The Green Bay Packers only allowed ten points against the Chicago Bears last Sunday Night, but watching the game it didn’t feel that way. On the Bears’ first drive of the game, they drove down the field easily and found the end-zone when Justin Fields ran in for a touchdown. The Packers defense only allowed three more points the rest of the game but it was not easy. The Bears ran through the Packers defense throughout the game led by their starting running back David Montgomery who averaged 8.1 yards per carry. Not great. Tackling was atrocious from the Packers side of things, which is what led to many of the great runs by the Bears on Sunday Night. This type of poor tackling cannot take place against a Tom Brady and a Leonard Fournette led Buccaneers team. So here are some of the Packers defensive keys to victory on Sunday afternoon.
Let’s start with Kenny Clark, who appeared on the injury report this week but will play on Sunday. Clark is leading the league in interior pass rush productivity. This is going to have to continue against Tom Brady who is a master of being able to move inside the pocket. Kenny Clark is also going to have to continue to create fewer running lanes for the opposing running backs to utilize. Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed will need to be better getting off of their blocks and making tackles. Jarran Reed had at least three missed tackles against the Bears. This cannot happen against Fournette.
Speaking of missing tackles, De’Vondre Campbell did not do much better in that department. He had several missed tackles last week. This is not normal for Campbell. He did not miss many tackles last season for the Packers on his way to an All-Pro season. With Campbell and Quay Walker’s speed at linebacker, they are going to have to get to the outside fast and make sure they make their tackles because if they don’t; Leonard Fournette might go for 200 yards. Quay Walker, for further success, needs to be able to beat the blocks and get to the opposing team.
Rashan Gary is an elite pass rusher but it almost feels like he does too much. He is a better athlete than most offensive linemen that he is going to face in a game. This week, going up against the Buccaneers, Gary is going to be facing one of the best right tackles in the league in Tristan Wirfs. This should be one of the most fun matchups to watch this Sunday. Gary is going to want to stop trying to be fancy with his pass rush and just use his athleticism to beat Wirfs.
Preston Smith, on paper, has had a great start to his season but he has, on occasion, been stuck on the outside where he couldn’t get to the runners moving his way. With him being caught on blocks on the outside, running backs have been able to find holes to run through. This happened against the Bears and the Vikings so you have to know that the Buccaneers will try the same thing. Watch for runs by the Buccaneers heading toward Smith’s side of the field. Preston Smith will have to hold his ground if the Packers want to win on Sunday.
The Buccaneers will be missing some wide receiver depth on Sunday. They already know they will not have Mike Evans and they might, due to injury, be without a few other pass catchers too. This does not necessarily mean the defensive backs will have an easier job, considering they are still matching up against Tom Brady. The Packers defensive backs, such as Darnell Savage, have also struggled with making their tackles in the running game.
If the Green Bay Packers can go and not have a high number of missed tackles, then they will have a chance to win this game. The Buccaneers have not looked completely explosive on offense like they have in the past so the defense has the capability to win against the Buccaneers offense. For the Packers to win, the defense will probably need to hold the Buccaneers to under twenty points. The Packers offense is facing a formidable opponent in the Buccaneers defense, so the Packers defense will have to try and match the number one scoring defense in the league.
Damon is a diehard, fully-immersed cheesehead who currently lives in southern Missouri. He teaches at a local high school and has a family YouTube channel about all things Packers. You can follow him on twitter at @packersfamily and on YouTube at The Packers Family.