2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Packers put substance ahead of style on defense

By NANCY ARMOUR - AP National Writer
    2013-01-10 17:45

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - The Green Bay Packers could have filled an entire highlight reel with their interceptions last year.

Good thing, because the rest of their defense wasn't worth watching.

A year after finishing with the NFL's worst defense, the Packers have traded the excitement of those big turnovers for consistency. And the change could be the difference between another early exit from the playoffs and a deep run that could last all the way to the Super Bowl.

``I'd prefer our defense this year to last year's,'' defensive coordinator Dom Capers said.

The Packers (12-5) play at San Francisco (11-4-1) on Saturday night in an NFC divisional game.

Green Bay rolled through the regular season in 2011 with a defense every bit as explosive as its high-powered offense. The Packers led the league with 31 interceptions, and no quarterback - rookie or veteran - was safe from their sticky hands. Four of the picks were returned for touchdowns.

Even as the Packers cruised to a 15-1 record and the NFC's No. 1 seed, however, there were signs of trouble with the defense. Green Bay ranked dead last in the NFL in both yardage (almost 412 per game) and yards passing (almost 300). Their 6,585 yards allowed was the worst in team history, as were the pass attempts (637), completions (390) and yards passing (4,796).

And all those flaws were exposed when Green Bay played the New York Giants in the divisional round. Eli Manning threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns and Hakeem Nicks had seven catches for 165 yards as the Giants tossed the defending Super Bowl champions out of the playoffs with a 37-20 win.

The Packers don't have nearly as many takeaways this time - they finished the regular season with 18 - but they're no longer pushovers, either. They jumped to 11th in total defense, and their average of 337 yards allowed per game is a 75-yard improvement. Opponents passed for an average of 218 yards against Green Bay, also 11th best in the NFL.

They ranked in the top half of the NFC in every defensive category except run defense. And you can thank Adrian Peterson for that.

``I don't know what the answer is,'' B.J. Raji said. ``I just know we left last year in the past and took the approach that this is a different year and we wanted to improve our ranking.''

The Packers have done all this despite losing Charles Woodson for half the season with a broken right collarbone. Clay Matthews (hamstring) and C.J. Wilson (knee) also missed four games each.

But the injuries also forced Green Bay to play its young guys, and their speed and athleticism has turned out to be a boon for the Packers.

``We're just a more consistent, more multiple defense this year,'' Capers said. ``I think we can attack you in different ways. I think we've got more athletic ability on our defense this year than we had. I think these young guys have given us more athletic ability, more speed, more pass rush ability.

``You look at our sack numbers in terms of from last year to this year, there's a big difference,'' Capers added. ``And our style of play, we need to do that.''

Only Denver and St. Louis (52 each) and Cincinnati (51) had more sacks than Green Bay (47), and it's a good bet the Packers would have led the league had Matthews not been hurt.

Even with missing four games, Matthews finished with 13 sacks, a half-sack off his career high. Only the 49ers' Aldon Smith had more in the NFC.

``They're just playing good defense,'' San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. ``Sound defense, good team defense, not allowing the big plays that showed up last year.''

Now, just because this Green Bay defense is sound doesn't mean it's stodgy or boring.

Quite the contrary.

Rookie Casey Hayward tied for fifth in the NFL with six interceptions. Jay Cutler is no doubt thrilled he's got at least seven months before he has to see a Packers defensive back.

But substance matters as much as style, and Green Bay has it this year.

``No doubt about it,'' cornerback Tramon Williams said. ``I'm pretty sure that's not hard to see that we're a better defense from last year.''

Notes: WR Randall Cobb returned to practice Thursday despite still feeling under the weather. ``He's going to go,'' coach Mike McCarthy said. ``I don't have any questions about that.'' ... McCarthy described the Packers' last practice before they leave for San Francisco as ``very spirited, to say the least. They have too much energy and I think that's common for this time of year,'' he said. ``I feel very good the way the last three days of practice have gone.'' ... The Packers aren't concerned with the state of Candlestick Park, where the field is dry and patchy in some spots, soggy in others. ``A lot of the grass fields are that way toward the end of the season. It'll be the same for everyone,'' Jordy Nelson said. ``You just have to feel it out. In pregame, make sure you have the right cleats on, what you feel comfortable in.'' ... WR Jarrett Boykin (ankle) is improving but won't be ready to play this week.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 10:33a

Buffalo Bills QBs Jeff Tuel and Thaddeus Lewis are alternating series with the second unit in team drills Tuesday, July 22.

Tyler BrayJul 22 09:13a

Kansas City Chiefs QBs Tyler Bray and Chase Daniel are likely to compete for one roster spot with QB Aaron Murray likely to make the team behind starting QB Alex Smith.

Navorro BowmanJul 22 12:13a

San Francisco 49ers LB NaVorro Bowman (knee) will likely return to action in Week 9 after the team's Week 8 bye, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

Jacques McClendonJul 21 11:03p

Jacksonville Jaguars OG Jacques McClendon is the frontrunner to start at right guard heading into training camp, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. OG Brandon Linder is the other candidate for the starting job.

