lions were trying to recover from blowing a big lead to the Bears.   In week three the Saints were coming off an upset loss in Las Vegas.   Now in week four the Falcons arrive at Lambeau having  choked away big leads in their last two games.   These teams come in highly motivated and usually dominate the early stages of the game.   I expect the same from Atlanta.   One of the keys to Green Bay's 3-0 start has been withstanding these early surges and gradually changing momentum.   Can they do it again?

•  Speaking of highly motivated, the Falcons are playing for a win, but Dan Quinn may be coaching for his job.   Atlanta media is portraying him as dead man walking.   Si.com already has an article out headlined "Three Potential Candidates to Replace Dan Quinn."   An ugly loss to the Packers would likely be his end.   Beware of desperate opponents.     

 

 

 

 

-----------------------------------

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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5 points

Comments (49)

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

October 01, 2020 at 03:41 pm

After Ragi and Matthews, the top picks were busts until Clark and Alexander. The talent of the Super Bowl team aged after 2014 and there was no one to take their place. And Ted didn't bring in any free agent blood. DL and ILB are still deficient.

4 points
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Leatherhead's picture

October 01, 2020 at 03:53 pm

First, I think the offense can do it well enough, regularly enough, for us to win the division. So I’m not sure the defense has to win games for us.

Second, the defense is largely the same as the the one that was #9 in scoring defense last year and it didn’t suddenly become terrible.

There’s a lot that goes into having a good 21 man gameday roster on defense and injuries play a big part. That’s why having guys healthy enough to practice and play is important, and why I think people undervalue availability..

We spend money at safety and edge , on Kirksey and Lowry, and on Clark. Thats seven guys. The other 14. are on rookie deals or are UDFA. Savage, Gary, Alexander, Jackson, and Burks are all top 100 picks. The rest are Day 3 guys or UDFAs and they’re on the field.

By the way, most of our defense is under contract for next year already. King will be a FA. but everybody else should be back.

5 points
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CAG123's picture

October 01, 2020 at 03:53 pm

No coach should think one side of the ball can carry the load for the other. The Chiefs had an explosive offense the year they lost to the Pats in the AFCCG they still fired their DC.

4 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:00 pm

That is the bottom line. There is zero reason for LeFleur to endure Pettine for year two. The 3rd and two with 8 seconds on the clock, quarter two and the guy has a three man rush, seven in the redzone and Redmond still f...it up. You have three guys you're paying good coin to bring it and Keke should have been the # 4.. One of the CBs could have blitzed Brees in his face. Note: Thomas was not in this game.

0 points
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Leatherhead's picture

October 01, 2020 at 11:43 pm

A good coach wins with what he has. We have a really good offense.

4 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:33 pm

That defense faced rookie QBs, Detroit w/out Stafford, KC w/out The MVP, Carolina w/out Cam etc. and Trubitsky twice. Run the regressions and the defense doesn't seem that formidable.

1 points
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CAG123's picture

October 01, 2020 at 03:47 pm

I wish y’all would stop mentioning Casey Hayward so nobody remembers how he won the starting job opposite Shields then proceeded to get burnt like toast on a weekly basis? Then he was put back into the slot when Randal took his spot. Hayward is in the perfect scheme with the Chargers Capers ran a lot of man and Casey is more of a zone corner which is why they let him walk it had nothing to do with price because if I remember correctly he didn’t have that many suitors.

1 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 01, 2020 at 05:08 pm

It had everything to do with how they used him. His new team proved that. To say it wasn’t worth keeping a zone corner at his cost is a pretty thin attempt to deny the obvious mistake. They made a similar mistake with Hyde, playing him as a corner. He got a big contract admittedly ... once we let him into the open market.

3 points
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CAG123's picture

October 01, 2020 at 06:52 pm

No it’s not Chargers tried playing him in man against the Chiefs one game he was humiliated like you’re missing the part where he lost his job the Packers thought they had two promising young corners and he lost his job to one of them.

-3 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:27 pm

Absolutely correct. The cement set in the Shoes for all the brass hanging out at the buffet after a round of 18 @ the Oneida Country Club. We've seen it before. Dom blew the calls in the OT with single high etc. SanDiego brings pressure with a 4-3 and lets the players make plays. Why tie the hands of D lineman playing a dinosaur version of 3-4 or the whatever soft serve Pettine employs??

