Green Bay Packers: Can Defensive Tweaks Help Carry Flawed Offense?
Same strengths, same weaknesses, weaker opponent.
Aaron Rodgers and the passing game flexed its collective muscle against the Lions secondary all afternoon to the tune of 358 yards and a pair of scores in a 26-0 romp.
Donald Driver electrified the crowd with several dazzling catches as he overtook Sterling Sharpe at No. 1 on the Packers all-time receptions list as Green Bay piled up well over 400 yards of total offense.
But the same issues head coach Mike McCarthy has vowed to "clean up" all season once again reared their collective heads, even in a comfortable victory.
Costly penalties stalled several drives, Green Bay and its unbalanced offense settled for field goals instead of touchdowns, and the running game failed to give the Packers any kind of production to keep defenses honest.
And the leaky offensive line again failed to keep Aaron Rodgers clean, despite the Lions' dearth of bona-fide pass-rushing talent.
What it all means is that the Green Bay offense likely is what it is for the 2009 season.
An offense highly capable of moving the ball in big chunks, but also one highly susceptible to drive-stalling sacks and penalties that cost the Packers points.
The bye week did little to help the Packers figure out how to plug their offensive line holes, or how to open one for Ryan Grant.
Barring a trade or the likes of T.J. Lang and Mark Tauscher miraculously stabilizing the line, the Packers strengths and weaknesses offensively are unlikely to change a whole lot the rest of the way.
But if pitching a shutout was any indication of things to come, the Packers' 3-4 defense may emerge just in time to Green Bay's flawed offensive attack.
Dom Capers' unit battered an admittedly short-handed Lions offensive Sunday, surrendering only 149 total yards and forcing three turnovers to carry the day.
More impressive was the way they dominated the game.
Capers utilized Aaron Kampman with his hand on the ground more against Detroit, finding a way to integrate his All-Pro caliber pass-rushing ability for the first time in 2009.
Like it or not, Kampman is often a square peg in a round hole playing outside linebacker in the 3-4, and the more ways Capers can find to get Kampman back in his comfort zone rushing the passer, the better for his pressure-predicated defense.
The other obvious difference-maker on Sunday was Clay Matthews. He was simply all over the field.
Finally healthy after fighting through a hamstring injury, Matthews has started to show the immense talent that actually made general manager Ted Thompson move up in a draft.
Two weeks after ripping the ball right out of the monstrous arms of Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, Matthews was all over Detroit's backfield on Sunday, racking up two sacks and applying pressure all afternoon.
Capers's defense has always been critically reliant on forcing pressure on the quarterback.
That point was made clear against Minnesota, as the Packers gave up 30 points despite shutting down AP.
But if Kampman and Matthews can build on their performances and continue to apply consistent pressure, then the Green Bay defense may once again resemble the dominant unit it showed capable of in the preseason.
Wouldn't it be something if it was the Packers revamped defense that led the team to the promised land?
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