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Cheese Curds, 2/18: Mike Pettine got his wish with a good pass defense, but at what cost?

The Packers’ defense was abysmal against the run late in the 2019 season, undoing much of the success that their solid pass defense did throughout the year.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

By any measure, the Green Bay Packers fielded a good pass defense in 2019. Perhaps not great, but at the very least a good one. Whether ranking sixth in opponents’ passer rating, 10th in pass defense DVOA, or third in interceptions, the defense did a good job not getting beaten through the air with any regularity.

Of course, the rejuvenated pass rush played a large role in that, as did defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s willingness — and perhaps need — to play light with five and six defensive backs. Those factors helped drive the Packers to field a poor run defense, ranking 23rd in DVOA and 24th in yards per carry against. But the most frustrating part was that the defense could not stop the run against certain teams in certain situations — namely, when they knew it was coming.

Pettine’s right that more often than not, you lose games by giving up plays in the passing game. But run defense must be more than an afterthought, as the Packers’ performance against the 49ers demonstrated. Now it’s on Brian Gutekunst to give him the tools to fix that part of his unit, and on him to do it.

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