1 points
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GLM's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:54 pm

That would indicate that a coach has to fit his scheme to his players. I would like to see more of that, because I think that's what makes a great coach, assuming he's successful doing it.

2 points
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TXCHEESE's picture

October 01, 2020 at 03:55 pm

Agree with most everything in this article. I do see a trend, in that BG's picks for the most part have been ascending and useable. Compare that with TT's picks, where he constantly tried to get too cute and pick projects (square peg meet round hole). He clearly lost his mojo after the Super Bowl season.
Not sure I agree on the assumption of Tyler Ervin. Malcolm Jenkins is a very, very good tackler, always has been. Sometimes the other guy just makes a good play.
These first few games, getting wins without Clark are huge. It's getting the second tier players exposure and allowing the coaches to find out who does what well.

10 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:09 pm

Not even offering a deal to Micah Hyde was criminal, but I lay that on Low-Ball. Clinton Dix? The guy could not handle the green dot responsibility when MArtinez was down...

2 points
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PackfanNY's picture

October 01, 2020 at 03:59 pm

I saw the name Nick Perry and I immediately assumed I was looking at an old injury report.

I also forgot completely about Damarious Randall. Some fans must be surprised that the Browns let him go after two years. I’m not. I don’t miss him at all. Anyway, he literally just signed with the Seahawks practice squad as did old friend Tim Williams. So queue the complaints that Randall “should have been moved to safety”.

8 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:11 pm

Put it this way, It's not a MENSA meeting group.

3 points
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JohnnyLogan's picture

October 01, 2020 at 04:12 pm

There's a considerable lack of talent of the D. Only three players who have played above average football so far this year, Z. Smith, Alexander, and Clark, and Clark's been hurt. That doesn't leave you with much to stop today's high-powered offenses. I don't think Pettine has a clue how to stop a good offense, and some of his schemes are absolutely puzzling. Prevent D giving up 25 yards of open space, allowing teams to score in less time than it takes for the offense to towel off and drink a Gatorade on the sidelines. Regularly dropping big stiff OLBs P.Smith and Gary into coverage, two guys who couldn't cover a HS fullback coming out into the flat is almost guaranteed to allow any 3rd string RB or WR to run wild, which they have. The combination of lack of talent and Pettine's idea of defense is what will likely bury the Packers. Savage and Amos can be better, Keke and Barnes (and Martin when he comes back) have shown promise, this can be an average D, but I don't think Pettine is the guy to get it out of them. MLF won't fire Pettine this year but I'm almost certain MLF is no McCarthy and won't wait for five years as Mac did with Capers. And Gute better draft real defensive stars not projects like Rashan Gary. What has Gute really done to improve the D since his reign? I would say very little. There are indications that MLF is getting impatient. That's encouraging.

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:13 pm

They're still paying Dom off, so Murphy want s to make Pettine "perform" his contract.

-3 points
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4thand10's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:36 pm

Awefully Capers-like. With Pettine I had high hopes we would stay away from rushing 1 or 2 DL and a bunch of outside pass rush. Because he ran a 4-3 and hybrid 3-4 pretty well with the jets. I almost thought it would look like a 4-3 cover2-3. But then the last 2 drafts...no DL.

I cant help but wonder if Funchess wasnt signed ( later opted out) if they would have drafted WR or DL. Because after that SF game last year ...it was pretty crystal clear we needed both. Pettines first year when he had 3 DL and 2 edge on the line...there was good middle pressure and run stuffing. This year not so much and alot of 2 DL looks...when teams see that it screams " rush up the middle". I think the problem is Lowry and whomever else is supposed to be on the other side of Clark. An Iinterior DL/DE isnt Prestons natural role....can he play there? Yes. But he is an edge rusher. Call me names but they are totally different body types. JMO.

3 points
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GLM's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:58 pm

I agree. With a 2- DL look, we're too light up front. What has Dean been up to, any way? I have barely heard his name mentioned, at all.

