After the 2011 season, the Green Bay Packers had one problem and one problem only that they wanted to focus on, fixing the defense. The Packers had a record-breaking year on offense helping the lead the team to a record of 15-1. However, in the playoffs, they were torched by the New York Giants in their divisional round loss. This led to the first five rounds of the draft to be dedicated strictly to the defense.
Those draft picks did help the Packers out. First-round pick Nick Perry was showing promise playing opposite of Clay Matthews at the linebacker position. However, after a mid-season injury, Perry was sidelined for the season and was replaced by Erik Walden. Perry wasn’t the only serious injury the Packers had to deal with on defense. Veteran cornerback Charles Woodson was sidelined for 10 weeks after breaking his collarbone and linebacker Desmond Bishop was placed on injured reserved during the preseason after tearing his hamstring.
There was improvement on defense as the Packers went from 27th in the league in sacks to fourth. The team improved their sack total from 29 to 47 in a span of one year led my Matthews who had 13.5 sacks in just 12 games. With the improved pass rush though there came an increasing lack of a run defense, which ultimately led to the team’s demise in the playoffs.
Another problem for the Packers defense this season was the lack of turnovers. After finishing second in interceptions in 2010 and first in interceptions last season with 31, the Packers only had 18 interceptions this season and finished mid-pack in the league. The Green Bay defense has always given up a lot of yardage under defensive coordinator Dom Capers, but they made up for it with their ability to create turnovers. This season rookie Casey Hayward led the team in interceptions with six with the next closest player being Sam Shields only with three.
Overall the Packers defense did improve over last season which obviously is a good thing. However, there were still glaring holes that need to be filled. Their needs to be more speed at linebacker and better tackling all around. The overall grade can be no greater than a C. There was hope for this defense, especially early in the season when they got off to a hot start before the injuries started to pile up. Don’t be surprised if this year’s draft is similar to last season’s and is fully focused on improving the defense some more.
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