The Packers’ 2019 season ended because they couldn’t stop the run.
That’s not so much an oversimplification as a statement of fact. The 49ers had their way with the Packers on the ground, and the Packers were summarily bounced from the playoffs as a result.
Eight months later, not much has changed. The Packers signed Christian Kirksey and Treyvon Hester and drafted Kamal Martin, but otherwise did very little to shore up their run defense. So how do they plan to change the results should they run into another run-heavy team in the playoffs? Mentality and effort, both of which have been present in spades in the early portion of the Packers’ 2020 training camp, at least according to Dean Lowry and Adrian Amos, both of whom spoke to the media today.
“A lot of the big runs we gave up, we beat ourselves,” said Lowry. “We know we have the talent to get it done.”
Amos echoed those sentiments, saying the Packers will benefit from another year of continuity in Mike Pettine’s system.
“After a full year and then an offseason, just knowing each other, knowing our movements, and knowing our defense, knowing where we can make it our own and working together,” said Amos. “I think that experience is going to help us a lot this year.”
Amos himself is preparing to take on a bigger leadership role. With Tramon Williams still unsigned, Amos is the elder statesman among the Packers’ defensive backs. He’s happy to take up the group’s veteran leadership role
“It’s a little different without Tramon in the room,” he said. “Now everybody calls me the old head. I’m still young, I’m 27 years old, but it’s still a lot of responsibility. People are looking to you, watching how you practice. I’m a big lead by example guy.”
The Packers are also getting some veteran leadership from their most noteworthy offseason addition on defense. Linebacker Christian Kirksey has been an active presence on the practice field so far, and Lowry expects that to continue into the regular season.
“So far in practice, he’s been very physical, especially in the runs,” he said. “He’s coming downhill in those plays”
Lowry also wants to play a bigger role in 2019, both against the run and in the passing game. He’s aware of the 0 he posted in the sacks column of his 2019 box score and wants to change that, starting with a renewed focus on playing strong and shedding blocks.
“I’ve always been a pocket pusher, but for me, the next step has to be getting off those blocks and getting to the quarterback.”