The Green Bay Packers (1-1) officially ruled out safety Morgan Burnett and cornerback Jarrett Bush for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals (1-1), as both players are still recovering from hamstring injuries. Additionally, the Packers are still without second-year cornerback Casey Hayward, who suffered a hamstring injury during the team’s third exhibition game of the preseason.
The Packers bye week trails Sunday’s game at Cincinnati and the team is obviously taking precautionary measures to aid Burnett, Bush and Hayward towards a quicker recovery. The Packers’ recipe for success in defending the Bengals will rely heavily on the team’s defensive pass-rush, which hasn’t had an opportunity to get after the quarterback in the first two games like they will on Sunday.
The Packers defense has statistically struggled, allowing 27 points per game (24th in NFL), 359 passing yards per game (31st), 9.3 yards per pass attempt (30th) and six touchdown passes (second worst). Opposing quarterbacks, San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick and Washington Redskins Robert Griffin III, have compiled a 116.6 passer rating (30th) and completed 67.1 percent of their passes (23rd).
If you take a look on the bright side though, the Packers defense has only allowed opposing offenses to convert on 41.4 percent of their third-down conversions (19th). In the Packers 38-20 win over the Redskins last week, Washington didn’t convert on third-down until the third quarter (the Packers were ahead 31-0 by the time of their first conversion). As a team, the Packers hit Kaepernick and Griffin six times and deflected 11 of their passing attempts.
The Packers’ main objective on defense in the first two games though was to keep Kaepernick and Griffin inside the pocket as opposed to attacking them and potentially chasing them all the way to the endzone. The Packers defense will now have their best opportunity of the season to attack less-mobile Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton on Sunday. With a relatively healthy front-seven, fans should expect to see Clay Matthews, Johnny Jolly, Nick Perry and Mike Neal among other players wreaking havoc in the Bengals’ backfield to help make up for the injury-plagued defensive secondary.
If the Packers are unable to dial-up the pressure, Sunday will be a long day for Packer nation.