A Bolstered Pass Rush Key to a Return to Super Bowl

We are now just days away from Super Bowl LII where the Philadelphia Eagles will square off against the New England Patriots in Minneapolis. As I get ready for the big game on Sunday, I can’t help but think with a healthy Aaron Rodgers and few upgrades the Packers could be playing in on Super Sunday in Atlanta next year. One bad season without our hall 0f fame quarterback, did not deter Vegas from listing the Packers as a favorite to win next year’s Super Bowl, with 12-1 odds. Obviously, with a healthy Rodgers the Packers are a favorite every year, but what is the most pressing need for the Packers to get to the Super Bowl next year?

To get over the hump, most will say that the Packers need to spend big in free agency. That is never been their m.o. with Thompson running the show, as he was the biggest penny pinching low ball offering general manager in the NFL. With Brian Gutekunst as the new GM, I think that he will not stray too far from that philosophy with Russ Ball still in town. I do feel that they will dip their toe more in free agency this off season and make a bigger splash, more so than we have seen before.

My thought process is that Gutekunst should spend in free agency on a cornerback to beef-up the secondary. Someone like an A.J. Bouye to add an instant presence to the back-end of the defense. That type of player would benefit Ha Ha Clinton Dix, Morgan Burnett, and move Damarious Randall to the nickel with Kevin King starting at the other cornerback spot.

But no matter who you put in the secondary, you need to get pressure on the quarterback. If you don’t get pressure on the quarterback and he is just sitting back there with 4, 5, 6 seconds, any quarterback in the league will carve the defense up. You must get pressure on the quarterback to be successful in the NFL. Look back at the Packers last Super Bowl run in 2010, they got pressure on the QB not just from their front four but from their linebacker too. Getting pressure will cause the quarterback to rush his throws and make bad decisions that our secondary can hopefully capitalize on.

Upgrading the pass rush would definitely make the defense look better and finish in the top half of the league. This is why I feel that pass rush is their biggest need this off-season. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry combined for 14.5 sacks in 2017. Matthews is getting older and golden years when he was wrecking havoc on opposing offenses. I can see a role for him similar to the role Peppers played his last year in Green Bay. Nick Perry has been injured off and on throughout his career and always seems to be playing with a cast on his hand. The Packers finished with 37 sacks total in 2017, and the defense was not good enough to get off the field on third down or in the red zone because of the lack of rush on the opposing quarterback.

It all starts up front. For the Packers defense to be successful, I fully believe that GM Gutekunst needs to take a pass rusher with the 14th pick in the draft. The last time they drafted this high was when they took B.J. Raji and look how that turned out. That same year Ted Thompson traded back into the first round to get Clay Matthews. With 10 – 11 draft picks this year, that is another option for Gutekunst, where is maybe could trade back into the first round and get two impact players right away.

Either way, the Packers can no longer afford to overlook this position if they want to play in the Super Bowl in Atlanta next year.

Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag

Share