Say it with me now: Defense wins championships.
Chances are that if you are a sports fan, you have heard this phrase used close to a million time at the very least.
Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.
It’s as cliché as a cliché gets.
Try saying that five times fast, eh?
The weird part about clichés though is that they usually become one because they are true!
“It’s a game of inches.”
“Establish the running game.”
“The game’s won and lost in the trenches.”
Honestly, I could go on and on, but as annoying as those phrases can sometimes be, I dare you to dispute their legitimacy.
How many times have we seen inches be the difference on a big play or even on the outcome of the game? How many championship-caliber teams can you recall that didn’t have a solid running game, or at the very least tried to establish the threat of the run during their games? How many legitimate and educated football fans do you know that would really dispute the importance of a good offensive and defensive line?
Defense wins championships.
The Green Bay Packers are in the Playoffs for one reason, and for one reason only: Defense.
Obviously, any offense that boasts a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, and the stellar combination of the four amigos: Jennings, Driver, Jones and Nelson is going to be explosive and quite dangerous.
There have been points during this season when all Packers fans had to do was sit back, relax and enjoy the show! When Green Bay’s offense is chugging along, it’s truly a thing of beauty.
If you take a closer look at the season though, it was actually the defense that spurred this team and even sometimes contributed to the offense. The defense came up huge in a pivotal Week 8 match up with the Jets. The Packers were only able to put nine points up on the board, but that looks pretty good compared to the goose egg that the Packers forced the “high powered” Jets into laying.
You could even take a look at the two blowout wins against Dallas and Minnesota and find evidence of defensive dominance. Sure, the offense looked incredible on their way to scoring a combined 76 points in two games, but keep in mind that the defense only gave up 10 combined points and actually scored themselves.
Last but not least, I reference the Packers latest and most important game against the Bears. Green Bay had to win to get in and say what you will about Jay Cutler, but he has the ability to put some points on the board.
The offense looked horribly out of sync the whole game. Aaron Rodgers was both the leading passer and the leading rusher for the Pack, and they were having a hard time sustaining anything that resembled a drive.
But when it mattered the most, Nick Collins came up with a drive-ending and game-ending interception.
It has not been uncommon for the Packers defense to make game-altering, and sometimes game deciding plays that led to wins.
Now that the postseason is upon us the Pack is going to have to rely heavily on their defense if they want to move forward. This week may be the toughest Wild Card draw in recent memory, being that Green Bay has to travel out to Philadelphia to face Michael Vick and a very potent Eagles offense.
Green Bay has the offensive prowess to be able to get in a shootout with Philly and hang tough, but I truly believe the lack of any real running threat would be their downfall in that scenario.
In order for the Packers to win, they are going to have to stop Michael Vick. That responsibility rests on the defense.
If they can indeed stop Vick this week, it won’t get any easier as they progress. The possibilities of Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Jay Cutler and plethora of great quarterbacks in the AFC would be awaiting the Packers as they go deeper into the Playoffs.
If they are going to win, the defense is going to have to really step up.
The playmakers like Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Nick Collins are going to have to continue making big plays in key situations.
Even more important will be the play of the role players though.
Can B.J. Raji make the step from a good player to a great player? Will Sam Shields be able to hold his own against better competition? How about Charlie Peprah or even A.J Hawk? Will they be able to continue their solid play under pressure?
I believe the answers to all of those questions will have to be yes in order for the Packers to have a legitimate shot at a title run.
Packer fans can rest easy though, because I think this defense and those players will step up and rise to the occasion.
This defense is good and even with a bad offensive showing, that alone can win then football games. All they need is four in a row.
I’d take four 3-0 wins any day of the week.
After all, offense wins games, but defense wins championships.