During his weekly radio appearance on ESPN Milwaukee last week, Aaron Rodgers had a message for the Packers fans.
“Five letters here, just for everybody out there in Packer land. R-E-L-A-X. Relax. We’re going to be OK.”
This quote was in response to the poor performance of the offense against the Lions, one which saw the Packers gain a mere 223 total yards.
So how did the Packers’ offense respond against the Bears? In Packer-esque fashion.
Rodgers had by far his best game of the season (22/28, 302 yards, 4 TDs) leading Green Bay to a 38-17 victory, and silencing critics of the offense in the process.
While the offense seemingly got back on track, the defense-especially the run defense-left everyone wondering if things could get any worse.
After allowing an astonishing 235 yards on the ground to the Bears, the Packers find themselves at the bottom of the league in this category, allowing a ridiculous 176 yards per game through the first four games of the season.
Perhaps the most embarrassing part of the total allowed to the Bears was they had entered the game as the worst rushing offense in the league.
Their performance Sunday continued their deterioration into the worst run defense the Packers have put on the field in recent memory.
Just how bad have they been at stopping the run? Since Week 9 of the 2013 season, the Packers have played 14 games, giving up 2,258 rushing yards (161 yards/game).
Apparently Mike McCarthy wasn’t specific when he said the defense would be better this season, adding we could all write that down in big letters.
While the pass defense has improved to an impressive number five ranking thus far, if the Packers have any chance to make it into the playoffs, let alone a deep playoff run, this issue needs to be fixed ASAP.
While the loss of BJ Raji for the season can partially explain why the run defense has not improved, it cannot be the crutch used to explain just how poor they have played against the run. Raji appeared to have been rejuvinated during Training Camp before suffering a torn ACL, and would have been an upgrade over his replacement Letroy Guion in the middle of the Packers defensive line. But let’s not forget he was on the field when the Packers run defense turned into a sieve midway through last season, so it is unknown if he would have made that much of a difference.
What is known is that bad weather is on the way. Winter brings rain, snow, cold conditions, and bad weather games. Teams traditionally run the ball more in these conditions, controlling the clock in the process. If teams continue to run the ball against the Packers the way they have to start the season, they had better pray their pass defense holds up. If this starts to go south as well, the entire Packers season may go with it.
Even if they were to get into the playoffs, whatever team they would face would try to use this weakness on the Packers defense and exploit it every chance they could-just the way the 49ers have the past two seasons.
Good thing the Packers have Dom Capers, the master of adjustments, calling the shots for the Packers defensively.
While Aaron Rodgers may have told everyone to relax regarding the Packers offense, there is another five letter word that fits their run defense as it is right now: P-A-N-I-C
John Rehor is a writer at PackersTalk.com.
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio. ---------------------
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio.You can follow John on twitter at jrehor or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.