If “Team 93″ is truly a more physical football team than their 2012 predecessor, it would start with the Green Bay Packers physical five along their defensive front line. Ryan Pickett (338 pounds), BJ Raji ( 337), Johnny Jolly (325), Mike Neal (300), and Datone Jones (285) have been the Packers active defensive linemen in each of the last three weeks. C.J. Wilson and rookie Josh Boyd have been inactive and new hybrid OLB/DL Mike Neal, has been playing linebacker, even starting at linebacker in place of Nick Perry in Sunday’s win against the Detroit Lions. All off season much had been made about the commitment to the running game coming into this year. Mentioned just as often were questions surrounding their physical toughness overall (2012 team). So the Packers set out during the off season to get bigger, stronger, meaner and more physical overall, and to become a more physical running team. One only has to watch the Packers play this season to see these are not the Packers of the last two years. This is a more serious team, a more determined team, a bigger, stronger team. A team content with watching their prey get all of the notoriety, waiting for their opportunity to strike . So to see if they truly are a more physical football team, let’s see how much they have improved over last year’s team in two very important categories – rushing defense, and rushing offense. Those two areas will tell you in a hurry how a team stands up physically in a very violent football league. When researching team rankings for both offensive and defensive rushing, the rankings are first ranked by total yards allowed. However, with most teams having played 5 games so far this year (2013) and Green Bay only having played 4 games (because of their early bye week), I had to look up different categories to make the comparison even across the board, yards allowed per game and yards per carry, to see where the Packers really rank heading into week six of this season. In 2012, the Packers finished the regular season 17th in defensive rushing yards allowed per game (118.5) , and 26th in yards allowed per carry (4.5). Through 4 games of this season, the Packers defense ranks 5th in yards allowed per game (86.0) and tied for 7th giving up only (3.7) yards allowed per carry. That’s a marked improvement over last season, which was a marked improvement over 2011. Pickett, Jolly and Raji have been doing their share of the dirty work, combining to form a half ton wall of granite along the defensive line, taking on all comers so far, and winning. That has allowed the linebackers to roam free to do their own dirty deeds.
Mike Daniels is short, but strong as an ox and is a wrecking ball with an attitude. Rookie Datone Jones is getting after it as well, but not one of them have great numbers. However, together they sure are sexy. These five men are filling their roles as a defensive line, playing a huge role in being a top seven defense (and ascending). They all are sacrificing themselves for the good of the team, something they should start getting more credit for soon. But that’s not all that is making Green Bay change its image, because it is happening (becoming more physical) on the other side of the ball too. With the offensive linemen and running backs communicating and pulling for each other more than in recent years past, and the upgrade in talent as well, the Packer are also becoming a more physical offensive football team running the ball. Rather Andrew Quarless is leading the way for Lacy, or he is receiving the handoff from the shotgun, “The Big Bang Theory” (Lacy) was literally running right into the teeth of the Lions’ defensive line, churning out a consistent 3 or 4 yards per crack. Lacy’s best formation to run from seemed to be from 7 to 8 yards behind the line of scrimmage as the lone back and Aaron Rodgers under center. Lacy had runs of 7 and 9 yards from that deep back formation. Using the same categories for the offense, in 2012 Green Bay ranked 20th in rushing yards per game (106.4), and 22nd in yards per carry (3.9). This season through 4 games The Packers ranks 5th in yards per game (141.0) and 2nd in average per carry (5.6). So not only can you tell just by watching the Packers this season that they are changing their identity (or perhaps a better way to say it would be they are adding to it), but either way you look at it, the Packers have achieved two of their primary goals in one offseason, being a bigger, more physical football team overall, and having a physical running game. Great job, Coach Mike McCarthy.