Green Bay Packers’ safety Nick Collins made no bones about it. The Packers want to have the NFL’s No. 1 defense in 2010.
“We want to be the No. 1 overall defense,” Collins said. “We want everybody to talk about us, not talk about what we could be.”
That might be tough for a number of reasons, but it’s good to have goals.
The Packers had the No. 2-ranked defense in 2009, behind the New York Jets, but were repeatedly torched by big-time quarterbacks. General manager Ted Thompson chose to rely on the return from injury and improvement of players already on the team to address the areas responsible for those failures — the pass rush and the secondary — rather than using free agency or the draft.
Whether that plan works or not will go a long way towards determining just how good the Packers defense will be in 2010.
“Our defense led the league in takeaways and defense against the run,” Capers said. “Normally, when you lead the league in takeaways and run defense, you should have a shot. So probably our biggest challenge is to figure out how to improve our pass defense, especially how to get more pressure on a consistent basis.”
Ultimately, the Jets will also have something to say about whether the Packers reach their goal.
The Jets defense only significant loss of the offseason was safety Kerry Rhodes, who was benched for part of the 2009 season. The team added cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who replaces the disappointing Lito Shepard, and Jason Taylor, who will be used as a situational pass rusher from the outside linebacker position.
Adding those guys to a group that includes playmakers like Darrelle Revis, Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, gives the Jets a formidable unit.
But back to the Packers, where the offense will unquestionably be one of the best in the NFL. The question mark remains on the other side of the ball.
It’s the Packers defense that will determine just how good the team will be this year.
“The sky’s the limit for us this year,” Collins said. “We’re very confident, and it’s up to us to go out and meet expectations. People think we’re a Super Bowl contender, and we welcome that, because we think that too. But we know we have to go out there and show everybody why they’re right and we’re right.”