The Packers have formed potentially one of the most fearsome defenses in the league. An already potent team added free agent Jarran Reed and drafted Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt in the first round. On paper, the Packers defense should be monstrous, but there are still some nagging issues heading into Week 1 of the 2022 season.
While the defense shut down the 49ers in the playoffs a season ago, they really struggled down the stretch. Over the final seven games, the Packers gave up 188 points. Through the first 10, they only allowed 183 points. The defense virtually collapsed while the team led the league in touchdowns allowed and ranked 28th in yards per carry allowed during the final seven.
While the team must leave it in the past, it was a concerning moment that still needs to be addressed. The Packers need to make sure they don’t repeat last year, and they must do three things to make sure of it.
1. Will the Run Defense Hold up for the Packers?
Defense begins and ends with stopping the run. The NFL is no longer a run first league, however, teams will adapt and they certainly watch films on the teams they play. If there is a glaring issue, they will attack it.
The Packers can shut down teams during long third downs. They have the ability to cover nearly every receiving position and their coverage ratings are very favorable. However, the Matt LaFleur era of the Packers has seen the team go 24th, 21st, and 30th in yards allowed per carry. Week 1 will serve as a real test of improvement in that area when the Vikings send Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison.
If teams execute well against the Packers, they can avoid third and long situations since they average 4.5 yards per carry against them. The Packers will need to make sure they can stop the run before they face the likes of Leonard Fournette, Damien Harris, Saquon Barkley, Breece Hall, Derrick Henry, and Ezekiel Elliott throughout the season.
2. Do the Packers have Enough Depth?
The Packers entered the preseason with depth concerns at safety, outside linebacker, and corner back. However, none of those positions have really been fixed. There are plenty of safeties and corners on the roster, but many of them are still young, unproven players. They are solidified backups yet, nor do they have as much experience as one.
Outside of Preston Smith and Rashan Gary, Jonathan Garvin and Tipa Galaei combined for 2.5 sacks last year. There isn’t enough production considering they had 300+ rushing opportunities last year. The trio of positions still have depth issues, and even worse there are questions about what the production will be.
The new backup safeties are both well known special team players who haven’t filled in at safety much. The team lacks knowledge and experience behind the starters on defense heading into week 1.
3. Can the Packers Buy into the Hype?
Let’s face it, this Packers defense is projected to be something special, and it certainly could. There are proven stars galore, along with plenty of young, exciting prospects. Outside of the departure of Adams, the defense has been the talk of the off-season for the Packers as they enter 2022. Along with that, this defense is supposed to help lead the Packers into the promised land this year after three consecutive 13+ win seasons that resulted in nothing.
Defense wins championships and the Packers will need their defense to step up a notch this year. The offense can get it done, and they may have their own concerns, but ultimately Aaron Rodgers knows how to score. As Rashan Gary notably said this off-season, “Man we got talent everywhere. Talent everywhere.” The team has bought into the hype and they understand what 2022 means.
Hopefully the Packers players don’t let the praise and hype affect them. This is going to be a big year, and they need to be sharp before to accomplish their goals.
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