Defense Remains Biggest Problem for Slumping Packers

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IINovember 10, 2013

Clay Matthews returned in Week 10, but it wasn't enough to fix the defensive issues that are plaguing the Green Bay Packers.
Clay Matthews returned in Week 10, but it wasn't enough to fix the defensive issues that are plaguing the Green Bay Packers.Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

It'd be easy to blame the Green Bay Packers' loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday on the fact that quarterback Aaron Rodgers was on the sideline. However, Rodgers himself would have had a difficult time leading his team to victory with the way the defense played this week.

When you give up 288 passing yards and three touchdowns to a backup quarterback, it's hard to come away with a win no matter how good your offense is. In fact, this was the second straight week that the Packers defense was dominated by a backup quarterback. Last week it was Josh McCown who shredded the Packers secondary, and this week it was Nick Foles.

Even the run defense, which has been spectacular this year, was absolutely horrid on Sunday. Eagles running back LeSean McCoy finished the game with an impressive 155 rushing yards on only 25 carries. Even Foles added 38 yards on the ground on eight carries.

Heading into the game, the Packers have had one of the worst defenses heading into the league. Here's a look at how Pro Football Focus (subscription required) has the Packers graded on the season up until Week 10:

Green Bay Packers Defensive Rankings
Defensive CategoryNFL Rank
Run Defense15th
Pass Rush31st
Pass Coverage23rd
Via Pro Football Focus

As you can see, the only area where Green Bay has been good this year is with its run defense. With that aspect of the defense struggling in back-to-back games, it makes every other area of the defense struggle even more.

The biggest problem that the Packers have had this year on defense has been tackling. Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated said it best on Twitter:

While that may seem a little extreme of a statement, it's absolutely the truth. Until the Packers can fix their defensive issues, it won't matter who is playing quarterback.

After riding a four-game winning streak into Week 9 and having the season looking way up, things have gone terribly in back-to-back weeks.

Is some of that due to the loss of Rodgers at the quarterback situation? Of course. Anytime you lose an All-Pro quarterback your team is going to take a hit.

However, the bigger problem right now, and the reason for the recent slump, is the play of the defense. Until this unit figures out how to slow down opposing offenses, the Packers could put Bart Starr in at quarterback and still lose football games.