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Green Bay Packers Defense Pulling Its Weight

Brady sacked

Aaron Rodgers outplayed Tom Brady and made himself the front runner for the NFL MVP award, but it was the Green Bay Packers defense that made the biggest stand yesterday evening at Lambeau Field.

The narrative before the Eagles victory was that the Packers could not defeat an elite team. After they did that it was that they could not beat an elite quarterback. Nobody can say any of that anymore.

The Packers defense stopped a quarterback who has the most game winning drives in NFL history in his attempt to deliver would would have been a soul crushing defeat. It was the same drive the Packers could not stop in the playoffs against Colin Kaepernick at Lambeau last January.

Mike Neal has been one of the more criticized players on the Packers over the years, but he made the play of his career on a third-and-9 sack of Brady that won the game for the Green Bay. They had gotten some good pressure on Brady throughout the game, but just could not get for a sack. Neal made the play that the Packers’ defense of the last three seasons never would have made.

It’s pretty clear why the Packers’ defense has been so much improved this year. One has been the addition of Julius Peppers. Peppers didn’t make a ton of big plays this game other than two pass knockdowns, but obviously he has made a ton of them this year leading the team with six sacks and two defensive touchdowns. His presence helps guys like Neal get the one-on-one opportunity he got to make that sack.


That time I was sexually harassed at a Packers game

packers fans

I was going to write about the Packers steamrolling the Bears this past weekend, but what else is there to say? Garbage time officially started at the beginning of the second half, and it would have been a mercy move had the players given kids from De Pere, Bayport and Ashwaubenon a turn at taking on the Bears at that point.

Instead, I’m going to use this forum to share a personal experience from that night and point out that it is the first time that I did not feel at ease at Lambeau Field. At halftime, while the Packers were likely laughing it up in the locker room, I was sexually harassed by a fellow Packers fan I had never met.

This topic has been in the media quite a lot lately. Most people are familiar with the woman who videoed herself walking around New York while receiving 108 lewd catcalls while, well, just walking around New York. And my own local paper just ran Los Angeles Times’ Meghan Daum’s outstanding editorial just this past weekend about how we as a society have become so desensitized to such behavior that we just silently accept it, often blaming the woman for “asking for it.”

But let me get one thing straight–I wasn’t asking for it, and no one could conceivably blame the way I was dressed. Winter coat with an extra layers underneath and a pair of jeans, I wasn’t exactly dressed in a come hither manner.


Packers Midseason Random Thoughts & Musings


The Green Bay Packers sit at 5-3 at the halfway point of their season, which is a very reasonable record with the kind of schedule they faced. This included trips to the two hardest places to win in the NFL.

The second half of the season is a much easier schedule with five of their eight games at Lambeau Field. Everything the Packers want is still right there in front of them. Here are some thoughts heading into the second half of the season:

– Lots of players will have their futures in Green Bay impacted by their play over these final eight games. Randall Cobb has already proved he is a must to re-sign. Davon House did not step up when given the chance starting against a top offense. He likely cost himself money, even though Tramon Williams did not play well either. Bryan Bulaga has a lot to prove when facing top speed rushers as well. The problem with not bringing Bulaga back is they have nobody on the roster to replace him on the roster. Also, David Bakhtiari’s continued poor performance run blocking may cause him not to be the left tackle of the future.


Some Positive Packers Defensive Numbers


The talk surrounding the Green Bay Packers’ defense is usually negative and with good reason over the last few years. It has mostly remained that way this season, especially with everybody looking at NFL’s worst ranked run defense (163 yards per game). However, there are many positive stats being overlooked with Green Bay’s defense so far.

The Packers are only ranked 22nd in the NFL in total defense (371.8 yards per game), but you have to look much deeper into that number. A huge part of the high yardage number for Green Bay is that they’re always on the field. The offense only averages controlling the ball for 25:54 this season, which is second to last in the NFL. The Packers are 10th in yards per play allowed on defense. That is a much more revealing number than the total yardage.

Green Bay ranks second in the NFL in opponent passer rating at 70.1. Three of their five opposing quarterbacks have been Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler. It’s certainly an accomplishment to have the second best opponent passer rating in the league when those quarterbacks have comprised of 60 percent of your schedule. Even though the defense did not have a good day against Seattle it was Marshawn Lynch who really hurt them and not Wilson.