1 points
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PackfanNY's picture

October 02, 2020 at 09:10 am

I have to disagree with your assessment that the D has a considerable “lack of talent”. Now how someone performs versus how talented they are is two different things. We all agree that Z, Clark and Jaire are very talented and good players. We might not think guys like Gary and Savage are playing well but lack of talent? Both are 1st round picks and were thought as such but all talent evaluators. Both were 1st rounders in every single mock. Preston Smith is very talented, he had over 10 sacks last season. However, right now, he is not playing well. Adrian Amos was signed as a FA and multiple teams sought him. I DON’T disagree that they are not playing well and Pettine better get them going or the Packers might face a similar fate like last season.

1 points
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splitpea1's picture

October 01, 2020 at 04:37 pm

Too much on-the-job training at the NFL level for some of these draft picks; they do one thing in college and the Packers try to convert them to something else and it either doesn't work or takes longer than expected....Some players are only best -suited to one kind of scheme....As mentioned, little premium free agent help until recently; i.e., N. Collins was a major loss, and not enough effort was made to replace him....Is the coaching staff and FO all on the same page? Pettine hired before MLF and retained; MLF hires Gray, but now the safeties are struggling....So IMHO, the coaches, FO, and scouting department needs to have a serious powwow, get all their ducks in a row, and proceed accordingly. And for once, prioritize ILB position and understand the need for a good run-stopper on the DL!

6 points
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GLM's picture

October 01, 2020 at 09:00 pm

I miss Nick Collins... with a long career, he could have been a hall of fame player... certainly a perennial all-pro.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 01, 2020 at 05:13 pm

Jackson appears to be the number 3 perimeter corner. I don’t particularly want him to be needed, but I don’t think that is buried.

Turner looked like a Tackle but played guard here. Denver seemed to see him as a future tackle prospect, certainly a segment of the fan base was hoping and seems likely why they tried to retain him.
As to whether he is better than he is at guard, I will hold off until a bigger sample is obtained. At this point it is too early to tell.

Burks played ILB and OLB cover. His best play to me was as an ILB.

Malcolm Jenkins is a darn good tackler. When RBs break those tackles it looks great, but it’s hardly an odds on result.

Nobody hits on all draft picks. Some busts must be planned. In the late TT (Russ Ball era) we did the unforgivable of letting more than one very good player escape when we didn’t need to. We also got too keen on moving players to other positions and roles. Whether that was coaches or the front office forcing their hands is hard to tell.

This D has been largely rebuilt since TT stepped down. I am not sure that the draft approach and errors of the years before tell us much. It was accepted that our roster was weak and our depth non-existent in places. Since then it’s been rebuilding. Still some issues due to failure (Lowry contract) and the failure of Adams and others to come through yet (Perhaps). Nevertheless, current efforts effectively started with Gute’s appointment.

But the real reason is Rodgers cap hit. Very hard to have a top ten D, a monster QB contract and a good offense. The Smiths were a big investment as is Clark. We are fortunate that our perimeter corners are on rookie contracts as are our premier receiver and RB.

11 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:17 pm

He performed best at LG for Denver. A Good lateral movement guy. Can he handle the bull and stunts? RG he showed weakness?? We'll see if he can deal with RT. If his salary keeps him in the lineup and he falters, Wagner is there to fill the Void.

0 points
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oceanstrength's picture

October 01, 2020 at 05:14 pm

Losing Nick Collins was huge. He did everything very well. He had pro bowl written on him for five more years. Single biggest factor of any mentioned. That was the equivalent of losing someone like Earl Thomas of Seattle or Polamalu of Pittsburgh.

7 points
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fansince1959's picture

October 01, 2020 at 06:36 pm

completely agree---we let Cullen Jenkins walk, even though i believe we still had Pickett----our defense has been atrocious almost every year since 2009

3 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:19 pm

He was ascending. A HOF candidate. He was an ALL PRO.

3 points
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Lphill's picture

October 01, 2020 at 05:45 pm

Now imagine this defense with an above average inside linebacker who can play the run and cover, and one more penetrating interior D lineman, there's your top ten defense maybe top 5 . its not hard.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 01, 2020 at 06:12 pm

Not cheap or readily available at this point either.

But if we are in fantasy mode, then yes.

