The Green Bay Packers face more uncertainty entering the 2023 season than they’ve had in many years. The defense faces more pressure than ever this year. With a new, inexperienced starting quarterback taking over, there will be more pressure than ever on the defense to make plays and keep opposing teams from piling up points. Here are the three biggest questions facing the Green Bay Packers defense at the start of training camp:
Packers Defense Question Number Three: Can the Packers Find Quality Starters at Safety?
NFL secondaries are only as good as their weakest link and right now the weakest link appears to be at safety.
The Packers best potential starter at safety right now is Darnell Savage. The former Maryland star played so poorly early last season he was benched. Savage has played well at times since being selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but he’s also struggled mightily at times.
The rest of the candidates have limited starting experience and may not be good enough to be a quality starter. Rudy Ford, Tarvarius Moore and Jonathan Owens are the leading candidates with late draft pick Anthony Johnson Jr. being a long shot.
Somebody needs to step up and claim the job and then play well enough to not be a liability to the pass defense. It remains possible the Packers will add a veteran before the season starts if they find someone available that they like.
Question Number Two: Can the Run Defense Be Better?
The Green Bay run defense has been a problem for years now. The team emphasizes stopping the pass first and that’s fine, but the run defense cannot be such a great liability that it hurts the team.
Last year, the Packers were 26th in the NFL in yards allowed per game and 28th in yards allowed per rush. Giving up 5.0-yards a carry is not a recipe for winning defense.
Quay Walker should improve in his second season in the league and should be better at reading running plays while De’Vondre Campbell is fully healthy and hoping to return to his 2021 All Pro form. This should give the Pack better play at inside linebacker.
Improving the run defense to being at least average would make a big difference for the overall team defense in 2023.
Packers Defense Question Number One: Can Joe Barry Create a Defense That Plays to His Team’s Strengths
Last season, the Packers pass defense started the season with a defensive scheme that didn’t fit the skill set of the players on the field. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry played a lot of soft zone coverages which gave opposing receivers a large cushion which resulted in giving up first downs on far too many third-and-long situations.
Barry also failed to utilize Alexander, an elite cover corner, against the opposition’s top receiver until later in the season. A clear example are the two games the Packers played against the Vikings. In Week 1, Barry didn’t have Alexander follow Justin Jefferson. The Vikings receiver killed the Packers, catching nine passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings won 23-7.
In Week 17, the Packers had Alexander on Jefferson most of the game and the Pro Bowl wideout caught one pass for 15 yards in the Packers 41-17 route.
The Packers need Barry to devise a scheme that plays to his players’ strengths and is less passive like he did late in the 2022 season.
The Green Bay defense has eight former first round picks on the roster and should be an effective unit. Barry needs to maximize the defense and prove he can get the job done or he won’t keep his job beyond this season.
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