Packers defensive line is the key to their early-season success

Green Bay Packers, Rashan Gary (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Rashan Gary (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Since their shocking Week 1 loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Green Bay Packers have responded in a major way. Green Bay has won three straight games by an average margin of 10 points per game.

While the offense has returned to form, it’s the defense that has truly improved. After allowing 38 points in Week 1, Green Bay hasn’t allowed over 30 points since.

The key to this win streak and defensive emergence is the success of the defensive line.

The importance of the pass rush

In their Week 1 loss, the Packers had no sacks and forced no turnovers. Against the Detroit Lions in Week 2, Green Bay had six quarterback hits and forced two fumbles. This pressure on Lions quarterback Jared Goff also led to an interception for Joe Barry’s defense.

The following week the Packers faced the San Francisco 49ers, who seem to always dominate the line of scrimmage against Green Bay. However, the Packers’ pass rush was even better against a more formidable opponent.

Green Bay sacked 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo four times and once again forced two turnovers.

This past week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the pass rush dominated once again. They helped force another two turnovers and had five quarterback hits on Ben Roethlisberger.

Here is the force fumble defensive tackle Kingsley Keke had against the Steelers:

The Packers have forced two turnovers in three straight weeks and it is because of their pass rush. Green Bay’s defense currently ranks eighth in forced turnovers this season.

This is impressive considering their best pass rusher, Za’Darius Smith, has only played one game this season due to injury.

In Week 5, the Packers will play the Cincinnati Bengals, whose weakness this season has been their offensive line. Yet, if Green Bay’s pass rush is ineffective, it could be a long day against Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ young weapons.