“The first step is admitting you have a problem.”
The Packers have taken that step with regard to their pitiful defensive performance during the 2011 season. Many Packers have expressed their dissatisfaction with how the team played on that side of the ball, the latest of them Tramon Williams.
According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Williams voiced his thoughts on the 2011 campaign.
“But at the end of the day, (did) we have a terrible defense? Yeah, we did, but we were productive out there. We did what we’ve always done. We turned the ball over. We have some things to build off now. We have some more pieces to the puzzle and we’re excited about it, and just ready to get back out there now.”
Williams joins Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews, who each criticized the team’s defense down the stretch of last season. All three acknowledged that the defense just wasn’t good enough and gave up too many yards and points. The saving grace throughout much of the year was the defense’s ability to create turnovers, as mentioned by Williams. The amount of turnovers created likely masked the depth of Packers’ defensive issues.
While the players have publicly spoken out regarding the defensives issues, the Packers front office acknowledged those issues in a different way. Ted Thompson used the first six selections in the NFL Draft to add defensive talent. In an unprecedented move, Thompson also traded up multiple times to grab significant talent after doing so just a few times in years prior. In addition to the draft, the Packers also signed multiple defensive linemen in hopes that somebody will step up.
With the Packers’ players individually acknowledging their issues defensively and the overhaul of defensive talent, it would seem that the Packers will be a better defense team in 2012. Getting better on paper is that just that, though.
The Packers have plenty of work to do during training camp and preseason, but the important thing to note is that signs are pointing to a much improved defense.
On the defensive line, the Packers added Daniel Muir and Anthony Hargrove through free agency. Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels were both added through the draft. The influx of defensive linemen should bring about competition not only for the newcomers, but another chance for Mike Neal, Jarius Wynn, C.J. Wilson and Lawrence Guy.
At the outside linebacker spot, rookie Nick Perry will have a big opportunity to improve the Packers pass rush playing opposite Clay Matthews. If Perry is able to adjust quickly, the Packers will have positively addressed one of the their biggest weaknesses in 2011.
In the defensive backfield, the Packers need a couple of their cornerbacks to establish themselves as the future of the position. Charles Woodson is closing in on retirement and the Packers need somebody to pair with Tramon Williams. Jarrett Bush has shown he isn’t the guy, but fills a nice role as a veteran corner and special teams ace.
Sam Shields once appeared to be the future, but his 2011 season far from erased doubts that he was the guy. Davon House, Brandian Ross and newcomer Casey Howard are frontrunners going into camp for what would likely be two roster spots after Williams, Woodson, Shields and Bush.
At the safety position, the Packers added Jerron McMillian in an attempt to fill the void left by Nick Collins. M.D. Jennings has been the rave following OTAs and mini-camp, but McMillian will have every opportunity to compete once training camp opens, as the position is far from fixed.
So while there’s no guarantee that the unit will be better in 2012, the Packers appear ready to turn the corner on a 2011 defensive that was atrocious. All signs clearly point to at least some form of improvement.
With an offense that is so high-powered and deadly, any improvements on defenses should make the Packers clear Super Bowl favorites.
Michael is a sports writer currently attending Seattle University. You can follow Michael on Twitter .