Green Bay Packers: A Work in Progress, Part II



Morgan Burnett

set to hit the field for the Green Bay Packers this weekend, the team’s defense is poised for a definite upgrade. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Yesterday we talked about the Green Bay Packers running back situation and now I want to address the defense.

So far this year I have heard the D was not very good and giving up way to many passing yards. If you look at it on paper, this would be true. However let’s look beyond the numbers a bit and see what’s really going on.

The very first thing we have to look at is the secondary. In the offseason the Packers signed Morgan Burnett to a long-term deal to anchor the secondary. Burnett not only played in every game last year, but played every snap the defense was on the field.

Getting cornerback Casey Hayward back into the lineup would surely help the Packers defense. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Then there is Casey Hayward who had a great rookie year last year with six interceptions. Unfortunately, like many on the team, both of them caught a case of the hamstrings. Neither has even dressed yet for a game. That is a very big loss for any team to lose your two best playmakers for the entire first 3 games.

In the San Francisco game the D was torched via the air against the thrown-together secondary. What I did see was a D that had given up big rushing days to teams, shut down the run. What I also saw was a front 7 on D that was a lot more physical instead of the soft play they had been accused of the last two years.

While the secondary had issues in the first game, they played well in the next two games. While you will not hear the coaching staff say so, with a 31-0 lead halfway through the third quarter against the Washington Redskins, you could tell the coaching staff went to a vanilla prevent defense – as they should. While Washington racked up yardage in the final 20 minutes, the game was never in doubt.  So what I focus on was the 2.5 quarters when it mattered – and a period of the game when the Packers shut out the Redskins.

Then they go into Cincinnati and give up 34 points. But a closer look at this tells us that the offense gave up 7 points on a fumble return for a touchdown and then special teams have up 7 by fumbling on the Packers own 3 yard line. Then another touchdown came on a drive aided by a blown call and a very questionable call.  The Packers had just scored and it was a dead ball when Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict hit Ryan Taylor in the groin after the play. Taylor responded by pushing Burfict. However, the NFL officials didn’t see the Burfict unsportsmanlike conduct and flagged the Packers for 15 yards on the kickoff.

Moments later the Packers were flagged for another 15 yards on a questionable call on Nick Perry. A receiver was going down and Perry went to help on the tackle and they called him for a blow to the head. That’s comical considering there was no call on the play when Jermichael Finley suffered a concussion when he was clearly a defenseless receiver.

Finley’s injury, like so many others, has lingered. It won’t be until this week, game 4 on week 5 that we finally expect Morgan to make his 2013 debut.

And while the Packers came up small at San Francisco, they have played well the last two games. We can only expect that trend will continue.