Green Bay Packers: Getting Defensive in 2012

Bob FoxContributor ISeptember 15, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 13: Clay Matthews #52 and Jerel Worthy #99 of the Green Bay Packers celebrate after a sack during first half play against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on September 13, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Yes...I know it's extremely early in the 2012 NFL season, but the defense of the Green Bay Packers has shown a marked improvement already.

There are still 30 teams who have to play this Sunday and Monday, but right now the Packers are ranked eighth in total defense in the league. Compare that to dead last in the NFL in 2011.

Also, the Packers are ranked third in the NFL in pass defense right now, which once again is a far cry from the 32nd ranking the Pack had last season.

However, the Packers are also ranked 26th vs. the run, compared to 14th in 2011. So there is work to improve on.

The biggest improvement for the defense is in getting sacks. Last season, the Packers were ranked 27th in the NFL with just 29 sacks. Just the year before, the Packers were ranked second in the NFL in sacks. That stat helped lead the team to a win in Super Bowl XLV.

The Packers already have 11 sacks in just two games. That leads the NFL. Clay Matthews has six of those 11 sacks, which matches his 2011 total.

The Packers definitely had some defensive shortcomings in 2011, but intercepting the ball was not one of them. Once again, the Packers are off to a good start in that stat, as the team had four picks in the Chicago Bears game against Jay Cutler.

Right now, the Packers also lead the league in that category, just like it did in 2011, when the Packers had 31 picks, four of which were returned for touchdowns.

The Packers' defense has definitely been helped by an influx of good young talent from the 2012 NFL draft, along with upgraded play by players like Tramon Williams, Erik Walden and Sam Shields.

Again, it's very early to assume that this will continue for the entire 2012 season, but so good.