I wonder how many sports writers have started an article off with the phrase: Defense wins championships. Undoubtedly, that number must be in the millions if not trillions, I mean it’s such a catchy saying.
There might be a method behind the madness, though. For instance, look at just the past three Super Bowls.
Last year, the Saints' Tracy Porter, picked off Peyton Manning essentially sealing the game for New Orleans. Defense played a key part in the 2008 Super Bowl. James Harrison's 100-yard interception return at the end of the first half comes to mind, and in 2007 the New York Giants' defensive pressure on Tom Brady proved to be a key element in unraveling New England’s perfect season.
I believe that the record very clearly shows that this overused, but underappreciated cliché is the real deal. So without further ado:
Defense wins championships.
When I look at the 2010 Green Bay Packers, I see a team that needs to take that saying, post it up in the locker room, tattoo it onto their foreheads and perhaps even rename their children in light of it.
This is a team that has been ravaged by the injury bug. It got to a point where it seemed like every game they were losing two or three starters, and then their replacements would go down as well!
The offense took key hits with the loss of running back Ryan Grant, and then suffered an even bigger hit when up-and-coming star, Jermichael Finley, was lost for the season. The defense followed suit losing Nick Barnett for the season, as well as having a few other key players hindered by injury.
Truth is: The Green Bay Packers are a completely different team than any of us thought they were going to be at the beginning of the season.
Coming into 2010, many people had picked the Pack to be the NFC’s representative for the Super Bowl, but I have a feeling that much of the hype was primarily on the offense.
Aaron Rodgers was coming off a breakout year in 2009. With Jermichael Finley coming into his own, as well as a rejuvenated Ryan Grant and receiving core; the Packers offense looked primed to really light it up.
The offense suffered heavily with the loss of Grant. The running game is obviously a key component to any offense, but the Packers of all teams rely heavily on it to set up the play-action pass, and to keep Rodgers mobile and away from pressure.
John Kuhn and Brandon Jackson have been adequate fill- ins for Grant, but that lack of a real running threat has really hindered the offensive production. In nine games, the running game has produced only 914 yards and seven touchdowns, which is average at best. Keep in mind that three of those touchdowns have been compliments of Aaron Rodgers, but even he hasn’t been immune to poor play.
At times, Aaron has been uncharacteristically inaccurate, and has already thrown nine interceptions on the season compared to a total of just seven in 2009. Now, granted the offense did bounce back to look very good against the Cowboys, posting up 45 points and 415 total yards, but keep in mind the Cowboys in no way should be a barometer of success. After all, they did fire their head coach after the loss.
With all this said: I think if the Packers have any hope left at making a strong bid for the Super Bowl, the key rests firmly in the hands of the defense. They boast one of the most dynamic and dominant defenses in the NFL, and I truly believe that they are capable of winning games on their own.
With the offense being banged up and inconsistent at times, the importance of a dominating defensive performance is even more amplified as the season progresses. Let’s take a look at five players that I believe are a key to the Packers defensive success.