3 points
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Lphill's picture

October 01, 2020 at 07:34 pm

Was doable in the off season but remember like Martinez said the Packers don't think much of inside linebackers .

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:50 pm

They play a 3-4 and do not understand the concept.

0 points
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GLM's picture

October 01, 2020 at 09:04 pm

We're really not a 3-4 team... more of a 2-4 nickle.

1 points
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flackcatcher's picture

October 02, 2020 at 05:50 pm

Right now that is Pettine's major sub package. Packers defense still runs the 3-5 as their base formation. But more and more Pettine is subbing his big hybrid/OLB in line for Adams, Lowery etc. We are seeing the Packers defense play two DL early on, or like last week, one DL with the Smiths in the LOS when they are tied or ahead. It's early, but this may be Pettine's main defensive package this season.

0 points
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4thand10's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:47 pm

Yeah, finding someone that can stop a Kamara or a bigger back like Mosert but yet can cover a Kelce is a pipe dream. Its much easier to change a style of Defense for those types of games than it is to find Jesus at Linebacker. And nowhere near worth the money if you do. Im not sure a linebacker like that exists in the NFL.

4 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:53 pm

The Saints picked up DeMario Davis for that reason.

1 points
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GLM's picture

October 01, 2020 at 09:05 pm

They exist, but not many of them... top 5 picks in the draft, usually.

3 points
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PhantomII's picture

October 01, 2020 at 07:15 pm

Gute inherited the packers offense with 2-WR's on their way out and defense with aged players and mostly devoid of talent from most positions. Gute and ML have spent a lot of money on the "D" because it needed it. The offense has been mostly fixed in the draft along w/ a few OL transplants. It has been a huge undertaking. Pettine's standard defense is not common nor makes much sense to me by and far. He has a lot of DB's but rarely blitzes them with positive results. Alexander had a nice play on a blitz but it has been rare to see. Keke has shown up and needs a lot more reps since nobody else on the line is doing much. I think we finally have several ILB's to work with in the middle though most are injured as of now. I think we find a couple good ones in there and I think they rise above Kirksey. Need better DL rotational players. We need an all pro Safety to solidify our DB's. 1. Need Keke/ Clark to start on the DL 2. Need 2-ILB's to start base defense.

7 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 01, 2020 at 08:24 pm

There is no variable flow to his defense. They are watchers, not attackers.

1 points
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GLM's picture

October 01, 2020 at 09:07 pm

With all that being said, you gotta' love where we are, right now... :)

2 points
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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 01, 2020 at 09:20 pm

This scheme is horribly outdated.

The Packers are allowing 5.5 yards per carry. That is just plain bad. I'm just starting to think they don't care about stopping the run. Honestly, I don't care about a top 10 run defense, but I think being tied for 32nd is unacceptable.

4 points
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canadapacker's picture

October 01, 2020 at 09:40 pm

The Pack simply hasnt adapted to the new NFL - you need fast active linebackers - even AJ Hawk was a tackling machine after they gained 10 yards. It is hard to find them and how does one know? Von Miller ok - 2nd overall pick - KJ Wright 4th round with a whole bunch of other no names ahead of him. We took Derrek Sherrod.

0 points
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Since'61's picture

October 01, 2020 at 11:01 pm

It’s still early in the season. Our defense still has time to improve. Getting Clark, Gary, Kirksey and hopefully Martin back will help.

When healthy we have 4 solid players on our front 7; Clark, the Smiths and Gary. We have 2 excellent CBs in King and Alexander. Our safeties are better than they have played so far.
We need an ILB to emerge and our safeties to improve. We still won’t have a top 10 defense but they will be good enough to make stops when we need them. The offense can do the rest.

If we want a top 10 defense we need top 10 picks and we haven’t had that since BJ Raji. All of the picks mentioned in the article from 2012 to 2016 were mid-20s or higher except for Dix and even he was the 21 pick when he was chosen.

Better tackling with the players we have would solve some of the problem. We also need to generate pressure up the middle and better DLs to play with Clark.

