Green Bay Defense
Week 8 Statistics: 33 Points Allowed, 2 Sacks; 1.00 fantasy points
I hope nobody needed to use this defense last week.
Not only was it a bad matchup, but it got even worse with Clay Matthews getting added to the endless injury list. Adding the team’s big-name pass rushing threat to a secondary missing their top three cornerbacks ended up about as well as you would expect: 33 points allowed, including what became a game-winning drive.
Last week saw a defense which had done a pretty impressive job at covering up its deficiencies through scheme decisions get taken apart by secondary and tertiary options through the air. Julio Jones was held to a quiet afternoon (3 catches, 29 yards), but the adjustments to prevent him from blowing apart an undermanned unit himself let guys like Taylor Gabriel (3 catches, 68 yards, 1 TD; includes a 47 yarder where he beat his man deep) and Mohamed Sanu (9 catches, 84 yards, 1 TD; 5 catches, 50 yards, 1 TD on the game-winning drive) have favorable matchups.
What the Packers (and fantasy owners playing them) had to be banking on was their pass rush busting things up on the line, but outside of one drive (where they got two straight sacks), they never even laid a hand on Matt Ryan.
This week should be a much more capable endeavor for them.
For one thing, they should be somewhat healthier. Demetri Goodson came down with a concussion from last week’s game, but it appears Quinten Rollins might be able to return to action, giving Green Bay one of their top corner options back. Matthews sounds like he should be able to return as well at this point too, so the pass rush will have a boost as well.
Even if one or both somehow doesn’t suit up though, this matchup looks enticing for the Packers’ defense.
Andrew Luck has put his ugly 2015 behind him to return to his high-level ways most of this year, but he’s coming off his worst performance of the season. He only completed 54.3% of his passes for 210 yards, an interception, a fumble, 6 sacks, and a 19.8 QBR in a 30-14 loss to Kansas City.
You shouldn’t put too much of the blame on him, however; he doesn’t have much to work with on his team. Not only does his defense force him into a shootout practically every game, but he doesn’t exactly have a strong array of weaponry or blockers.
Luck’s receiving corps is possibly one of the worst collective groups in the league. He does have T.Y. Hilton, but outside of him, the roster is pretty bleak. Donte Moncrief may be his 2nd-best target, but he’s limited at-best and his best year saw him only garner 733 yards in a wide-open passing game.
Dwayne Allen has previously been a good pass catcher, but he’s missed multiple weeks to injury and might not even play (and even if he does, he hasn’t shown off his abilities with any consistency in a couple years). Phillip Dorsett is a former 1st round pick, but has yet to show anything close to that talent.
The only other receiver with 100+ snaps is Chester Rogers, but he’s more a warm body than an actual contributor. Oh, and though he has Frank Gore in the backfield — much better than the flotsam trotted out there earlier in Luck’s career — he is nowhere near the player he used to be.
Somehow, miraculously, his offensive line is worse. Guard Jack Mewhort actually played decently most of this year, but has been out injured for multiple weeks; without him, guards Joe Haeg and Denzelle Good have been atrocious. Anthony Castonzo has done a decent job at left tackle, but he’s beatable; his right tackle counterpart, Joe Reitz, has been Haeg/Good-level awful. His rookie center Ryan Kelly could be good in time, but he’s struggled as well so far.
All this adds up to what should be a pretty strong recovery effort for this Green Bay defense.
The defensive line should be able to shut down the underwhelming rushing efforts of Gore (outside of the debacle against Dallas’ league-best rushing offense, Green Bay has continued to shut down every rushing attack they’ve faced). The edge rushers should have a field day — especially whoever lines up against Reitz on the right side — while the Colts’ guards will be hard-pressed to slow the efforts of Mike Daniels and Co breaking through the middle to collapse Luck’s pocket.
The back end may end up giving up some plays here and there (right now, the Packers have no healthy bodies at cornerback behind the Rollins/LaDarius Gunter/Micah Hyde trio), but that damage should be capped by more scheme adjustments to involve Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and help prevent Hilton — remember: Indianapolis’ only quality receiver — from bursting through for big gains.
The final tally on the scoreboard may be boosted through a garbage-time TD, but there should be enough chances for sacks and turnovers (the defense has been lacking them so far this year; that’s bound to change) to make up for any meaningless points which get tacked on towards the end.
Week 9 Prediction: