Despite the NFL-best 8-0 record, the Green Bay Packers are ranked 30th in the league in yards allowed per game. They are also only 18th in sacks. Those two stats need to change if the Packers want to continue this historic win streak.
There are a lot of reasons why the Packers defense is significantly worse than it was last year when they won the Super Bowl. They aren't getting to the QB, there have been too many blown coverages, etc.
Bottom line, they need to get it together. The offense is nearly unstoppable, but come playoff time, they are going to need the defense to step up if they want to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
This season, when lined up in their standard 3-4 alignment, typical nose tackle B.J. Raji has being playing defensive end while Ryan Pickett has been at the nose. This is the opposite of how they lined up last year. The reason behind this switch was to improve the run defense, and it's worked. The Packers after eight games rank eighth in rushing yards allowed per game and 22nd in yards allowed per carry. Last year, they were only 18th and 28th, respectively.
The problem is that the defensive line is getting less pressure on the QB. B.J. Raji, with his quick hands and brute strength, was able to dominate at nose tackle last season with 6.5 sacks. This season, he has only two sacks halfway through the season. He doesn't have the speed to rush as effectively off the edge as he does straight up the middle.
If they do switch back, they could give C.J. Wilson and Howard Green more playing time over Jarius Wynn at defensive end to still improve the run defense.
The Packers need to start to switch things up a bit. Tramon Williams has not been able to be as physical and play as tight in coverage since injuring his shoulder.
They should allow Sam Shields more work against the No. 1 receivers, since he has the speed to keep up with them, and I think Williams would do better against a most likely slower receiver. I'm not saying demote Williams and make Shields the top corner, but I think they should mix it up a bit.
Linebacker Desmond Bishop has been a real bright spot on this defense this season. He has been a pretty sure tackler and has been very effective in limited pass rush situations. He leads the team with four sacks this season, putting him on pace for eight on the year.
Blitzing him more could not only help in the sense that he will be able to get pressure on the QB, but also draw attention away from the outsides of the field, helping the free up the outside linebackers.
The Packers finally got defensive end Mike Neal back in practice for the first time since August. He has been recovering from knee surgery in that time.
Neal could certainly have an impact by himself getting pressure, but he would also help the rest of the defense. He would provide more depth to allow the big guys like Raji and Pickett to get some rest and be more effective when they do play.
Simply put, the Packers need to unleash the beast. Clay Matthews is the best player on this defense, and despite only three sacks this season, he has been able to get constant pressure on the QB. The Packers need to do whatever it takes to get him to connect with the QB and get sacks.
Matthews has been able to consistently beat the right tackle. The problem is there is almost always another guy waiting in the backfield to hold him off just long enough to prevent a sack. Teams have been able to do this because there hasn't been the threat of a pass rush from anywhere else on the field. This needs to change.
If Green Bay can get Clay Matthews to connect and get sacks, this defense will improve—there is no doubt about that.