Dom Capers has always said the most important thing for a defense to do is stop the run. If you can stop the run, then the offense has to become predictable and that’s when Capers can dip into his bag of blitzing tricks that eventually forces sacks and turnovers, the two things defenses need most.
Yesterday, in the Packers second preseason game of 2014 against the St. Louis Rams, Capers’ defense stuffed a powerful running team in one of the best signs of defensive improvement Green Bay has shown since the start of training camp.
It’s true that you cannot put too much stock into what happens in the preseason but when the first team offense plays the first team defense, the level of competition is high. So if we judge the Packers run defense by the way they played against the Rams’ starters, then we would have to say the run defense was dominant.
With a front seven that featured B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk, the Packers shut down Zac Stacy, an impressive second-year running back from Vanderbilt, holding him to a measly six yards on six carries. Peppers and Hawk each posted tackles for loss and the defensive line as a whole was wreaking havoc.
It was an impressive performance to say the least and it was good to see Peppers making an impact with the tackle for loss as well as a quarterback hit on Sam Bradford.
Yet, the key takeaway was the dominating run defense Green Bay showed in St. Louis. It’s an encouraging sign after teams ran all over the defense down the stretch last season and if the Packers can defend the run like that when the real bullets start flying, their defense and super bowl chances will be much, much better.