Packers must build on seven-sack performance in Week 14 vs. Browns

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 03: Jameis Winston
GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 03: Jameis Winston /

The Green Bay Packers generated consistent pressure against the Buccaneers, which is something they must build on in the coming weeks.

The Packers live to see another day. Their hopes for a ninth straight postseason berth are still alive.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston felt pressured nearly every time he dropped back to pass on Sunday afternoon. The Green Bay defense had a total of seven sacks in the 26-20 overtime victory.

The Packers defense ended up getting a total of 13 hits on Winston for the entire game.

A week after getting just one sack against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, the Packers pass rush defense seemed invigorated.

However, this week’s QB pressure seemed different. In the past when the Packers have gotten pressure on quarterbacks it’s often been a result of some exotic blitz packages involving defensive backs/linebackers from Dom Capers’ “nitro” set.

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This week’s was much more simple. The Packers defensive linemen and linebackers beat their opponents off the ball en route to Winston.

Clay Matthews and Kenny Clark were both inactive for the previous week against Pittsburgh, and each had a very strong impact in Sunday’s game. Matthews had seven tackles, and a season-high 2.5 sacks, whereas Clark totaled six tackles and two sacks.

Outside of Clark and Matthews, plenty of others got involved in the pass rush. Dean Lowry had a sack of his own, not to mention a fumble recovery taken to the house. Mike Daniels and Jake Ryan also combined for 1.5 sacks and 14 tackles.

In one of the biggest plays of the game, Ryan and Clark each got to Winston. The third-year passer coughed up the football, and a 62-yard scoop-and-score touchdown from Lowry ensued.

The Packers harassed the opposing quarterback all game long, which is a great thing for this team in the spot that they are in right now.

Hopefully, it should be safe to assume they can get a win against Cleveland next week, but after that comes a daunting three-game stretch to finish out the regular season. I know what everybody is thinking: “Don’t worry about those last three games, we’ve got Aaron Rodgers coming back to run the table.”

Well, the Packers definitely do have a shot to win out if Rodgers is back in Week 15, but his return alone will not lead them to the promised land. If Rodgers returns, he’s probably not going to be in the same shape that he was before he got injured.

An injury to Rodgers’ throwing shoulder is more serious than the broken left collarbone he suffered in 2013. So there is a likely possibility that Rodgers will be a little rusty in his return. If the Packers defense helps shoulder the load that it takes to win against three quality NFC opponents, their team is in much better shape.

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It shouldn’t solely be up to No. 12 to singlehandedly will this team into the playoffs. As much as everyone talks about Rodgers’ return from injury, consistency from the Packers defense may be the deciding factor in whether or not they earn a trip back to the playoffs.

If Sunday’s game is any indication, the Packers defense is on the right track.