Ladies and gentlemen, the NFL is back. I'll pause while you digest that.
The preseason kicks off for the Green Bay Packers in four days against the San Diego Chargers. While every preseason brings new questions and battles for NFL teams, the Packers have one area that needs their undivided attention. This area is their defense. The Packers defense, at times, was their Achilles heel last season.
According to ESPN.com, the Packers let up 299.8 yards per game passing and 111.8 yards per games rushing. These statistics are too high for an elite NFL team. When these types of yards are given up, the offense is left to carry the burden of the game.
This needs to be changed to bring the Packers back to the Super Bowl.
The time to change the mindset of the defense is the preseason. Players like Clay Matthews and AJ Hawk, both who had average 2011 seasons in my opinion, need to regain their focus in 2012. They are the young core of this defense and need to step up and be leaders. The Packers will also need to rely on their 2011 tackle leader Desmond Bishop and their interception leader Charles Woodson to shore up their defense. These players, like Hawk and Clay, need to really work on regaining their focus in the preseason and it should translate to success on the field.
In addition to the veterans on the defense, there are a few young stars who have joined the club in 2012. The rookie who I think will have the biggest impact is Nick Perry, the rookie linebacker from Southern California. He is currently listed on the first string of linebackers according to packers.com depth chart.
I predict, if he can get the playing time and stay healthy, that he is poised to have a rookie season like Clay Matthews did in 2010. He joins Bishop, Hawk and Matthews to form what could be the best linebacking corps in the NFL.
Another rookie who could have a huge impact on this Packers' defense is Jerel Worthy; he is a defensive end out of Michigan State. He is currently on the second string of the depth chart according to packers.com. Look for Worthy to either move to first string or have considerable playing time during the regular season.
It goes without saying but this defense needs to stay healthy. They need to make it through the preseason games with little to no injuries so they can get a strong start in 2012.
The Packers are in the elite group of NFL teams. The defense is one of the few weaknesses this team has. Don't fear though Packers fans, there is great talent on this team and it's only a matter of time before they put it together.