The Green Bay Packers defensive woes may finally be a thing of the past.
It’s no secret that the team’s defense was a massive pain point last season, finishing the year by giving up 493 yards and 44 points to Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game. However, as Green Bay entered the season with a few veteran additions and a relatively healthy roster, this team may finally have reason to be seriously optimistic on both sides of the ball, and they showed why in a 17-9 win over the Seattle Seahawks in week one.
On offense, despite a rough first half in which he threw an early interception, Aaron Rodgers was able to find his rhythm by the second part of the game, finishing 28 of 42 for 311 yards. His biggest play was a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson late in the third quarter after Seattle was flagged for too many men on the field, giving the Packers’ QB a free play.
Never give Aaron Rodgers a free play.
Rodgers did his job just as he normally does, now what about the other side?
“The key to the game was our defense. If they play like that (for the rest of the season), we’ll be tough to beat,” Rodgers said after the game.
In 2016, the Packers ranked 21st in points allowed per game, adding extra pressure on Rodgers to keep the team’s head above water. However, on Sunday Green Bay’s amped defense sacked Russell Wilson three times and allowed Seattle just 225 yards of offense, including 135 passing yards. What’s more, the Packers managed to keep Seattle out of the red zone for most of the game, allowing the Seahawks just 12 first downs for the game’s entirety.
“We definitely made them one dimensional” said linebacker Jake Ryan on the Packers’ ability to put pressure on Wilson. Forcing Wilson out of the pocket and not giving him time to throw the ball proved to be a winning strategy from start to finish. The star of the show was defensive lineman Mike Daniels, who finished with 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble on Seattle’s 6-yard line that resulted in a touchdown by converted running back Ty Montgomery.
For much of the off-season, there was talk swirling around the team’s unconventional player acquisition strategy, in which Ted Thomas acquired several key veterans. However, this week’s defense featured most of the same faces from last season, aside from cornerback Davon House and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks who was picked up last week. Brooks left the game early with a concussion.
This week the Packers will head to Atlanta to face an offense led by Matt Ryan that destroyed Green Bay’s banged-up defense to end last season. The Falcons should expect to see a much tougher defense with improved confidence and physicality following this week’s convincing win.
If the Packers can stay healthy and continue to improve on defense, they will indeed be a force to be reckoned with.