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The Run Defense

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I've read a lot of negative comments/articles about the Green Bay Packers defense this week. Allowing 38 points to the Vikings can do that. And they can't give up 4 TD passes. But the special teams, and the terrible kick coverage on WR Percy Harvin, gave the Vikings a lot of great field position. It's not an excuse, but it's also one game. A very emotionally, bitter loss to swallow, but not a trend or sign of some deeper trouble. 

In an attempt to turn a negative tide positive, I wanted to bring up how great the run defense has played this season. The switch to the 3-4 defense hasn't necessarily made a very good pass defense any better, or brought a dormant pass rush to life, but teams can't run against it. 

In 2008, the run defense was terrible, allowing 4.6 yards/carry and 20 TDs. Through 7 games in 2009, they've allowed 3.5 yards/carry and 3 TDs. And they've done it despite having 4 games against 3 of the best RBs in the NFL: RB Adrian Peterson, RB Steven Jackson, and RB Cedric Benson.

What has stood out is how hard it is to run up the middle. Dom Capers' defense is designed to force the runner outside, where the RB can get pinned in by the sideline and CB or OLB can make the tackle. There are a lot more defensive bodies in the middle this season, with three defensive tackles (DE Johnny Jolly, NT Ryan Pickett, and DE Cullen Jenkins) usually starting on the line bunched up inside the offensive tackles. Plus the extra inside linebacker, usually Brandon Chillar lined up next to Nick Barnett

It was quite a contrast to watch the Falcons at Saints game on Monday night. These are two contending teams, but RB Michael Turner gashed the Saints run defense for 7.6 yards/carry and 1 TD, while RB Pierre Thomas did the same to the Falcons for 6.5 yards/carry and 1 TD. On the season, the Falcons have allowed 4.5 yards/carry, and the Saints 4.4 yards/carry. 

The two things any team should do is stop the run and throw the ball. If a team falls behind, they can rally because the opponent can't run out the clock and then they can move the ball quickly down the field in the air. The Packers almost did this, in both games against the Vikings: come behind from a huge deficit because the Vikings didn't control the clock and the Packers almost passed their way back.