Packers: Report card a quarter way through the season

Green Bay Packers - Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY NETWORK
Green Bay Packers - Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY NETWORK /
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Green Bay Packers, Jaire Alexander, Za'Darius Smith
Green Bay Packers, Jaire Alexander, Za’Darius Smith – Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /


While the offense has been unbelievably consistent and reliable, the same cannot be said for the defense. The first three games seemed to be a struggle. They were consistently gashed on the ground, but thanks to the offense, opposing teams couldn’t afford to run the ball. They had to pass to try to keep up with the Packers’ scoring. So far this year, the Packers’ best defense has been their offense.

The number of yards and points given up so far this season has been somewhat concerning. After Week 4, the Packers rank ninth in rushing yards allowed per game (105.8). That can be a deceiving stat because they also rank 23rd in yards per rush, allowing 4.8 yards per carry. Not great.

They rank 19th in the league in passing yards allowed per game (247.5), but that’s to be expected when the offense is scoring nonstop and the opposition needs to pass a lot to keep up. While they have been giving up yards and some points, they seem to come up big in important spots in games and get stops when it really matters.

I think Kenny Clark’s injury plays a lot into this. While Clark has been out, Za’Darius Smith has been playing in the middle of the line a lot, not allowing him to get after the quarterback as often. Preston Smith has also been relatively ineffective this season so far as well. In fact, second-year linebacker Rashan Gary had been the Packers’ best pass-rusher until Week 4 against the Falcons.

In Week 4 vs. Atlanta, it feels like something clicked and the Packers defense came to play. They held Calvin Ridley, who had over 100 yards each of the previous three games, to zero catches.  That in itself is a big deal. Jaire Alexander absolutely shut him down. Alexander has been having an All-Pro-type season. He is becoming one of the best cornerbacks in the league.

Za’Darius Smith broke back out in Week 4 as well, enjoying a three-sack game and hitting Matt Ryan five times. He was in the backfield all night.

The Week 5 bye will give the Packers another week to get healthier on both sides of the ball. Getting Kenny Clark back will be huge for this defense. If this defense can build off of their performance on Monday night and get Clark back, this team could get even better.

Grade: B-