Putting the Packers’ defense into perspective, part 2
Jay Hodgson, Packers contributor
Mike Daniels.Photo: Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
We’ve all heard the old axiom, “On any given Sunday, any team in the NFL can beat any other team.”
That saying highlights the ebbs and flows that cycle throughout the long season.
During one week, a team is dominant. The next week, they may look a little more pedestrian.
Before entering week 3, the Seattle Seahawks defense has looked superhuman. Would that last all season? Or, would they return back to earth?
On the other hand, the Packers’ defense has shown some flaws. Will they improve after the bye?
After an overtime thriller between the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texas, I decided to revisit ESPN.com and take another look at defensive statistics.
Houston, even though they lost their game, punched Seattle in the mouth for much of the game, making them look a little more vulnerable.
I averaged the Seahawks’ 4-game statistics to compare them with the Packers’ 3-game stretch.
The game against the Texans increased the Seahawks' yards allowed from rushing (109 per game) and passing (191 per game).
In comparison, the Packers have given up 93 and 311 rushing and passing yards, respectively, per game.
While yards have some importance, they are far from the most important.
Scoring defense is the most important, especially touchdowns.
The Seahawks have defended a total of 49 drives this season. Of those 49, they allowed 5 touchdowns for a 10% scoring rate.
Of those 5 touchdowns, 2 came on rushes (4% scoring rate) and 3 came on passes (6% scoring rate).
The Packers have defended a total of 38 drives this season. Of those 38, they allowed 11 touchdowns for a 29% scoring rate.
Of those 11 touchdowns, 3 have came on rushes (8% scoring rate) and 8 have came on passes (21% scoring rate).
As you can see, the Packers run defense has been very stout so far and rivals that of the Seahawks.
It’s the Packers’ pass defense that appears to be the liability thus far.
In comparing the receiving touchdowns, the average touchdown reception the Seahawks have yielded is 13 yards and the average for the Packers is 10 yards.
Maybe the Packers’ pass defense isn’t as weak as we previously thought. They have bent plenty, but haven’t broken too much.
This is especially the case since the Packers built sizable leads against the Redskins and Bengals, forcing them to adopt pass-happy second halves.
Despite facing passes on most downs during those drives, the Packers made their opponents work for yards and scores. They didn’t allow any deep, cheap scores as their longest touchdown pass allowed was 20 yards.
In fact, the touchdown receptions have allowed this year were 20, 10, 2, 6, 3, 9, 20, and 11 yards.
Opponents are clearly passing in the red zone because they know they clearly can’t run.
As I previously wrote, the Packers will be getting two of their best pass defenders back once Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward are cleared to play from their hamstring injuries. Hopefully it's this week.
The Packers have essentially played short-handed all season in their defensive secondary. Last year, with Burnett and Hayward in the lineup, they allowed 118 rushing yards and 218 passing yards per game, respectively.
That’s almost 100 yards less per game through the air. The Packers can only get better with them both back in the lineup.
Hopefully, the Bengals and 49ers had their “on any given Sunday” moments against the short-handed Packers.
The next given Sunday against the high-powered Lions’ offense will be a great measuring stick, especially if the Packers’ defense is back at full strength.
I expect their pass defense to improve and match their stout run defense.
If that happens, the Packers will be tough to beat.