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Cheese Curds, 12/21: Packers defense has plenty to work on after tight win over Ravens

Aggressiveness and communication will be the focuses of this week of mental reps.

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Green Bay Packers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

With the Green Bay Packers having a slightly shortened week before their week 16 game on Christmas Day, the team is focusing on mental reps in practice over the next several days. But that might be just what this team needs, particularly on the defensive side of the football.

Sunday’s 31-30 victory over the Baltimore Ravens was a nerve-wracking finish, and it was so because of some blunders on defense that allowed the Ravens to sustain drives and get back in the game. Although the unit came up with the stop on the most critical play of the game — the Ravens’ two-point conversion attempt — the fact that they had a chance to attempt that at all is reason for concern.

So while the offense continues clicking for the most part, the defense needs to spend this week focusing on fixing some communication issues. Head coach Matt LaFleur also mentioned a lack of aggressiveness in coverage as a problem that needs to be fixed, so look for that to be a focus of the game plan on Saturday against the Cleveland Browns.

But before we examine the defense, let’s take a look at some praise that the offense, and Aaron Rodgers in particular, are earning.

Packers displayed effective ground game against league’s top rush defense |
The Packers did find a little bit of running room against the Ravens' excellent run defense, even though they hit exactly the Ravens' average in yards allowed for the game. Still, the group did a good job from a success rate standpoint, one of the metrics that the Packers look at to evaluate the running game's consistency.

Aaron Rodgers, Packers' offense clicking like it's 2020 all over again - ESPN
Meanwhile, Rodgers is clicking, even without much practice time, and he's neck-and-neck with Tom Brady in the race for the MVP.

Studying Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and the art of the play fake – The Athletic
One of Rodgers' best, and perhaps most impressive, skills is his play-fake. No other quarterback hides the ball better, and it leads to plenty of big and small gains in the passing game.

Packers' Matt LaFleur displeased with defense's lack of aggressiveness |
A day after his team withstood a Ravens rally, Packers coach Matt LaFleur was not happy with the way his defense lost its focus and aggressiveness. He wants to see his defense playing tighter coverage as well as being better at communicating and lining up correctly.

Packers rookie CB Eric Stokes turns in impressive performance against Ravens | Packers Wire
One player on defense who won't see a whole lot of criticism this week is Stokes, who had an excellent game. Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 88.3 for the contest, by far the highest grade for a Packers defender and his highest-graded game of his rookie season.

Mack Brown and Shane Beamer agree to mayonnaise bath for winner of Duke's Mayo Bowl -
Now this is the college football bowl content we need!