Building up Defense Limits Excuses for Rodgers

After focusing five of their eight draft picks in the 2019 NFL Draft on the defensive side of the ball, the Green Bay Packers committed to what has consistently been their MO for the past few draft classes: upgrade and improve the defense so Aaron Rodgers does not have to do it all himself.

By having new chess pieces for defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to throw into the mix, the Packers can hopefully now bridge that gap between the offensive and defensive units, making them both equal priorities even though one received more attention during the draft.

Through the additions of the three offensive players, offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins, tight end Jace Sternberger and running back Dexter Williams, providing Rodgers with someone to keep him upright and two weapons to integrate into the game plan was also a key coming into the draft. Even with there being a lack of selections for the wide receiver group, this attention that Brian Gutekunst and his scouts put on the offense should not go unnoticed.

Rodgers, who has received outspoken criticism for the lack of upgrades that the front office has made on the offensive side of the ball, now has a few more toys to integrate with Matt LaFleur. With that in mind, the number of reasons that he may be able to use for why the team is not winning will decrease.

The crutch for his team, throughout Rodgers’ career, was always about how the defense was a step or two behind the offense, mostly because the defense did not have one of the best players in NFL history leading it. While a bit unfair to assimilate those facets, it is fair to think that they should have never been put on the same playing field.

At the same time, however, with having Rodgers leading the offense then that side of the ball should require fewer weapons because of how good Rodgers is, a part of the argument that is rarely brought up. Nonetheless, with the upgrades that were made during the offseason and the draft on defense, Rodgers has less wiggle room to get away from why this team has been very unsuccessful lately.

While the free agent acquisitions are proven players who should immediately make differences in the defense, the potential of the rookies will make or break this team in 2019, which also will determine how successful Rodgers is as well. If the rookies are able to make worthwhile differences in how they’re schemed and take the pressure of the veterans, then that unit will be more well balanced and should reap better results.

If the rookies hit a big-time learning curve and are unable to contribute as much as they are asked to, then this defense, outside of the free agents, will not see a ton of improvements and 2019 could be 2018 lite.

The pressure on Rodgers to perform is key, as he seems to function better when the lights are the brightest. While the defense may be will be a bit rusty at times, the hope is that overall it will be a much better unit in 2019, helping Rodgers become more successful in leading this team back to the playoffs yet again.


Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23



4 thoughts on “Building up Defense Limits Excuses for Rodgers

  1. I was thrilled to see Gute ignore the WR position while waiting till the 3rd round for a Tight End. I’ve said all along we’re strong at WR, with MVS, ESB, Kumerow, and Moore progressing to offer big playmaking alongside Adams.

    Of course, if someone like Isabella had dropped a bit further, we would have had to grab him for the value. But getting a 1st round talent at Center-Guard like Jenkins was too good to be true, so we couldn’t take Isabella in the 2nd.

    At any rate, we already have an excellent group of young receivers. We’re set.

    1. I honestly believe St. Brown will be a stud in this league. I know MVS had a little better year last year but IMO St. Brown was an absolute steal in the 6th round last season. As long as HE strives to be the best he can be, he’ll begin to make huge strides toward that. But HE has to be the one who wants that.

      1. I agree. St. Brown seems like the better bet to really break through. MVS will likely continue ascending, but he’s not that total, perfect package that St. Brown is.

        But here’s my dream come true, and it could well happen in some packages: MVS and ESB start outside, while Davante dominates the slot. With all that height and speed opening up the field from the outside, I pity the poor sap who has to contend with Adams inside. His footwork, quickness, and power would be dynamite in there.

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