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Packers Under Pressure to Attack Opposing Quarterbacks

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Packers Under Pressure to Attack Opposing Quarterbacks

If the eye test wasn’t enough, then the numbers from the 2016 season make it crystal clear: No team depended more on generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks than the Green Bay Packers. 
 
As Scott Kasmar broke down in a story for Football Outsiders, Green Bay did a decent job of generating pressure on a per-snap basis, ranking exactly middle of the pack at 16th in the league with a pressure rate of 27 percent. Using their advanced statistic DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average—if you’re unfamiliar with it here’s a good explainer from Football Outsiders), the effect of Green Bay’s pressures translated to the fifth-best mark in the league. 
 
Simply put: The Packers were highly successful when they pressured the quarterback, even compared to teams with higher rates of pressuring QBs. 
 
But when the Packers failed to force a scramble or hurry, or seal the deal with a sack, the defense suffered greatly. The difference in their DVOA with pressure and without pressure was the widest margin in the league. Green Bay’s beleaguered secondary broke down when opposing quarterbacks had time to deliver the throw. 
 
By contrast, it’s well known that Green Bay’s offense benefits greatly from Rodgers’ ability to avoid pressure and generate big gains late in the play. And when Rodgers is pressured, his drop in efficiency was inconsequential. He’s consistently been one of the best in the league at throwing under pressure. Defenses are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. 
 
The Jekyll and Hyde offensive-strength-is-a-defensive-weakness isn’t dissimilar to Green Bay’s red zone (mis)fortunes. Defensively, the Packers were sixth-worst in the league in red zone scoring percentage in 2016. On the flip side, Rodgers threw 31 of his league-leading 40 touchdowns in the red zone. 
 
Back to the main issue at hand: Pressure. How are the Packers situated for the 2017 season? 
 
Regarding their ability to apply defensive pressure, they’ll have to effectively replace Datone Jones and Julius Peppers. On a per-snap basis, Kyler Fackrell was more productive, but it will be a tall task for the second year player to carry that load over a full season. If Dean Lowry picks up where he left off, he might help the defensive line—led of course by Mike Daniels—to provide some juice up front. Nick Perry, finally (mostly) healthy last season turned in double-digit sacks for the first time in his career—and may have to do the same this season. Clay Matthews has the chance to be more productive if, as advertised, he’s moved around and tactically deployed. It’s also possible that the secondary gives the pass rush a boost by using the likes of Damarious Randall, Morgan Burnett, and rookie Josh Jones as blitzers. 
 
Perhaps the biggest potential difference from 2016 to 2017 will be the Packers’ ability to hold up when they fail to generate a rush. They’ll be faster and more experienced at corner, even assuming Kevin King locks down one of the two outside spots.
 
Last year’s team wasn’t deficient in getting after the quarterback. The Packers were, however, abysmal when they didn’t. Their ability to stop the big play this season could well rest on pressure. 
 
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Fan friendly comments only: on Comments (20) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Essentially this measures how bad a secondary is, and it turns out to be the 5th worst in the NFL. Considering the safety duo was ranked by practically everyone in at least top 10 and often in the top 5 as a duo, by extension one might think the CBs were the worst, or close to it, in the NFL.

I think House will be better than our best boundary CB was last season. I think Randall/Jones will be better than our slot CB was last year. I am a little fuzzy on the 2nd boundary CB, but health probably makes it better, and I hope King does at some point.

cheesycowboy's picture

With the contract given to Nick Perry, he needs to have some Lawrence Taylor in him this year and Clay needs to stay healthy or we will have to hope for the best at OLB.

Brian Ringwood's picture

the contract has absolutely no connection to the play on the field...whether he is getting paid 10M dollars or 10 dollars does not effect the game...just because he has a big contract does not make him a god on the field!!

The TKstinator's picture

Under pressure to bring pressure.
Feeling the heat to bring the heat.
In a rush to bring the rush.

Tarynfor12's picture

Stats are great to ease the hurting reality of what is and enhance what wasn't.
The pass rush, as a team and individually, is shown as doing good, but it doesn't show how bad both were when needed. Which is why sack totals of the team and individual are not to rewarded unless the majority of those stats were produced in need times and not garbage time in a winning or losing atmosphere where scores dictate a lack of desire to defend against a defense offensively.

The TKstinator's picture

"Defend against a defense offensively"...I like it!

dnicholson's picture

The DVOA statistic accounts for those. If I'm reading it correctly, the chart (linked to in the post) shows that in pressure situations--in which the team ranked 16th in pass rush percentage--the Packers were pretty efficient.

And when they didn't challenge the QB, the opposing QB made 'em pay.

I agree with you about context. I just think the DVOA stats acquit the Packers' pass rush pretty well. Really puts the onus on the banged up, inexperienced and ineffective secondary play.

cheesycowboy's picture

It is about the length of the contract to me at this point sir. We have a lot of money tied up. No doubt I believe our 2-3 year defensive players will make a leap (of faith) and some big numbers come off the books next year. thx

holmesmd's picture

Huh?

