The Packers defense has been decimated this season, suffering injuries almost every week to key defensive players. After the heart and soul of their defense, Nick Barnett, took a seat for the season early with an injury, it looked like the Packers were going to have a difficult time this season holding there own on defense. However, he was only the first of a plethora of other injuries that were to follow; with six of the 11 Opening Day defensive starters missing time at some point this season.
The Packers went from having a deep and talented front seven, to one of the thinnest in the league after Brandon Chiller, Brady Poppinga, Mike Neal, Brad Jones, Johnny Jolly, Cullen Jenkins, Ryan Pickett, Nick Barnett (as said earlier) and Frank Zombo missed significant time. A defense that depleted usually can't recover at all during a season, but somehow, the Pack have been able to sustain great and unwavering defensive play throughout the year.
Their defense has allowed only 15 points per game to opposing offenses this season, putting them atop the NFC in that category. Their yards per game is a similar story as well, allowing only 309 yards per game which places them in the NFL's top 10. The only team that has really exposed the Packers' rock-solid D this year was the New England Patriots, who have dominated basically every defense they have faced.
So, how does a team with as many injuries as the Packers dominate opposing offenses? Mainly because they have the best coordinator (defensive or offensive) in the NFL, Dom Capers. When Capers arrived with the Packers in 2009, the Packers had a horrible defense that led to a 6-10 record the previous year.
When Capers decided to change this Packers D into the 3-4, people thought 2009 was going to be similar to 2008 defensively. The 3-4 is one of the most difficult defenses to change into, and most teams struggle in their first year in it. However, the Packers defense was one of the best in the league last season, forcing the most turnovers in the NFL and leading the NFC in rush defense.
Capers is a master of confusing offenses with his blitz packages, forcing turnovers and sacks that change the pace and momentum of games. He can make a player like Erik Walden, who was unemployed two weeks ago, into a quality player thanks to all of the different sets he uses to maximize his players' talents and put them into a situation where they can succeed.
Dom is one of the best in his field, but the Packers do have a lot of quality defensive players to make his job a little easier. Even though most of their front seven has been diminished, the Pack have managed to stay fairly healthy in the secondary so far this year.
Nick Collins, and Charles Woodson are both Pro Bowlers again, and the emerging Tramon Williams has had an outstanding season as well being the first alternate at corner. These three players, along with Charlie Peprah who has had a solid season as well, have been the key all year for the great defense the Packers have been playing.
The Pack rank fifth in the league against the pass, and have made plays in the secondary all year. These four can lock down receivers in coverage (Wes Welker—three catches, 40 yards; Roddy White—four catches, 49 yards; Calvin Johnson—one catch, 44 yards; DeSean Jackson—four catches, 30 yards; Miles Austin—two catches, 16 yards for a few examples of great receivers against the Packers) and that allows Dom Capers to bring pressure without a major risk of getting beat through the air.
It has been amazing how the Packers have persevered through all the injuries they have been struck with, and still have managed to have one of the NFL's best defenses. Dom Capers needs to be rewarded by the Packers with a monster contract to keep him around, because he has done an amazing job keeping this defense afloat no matter what.
No one is going to want to see the Packers during this year's playoffs, because great defenses led by great players like Charles Woodson and Nick Collins win championships; and now a championship is the only thing left to achieve for the Packers.
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