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Packers Run Defense So Far This Season

When a team is off to a 3-1 start like the Packers are, there seemingly would be little worries. However, the team has a glaring weakness on the defensive side of the ball; that is stopping the run. Through the first four games of the 2019 season, the Packers have allowed over 142 yards per game on the ground, 26th in the NFL.

The run defense has been worse than the number indicate, particularly considering they held the Bears to 46 yards on 15 carries in week one. Since then, they have been gashed for 198 yards on 27 carries against the Vikings, 149 yards on 38 carries versus the Vikings and 176 yards on 33 carries in their loss to the Eagles.

Darnell Savage misses tackle of Dalvin Cook

Sep 15, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) breaks a tackle by Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage (26) for a 75 yard touchdown run in the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The particular area of concern is through the right side of the Packers defensive line. Opponents have rushed for 122 yards on 18 carries off the left end and 122 yards on 12 carries off the left tackle. Green Bay has actually done a respectable job stifling the run through the other gaps, giving up just under four yards per carry on 80 attempts. However, they must find a way to stop the weak side run, giving up over eight yards a carry is clearly nowhere near good enough.

As of now, the Packers have been winning despite the poor run defense. However, they have played three of their first four games at home and have a tough stretch of five road games over the next seven weeks. Of those seven, the Cowboys, Lions, Raiders and possibly the Giants (if Saquon Barkley is ready to return from injury) pose formidable running attacks.

Run Defense – By the Numbers

Packers Yards Allowed by Gap:

Packers run yards allowed by gap

Source: Reddit user u/Packstician

Unless the Packers fix this troublesome weakness, teams will control the ball and keep Aaron Rodgers and company on the sideline. This is particularly troublesome if the Packers fall behind, as teams will melt the clock preserving a lead. Although a 3-1 start is great, for the Packers to get to where they want, which is undoubtedly a long run in the postseason, the run defense must be tightened. The good thing is that it is only week four and there is time to get this fixed moving forward.

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Ed Rooney

Just a guy with too much free time trying to help out.

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13 Comments

  1. PF4L October 1, 2019

    I could be wrong but it was reported that Pettine’s priority is pass defense. Generally speaking, i always thought the consensus was for team to stop the run first.The Packers rush attempts against the defense is almost identical to last season, but the average jumped up to 5 YPC this season. They are also giving up 23 more yards/game over last season at 142 YPC.
    ***
    The rushing offense is equally bad also ranking 26th. Last season they had a respectable 5 YPC average. This season they are sitting at 3.5 YPC. Again, it’s early and we’ll see how this whole thing shakes out. I’m old school, i still believe all games are won and lost at the line, and i always will.

    1. PF4L October 1, 2019

      *YPG

  2. Howard October 1, 2019

    One thing to remember is man coverage in the secondary (turn back to play) can create running lanes when the RBs or QBs get past the front 6 or 7. The Packers have given up 2 big runs to the right side of the defense. The 75 yarder to Cook and the 30 yarder to Saunders. In both cases the Packers DBs were playing man and some of the DBs took their selves out of any attempt to be in the plays. In the case of the 30 yard run by Saunders (Eagles) T Williams was in man on the TE. T Williams followed the TE to far across the formation as the TE whammed Lowery to open the hole. T Williams over ran the TE so much he took himself totally out of any chance to provide any type of run support.
    No question there are to many missed tackles, players not maintaining gaps, (Cook 75 yard run) and the issue of playing safeties as second ILBs. However I do believe Alexander (left side) is a more willing tackler and has more awareness/instincts than King (right side).
    With that said I really believe with Dallas the Packers have to be very careful about how much man coverage they run so they aren’t turning their backs to Prescott and the Cowboys run game.

    1. MJ October 2, 2019

      Thanks for the analysis.
      How often do you see QBs exploiting that? For instance, if the WR motion reveals the defense is in man, do they audible the play to send the WRs deep so as to drag as many DBs with them, only to call an outside run towards a soon-to-be vacated area? Did you see that done against us?

