Let’s put the brakes on defense expectations

I happened to watch the NFL Network the other day. Former Packer receiver James Jones was in the game, raging about the defending season in Green Bay. “If they stay healthy, the Packers could have the best defense in the NFL this year,” he said. This is not uncommon during this off-season.

The perception seems to be that since the Green Bay defender played so well against the 49ers in the playoffs, combined with the addition of two defenders in the first round of the draw, the re-signing of Rasul Douglas and De’Vondre. The return of Campbell and Jaire Alexander, the unit should be unstoppable.

They played really well in this post-season game. They kept 106 yards in San Francisco, 99 yards and no landings. Despite the devastating loss, the performance left a bright picture of the defense for most Packer fans. An image that is decorated and expanded almost every day. Greens and gold believers seem to have visions of a unit that will take to the square in September, similar to the 84 bears, Doomsday Defense, Steel Curtain and Legion of Boom.

I really don’t want to play Debbie Downer here, but it can be useful to do a little reality check when climbing through this long dead place in the middle of the season. In the 2021 season, the defense unit was good, but not excellent. Advanced but far from the elite. In fact, the defense played two different seasons last fall. The first ten games, during which they were in the top ten (let’s consider it a mistake against Saint Open) and the last seven games, when their game quality dropped significantly.

The irony is that the decline started right after the best game of their season, perhaps the best game of recent times, Russell Wilson and Seahawks were broken 17-0. The following week, the Packers coughed up 34 points for the Vikings, 28 for the Rams, 30 for the Bears, 30 for the Ravens, 22 for the Browns, and ended the season with 37 points for the Lions. The Packers sent reserves in the second half of the Lions game, but the starters saw a tough fight in the first half. The only quality in the last seven games was in the seventeenth week, when the Packers kept Viking with ten points due to injuries.

Packers’ defense finished 9th in the overall yard standings, but only 14th place was allowed in the most important position. They were in 11th place against the incitement. Against the 10th pass.

In the first ten games, however, D gave an average of 18 points per competition. It dropped to over 27 points per game in the final. In particular, the feed protection deteriorated. After airing 202 yards per game in the first ten weeks, Pack gave up 242 yards per game in the last seven. They gave just fifteen touchdowns in the tenth week, but then hit sixteen in the final. The decline was not so bad when it came to stopping the race. Opponents carried the ball in the top ten 107 yards per game, while 111 yards in the final seven.

And while the overall performance against the Niners in the playoffs was impressive, the defense was disappointing at the end of the game when the team needed them the most. They allowed their opponent to run down 3:20 on a 44-yard run that ended at the exit gate. The biggest disappointment was the surrender of Deebo to Samuel in the third and seven yards of the nine-yard race, which took Niners to the goal and gave them control of the clock.

So what do we think of the location of this unit? What is the real defense of Packers, a solid unit in their first ten games and play-offs? Or the trembling bunch that struggled in the last seven? Much depends on how much beginners Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt can contribute. Few newcomers, especially defenders, have a significant impact in their first seasons. There aren’t many guys like Cowboys’ Micah Parsons. But in the end, the former Georgians should at least be an upgrade of the internal line and the defensive line. It may take several games for this to happen, but I expect both to be the driving force behind the December playoffs.

Alexander’s return should rejuvenate the pass. The position of the rim is thin and the injury to Rashan Gary or Preston Smith is debilitating. So is security. Chandon Sullivan is gone and the team has no proven, experienced nest defender. We take it for granted that someone from the triumvirate of Alexander, Douglas and Eric Stokes can do it, but we are not sure. Jarran Reed and Wyatt have been added to the front, but Kingsley Keke and Tyler Lancaster have disappeared.

Put it all together and the pros outweigh the cons, but only slightly. Angle, internal supports and D-line should be better. Safety and edge should be about the same. At face value, we can expect a modest improvement in this protection. This is not going to be the best protection. It’s probably not in the top five. However, it may float near this zip code. Injuries tell the story. If key players fall on the edge or in safety, the coaches have to scramble.

All in all, I expect the attack to win most of our games. Protection should be improved enough to keep us inside.

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