Remember these types of columns and blog posts following recent Packers playoff exits? If you’re too lazy to click the link, the column calls the Packers “too soft to join the NFL’s elite.”
Defensive issues, particularly in the area of “toughness,” have plagued the Packers since winning the Super Bowl four seasons ago. With the exception of some early-season run defense issues and the last 5 minutes of the NFC title game, the Packers defense took care of most of those issues in 2014.
But after the departure of Tramon Williams, who turned into a gritty and willing tackler after shying away from contact in previous seasons, and spending early-round draft picks on small defensive backs instead of bruising trench players or a hard-hitting middle linebacker, could the Packers’ “toughness” again be questioned in 2015?
“Toughness” is hard to define. Typically, if a team is winning games, their defensive “toughness” isn’t questioned. That’s not always the case with the Packers since their defensive meltdowns in the playoffs have been bad. Really bad. The Packers have been one of the NFL’s best teams, but their “toughness” is still questioned.
Playing defense today is mostly about match-ups and forcing turnovers. Green Bay’s defense has plenty of versatile athletes and playmakers, so they should be well-equipped to excel in both categories. But there are still plenty of good NFL teams that thrive on a strong running game and pushing around smaller, softer teams.
If Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks steamroll the Packers in week 2, the soft label will make an ugly return to the Packers’ defense. It’ll get worse if San Francisco once again plows through Green Bay two weeks later.
We’ll find out early on just how “tough” the 2015 Packers’ defense will be. If they’re not tough enough, look for changes to be made like they were last season.
Moving Clay Matthews inside, scrapping the “quad” package, playing Morgan Burnett up in the box. Those types of moves improve the Packers on D last season and made them tougher. It’d be nice to not have to do much shifting to get to the right level of “toughness” in 2015.
“Toughness” might be hard to define, but you sure know when your team lacks it.——————
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .