Breaking Down The Packers (Lack Of) Defense

Adam HelmsingContributor INovember 30, 2008

I have not written about the Green Bay Packers for awhile now, due to the fact there is nothing good to say about the Pack.  I never enjoy attacking teams and pointing at their faults, I would prefer to point out the good with the bad, tell teams what they are doing well, and what they are failing at.  With the Packers, I now have no choice but to attack them, especially their defense.

So let us, the loyal Packer fans, explore the reasons behind that pathetic defense.


Pass Defense

The lone bright spot on this team, some people have said this; I myself only see a dark spot that is slightly lighter then the rest. I look at this group with apprehension; they have proven that they are capable of making big plays, but they also proved that they are not as mighty as they think; New Orleans is a prime example of this.

The Packers coverage also knows how to pull a vanishing act as they have allowed four 100-yard receivers, this may not seem like a large number but they have also allowed multiple 70 and 80-yard receivers.

Linebackers, especially AJ Hawk are performing poorly in pass coverage, last year it was obvious that he was not specially gifted in pass coverage, but so far this year he has become a big reason for my heart ache.

Brady Poppinga has also struggled in pass coverage, due to his struggles last year Brandon Chiller was brought in, Chiller has played well, with the injury to Nick Barnett, Green Bays second best coverage linebacker, he is going to see much more playing time.

Aaron Kampman remains as the only player to consistently get pressure on the quarterback, the rest of the line has done little more to help out, and the Packers have sacked the quarterback a measly 18 times, with seven and half coming directly from Kampman.

When a quarterback has the ability to sit back and pick his targets out with no threat to get the ball out quickly, it allows him to find the soft spots in the defense, it also allows receivers more time to get open.   


Rush Defense

Oh, where to start? How can a team that was so promising last year slip so far into lower levels of the NFL’s rush defense category (26)? When a slip in performance like this occurs, we have to ask, OK who did we lose? Well, no one really, this falls fully on lack of execution.

When throwing blame on lack of run defense, both the linebackers and defensive line deserve equal blame. One thing that is obviously amiss is that the defensive line plays on the wrong side of the ball, they do not penetrate and create pressure in the backfield, they also have no sense of responsibility in gap control. Honestly, even Kampman is at fault, rarely ever does he properly crash down the line to stop the cutback.

The linebackers for the Green and Gold were really thought to be the strength of this defense; none of them have performed to their potential. Personally I give a lot of the blame to the coaching for this. One thing that I have noticed is the lack attacking, what should be happening is the linebackers should make a step forward at the snap of the ball, the outside linebackers should then be attacking the outside while the middle linebacker flows to the ball.

Instead, what I have seen is all linebackers, at the snap of the ball, remain in place and all of them attempt to flow to the play, there is nothing wrong with this strategy, except that the Packers do not have a big defensive tackle to keep blockers off of them. If the linebackers were in more of an attacking mode it would keep blockers off the middle linebacker, thus allowing him to flow and make plays, with the loss of Barnett, Green Bay’s defense is in further trouble.

The bottom line is this; there is no attacking by the linebackers.

Barnett is a highly aggressive player, when he attacked, he made plays. Hawk, is a pure physical specimen, Poppinga is a high energy player who gives a 100 percent every play, Chiller is a great pass coverage linebacker but also is an underrated player against the run.

Poor defensive coaching has doomed the Packers; if players were used properly things would be different. When questions of responsibility and technique come into play, questions of the coach’s ability must be addressed.