Packers front seven key to Super Bowl chances
Over the last three decades I am pretty sure I have seen every single Green Bay Packers game, either in person or on television. For a lot of those years I attended practice sessions and spent time in the locker room and in restaurants and bars with Packers players.
I learned a lot during those times, a lot about football and a lot about the kind of men who play football. They are tough men who can both take physical punishment and hand it out.
And when it came to the philosophy of football, one of the core beliefs that resides in the heart of every player and coach is a simple one and one that many people have heard before:
"Offense wins games, defense wins championships."
Hello? Green Bay? Can you hear me now?
As we bid a not-so-fond goodbye to the hapless season that belonged to the Milwaukee Brewers we now turn our unbridled attention to our beloved Packers.
When last we saw them, the team was a bewildered bunch, reeling from a shellacking by the San Francisco 49ers in a playoff game. Colin Kaepernick passed for 263 yards and rushed for 181 in the debacle.
The Packers scored 31 points in the game, normally more than enough for a victory. But the hapless defense gave up 45 points and therein lies the rub.
Somehow, some way, if these Packers are to get to the Super Bowl (a goal that is perpetual and realistic) they've got to find a way to stop the other team. With a secondary that seems to be able, the key is the front seven players in the Packers' 3-4 defense.
Here's what happened to the Packers defense last year. Clay Matthews was the only pass rusher on the team. So, teams could gang up on him, knowing that if they stopped Matthews they could stop the Packers pass rush.
This year, there is a hope that there will be some help for Matthews.
And this critical development is going to depend, in large measure, on a couple of unknown quantities. One is Nick Perry, the defensive lineman who was turned into an outside linebacker before he got hurt last year. The other is rookie defensive end Datone Jones. If both are great players the Packers defense immediately becomes a force to be reckoned with.
In the middle, either Ryan Pickett or Johnny Jolly or B.J. Raji will have to take control and the coaches will have to find someone at the other end from a small handful of candidates.
If you want to figure out what the season may well be like for Green Bay, just keep an eye on the defense. If successful, this team has to be the odds-on favorite for the Super Bowl.
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