I'm dying to hear someone, anyone talk about the porous run defense. I haven't been able to watch the game, it's been a real s!@##y week in my household, but I caught the highlights as the defensive tackles were shoved across county lines and LB Brady Poppinga kept missing tackles. A lot of things went wrong on Sunday, but the run defense is the number one thing that needs to be fixed. It won't be an elite unit anytime soon, but McCarthy and his staff should be able to do something, change in personnel at tackle, or a scheme adjustment (bringing a safety in the box) to turn them into an average unit. I'd give the coaches credit if all they did was release DT Colin Cole and replace him with any guy off the practice squad.
Instead not a single reporter asked Mike McCarthy about it at his press conference today, but Mike brought the matter up himself:
"Frankly I think the offense needs to play much better to keep the defense off the field, because I think it factored in the run defense. As far as the run defense, we won the down percentage-wise more than we have been, so we're improving in that area, but it's the explosive gains. We had five explosive gains in the run game. That was a big factor in the game."
He's right. RB Adrian Peterson's big game clinching TD run might not have happened if the defense hadn't been completely gassed after spending over 36 minutes on the field. But this isn't the first time it happened this season. Tennessee's RB Chris Johnson ran right at them in overtime to set up the game winning FG. Atlanta's RB Michael Turner ran for the game winning TD. So did Tampa's RB Earnest Graham. And in the Tennessee and Atlanta games, the offense played well.
Right now it doesn't seem like McCarthy knows that his run defense is awful. He thinks if the offense can just do a better job and win the time of possession battle, then the run defense will fix itself. Maybe the explosive gains will go away too?