Green Bay Packers Season Preview: Defensive Backs
The No. 5 ranked pass defense from 2009 returns almost completely intact for the 2010 NFL season.
Last year, the Green Bay Packers led the NFL with a whopping 30 interceptions, as well as a 54.4 opponent completion percentage, second only to the Jets! They did all of this despite losing veteran Al Harris in the middle of the season.
In certain games, particularly against Arizona in the playoffs, the secondary was shredded up by the opposing offense. This was not only because Al Harris was out but the backups were as well.
Pat Lee and Will Blackmon had been long gone, leaving Jarrett Bush to play the nickelback position.
In the playoff game against the Cardinals, Atari Bigby went down, and Matt Giordono had to step in to fill his place.
Things look much better now though.
Harris still may not be ready for the start of the season, but he will be ready shortly after. He'll play the nickel, which is where he played when the Packers first acquired him in a trade from Philadelphia.
That means Tramon Williams will start and finally take over as the other starting CB along with Charles Woodson. He played well last year, and seems to improve drastically with each season.
Last year against Baltimore, Williams gave up two huge pass interference penalties that put the Ravens in position to score. However, he showed us what he is truly made of when he picked off Joe Flacco's pass in the end zone to seal the game.
As for Woodson, I expect more of the same. The NFL's reigning DPOY should have another big season, making his bid for the Hall of Fame. I don't expect him to break down any time soon!
Depth was the concern late last year, but that should be much improved. As of now, after Woodson, Williams, and Harris, Pat Lee should be next in line.
Lee is followed by Brandon Underwood (if his legal issues check out with the team), and then Blackmon, who moved to safety this offseason. He will be the team's primary return man, but should be available to play CB if needed.
Nick Collins will start at FS and will continue to be one of the best in the league. He had seven interceptions last year, and I expect nothing less this year. He will be backed up by special teams ace Derrick Martin and converted CB Blackmon.
The battle at SS will be one to watch during training camp. Atari Bigby started last year, but injuries and poor play have left us wondering if he will ever return to his promising form of 2007.
The Packers traded up in the third round of the draft to select Morgan Burnett out of Georgia Tech this April. So far it already looks as if he will be the starting SS from day one. He has been described as a natural ball hawk, which should add to our interception total.
Sorry, Jay Cutler!
The coaches have said that he is an incredibly smart player, a studier of the game, and fairly stout against the run. That should bode well for the defense next year.
Pat Kirwin of NFL.com just recently ranked the Packers secondary as the No. 1 in the league heading into this season. After thinking about it and checking out the depth charts of the Jets and a few other teams, I found it very hard to disagree with him.
If everything holds up, this group can definitely help the team achieve their ultimate goal—bringing the Lombardi Trophy back where it belongs.
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