Benny Sieu- US PRESSWIRE
The Green Bay Packers had high hopes heading into the 2012 season opener against the San Francisco 49ers. There were plenty of changes made during the offseason to fix the Packers defense which struggled last season and with the short sample size of Week 1, it looks like the changes didn’t do much help.
The biggest change the Packers made this offseason was to the defensive front seven. Green Bay was ranked 27th in sacks last season and struggled to get any pressure on the quarterback throughout 2011. Clay Matthews was moved back to his original spot at right outside linebacker to make room for first-round draft pick Nick Perry who now takes over on the left side. Perry had a nice debut with eight tackles but failed to apply any pressure on the Alex Smith. Just like last season, the only player who was able to apply any type of pressure on the quarterback was Matthews. The rest of the line had trouble winning their one-on-one matchups which gave Smith plenty of time to get rid of the football.
Another big change that got their first test this season was the Packers new-look secondary. Charles Woodson played his first game at the safety position after playing his entire career at cornerback. Woodson bad a solid game as he also played some corner as well, accumulating 1.5 sacks on the day. However, there were still some of the same problems with the secondary as last year. There were plenty of blown coverages, such as the touchdown pass to Randy Moss early in the second quarter.
With Woodson playing safety now, the Packers coaching staff spent the entire training camp deciding on who would be the number two cornerback behind Tramon Williams. For Week 1 the choice was Jarrett Bush which was somewhat of a surprise as veteran Sam Shields was expected to get the spot. The 49ers took advantage of Bush’s first career start by targeting him early and often.
This was not the start that Green Bay was looking for this season, but it is just one week so not too much can be read into this performance. The 49ers did have the second best record last season and brought back all 11 starters on defense along with adding multiple weapons to their offense.
This Thursday the Packers will be going against their rivals the Chicago Bears who have also improved their offense this season by adding Brandon Marshall. The good news for the Packers is that the Bears have a shaky offensive line which could make it easier for the Packers to get to Jay Cutler. Also, Cutler is much more of risk-taker than Smith so this plays right into the hands of the Packers defense.
Hopefully starting this week against the Bears the Packers can improve on the defense and live up to the potential that was put on them this season.
Follow me on Twitter @KVP_10