For the second week in a row, the Green Bay Packers offense looked unstoppable, while their defense looked suspect — this time in a 27-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Just as they did against Cleveland a week earlier, the Packers employed a vanilla version of their defense. Unlike last year, when the team was installing Dom Capers’ system and needed the reps, the Packers are keeping most of their blitz packages under wraps this preseason. The resulting lack of pressure has been apparent and has lead to two big games by the opposing team’s No. 1 offense.
What compounded the problem on Saturday night was the Packers were missing several key players. Cornerback Charles Woodson, linebackers A.J. Hawk, Nick Barnett, Clay Matthews and Brad Jones were all held out for one reason or another.
The Packers were so thin at linebacker, they had to start undrafted free agent Robert Francois on the inside.
The results were predictable.
With Woodson out, the Seahawks targeted the Packers young cornerbacks, Brandon Underwood and Pat Lee, and they looked like young cornerbacks.
“We had some guys that got a lot of snaps,” Capers said. “We didn’t play the pass as well early in the game as I would like to have. So we’re going to have to take a look at it. There were some things that I think, again, were real correctable. We’ve got some guys playing new positions, and they just haven’t — we’ve kept pretty constant on our (simplified play-calling) ready list. We haven’t done a lot of additions, because we’ve got to find out if these guys can play the base fundamental aspects of the football.”
Interestingly, the Packers have been stout against the run, even with their generic scheme and starters being out. The team has given up 80 yards on 22 total carries in the first half of their preseason games, combined. That’s an average of 3.6 yards.
Perhaps it seems predictable after their struggles against high-powered passing attacks last season, but the Packers have really only struggled against the pass this preseason.
If injuries become an issue for the Packers defense, we could be in for a long season, but if the key players remain healthy and Capers is able to unleash the blitz, expect the unit’s fortunes to turn.