Green Bay Packers strong safety Morgan Burnett celebrates with teammates. They've had little to celebrate recently. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports photograph

How much blame does the Green Bay Packers defense deserve?

Offense wins games – defense wins championships – and for the Green Bay Packers, truer words have never been uttered.

The last five weeks of this season have delivered nothing but pain, irritation, and disgust. The offense is nowhere to be found, and the defense resembles that of a Pop Warner team.

Of course, one might concur that the main reason for the crumbling is Aaron Rodgers‘ collarbone injury. This makes me wonder – how much blame can really be placed on the defense? Like any other job or career, these men are being paid to do this; it is in their job description to, well, play defense.

The Packers need Aaron Rodgers back in the lineup. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

I’m confident I’m not the only Packers fan thinking (and certainly hoping) this is the case, but my hypothesis is that the defense is failing because the offense is failing. Since Rodgers has been around we have seen one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Packers have always been an offensive team and because of this, the Packers have been a team to put up a lot of points – thus allowing some leeway for the defense.

Couldn’t you say the lack of offensive production is just flat out making this defense tired? Even the late, great Reggie White got gassed occasionally. The Packers gave up 40 points to the Lions, all while forcing four turnovers. Detroit outgained the Packers 561-126. With these statistics, it is clear the offense could not stay on the field even though the defense gave them four opportunities to capitalize off turnovers.

Again, I must ask the question: How much blame can you really put on the defense? Before Rodgers’ injury, the rush defense was in the top five, and the pass defense was average. Sure, the turnovers weren’t there, but with Rodgers on the field taking time off the clock, the defense was on the sideline getting its much-needed rest. Perhaps the skill level of the defensive players has been fully exposed, as well as Dom Capers’ defensive play-calling. Ted Thompson has finally started to take action by cutting Jerron McMillian. Tramon Williams – having played rather well the last couple of games – is on the decline. He doesn’t have the speed to keep up with the receivers in this league. M.D. Jennings also has no business being a starter in the secondary. I believe Morgan Burnett can be an effective free safety, but you must surround him with players who will help.

Aaron Rodgers still has not been cleared to play. Can he return in time to save the season? Would his return even be enough to save the season?

It is not in my blood to give up on the Packers. I have been loyal since the day I was born.

However, at what point do you tell yourself that it is probably too late? Of course, I will watch every single game no matter the pain it causes me. It’s quite surprising that at a record of 5-6-1 Green Bay can still win the NFC North (a long shot, but it is possible). It’s a down year for the NFC North Division, and we’ll need lots of help to bolster a playoff run.

Ted Thompson, if you are reading this, I must ask: why not dip into free agency this coming offseason? There will be a few decent names listed under defensive back, and I wouldn’t complain if you took a shot at them. Sometimes moving away from the status quo can do some good.

Many, many questions can be asked, and only on game days will we find answers.

The Packers will host the Falcons this Sunday at Lambeau Field, noon (CST).

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