Packers: Why the Green Bay Defense is Still Championship Caliber

I know, I know, the old moniker is that defense wins championships. But, I honestly don’t believe that to be true. Great players win championships, some of them just happen to be on the defensive side of the ball. The Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl last year because they had great players on both sides of side of the ball, not just because of their defense.

I bring this up because even though the Green Bay Packers have been on a roll lately, winning nine of their last games en route to a 10-3 overall record, which is tied for the best in the NFL, there are still questions about whether the Packers defense is good enough to win a Super Bowl championship. And despite the fact that the Packers surrendered 37 points to the Atlanta Falcons last Monday, I firmly believe Green Bay still has a championship caliber defense, which I said in the preseason and I’ve got the evidence to prove it.

You see in today’s NFL, offenses run the show and even great defenses, like Seattle’s can only do so much to stop their opponents. Teams are going to be able to move the football, even against teams like Seattle, there just is no stopping great quarterbacks. So, the key for defenses is being good in a few critical statistical areas and forcing turnovers, which Seattle does as well as anyone. But you know what, Green Bay is pretty good in that area too.

In fact, only three NFL teams have forced more turnovers than the Packers have this season (24) and you might be surprised to know that none of them are Seattle. So while the Packers defense may be 26th in yards allowed per game, they do just about as good as a job as anyone in the league at getting the football back for their offense, an offense that has Aaron Rodgers, who rarely if ever, turns the football over.

But turnovers are not the only important statistic when it comes to measuring defenses. Another huge one that goes under the radar is opponent’s passer rating. You see, if you looked at yards allowed alone, the Green Bay defense may seem below average. Yet, if you consider that a good chunk of the yards they surrender come while protecting a big lead. In fact, the Packers are giving up an average 115 yards passing per game, while having a lead of 17 points or more. So if you take those yards away, the picture looks much better. That is also why passer rating is a much better way to judge a pass defense than just yardage.

Passer rating takes into account things like incompletions, interceptions, touchdowns allowed and the things that really matter when it comes to playing pass defense. And in this category, the Packers once again rank higher than Seattle as their opponents passer rating is 84.9 compared to 85.5. Seattle also is allowing quarterbacks to completing over 63 percent of their passes against them, while the Packers are holding quarterbacks to a completion percentage of just over 61 percent.

Now I am not that saying the Green Bay defense is as good as Seattle’s—it’s not. The biggest difference is in the run defense where Seattle gives up 3.5 yards per carry and the Packers give up almost 4.4. Yet, since Clay Matthews move to middle linebacker the run defense has improved and if Rodgers and the Green Bay offense can continue to put teams in a hole, than the run defense becomes less of a concern.

Whether people want to admit it or not, winning in the NFL comes down to the play of the quarterback. And to beat Green Bay, defenses are going to have to force Rodgers to play below the level of their own quarterback and with the way the Packers have defended quarterbacks and turned the ball over for most of the season—especially when the score is close that is not going to be an easy thing to do.

I am not saying Green Bay is going to win the Super Bowl. I am just saying when it comes to the Packers defense, fans can relax–because as long as the Green Bay defense can play the way it has all season, it will be more than good enough to give the Packers a chance to once again hoist the Lombardi Trophy at seasons end.

chris peterson

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