Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Nov 2011

ESPN: Green Bay's Porous Pass Defense

Green Bay may be undefeated, but so far they have a very obvious Achilles heel: pass defense. Can a team with a below average pass defense actually win the Super Bowl? It would be pretty darn rare. And why exactly is the Packers pass defense playing so much worse than last year?

Posted by: Danny Tuccitto on 13 Nov 2011

5 comments, Last at 16 Nov 2011, 10:09am by Mr. Guest to you


by evenchunkiermonkey :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:31am

First, I'll say that I don't have espn insider access, so I have no idea what's actually in the article. I do however know what the difference between last years GB defense and this years GB defense is. A large man named Cullen Jenkins. With Jenkins and Raji on last years line you could count on either A) them eating up 3 offensive linemen and a RB/TE between the two of them or B) a blocking scheme that called for a double team on Matthews, leaving Jenkins or Raji single blocked. Both these scenarios meant that an inside blitz with Bishop or Hawk or blitz from the slot with Woodson were extremely effective. Opposing offenses couldn't cope with double teaming 2-3 players and still pick up the blitz. This year opposing teams will plan on doubling Matthews and using a guard or RB to chip Raji without being too concerned about double teaming another linemen. This makes blitz pickups and blocking adjustments easier, and gives opposing QBs an second or three unmolested. Last year the GB secondary didn't have issues with miscommunication(like we saw at San Diego)because of the confusion the pass rush caused opponents.
Secondarily, the injury to Nick Collins also hurts. I would take the position that Charlie Peprah is a pretty good safety. Maybe you don't believe that, which is where I'd remind you he started quite a few games last year for a team that won the Superbowl. The dropoff isn't so much a speed talent or strength issue so much as it is a leadership/experience/confidence issue. Last weeks game had DBs looking at one another like "I thought you were the deep guy" and that's where the Packers miss Collins the most. Last years defense blew some coverage, but a lot of times that was covered up by a ferocious pass rush. Combine the drop off in pressure on QBs with the injury to Nick Collins and you see a secondary that is out of position more often and QBs with more than enough time to diagnose and pick apart mistakes. That's the difference, just an extra second or two and the yardage piles up. The good news for the Packers is that they lead the league with 16 picks and are third with 51 passes defensed going into Monday night. The talent is there in the secondary but when you're in the bottom third in sacks the opposition will throw it all day. The difference between a second round exit from the playoffs and a SB victory could turn on how well the coaches and DBs work to eliminate the blown coverages because I don't think the Packers pass rush failings are something that can be 'coached up'.

by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:09am

"The good news for the Packers is that they lead the league with 16 picks"

That's not actually good news, nor is Rodgers throwing only 3 picks himself. Both numbers are likely to revert - when? who knows.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 9:03am

Packer coaches, local writers and many fans keep chattering about Mike Neal thinking that the oft injured defensive lineman out of Purdue will magically heal the Packers pass rush woes.

I think that's crazy. And stupid.

The guy cannot get on the field. And I all but certain that once on the field he will get hurt again. He got hurt in training camp doing basic drills for heaven's sake.

Look, Thompson took a risk letting Jenkins go since he holds to the Branch Rickey premise of better to let a guy go a year early versus a year late. It's a good approach.

But you better have the next guy lined up to make it work.

by NYMike :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:54pm

Last year, most of the games were close, meaning that the other team wasn't forced to throw all the time. This year, by the third quarter, the offense has often put up a big lead and made the other team play from behind. So the opponents are passing more than ever. This is not to say that the defense doesn't have major problems, but it is another contributing factor, especially when talking about yards given up.

by tuluse :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 6:16pm

Who cares about yards given up? Look at DVOA.

Last year -17.8%, this year +17.5%. That is an enormous swing.