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Cheese Curds, 12/2: Young defense is starting to complement Aaron Rodgers’ mastery

Veteran stars and young uber-athletes are starting to make the big plays that the Packers’ defense needs to be successful.

NFL: DEC 15 Bears at Packers Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers have had elite quarterback play for several decades. Say what you will about the last few years of Aaron Rodgers’ career — a down year for him is still better than the best seasons for most quarterbacks. But with his resurgence this season in year two with Matt LaFleur, the Packers’ offense is elite once again.

Finally, over the past few weeks, there are signs that the defense is finding ways to make the big plays that had eluded them over the first half of the season. The Packers have forced eight turnovers in the past four games, finally getting the takeaways that they struggled to find over the first eight weeks.

Much of the improvement on that side of the football is coming from young players. While Kenny Clark and Jaire Alexander are continuing their All-Pro caliber play, a pair of first-round picks from the 2019 draft are really starting to come on over that past month. While only one has had a major breakout game on the stat sheet, both are showing why the Packers believed in them last spring. Now they must maintain their strong play down the stretch to help make this Packers team a truly complete one and help drive them towards a Super Bowl.

What You Might’ve Missed: Second effort and quick reactions | Packers.com
It's a lot of fun watching Kenny Clark shed double-team blocks and Jaire Alexander close on receivers in a flash.

Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage start to make Packers' 2019 draft look better - ESPN
The last few weeks have been good ones for these two young players. Savage in particular had a breakout game on Sunday, while Gary has been turning up the heat on quarterbacks over the past three or four games.

Aaron Rodgers puts on a master class in quarterbacking | Packersnews.com (subscription)
From manipulating defenses with his eyes on no-look throws to throwing from every arm angle from scrambling out of the pocket to pick up first downs with his legs, Rodgers does all of the little things you could ask for from a quarterback. Although there may still be one or two things to complain about (setting his feet on deep throws, for example), playing against Mitchell Trubisky on Sunday should be a reminder of how good Packers fans have it.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers leads the NFL in all these statistical categories after 12 weeks | Packers Wire
Rodgers' comfort level in the offense is evident in his body language and his play, but you can see it in his numbers as well. He's now on pace to set a career high for completion rate in a season and he is tops in the league in a ton of conventional and advanced statistical categories.

Khalil Mack: Bears' pass rush struggles 'something that I take personally' | NFL.com
Meanwhile, the Packers' offensive line kept the Bears' pass rush at bay all game long, driving Mack to speak up about his frustration with his own play.

Not a bright idea: Driver busted using flashlights as headlights on I-90 | KOMO
Points for creativity, I suppose, but this isn't going to work out well in the long run.