So, what's the problem with the Packers pass rush? I've heard quite a few reasons: Dom Capers not playing the right schemes, Erik Walden not generating enough pass rush, Clay Matthews not being the player he once was. Plenty of crazy ideas for Packer fans. But today, looking at Pro Football Focus, a big stat caught my eye: Erik Walden was graded higher than any other Packers player (Save Rodgers, of course).
That's right, one sack, four pressures, and two hits on the day for Walden. While that might not be as outstanding as it looks, he also had an impeccable day in coverage, and really gave the coaches no reason to put Frank Zombo in.
But the real question here is, if Walden wasn't responsible for the lack of pass rush on Sunday, who was? Well, it wasn't Matthews. A good day of rushing the passer for Matthews, with four pressures and a quarterback hit (despite the lack of a sack). Capers? Perhaps. Understand this, though, there is not ONE person on this blog who knows anything near what Capers knows. The coverage at the end of the game might have been a little loose, standard prevent defense. But no, I wouldn't put the blame on Capers. He knows what he's doing, and was the reason the Packers won the Super Bowl last year. Think he doesn't know as much now? The last thing ANY Packer fan should be doing is calling Capers schemes into question. He knows what he's doing.
So if it wasn't Walden, if it wasn't Matthews, and if it probably wasn't Capers, who was it? Well, there's a couple of players. BJ Raji, first of all. Just one pressure the whole game. No doubt his play has regressed from last season, and understandably so. Last year, playing 90% of defensive snaps [not to mention a grueling postseason], probably took its toll on Raji. Combine that with the effects of the lockout, and you have a problem. Asking him to repeat that, especially after losing Jenkins, was probably just too much for Raji. If the Packers get Mike Neal back, look for Raji's play to improve. If not, well, I'd say Raji stays at his mediocre level of play for the season.
Second, AJ Hawk. Now Hawk has looked terrible all season, but in this game he looked terrible in coverage, run support, and the few times he rushed the passer, he was shut down. Hawk's subpar play has hurt the Packers in every aspect of the defense, not just pass rush.
And third, the defensive line. Now, the real blame here goes on Jarius Wynn and CJ Wilson. I know Green isn't used to rush the passer, but the few plays he did, he got nothing. No suprise there, though, I'm not complaining about Green. What I'm complaining about is the horrid play of CJ and Wynn. According to Pro Football Focus, CJ and Wynn were asked to rush the passer on 40 plays [In contrast, they were asked to play the run on 9 snaps]. How many plays did they reach the quarterback? Nada. Zero . No pressure, no hits, no sacks, no tackles. After re-watching the game myself, Wilson and Wynn looked lost. Then again, they were late round picks, but that's unacceptable.
What do you think is wrong with the pass rush? Think I'm a moron? Like my ideas? Let me know.... in the comments!