I don’t think that any significant help is on the way, at least not at a reasonable price so the Packers need to work with who they have. Maybe Winn will emerge with more snaps as the season moves on.
Thanks, Since ‘61

4 points
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BAMABADGER's picture

October 01, 2020 at 11:41 pm

We have over drafted DB and Safeties for a decade. Neglected the ILB position and interior D-line. I wonder if they understand how to judge interior lineman and ILBs entering the draft. Capers used/forced players like Hyde out of their natural positions. They leave and become better performers due to playing at their natural position and fit the proper defensive scheme for their abilities. Last but not least, Packer management draft defensive players that never learned proper tackling fundamentals.

3 points
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Spock's picture

October 02, 2020 at 04:18 am

One positive I see with MLF is that he does not do a lot of the "square peg/round hole" stuff we saw with MM and TT (you can argue whether TT didn't give MM (& Capers) the guys he needed and/or the coaching wasn't up to snuff). The new guys on offense, at least, are given roles they are used to. Whether Pettine will do the same is an open question (we've seen the change for Rashaan to OLB to take some time) as he admitted putting too much on Josh J.'s plate instead of keeping him at outside CB. I'm encouraged that this coaching staff seems to be better at playing players more at their natural positions in general. I'm disappointed (maybe because so many seemed excited) that Coach Gray hasn't improved the DB play. In fact the way the safety play seems to have deteriorated is a major concern. That said, it's still early in the season and (fingers crossed with Covid) there is "still a lot of ball game left". Right now I'm just happy I can watch (and enjoy!) the Packers playing football. In this crazy world that is something. :)

2 points
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Bohj's picture

October 02, 2020 at 06:56 am

- Gute hasn’t been on the block long enough to judge his rebuilding of this D. He’s basically been plugging holes. We have a great pass rush and above average corners. Clearly we’re built to defend the pass.
- Pretty sure with the way the rules are skewed toward pass offenses....this was on purpose.
- So yes. We are light in the pants on run. We’re still building. We overachieved last year, and got lucky on matchups with injured teams. And got plowed by a good running team. But the brass are betting/banking on Lafleur and Rodgers to set the tone so that we force teams out of run. Maybe that niners game looks alot different if we are at home and get an early lead. I don’t see Jimmy G capable of clawing them back in.
- If you look at the NFL schedule.....you see mostly pass oriented teams. Will we struggle with good running backs like cook and kamara?? Yup. But we can win if it’s qb versus qb

4 points
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CoachDino's picture

October 03, 2020 at 01:16 am

double

1 points
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CoachDino's picture

October 03, 2020 at 01:13 am

Plus when you take a 2 score lead on a run first team the run defense becomes secondary. We've seen it 3 times this year and more than a few times last year.

I don't know this, maybe someone who asks the packers questions could ask.. Was it a strategic decision to focus on the offense in 2020? Is a factor in that decision that The D is strongest against the pass and if the offense can put up points it forces the opponent to abandon, to whatever degree, the run and play into the Packers defensive strengths? Or is it just shaping up that way?

Tough to get straight answers but if they say yes it confirms something that is working as a pre determined strategy it sure makes them look that much smarter.

Even in the SF game. If the offense is going 3 and outs numerous times early in the game, it may have changed the outcome.

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Booner's picture

October 02, 2020 at 09:47 am

Ted Thompsons last few drafts killed the Packers Rollins and Randall Bust's. Guty drafting a QB in the first round this year when we needed help on D-Line and more weapons for Rodgers Fail! Poor decisions by GM's are killing this team. Blessed with two HOF QB's Guty will never have a QB like Rodgers and he shits himself with the Love pick! Murphy needs to go as well!

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CoachDino's picture

October 02, 2020 at 05:43 pm

plenty of top picks don't work out, its the norm. This article points to things being a bit worse than the norm. Seems better lately.

If Gary, Savage, Keke, Jaire and Martin yes few aren't high draft picks, the Packers could be building toward something.

You don't need a great defense to win SB's. You need a great team peaking at the right time. Teams have won with 1 side of the ball very good and 1 side bad.

The packers as it stands has an Elite offense and an average defense. That can win you a SB.

The Packers defense greatly improved with the signing of the smith bros and Amos.

Between the rule changes, high scoring offenses to start 2020 and key injuries the Packers D is doing fine. That said it will need to get healthy with guys playing up to potential while adhering to the scheme to go all the way.

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