Good teams can win with an average pass coverage. A high motored front seven that can stuff the run as well as get after the quarterback can make a secondary look better than they actually are. Not trying to take away anything from the secondary, but there are worst problems to have on a football team. After the Packers 2016 output that may be hard to believe. Despite a marginal free agent splash, the Packers did get better in the secondary during the 2017 offseason. Sadly, it is not likely that they could have gotten much worse. Davon House will add much needed experience, while the addition of rookies Kevin King and Josh Jones provides a lot of untapped potential. Even though the Packers have made these adjustments they may still have the worst secondary in the division. Yes, even more putrid than the atrocious defense out in Chi-town. The Bears (7th), Lions (19th), and Vikings (3rd) all ranked higher than the Packers 31st rated pass defense. Still, even with the offseason over halfway over, they may find themselves feeding at the bottom yet again.
For the second straight season safety Adrian Amos was the best player in the Bears secondary. Outside of Amos there was much left to be desired. The Bears intercepted only 8 passes in 2016, a tie for 29th. Kyle Fuller was lost for 2016 due to injury, which pushed the Bears not to pick up his fifth year option. This led to Tracy Porter being thrown into the fire and forced to cover the top receiver game in and game out. Inevitally, he had the worst season of his career. The signing of first round bust Prince Amukamara and five-year vet Marcus Cooper hardly cures any coverage issues. This is Cooper’s fourth team in five years.
The Lions’ lackluster secondary allowed a second to last 33 touchdowns in 2016. Staying kaput never really leads to improvement and that is exactly what the Lions did. They made only one move for improving conditions with the acquisition of DJ Hayden. Yes, Glover Quin and Darius Slay are still one of the best safety-corner duos in the game, but they can not do it all. Strong safety Tavon Wilson was one of the league’s best run defenders ranking 9th overall according to PFF. However, seven defenders not named Wilson, Slay, and Quin recorded below average coverage grades. The Lions did draft a solid corner in Teez Tabor, but he ran one of the slowest 40-yard dashes among all corners in this year’s draft.
Corner Terrance Newman is in a fight for ages against father time. Even at 38 years of age he still logged the best coverage grade for the Vikings. That alongside one of best young corners in Xavier Rhodes makes for a not too shabby corner tandem. Rhodes and safety Harrison Smith were voted to the NFL’s top 100 players list this summer. Strong depth keeps the Vikings atop of the NFC North as far as secondaries go.
If the Packers hope to climb out of the cellar they better hope young prospects contribute early and Damarious Randall can bounce back in extraordinary fashion. Randall has high hopes after stating, “I want to be about 200 percent before this season.” Right now the Packers only hope is to beat out the Bears’ pass defense to avoid ranking as the worst in the North yet again.
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.