I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of all the whining about how the Packers “always” have a “terrible” defense and they’re wasting Aaron Rodgers’s prime and blah blah blah (if you’re not tired of it like me, you’re probably one of the whiners and you can stop reading now).
Since Rodgers won the Super Bowl, here is where the Packers had shaken out in average points allowed per game compared to the median points allowed per game, with that year’s Super Bowl champ’s points per game:
2011 Median: 21.8 – Packers: 23.3 – Giants: 23.1
2012 Median: 21.9 – Packers: 21.7 – Ravens: 21.1
2013 Median: 23.8 – Packers: 26.5 – Seahawks: 14.6
2014 Median: 22.1 – Packers: 22.1 – Patriots: 19.5
2015 Median: 23.4 – Packers: 20.4 – Broncos: 17.9
2016 Median: 23.6 – Packers: 25.1 – Patriots: 16.4
2017 Median: 22.4 – Packers: 23.0 – TBD
What do you notice? The Packers are usually swimming around the median in scoring defense every year. It’s not the end of the world, they aren’t armageddon-terrible, they aren’t even the Browns of defense like many would have you believe.
They’s just average.
If you think you can’t win with an average defense, you are wrong. In fact, the Packers were right around where the Super Bowl champion defense was a couple of those years. Lately, there has been a trend towards top defenses winning, but the winner of the Super Bowl can often hinge on a play or two.
The team that should have won last year (the Falcons), gave up more points than the Packers. The year before, the losing squad (the Panthers) were only a point per game better than the Packers. That means that the Packers defense was right there with the title teams.
When you look at the numbers, the Packers defense is good enough – especially when they have one of the top two or three offenses in the league every single year (when Rodgers is healthy).
It’s not like they’ve been sitting on their hands settling for a mediocre defense, either. Here’s what they’ve done in the last 6 drafts:
2012 – Top 6 picks on defense
2013 – First rounder on defense
2014 – First rounder on defense
2015 – Top 2 picks on defense (and 3 of top 4)
2016 – First rounder on defense
2017 – Top 4 picks on defense
Ted Thompson has been doing his best to build a defense. Now, whiners want to say “but he failed.” No, he hasn’t – he’s grabbed guys like HaHa, Martinez, Clark, Daniels, Perry, Kevin King, and Josh Jones with those picks.
That’s not enough, you say? Well don’t forget that he also drafted guys like Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde, but couldn’t keep them with all the other talent to pay for on the team. He also had solid guys like Datone Jones, which, while not studs, were a lot more useful that the 30% of first rounders who totally flame out every year (John Ross is a top 10 pick who isn’t even active on game day – the one time he even touched the ball this year, he fumbled!).
Let’s also not forget that when the Packers had the luxury of a top 10 pick in 2009, they used it on a Pro Bowl nose tackle, who retired early in a move no one saw coming – that impacts your team. You only get top 10 picks if you lose a lot and the Packers haven’t done that much. Picks in the 20’s and 30’s every year makes it a lot harder to build a defense.
You’d love to get a stud pass rusher every year, but those guys don’t grow on trees or 20-something draft slots. Take a moment to read about which pass rushers the Packers should have drafted with 20-20 hindsight.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
You wanna talk free agents? Shut up, no one lets stud defenders go via free agency unless they make more than the quarterback and that’s just a stupid business plan in the NFL.
So, in summary: the Packers defense has been middling, not terrible, since the Super Bowl victory and Thompson has done pretty much everything he can to improve it from his low draft slots. There aren’t any free agents worth picking up to help, either (and free agency is mostly a idiot crusade anyways – here’s Exhibit B).
You can say Ted should have drafted better (even though he leaves his peers in the dust), you can say Capers should have a better gameplan (which is certainly up for debate), but you can’t (unless you want to look like a total jack#ss) keep saying the Packers can’t win the Super Bowl because they’ve had terrible defenses!
Plus, as much as I love defense, it’s an offensive league with rules slanted towards increasing scoring. The last 5 champs averaged 33 points in the Super Bowl! The Packers consistently have a great offense and consistently contend in an era h#ll-bent on parity and making it had to win year-in, year-out.
The fact of the matter is that winning is hard in the NFL and the Packers are the most successful franchise in the league over the last 25 years.
Now go watch the game and quit b#tching!