The Green Bay Packers defense has come under a lot of fire in recent seasons and often for good reason. The defense is designed to prevent splash plays but often allows lots of yards underneath. The defense also has difficulty stopping the run, in part because they emphasizing stopping the pass and particularly the long pass. But one problem the defense has had this season is a failure to make big plays.
The Packers Defense Has Put Up Solid Numbers Statistically
Joe Barry’s unit isn’t having a bad year statistically. The team is ranked 11th in the NFL in points allowed per game and 11th in the league in yards allowed per game.
The obvious problem has been the run defense, which is ranked 27th in the league and is allowing 133-yards per game. The passing defense is ranked higher. They have permitted 187.6 yards per game which ranks them seventh in the NFL through their first nine games.
Certainly, over the course of the season, when you’re allowing 20.2 points per game, you should have a better record than 3-6.
The Packers Defense Hasn’t Made Enough Interceptions
But big plays are lacking for the Green Bay defense right now. Through nine games, the Packers have intercepted only five passes.
Safety Rudy Ford leads the way with two picks. Linebacker Quay Walker has one which he ran back for a touchdown in the season opener against the Bears. Rookie Anthony Johnson, Jr. also had one interception. The only other pick this year was made by Rasul Douglas who the Packers traded to Buffalo at the trade deadline.
Multiple defenders have dropped potential interceptions over the course of the first half of the season. Former Pro Bowl corner Jaire Alexander has yet to intercept a pass this season although he has missed four games due to injury and had his effectiveness limited due to injuries in others.
The Packers Defense Has Only a Handful of Fumble Recoveries
The Packers defense also hasn’t recovered many fumbles. Through nine games, the Pack has recovered only three fumbles. Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell has one, defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt has one and the third was recovered by Douglas, who has since been traded.
The Packers rank next to last in the league in fumble recoveries and are tied for 23rd in interceptions. Overall, the Packers defense is tied for 29th in the league with just eight turnovers this season.
Sacks Have Also Been in Short Supply Thus Far
The Packers have gotten a lot of pressure, but after a fast start early in the season, the number of sacks has tailed off.
Unfortunately, since the bye week, the Packers have recorded just six sacks in the last four games. In three of those games, they recorded just one sack. The offensive lines the team has faced have not exactly been ranked highly.
The Packers defense needs to get to the quarterback more consistently than they have in recent games. Sacks can help disrupt drives and help force punts.
This will be even more important in the coming weeks when the Pack faces highly ranked quarterbacks like Justin Herbert, Jared Goff, and Patrick Mahomes.
The Importance of Big Plays
Big plays are very important for the Packers defense. Barry plays a defense designed to thwart big plays and there have been mixed results this season in that area. But creating big plays is vital for any defense and especially for this team this season.
The Packers have an inexperienced offense including a first-year starter at quarterback and rookies and second-year players at wide receiver and tight end. Getting them the ball on a short field would be very helpful to the offense. It would also give the entire team more confidence and momentum in any game they play.
The Packers defense is doing well overall statistically, but more big plays whether they be sacks, fumble recoveries or interceptions, would take the unit to the next level.
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