24

August

Cory’s Corner: Packers Defense Will Be Back This Year

Johnny Jolly could add an edge to the Packers defense.

Johnny Jolly could add an edge to the Packers defense.

There are a lot of reasons to feel optimistic about this Packers season. Aaron Rodgers is the game’s best quarterback at the most important position. A capable running game is now firmly in place after drafting Alabama bulldozer Eddie Lacy. And the leaner, stronger Jermichael Finley is keeping his tongue muzzled.

Those are great reasons. But I’m the pegging the defense to have a bounce-back season.

I understand if a lot of you are raising your eyebrows right now. Heck, the Packers were 22nd in the league in defensive yards per game (336) and tied for 30th — that’s second to last — with 123 penalties.

Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy made a bold move by bringing back defensive tackle Johnny Jolly. He hasn’t seen game action in 3 ½ years, spent six months in jail and tried to get his life back after a codeine arrest. But Jolly is looking like the left defensive end that started all 16 games in 2009. He had a sack, a pick, two fumble recoveries and 24 tackles back then.

Jolly has looked great in the preseason, showing that the fire for football never went out. His presence is even more important now that first round pick Datone Jones has been dealing with a pesky ankle injury.

Like Jolly, linebacker Nick Perry is another key cog this year. The first round pick saw his rookie campaign truncated due to nagging knee and wrist injuries. He is trimmer than last year and has a better understanding of the outside linebacker position, which was different than defensive end which is what he played at USC.

That makes two great bookend linebackers in Dom Capers’ 3-4 scheme. Clay Matthews has played out of this universe thanks to his impressive closing speed, his array of moves to get to the quarterback and his seemingly limitless energy. With a solid linebacker on the other side, Matthews will not be double-teamed nearly as often, which will open the door for Matthews to make his fifth Pro Bowl in his fifth NFL season.

The Packers front seven is better. Jolly brings a needed edge and nastiness that hasn’t been seen in awhile and A.J. Hawk brings the necessary leadership because he doesn’t care about the pay cut, he just wants to win. And as he heads into his eighth season, Hawk is like a quasi coach at inside linebacker.

I will agree that the back end of the defense is a question mark. I’m not sure if free safety Morgan Burnett can be another Nick Collins, but that’s what the Packers are paying him to be. And Casey Hayward was fifth in the league last year with six interceptions as a nickel back. But with a severely pulled hamstring, he is fighting for his place on the depth chart. Regardless, he still remains ahead of Jarrett Bush — one of the highest paid guys in the league that is best known for his special teams pursuits.

This defense is more athletic. With all of the time spent chatting up coaches from Texas A&M and Wisconsin trying to figure out the hidden secrets behind the read-option, this roster and coaching staff should be better prepared for this season.

For of those of you that still think the Packers D is missing a ‘mean streak,’ the aforementioned Jolly — albeit with a poor last name choice — is your man. If anyone is going to make Jerel Worthy crank it up a notch or force Sam Shields to be more physical, it’s Jolly.

With a reshuffled offensive line and missing last year’s No. 1 wideout, the offense might need to lean on its defensive counterpart several times this year.

And that unit is more than up to the challenge.

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Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

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10 Responses to “Cory’s Corner: Packers Defense Will Be Back This Year”

  1. Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

    I agree. The only question is health. If they can stay healthy, they’ll be a top 10 D. And that’ll be more than enough with ARod to be a Super Bowl favorite.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

    • jim says:

      the inevitable injuries will occur and that is why it is so important to have the great depth that the packers have at defensive line. it is worth keeping that extra man on the roster for several reasons– pickett is getting up there in years, as is jolly, and much of the line are free agents. 8 defensive linemen, including the dl/olb is not beyond consideration.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. nick perry says:

    Nice write up Cory, I think it was right on the mark. I’m a bit anxious to hear how Hayward is doing after re-injuring the hamstring. Same with Brad Jones and Burnett. The back end is still a little concerning. That first drive where Wilson hit the seem short seem pass no one was in sight. Burnett seemed to be confused or lost on that play. Overall though we saw a lot of depth in the Packs defense. Seattle had their starters on offense and defense to start the 3rd quarter, the Packers were playing reserves after the first drive. We also learned, at least I did that NO ONE respects Graham Harrell. Eddie Lacy never had a chance. Seattle attacked him with a vengeance once Harrell came in. No Cobb, Nelson, Rodgers, Finley = no where for Eddie to run. I was proud of Packs defensive effort last night. A little luck with health, we could have a huge advantage playing in a SB in New York, outdoors this year come February.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  3. Hamstrung says:

    Lost 4 starters to injury last night. 3 hamstrings on the defense. How long is it gonna take MM and TT to figure out that their strength and conditioning program is a piece of shit? I agree D will be better, as long as we don’t lose 25% of its roster every week. Our offensive line (starters and reserves) is the obvious weak point of this team. The 3 interior guys are horseshit. I can run-block better than them. When they’re running sideways, they’re all getting pushed backwards into the runner. Nice scheme and nice coaching. Campen should have been gone long ago. Anybody remember Larry Beightol?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  4. WIM says:

    all i saw the starting D do last night was not get off the field for 8 minutes. imagine what they will be like in the fourth quarter. still no push from the interior guys. and do these guys stretch before games. 3 hamstrings?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  5. Mojo says:

    Just need to get this out there. The PF call on Manning last night was piss-poor. And I’d say the same thing if it went the other way. The NFL needs to correct this or this game will become a traveshamockery.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    • mudduckcheesehead says:

      +1 for traveshamockery.

      Does that make our strength and conditioning program a traveshammymockery?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  6. Hamstrung says:

    Mojo,

    Get ready for more of that crap. Welcome to the new, feminized NFL. Maybe we should have trial lawyers as consultants, and they can rush out onto the field every time a quarterback gets hit. They can host a press conference about how it was intentional, or because of this or that. Victim culture.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  7. Art says:

    I felt the D-line was awesome.Just still concerned about the middle. Too many third and longs are converted into first downs in that territory.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

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