Green Bay Packers: 5 Reasons the Defense Will Bounce Back
The Packers may be 8-0, but their defense has struggled more than usual this year. This culminated in a less-than-stellar performance on Sunday, where the Packers allowed Philip Rivers to throw for four touchdowns and the Chargers offense to put up 38 points against them, something that hasn't been done since that infamous Wild Card game in 2009, where the Cardinals offense put up 45 points against the Pack.
In 2010, many thought the defense had turned a corner, as they were a key reason the team went on their Super Bowl run. This year, though, they have not followed up their success from the previous year.
However, here are five reasons that I believe that the Green Bay Packers defense isn't as bad as the statistics show and will bounce back in the second half of the season.
5. They Are Forcing Turnovers
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Despite the surrendering of yards, let's look at what the Packers defense is doing right: they are ranked first in forcing turnovers.
Last week against the Chargers was a perfect example of what this Packers defense has been about this season: despite giving up big plays and chunks of yardage, they still recorded three interceptions, two of them which were returned for touchdowns.
This defense prides itself on forcing turnovers and they did the same thing last year, as three of their final six games were decided by a game-clinching interception, and the other three games all included turnovers being forced by the Packers defense that changed the game.
In this facet of defense, which some may argue is the most important part of a defense, the Packers are picking up right where they left off, and more importantly, they are forcing turnovers when it matters most—in the fourth quarter.
4. Their Remaining Schedule Includes Many Teams with Weak Offenses
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While the Packers admittedly have a tough stretch ahead of them, facing three teams in 11 days, many of the teams they face in the final half of their season have offenses that have either been inefficient at times or are prone to turnovers.
Next week, the Packers face at home the Vikings, a team that has one of the best running backs in the league, but is also playing rookie quarterback Christian Ponder, whom they intercepted twice in their first meeting. They should be able to exploit the inexperienced quarterback.
The Packers also face the Giants, Raiders, Chiefs and Bears, all teams with struggling quarterbacks who turn the ball over. Eli Manning led the league in interceptions last year, while Carson Palmer has already thrown six picks in two games and is still learning this Raiders offense. As for the Chiefs, Matt Cassel has not had a great season either, and on the Bears, Jay Cutler is always prone to throwing a pick or two during a game.
In eight games, the Packers have five opponents that I believe have a weak enough offense that they can easily exploit. I think this will only help the Packers defense get back on track.
3. Dom Capers Is Still the Defensive Coordinator
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When Dom Capers came into Green Bay in 2009, the defense was a mess. They had just gotten off a 6-10 season, having blown several close games that the Packers had no business in losing.
Despite a few bumps in the road, Capers has turned this defense around and has made players who may not have been great contributors before become great defensive players.
Dom Capers is one of the best defensive coordinators in the league, and much of this is because he is so good at coming up with schemes and packages to confuse and exploit the opposing offense. I believe that despite the struggles this team has had so far defensively, Capers will figure out what the problem is, and will correct the issue. After all, he is one of the greatest defensive minds in football.
2. The Voice of Charles Woodson Will Spur Change
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Charles Woodson was not happy last week after a poor performance, and while he did not perform very well, the entire defense had its issues. Woodson is a very vocal leader, and it is clear that he is becoming upset and frustrating with the defensive issues. In addition, the players look up to Woodson and respect him greatly.
If the defensive issues weren't being taken as seriously by the defense earlier in the year, since they were winning and were making key stops, giving up 38 points and nearly allowing the Chargers to come back after being down by three scores may be the wakeup call this defense needs. It certainly seems to have been the case for their leader.
1. This Is a Very Similar Defense That Just Won the Super Bowl
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Despite the losses of Cullen Jenkins and Nick Collins, this defense is still very much intact from the defense that won the Super Bowl. The Packers still have a solid defensive line with Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji, and when Mike Neal comes back from injury, he may contribute even more.
The linebackers are almost identical to the ones who helped the Packers in their Super Bowl run last year, and in a Dom Capers defense, the linebackers are frequently the most important players on the field.
While the secondary has been a concern, Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams are still two of the best corners in the league, even if they aren't playing their best at the moment. Despite the loss of Nick Collins, Morgan Burnett and backup safety Charlie Peprah are stepping up nicely in his absence.
Although the Packers have lost some people, they are a team that has handled adversity well, and I expect this defense to step up and play better football sooner than later.