Monday, January 31, 2011

Know Your Enemy: Green Bay Packers Defense

Yesterday we took a look at the Green Bay Packers offense. Here's a look at the guys that will be lining up opposite Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense.

Defensive Line
Ryan Pickett, BJ Raji, Cullen Jenkins

This might be one of the most surprising units on the Packers defense. On paper, they might not look very sound. The Packers averaged 4.7 yards per carry against their defense, ranking only 28th in the league. Raji was the only one of the group to be on the top 10 on the team in tackles, registering only 39 on the season. However, what they lack in run defense, they make up for in pass rushing. Of the Packers 47 sacks, 33% came from their defensive line. Jenkins had only 18 tackles on the season, but 7 of them were sacks. Raji had 6.5 sacks.

Clay Matthews, AJ Hawk, Desmond Bishop, Erik Walden

Clay Matthews is an absolute beast. He had 2 sacks against the Steelers last year and was up in Ben's business all game. Matthews was 4th in the league with 13.5 sacks on the season. Matthews had 60 tackles on the season, about the average for a big-time pass-rusher not named James Harrison (who racked up 100 tackles on the season). AJ Hawk and Desmond Bishop in the middle were the Packers tackling leaders, both racking up over 100 on the season. They produced a few splash plays, with Bishop producing 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and an interceptions. Hawk had 3 interceptions but only half a sack. 

Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Brandon Underwood

In my game recap from last year's Steelers-Packers game, I had this to say about the Packers DBs: 
"Green Bay had to call in a medic to the locker room after the game to deal with the 3rd degree burns their defensive backs had."
Charles Woodson did win Defensive Player of the Year last year, meaning that the last 3 Defensive Players of the Year will be playing in the Super Bowl. That's pretty cool. Tramon Williams has had a great season, pulling down 6 interceptions. Sam Shields made a big-time interception in the NFC Championship game to seal the deal. The Packers corners are opportunistic and have great ball skills. If there's a pass that's underthrown, chances are they'll be going the other way with it. Don't sleep on this group.

Nick Collins, Charlie Peprah

These guys are a couple of ballhawks in the back. Between the two of them they had six interceptions on the season. They ranked 4th and 5th on the team in tackles, respectively, meaning that they'll be up in the box giving support in run defense. On the whole, the Packers secondary is a group that creates a lot of turnovers and can change the course of a game. They were 2nd in the league with 24 interceptions on the season and 5th in Pass Defense. Top-to-bottom this is a solid unit that has only given up over 250 yards passing 3 times this season, to Detroit, Washington, and the New York Giants.

Tim Masthay

Pretty much an average punter by most accounts. Masthay averaged 43.9 yards per kick this year, good for 14th in the league. The only number in the punting game that strayed from the average was more a reflection on the coverage than the punter: Green Bay was 24th in the league, allowing an average of 11 yards per return. 

So there you have it. Hopefully you have a little better perspective on the Dramatis Personae that will be wearing green jerseys on Sunday night. Stay tuned the rest of the week, we've got some good stuff coming your way!

Go Steelers!

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