The Green Bay Packers defense turned in another solid outing to close out the season and help propel the team into the playoffs. They held a hot Chicago Bears offense to just nine points, 117 total passing yards (Fields had 148 but lost 31 yards on sacks), and 75 rushing yards. The defense sacked Fields five total times in this game.
Five different players recorded sacks on defense: Quay Walker, rookies Karl Brooks and Lukas Van Ness, Kenny Clark, and Devonte Wyatt. But really, the entire defense deserves credit for this effort as the sticky man coverage threw off the timing of Fields with his receivers, caused him to drop his eyes, and forced him to hold the ball.
First sack, 1st quarter, 1st and 10, 11:06 remaining
Lukas Van Ness recorded the sack here on the first drive of the game here when the pass rush contained Fields in the pocket and prevented him from escaping.
Van Ness is rushing from the right defensive end spot and uses a simple bull rush technique against left tackle Braxton Jones. Van Ness engages with Jones and gets him to go parallel to the sideline. At that point the rep is over. The pass rush stays disciplined as well here and never rushes passed the quarterback.
The pass coverage on the backend was also instrumental in helping create this sack. The Packers sent a 5-man pressure with cover-1 behind it. There’s really nowhere for Fields to throw the ball but he’s at a point in his career where he can’t be dropping his eyes to the rush as consistently as he does and has to challenge these windows.
Second sack, 2nd quarter, 3rd and 6, 15:00 remaining
Here, Devonte Wyatt recorded the sack in less than three seconds from snap to sack.
The defense is sending a 6-man pressure with cover-0 behind it on third down. Wyatt is in the B-gap to the right rushing inside versus Teven Jenkins (No. 74). At the snap, he uses a two-hand shuck and rip move to beat Jenkens on the outside. He swipes the arms away and rips under Jenkens reach and gets into the backfield to sack Fields.
The coverage passed off the routes and prevented Fields from throwing the ball to any of his receivers before the rush was in his face.
Third sack, 2nd quarter, 3rd and 6, 2:00 remaining
On the third sack of the game, Kenny Clark looped around from his 4i-technique spot to the opposite A-gap where he went untouched.
The defensive line is in a “rush front” with two B-gap defensive tackles and two C-gap defensive ends. Clark is on the left of the defensive line and the Bears are 3-man half sliding their scat pass protection to the right side of their offensive line to the most dangerous to the two widest rushers.
Clark and rookie Karl Brooks are running an interior twist stunt where Brooks spikes the A-gap to his left and Clark loops around the interior clog and gets a free run at Fields. With the coverage passing off receiver D.J. Moore at different levels of the field, Fields just has to pull the ball down and eat the sack with Clark bearing down on him.
Fourth sack, 3rd quarter, 3rd and 7, 5:44 remaining
Quay Walker recorded this sack when Fields was flushed up the middle right into him for a 3-yard loss.
The defense is playing cover-1 behind essentially a 4-man rush with a spy defender on Fields. Walker is spying Fields here and mirroring his movement in the hopes that if he has to escape, he escapes right into his path.
Fields had an opportunity to rip a throw to the crossing route over the middle to his tight end but he dropped his eyes again as soon opposing colors flashed in front of him in the pocket. He tried to escape up the middle but with Walker spying, Walker is right in his path to make the sack.
Fifth sack, 4th quarter, 2nd and 16, 6:58 remaining
For the defense, this sack sealed the game and allowed the offense to get back on the field and run the clock out with an eight point lead.
The defense is in a “rush” front again with Karl Brooks in the B-gap 3-tech spot. Fields never really has a chance on this throw. The slot choice route stem from the running back is too far inside and Fields left guard is getting beat almost instantly again but this time by Karl Brooks.
Brooks uses a club move to swat away the blocker’s arms and then uses an arm over/swim move to get him. The move was quick. Brooks got into the backfield as Fields wanted to throw but he was held up by the slow developing choice route.
The defense has turned in two solid outings in recent weeks but this is still, by all metrics, the weakness of the team. While they might be top in points allowed, they also rank 11th in points allowed per drive. They recently let the Panthers score 30 points, an offense that averaged 13.8 points per game. And they’ve cost the team at least three games by giving late scores to Atlanta, New York, and Denver.
The offense isn’t without blame here either. But defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s unit finished the season 27th in defense DVOA and 23rd in EPA per play. This week they’ll face one of the league’s most efficient offenses in Dallas, who ranks 9th in DVOA on offense and 2nd in EPA per play. Dallas also ranked second in total points scored.
To say Barry has his work cut out for him would be an understatement. For someone whose job prospects beyond this week are in doubt, a win and solid performance versus one of the league’s best offenses could go a long way toward his future job prospects.