It’s a transitional year in Green Bay. Could this be the season the defense awakens and is the catalyst for a Packers appearance in the playoffs?
The final numbers looked respectable. However, statistics came indeed be deceiving. Once again, the Green Bay Packers’ defense struggled with consistency. It would be easy to pin the team’s 8-9 showing in 2022 on a less-than-scintillating year by veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a lack of aggressiveness by head coach Matt LaFleur. However, the club still hasn’t been able to field a dominant defense for far too long.
In 2023, Joe Barry will begin his third season as Matt LaFleur’s defensive coordinator. The Packers defensive unit was the best in this division this past season statistically. Of course, that isn’t saying much when it comes to the NFC North.
The Detroit Lions allowed the most total yards in the league, the Minnesota Vikings gave up the second-most and the Chicago Bears ranked 29th in total defense. All four clubs finished 20th or lower in the NFL when it came to stopping the run. Green Bay ranked 26th in rushing defense, giving up 139.5 yards per game.
The Packers did total 24 takeaways but finished with just 34 sacks in 17 games. It’s interesting to note that LaFleur’s team gave up one more point (371) than it scored (370) and allowed one more offensive touchdown (40) than the offense scored (39).
So, what will be different this season? The team lost a pair of defensive linemen in free agency. Interior presence Jarran Reed made 14 starts for Green Bay this past season and is now with the Seattle Seahawks again. Defensive end Dean Lowry spent seven years with the Packers but signed with the rival Vikings this offseason. Veteran safety Adrian Amos, the Packers’ second-leading tackler a year ago behind rookie linebacker Quay Walker, remains an unrestricted free agent.
There’s still plenty of talent on defense, led by Walker, edge rusher Rashan Gary, defensive end Kenny Clark, veteran linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and a secondary with standouts such as cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas and safety Darnell Savage. For some reason, it all hasn’t come together, at least not on a consistent basis.
There’s a new starting quarterback as Jordan Love takes over for Rodgers. The offense will certainly be a bit different and there will almost certainly be growing pains. Now would be a great time for Barry’s unit to step up and take matters into its own hands.