Green Bay Packers: The ‘Big Dogs’ gotta eat!
By Davey Miller
Green Bay Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji has been a force with the rest of the defensive line. Brace Hemmelgarn USA TODAY Sports photograph
The physical play of the Green Bay Packers defensive line this season is just one of the many story lines this “Team 93” has to offer.
To a man, this position group has been relentless in its pursuit of stopping the run, and boy have they ever – to the tune of a number four ranking in the entire league for rushing defense, allowing just 83.6 yards per contest.
That’s quite a jump when compared to last season when they gave up 118.5 yards per game.
So what has made this defensive line so much better than last season? B.J. Raji, C.J. Wilson, Ryan Pickett and Mike Daniels were all here last year.
There are new comers such as Johnny Jolly, rookie first round pick Datone Jones, fellow rookie Josh Boyd, and PUP member Jerel Worthy (who has not seen action this season).
Mike Neal is now considered a LB.
So what is it that makes these relative unknowns playing well beyond outsiders’ expectations?
First, they are playing as a Band of Brothers. They are playing for each other, they are unselfish, and they have great chemistry.
Mike Daniels, who leads the way with four sacks, is in his second year and is finally healthy after playing on a bum shoulder all of last season. He, along with Jolly, brings the nastiness and the street fighter’s mentality necessary to always be playing with ‘controlled’ rage.
Oct 27, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) is sacked by Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Daniels (76) during the third quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Packers defeated the Vikings 44-31. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Jolly, Pickett and Raji weigh a half a ton combined, and their dogged determination to stop the run is paying dividends. Depth is also ‘key’ as everyone gets playing time and everyone stays relatively fresh, especially if the offense continues to play keepaway with those longtime consuming seven- and eight-minute drives.
This Green Bay Packers Team 93 is deep and talented at every position group, with a mix of veterans and youth, and oh yeah, they all have talent, too.
Look at the defensive back group, look at the receiver group, the offensive line, the running backs, certainly the linebackers, tight ends – all with talent, depth and each one having a desire to contribute when their number is called.
Can you imagine our linebackers once we get Neal, Nick Perry, Clay Matthews and Brad Jones back healthy to go along with Hawk, Andy Mulumba, and Jamari Lattimore?
Getting Casey Hayward and Morgan Burnett back, plus the ascension of Davon House has the cornerback/safety group primed to take off. Factor in Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and rookie Micah Hyde … come on, that’s a lot of depth.
However, the Big Dogs (defensive line) gotta eat first as they get it all started up front by stopping the run, allowing the backers to roam free and the DBs to let their talents show. It all works together, but it starts up front with the Big Nasties.
Moving forward this defense should soon start forcing turnovers, and we all know they seem to come in bunches when they do come. Starting now through the end of the season this defense is going to turn in to a turnover-forcing machine.
As Coach Mike McCarthy likes to say, YOU CAN MARK IT DOWN!
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