The Green Bay Packers are facing a struggling Detroit Lions team in Week 9, hoping to end their four-game losing streak. However, if the team wants to have any hope of making a statement in a win, then they’re going to need to find a way to handle Detroit’s strong offensive line.
Through the first nine weeks of the season, the Packers have struggled mightily against the run. Even against a pass-heavy Buffalo Bills offense starring Josh Allen on Sunday Night Football, the Packers gave up 153 rushing yards while allowing 5.7 yards per carry.
The Bills have just the 25th-ranked rushing offense in the league by DVOA, but they knew what Green Bay’s weakness was on defense and went after it. The Packers are allowing 141.3 rushing yards per game and are 31st in DVOA for rushing defense, and that’s in large part because of the lack of talent on the defensive line.
Kenny Clark has lacked a dominant run-stuffing partner on the defensive line throughout his career. Jarran Reed and Dean Lowry haven’t had an impact in helping stop the run, while first-round pick Devonte Wyatt is barely seeing the field.
Even the linebackers are struggling to help vs the run. De’Vondre Campbell, who was a first-team All-Pro last season, has appeared to have lost a step. Meanwhile, first-round rookie Quay Walker is struggling with his keys and hesitating against the run, getting caught looking in the backfield rather than attacking downhill and getting to his gap.
One of the biggest killers of productive ILB play vs the run is hesitancy.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) November 1, 2022
Not sure what Quay Walker's key is here, but looks like he's more interested in watching where the RB goes instead of reading his key, attacking downhill, and filling his gap.
Too much lateral movement. pic.twitter.com/Wfk9VBP7Qs
Maybe it’s coaching, but more than likely it’s that Walker isn’t comfortable reading his keys and being decisive with his reads, something that showed up during his time with the Georgia Bulldogs in college.
Things won’t get much easier for this defensive front in Week 9, facing a seventh-ranked rushing offense by DVOA in the Detroit Lions. Although they have a very strong one-two punch at running back in D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, it’s the offensive line that will be a brutal matchup for Green Bay.
Even with Halapoulivaati Vaitai on injured reserve, the Lions have some star players on their offensive line. Second-year tackle Penei Sewell is really getting his feet under him at right tackle, posting the sixth-best run blocking grade among qualified offensive tackles by Pro Football Focus.
Center Frank Ragnow is also having another good year. The former second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler has the seventh-best overall grade among qualified centers by PFF, and his toughness and aggressive play style fits very well with head coach Dan Campbell’s philosophy.
This is a nightmare matchup for Green Bay’s defensive front. With a lack of talent on the defensive line, a veteran ILB regressing, and a rookie ILB struggling with being a decisive, downhill player, the Lions are in a great situation to run the ball all over the Packers. If Detroit can establish the run and maintain possession, it will limit the time their struggling defense is on the field, and limit the time that Aaron Rodgers and company have to get their offense clicking.
That’s a nightmare scenario for the Packers, and one that could lead to them losing their fifth straight game.