This falls in line with the Packers having the fifth best passing defense in the NFL in yards per game (209). Opposing passers are only completing 59 percent of their passes against Green Bay for 6.4 yards per attempt. That is good for seventh and fifth in the NFL respectively.


Packers Aftermath: Packers 42, Vikings 10

Peppers lambeau leap

The Green Bay Packers did just what you expected them to a team on their third quarterback and second running back on a short week at home. They obliterated them. The Packers dominated from start to finish in a 42-10 shellacking of the Minnesota Vikings.

Green Bay’s defense and running game were the stories in this one.  The defense was flying all over the field and played the fastest it has looked in awhile.

The run defense was much improved and the pass rush was magnificent. Dom Capers played more looks to stop the run and to make Christian Ponder beat him. Ponder obliged and was  absolutely egregious. However, if the Packers got that kind of pass rush on any quarterback they would have had problems.

The Packers had six sacks and 16 quarterback hits on Ponder. Clay Matthews did not have a sack, but he was very active rushing the passer and looked healthy. Nick Perry led the way with two sacks and he continues to make plays when he is on the field. Even Letroy Guion looked great against his former team with 1.5 sacks. Recently promoted Luther Robinson also got in on the act with a few pressures in place of the injured Datone Jones.

Three turnovers from Green Bay’s defense put the game away in the first half. Julius Peppers picked off a Ponder pass and returned it 49 yards to the end zone for the touchdown and his first Lambeau Leap. The return was amazing for a 33-year old ex-defensive end, as he out ran Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon.


Green Bay Packers Set Up for Mid Season Run

Clay int

The Green Bay Packers are set up again for another mid season run like they have made for two straight seasons.

After starting off the season 1-2 last year, Green Bay went on a four game winning streak and were poised to make it five until Aaron Rodgers got injured against the Bears. In 2012, the Packers started off 2-3 before rattling off five straight wins.

The schedule is set up for the Packers to do something similar this year. They have faced the toughest part of their schedule already and survived at 2-2, which is really a fine record for the quality of opponents they were facing and where they were playing them.

The Packers’ next three opponents are Minnesota, at Miami and Carolina. Those are three teams they should beat. Obviously, you can never predict the NFL and nobody can be taken lightly, but those three teams do not stack up with the stretch the Packers just went through.

Teddy Bridgewater looked awesome for Minnesota yesterday, but it’s so tough for road teams to win on Thursdays, and it will be tougher for a rookie quarterback. Atlanta’s defense is also terrible, not that the Green Bay defense is anything to write home about of course. One thing Dom Capers has been good at with the Packers is confusing young quarterbacks.


Green Bay Packers Injury Roundup

BJ Raji

Well that certainly didn’t last very long did it? It seems like just yesterday that the boys of From the Benches were discussing that the Packers were finally going through a training camp without a high number of injuries.  The thought was that this might finally be the year that the team stays healthy and climbs back towards the 13 win number that would secure it a first round bye.  That good fortune turned and turned quickly.  Jared Abbrederis, Don Barclay, Colt Lyerla, BJ Raji and JC Tretter have all been lost for significant parts of the season.  All five of these players were on my initial 53 man projection.

While I understand that including Colt Lyerla in that projection was partly wishful thinking and might have been a bit of a long shot, the other 4 players were virtual roster locks.  2 of those players were unquestioned starters at the time of their injury.  I’m going to take a brief look at all of these injuries, what they mean for this season, what they mean for the big picture and what frame of mind these injuries should put Cheesehead nation in.

Jared Abbrederis- “Abby” tore his ACL in practice before even being able to step on the field in a preseason game.  While it was unclear whether or not he was going to win the #5 receiver spot, it was clear that he was the leader for the punt return position.  The loss of Abbrederis has more than likely thrust either starting safety Micah Hyde or starting wide receiver Randall Cobb into the punt return position.  There is an outside chance that both the 5th receiver spot and the punt return spot can be taken care of by Jeff Janis, but the Saginaw Valley State product is very raw.