      1. Howard October 2, 2019

        Not sure about the audibles. It is more than just sending the receivers deep. A good example is the Cook 75 yard run. The Vikings brought Thielen in motion from the defensive left to right. Alexander followed. At the snap Thielen went back across the formation to the left. Alexander chased Thielen to the left and was taken out of the play. All Thielen was doing was sealing the back side. At the same time Amos was in man on Rudolf on the left side of the defense. Rudolf ran an out to the sideline. Amos followed and took himself out of any chance to be in the play. On the right side Diggs lined up wide and King was in Diggs face ready to jam. Diggs made some moves like he was running a route and King kept his attention on Diggs, jamming him. That was all it took, King could not get back into the play. Three DBs in man coverage were moved out of position by following or covering receivers and those DBs weren’t even blocked. The rest of that play was gap control,and a missed tackle. The three DBs were taken out of run position by man coverage of receivers horizontally not vertically, and the receivers did not get more than five or six yards past the line of scrimmage. Thielen never made it to the line of scrimmage.

  3. KILLER October 2, 2019

    In the Vikings game it did seem like Pettine’s main concern was the ever-dangerous Kirk Cousins. There was plenty of play examination showing DBs staying with Viking receivers even on clear-cut run plays. This is a telling fact when you consider the strength of the Vikings run game and excellence of Dalvin Cook as well as the Vikings declared intent to run lots and lots. Pettine seemed to think Cousins was the greater threat.

    He sees Aaron Rodgers every day in practice and perhaps realized Cousins is a better QB than Rodgers.

    It appears to be strategy to play the pass exclusively. I don’t think Pettine is trying to cover for a defensive weakness — he is actually making that weakness. It means he is padding the pass defense stats at the expense of the run defense (26th in the NFL). Currently the Packers pass D ranks 3rd in the NFL but, if you aren’t playing the run, it is a big boost.

    I’m not saying Pettine’s strategy is all wrong. I am saying the pass D of the Packers is padded and they are certainly not the true third best pass D in the NFL. They look about middle of the pack (no pun intended) to me.

    For instance, any GM in the NFL, 32 out of 32, if they could draft one secondary, would certainly take the Bills, Broncos, Vikings, Browns, Cowboys, Chargers, Bears, Rams, and others (all of whom technically rank lower than the Packers) before they considered taking the Packers DBs.

    1. rebelgb October 2, 2019

      LOL Killer, ok. You do realize around the league right now Cousins is generally considered a washed up piece of crap right?

      1. PF4L October 2, 2019

        Cousins apologizes to Thielen for missed opportunities

        Print
        By Jeremy Bergman
        Around The NFL Writer

        “I’m sorry Adam, i’m sorry!! Please….please stop throwin shade at me in the media, people are starting to judge my worth. Can i get you anything…a new Range Rover?”

        (pussy)

        1. Stiggy October 3, 2019

          Diggs upset and wants a trade…lol. dont see wideouts demanding trades while playing with “elite” quarterbacks…save for the walking talking breathing piece of shit big ben rapesberger.

      2. Ferris October 2, 2019

        Every Viking fan except Killer wants this guy burned at the stake….but he’s “ever dangerous” Ask the Star Tribune reporters what they think of the $84M man? He’s Ponder the 2nd according to them.

  4. Deepsky October 3, 2019

    It seems to me that Pettine clearly was afraid of Carson Wentz and willing to give up on the run. In fact, the Packers did so pretty effectively as the Eagles produced far fewer yards passing, even with the return of Alshon Jeffrey, than they had against other teams this season.

    As for the Cowboys, the Saints held Ezekiel Elliot in check with only a 1.9 yard carry. However the Saints had the second best run defense in the league last year. With the Cowboys left tackle out and their receivers questionable, you can bet the they are going to supply a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliot to the Packers or quick passes to Randall Cobb who will be looking for revenge. The Packers better figure something out because Elliot is about ready to have a record day against the Packers.

    1. MMSUCKS October 3, 2019

      Agreed Deepsky. Cobb will have a hard on for the Packers. Elliot will enter beast mode come Sunday as well. Plus, Martinez looked like shit last game. He was AJ Hawk v 2.0. Most of his tackles were 5-10 yards past the LOS.I was bitching about this before the season began. Green Bay has three glaring weaknesses. One of them is the absence of a stud ILB. They will NOT succeed with Martinez as their stud ILB. He is serviceable at best, a stud he is not . . . WR and O line are the other two glaring weaknesses.