Why is the Packers defense so good?
12th Man Rising: Rashan Gary is having a great season but Green Bay’s defense overall is good. What makes the Packers a top-ten defense in the NFL so far in 2021?
Paul Bretl: There is no one answer, other than from front to back, this unit has been all-around rock solid. They’re pressuring the quarterback and haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher this season. The secondary has given up the sixth-fewest explosive plays this season, according to Sharp Football, while adding De’Vondre Campbell at linebacker has been game-changing with his ability against the run and the pass as well as a blitzer.
On top of all of that, the unit has been very good at generating turnovers, while role players and backups such as Dean Lowry, Chandon Sullivan, Rasul Douglas, among others have all been playing at a relatively high level. It was a rough start to the season, but this unit is really jelling in this new Joe Barry system—although one area they do have to improve upon is their red zone defense.
Packers Super Bowl chances
12th Man Rising: The Packers are likely to run away with the NFC North but what are some things they need to do to get to the Super Bowl?
Paul Bretl: Well, improve the special teams unit for one, but on both sides of the ball, Green Bay needs to improve in the red zone. As I mentioned above, while the defense has been playing very well, they are allowing a touchdown on 76 percent of their opponents’ red zone visits, which ranks 31st—they have, however, been really good at keeping opponents out of the red zone.
On offense, they’ve had issues crossing the goal line, scoring a touchdown only 55.8 percent of their red zone trips, which ranks 20th. For reference, the Packers led the NFL in this category a season ago. Overall, the offense has been good, don’t get me wrong, but Rodgers and Co. still haven’t been firing on all cylinders as they did in 2020. However, my expectation is that will improve as the offensive line continues to get healthier–for much of this season, the Packers have been playing musical chairs up-front.