Clay Matthews Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports photograph

The Packers Defense Needs More Playmakers

For the third straight time, the Green Bay Packers lost the turnover battle against the San Francisco 49ers.

On Sunday, the Packers committed two key turnovers in the game. First, Lacy coughed up the ball with the Packers backed up against their own end zone. Then, Finley bobbled a catch near midfield that led to an Eric Reid interception. The Niners didn’t score off the second Green Bay turnover, but it did kill a key Packers’ drive near midfield.

The other side to the turnover story is the Packers defense failed to take the ball away on Sunday. In fact, including last year’s playoff loss, the Packers have only forced one turnover in the last three meetings against San Francisco. Compare this to the five turnovers the Packers have given up in these three meetings, and it is apparent the Niners have held the advantage in turnover ratio for some time now.

When the Packers win the turnover battle, they’re hard to beat, and fortunately for Green Bay, their offense led by Aaron Rodgers rarely turns the ball over.

However, the Packers ability to force turnovers on defense has been trending downward the past few seasons.

In 2012, the Packers defense forced 23 turnovers (18 INTs and 5 FR). This was down from 38 in 2011 (31 INTs and 7 FR) and the 32 in 2010 (24 INTs and 8 FR).

Since losing Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins and playmaking cornerback Charles Woodson, the Packers have lacked consistent playmakers on defense outside of Clay Matthews. Second-year corner Casey Hayward flashed some playmaking ability last season with six interceptions and starting safety Morgan Burnett has the potential to make an impact on the field, but both of these players missed the season opener with hamstring injuries.

Against the 49ers, it was evident the Green Bay defense needed more playmakers to emerge on the field. Matthews was the only Packer that provided consistent pressure on Kaepernick, and the Packers failed to force a turnover or make a game-changing play.

Granted, the Packers have a lot of young talent on defense and should be an improved group this year from previous seasons, but they need another impact player to emerge on defense.

It seemed the Packers struggled to get pressure on the quarterback with just a four-man rush.

It’s time for Nick Perry, Mike Neal, or Mike Daniels to establish themselves as pass rushers. Maybe rookie first-round pick Datone Jones can bring some pressure as he settles in the Packers defense.

With Burnett and Hayward out for the foreseeable future, who will step up in the Packers’ secondary and make some plays?

Rookie Micah Hyde seemed overwhelmed in his first NFL action. Safeties Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings played timid and gave up way too many big passing plays over the middle of the field. Sam Shields and Tramon Williams are good cover corners, but their number of interceptions have decreased as of late.

So, who will emerge as a playmaker on the Packers’ defense this season?

Let’s hope somebody rises to the occasion sooner rather than later.

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Tags: Casey Hayward Clay Matthews Green Bay Packers Morgan Burnett Nick Perry

  • Moveguy

    First of all you contradict your own points during this article several times. They played the the best team in the NFL at their house in week one and played good, not great. There is room for improvement from many areas, but over all they showed us and themselves they are a team that is going to challenge for the Lombardi, unless Rodgers goes down.

    • Dan

      I completely agree. They did play well and should compete for a championship. But for their defense to take that next step, they need more playmakers to emerge on the field. Their ability to force turnovers has waned as of late. We didn’t see the same production from them last year in this category as we have in previous seasons. I should have did a better job clarifying this point.

      • Moveguy

        Well as you pointed out, put Hayward and Burnett in the secondary and I think you see a completely different result. Yes next man up, but with the Packers that means rookies mostly. That is asking a lot in game 1 in SF. I personally think the D is going to end up being very good. Now we will see where this team really is this weekend at home against a Redskins team.

  • Nick Roberts

    We can have all the difference of opinions in the world, but it boils down to performance (personnel). The Packers do not and have not recently had the personnel to get the job done (except the great run to SB XLV). We cannot get a real pass rusher opposite Mathews, no matter how many “studs” are drafted. Would Ted have gotten Reggie White in FA like Ron Wolfe did? Most likely not. He likes 2nd – 3rd tier FA’s. Windows are short for championships and a team needs to capitalize when they can. The FA acquisition of Boldin by SF proves a point. We also need playmakers on both sides of the ball, especially the O-line. They just can’t run block period. They also choked at the end of the game allowing a 3 man rush get to Rodgers. It’s time to scrap the zone blocking scheme and get a more powerful group that can actually move people and make plays.

    • Moveguy

      First of all if you are going to bad mouth the GM could you get some facts straight. Boldin was a trade not FA pickup. Perry just played in his 7th NFL game and 7th game as OLB. Oh yea it was against one of the best teams in the NFL at their house opening weekend. D Jones hardly played, I think he only played in like 20 snaps. He is a rookie. I guess you did not like the drafting of Bulaga for OT. How about first round pick of Sherrod? Yea I think Ted should have for seen the fact that Sherrod would have his leg broken in KC and Bulaga would go down with the knee this year. Plus we are generally picking from 20th on. Kind of hard when you are always good and picking that late to come up with stud OT.

      Calm down people. Give them time to pull things together as a unit. The really did not play bad and it was a tough as fist game opponent and location as you could get.

  • Nick Roberts

    I am not badmouthing the GM. His group has an eye for talent that is proven. My bad on calling Boldin a FA and not a trade, but that basic point is still valid of inactivity for quality players outside of the draft. What has burned me year in year out is the fact that we CAN’T run the ball and all the focus/blame is on the running backs and it should not be. Bulaga is a quality player, but his strength is in pass blocking. Why would the move to the left side been made if he wasn’t. Get the right scheme and personnel to get a respectable running game and Rodgers will be totally unstoppable for years to come. The defense still needs someone else other than Mathews to get after the QB. Results are results. Go Pack Go.