Ted Thompson uncharacteristically (but necessarily) opened his coffer for Julius Peppers this offseason, signing the star defensive end to a three-year deal worth $27 million. It’s the highest profile signing of the Thompson era since Charles Woodson signed a seven-year deal worth $52.7 million in 2006.
Alas, the defense needs more help. It ranked 24th last season in points allowed, surrendering more than the offense scored for the first time since 2006. Most traced Green Bay’s issues to the lack of a consistent pass rush; indeed, Clay Matthews and Nick Perry both missed five games. But Green Bay forced 44 sacks, tying the Seahawks for eighth in the NFL. So what else was happening?
Basically, poor tackling and troubling coverage. The Packers bled yards both on the ground and through the air. When quarterbacks weren’t getting sacked, they were completing passes. Per Pro-Football-Reference, Green Bay’s adjusted net yards per pass attempt (ANY/A) was 7.0, tied for third-worst in the NFL. Seattle led the league, allowing a minuscule 3.2 ANY/A.
Green Bay couldn’t force turnovers, either. Its pass defense picked off only 11 passes, tied for 26th. The percentage of opponents’ passes that found their way to the end zone was a staggering 5.6 percent, tied for 27th.
If Thompson aims to fix these issues, Julius Peppers is a fine start. But right now, he’s a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound. Green Bay needs deeper fixes that Ted Thompson loves to find through the draft, and the following five reasons suggest he take a long look at Louisville free safety Calvin Pryor.