Aaron ColvinJul 21 10:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Aaron Colvin (knee) will begin training camp and the regular season on the Physically Unable to Perform list as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate [ More ]

Jeromy MilesJul 21 10:03p

Baltimore Ravens S Jeromy Miles has seen some reps with the first-team defense this offseason and is a dark horse candidate to win the starting free safety job, according to ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley.

Brandon MosleyJul 21 09:43p

New York Giants OT Brandon Mosley will be given the first chance to start in place of OG Chris Snee when the first-team offensive line takes the field Tuesday, [ More ]

T.J. GrahamJul 21 09:23p

Buffalo Bills WR T.J. Graham had a pass fall through his hands after beating his defender on a deep route in camp Monday, July 21.ESPN.com's Mike Rodak believes Graham [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsJul 21 09:02p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins made several big plays in practice Monday, July 21, according to ESPN.com's Mike Rodak. Watkins beat CB Leodis McKelvin deep, hauled in a pass [ More ]

Marvin JonesJul 21 07:03p

Cincinnati Bengals QB A.J. McCarron (shoulder), WR Marvin Jones (ankle) and CB Onterio McCalebb (knee) have been placed on the Non-Football Injury list.

Devon StillJul 21 07:03p

Cincinnati Bengals OG Clint Boling (knee), LB Marquis Flowers (hamstring), P Kevin Huber (neck), WR Colin Lockett (hamstring), DT Zach Minter (back), DT Devon Still (back) and WR Ryan [ More ]

Cordy GlennJul 21 06:53p

Buffalo Bills OT Cordy Glenn (illness) does not have a timetable for his return at this point, according to head coach Doug Marrone. 'I don't know that. It's a [ More ]

Mike CaussinJul 21 06:43p

The Washington Redskins have signed free-agent TE Mike Caussin (Bills). Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived LS Kyle Nelson.

Cheta OzougwuJul 21 06:32p

New Orleans Saints DE Cheta Ozougwu (undisclosed) and DT John Jenkins (pectoral) have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Brennan WilliamsJul 21 06:22p

Houston Texans OT Brennan Williams (undisclosed) has been waived with a failed physical designation.

Brian CushingJul 21 06:22p

Houston Texans DT Louis Nix (undisclosed), LB Brian Cushing (undisclosed) and LB Trevardo Williams (undisclosed) have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Eric HaggJul 21 06:13p

Denver Broncos SS Eric Hagg has informed the team that he has decided to retire from professional football.

Dominique EasleyJul 21 05:23p

New England Patriots DT Dominique Easley, RB Roy Finch, LB Deontae Skinner and OT Chris Martin have been placed on the team's non-football injury list.

Alfonzo DennardJul 21 05:23p

New England Patriots CB Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), WR Jeremy Gallon (undisclosed), DT Tommy Kelly (knee) and WR Matthew Slater (undisclosed) will begin training camp on [ More ]

Leon HallJul 21 05:12p

Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins (knee) and CB Leon Hall (Achilles') will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

Jon BeasonJul 21 05:12p

New York Giants LB Jon Beason (foot) will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

John JerryJul 21 05:02p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (leg), OG John Jerry (knee) and WR Mario Manningham (knee) will be limited when training camp starts.

Kraig UrbikJul 21 04:33p

Buffalo Bills OT Chris Hairston and OG Kraig Urbik saw first-team repetitions at right guard Monday, July 21.

Dezmon BriscoeJul 21 04:03p

The Dallas Cowboys signed free-agent WR Dezmon Briscoe (Redskins), according to his agent. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Phillip HuntJul 21 03:12p

Former Philadelphia Eagles DE Phillip Hunt (knee) has recovered from anterior cruciate ligament surgery and should begin workouts with teams in the near future.

Chris ConteJul 21 02:12p

Chicago Bears FS Chris Conte said he feels good as he recovers from shoulder surgery, but is unsure of his availability for the start of training camp. He could [ More ]

Alameda Ta'amuJul 21 01:53p

Arizona Cardinals DT Alameda Ta'amu (knee) and FS Tyrann Mathieu (knee) are candidates to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of training camp.

David WilsonJul 21 01:42p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) should be able to help the offense if he is able to stay healthy this upcoming season, according to former offensive coordinator [ More ]

Chris SneeJul 21 01:42p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OG Chris Snee has officially announced his retirement from professional football.

Garrett CelekJul 21 01:22p

San Francisco 49ers TEs Derek Carrier and Garrett Celek will compete for the No. 3 tight end spot during training camp.

De'Anthony ThomasJul 21 01:22p

Kansas City Chiefs RB De'Anthony Thomas spent most of his time with the running backs during practice Monday, July 21. Thomas run a lot of passing routes out of [ More ]

Christopher OwensJul 21 01:13p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee), WR Kyle Williams (knee), WR A.J. Jenkins (hamstring) and CB Christopher Owens (hamstring) participated in practice Monday, July 21.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group