The transition to the 34 defense for the most was very smooth during the regular season during the 2009-2010 season. The change compared to past teams seemed flawless. Traditionally the transition year is a developmental year with little success, but the Packers rallied to end the season 11-5 with the second overall defense and the most turnovers forced.
Green Bay's defense came into the Wild Card looking like a strength not a liability, so what happened?
1.Great defenses do the same things very well whether they run the 3-4 and 4-3 and Green Bay missed on those key points in the Arizona Wild Card game. It was clear throughout the game that Green Bay could not stop Arizona's air attack. What Green Bay lacked in that game and much of the year was what all great defenses have, a great pass rush.
All Green Bay fans have a good idea of how a sack can hinder a drive, it happened to Green Bay 50 times. 20% of NFL drives end in a touchdown, but a mere 5% end in a touchdown after a sack. Green Bay did not create that pressure during the game, and Kurt Warner was able to carve up the talented Green Bay secondary.
In green Bay's six losses this year including the playoffs they only has 9 sacks, they had 30 sacks in their ten wins. There is a clear connection between sacks and how well the defense played and ultimately how often they won. Sacks were a clear weak point that allowed explosive offenses to at times dominate Green Bay's defense.
Despite this flaw in the defense the future is bright. Next season B.J Raji will be more prepared and can begin to demand double-teams. This will free up the ends especially Jenkins to make more plays. Clay Matthews will only get better with experience, and Green Bay is expected to take an early pass rushing linebacker in the 2010 draft. Also, they will likely take a defensive end early in the draft, adding to the line depth which had become very thin. With all of these changes and the added year of experience expect the pas rush to be a strength next season.
2. The NFL is officially a pass heavy league just look at last decades Super Bowl winners and especially this year's match up between the Colts and the Saints, So naturally covering the pass has become increasingly crucial. Green Bay did that most of the season, but let up when it counted most.
Arizona was able to beat Green Bay the entire game not because of defensive talent; the secondary of Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Atari Bigby, and Tramon Williams is very formidable. It was the lack of another thing all great defenses have, experience and understanding with the system. Great defenses like Baltimore possessed for so many years have few roster and scheme changes and thus are extremely reliable and consistent. The good news for Green Bay fans is, like the pass rush, this whole can quickly be filled. Now that the defense has an entire year under its belt, it should have less communication errors. There were countless zone coverage errors were two defenders covered one receiver leaving a wide open target down field. This will be fixed over time and a whole new year of experience can make all the difference.
A Super Bowl is not far off for Green Bay. There offense is exceptionally explosive and with the improvement of the line it could rival New Orleans and Indianapolis. And as I have mentioned in detail their defense is not far off. It is never to early to look forward to a new season, and Green Bay fans have a reason to be excited
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