DThomas's picture

I think a better title for the post is "Packers Under Less Pressure to Attack Opposing QBs". The stats of good pressure and horrible results when they didn't get pressure relates directly to having to have the #4 CB (Gunter) assume the #1 role for most of the season. Almost by default the CBs will be better this season - how could they be worse? But I'm not optimistic about greatly improved CB play because it could hardly be worse. I think there's legitimate reason to expect House, King, and others to be significantly better covering outside. Whitt is very optimistic about a couple of the youngsters like Waters who's definitely under the radar.

And while Tarynfor12 has a good point about the timing of getting pressure on QBs, significantly better coverage gives the pass rushers more time to get that pressure. BTW, like others I'm excited to see Josh Jones play ILB as well as seeing Burnett there more. Safeties playing that position along with Randall, or however winds up playing "star", should be able to add pressure too.

Better coverage should help rushers, taking some of the pressure off of them.

4zone's picture

I take this with a few thousand grains of salt. Our DBs, especially the CBs got decimated last year. We lost our #1 permanently right out of the gate. The injuries were just too much to overcome and they did the best they could with bailing twine and duct tape. Unfortunately, the dog couldn't hunt on two legs.

The TKstinator's picture

Yes!
If GB loses its top 4 O-linemen this year, the offense will struggle.

Anderson44's picture

The 2016 stats just don't tell the whole story. Seems like the defense made hay against lesser opponents and were chewed up by the more quality QBs. I recall a lot of the sacks and pressures were against some pretty low tier QBs. Not much production against the better QBs (i.e. Ryan). In 2017 they need to show much better against the top tier QBs.

Jonathan Spader's picture

I considet Russle Wilson a top 10 QB and the Packers crushed him. I think you're focusing too much on the last game where the Packers didn't show up and using that as an example for all of 2016.

Nick Perry's picture

I hate to bring this up AGAIN but not signing Conner Barwin could turn out to be one of Thompson's biggest blunders yet. The Rams gave him a 1 year contract for $3.5 million. Lets face it, $3.5 million isn't going to handcuff this team in any way OR get in the way of the Packers signing Adams, Lindsey, HHCD, Taylor, or Rodgers for example to a contract this year or next.

IMO TT isn't done adding players to help this pass rush. Hopefully a team cuts a player who could come to GB and at least help the Packers pass rush. If Matthews or Perry is injured at any point this season, the pass rush could look a lot like 2011 again.

croatpackfan's picture

Conner Barwin said he do not want to play for Green Bay! I posted that link few months ago (I think in the beginning of April, but not sure exactly when) in one of my reply to you...
So, what you wanted from Ted Thompson? To hijack Conner Barwin and blackmail him to play for team he do not want to play?
I do not get you... There is players which are not wiling or have no desire to play for Packers, whatever the reason is. We have to accept that!

Nick Perry's picture

Really?? I just googled it 50 ways from Sunday and couldn't find a thing where Barwin said "He didn't want to play for Green Bay". Not saying it didn't happen, but a comment like that shouldn't be hard to find. But if Barwin really said something like that he wasn't the ONLY pass rusher available in FA. Did they all not want to play in Green Bay?

What do I want from Ted T?? I want him to actively try and improve the Packers using more than just the draft. Of the 29 players the Packers drafted in 2011, 12, and 2013 only FOUR remain and most have been gone a long time. It's five if you count House but he was allowed to leave too.
Thompson has had a huge advantage with Favre first and then Rodgers. Most GM's spend their career even finding one SB caliber QB. Thompson has never known what it's like not to have one. And I've given him enough credit for drafting him in the first place. Not going to keep giving credit 13 years later. Now I just want to see him maximize Rodgers talents and put more around while he's still able to. Thompson just hasn't done that IMO.

We can agree to disagree on this. You can continue to think Thompson does no wrong. I'll continue to think he's cost the Packers SB Trophy's by being so conservative in Trades and Free Agency.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Wow, I didn't realize Barwin's cap hit was $3.5M. I googled a bunch to find out what his $3M in incentives are, but could not find the details. Articles from LA just say he could earn up to $6.5M. Obviously the incentives are technically considered not likely to be earned, but that actually does not mean that they aren't likely to be earned.

I know that Barwin wanted to play for Wade Phillips, but this kind of steams me since TT had room to offer much more than $3.5M. Well, maybe TT did offer considerably more. IDK.

croatpackfan's picture

Nick, as I said I really your opinion and knowledge, but we did that discussion in the beginning, just before draft...

I think TT did nice job (you see, I did not say excellent) in FA and draft this year. He made offense much more potent DL unit and while we all looking OLB part as little thin, it might not be so when season start.

I'm on vacation and I tried with limited resources to find that link, but failed. My internet speed on beach is awful, so everything takes eternity...

Problem is that we know nothing what is going behind doors in negotiations... Maybe Packers tried to keep Jones, but he wanted to go to team with 4-3 DL. Maybe Packers were not satisfied with his improvement and that was the reason why he left...

Maybe Packers did not try to contact Barwin. Maybe they initially asked his agent and get: Barwin is not interested! Which I think was the words in that article - that Barwin did not showed any interest to play in Green Bay!

I think we should turn ourselves to future. What is done is done. TT had and will have mistakes. It is the nature of his job. Crystal ball job. But, looking all together he is doing top 5 job in NFL.

Also, there is no ONE player who can save any franchize or bring the franchize to SB... Not even Barwin!

Ferrari Driver's picture

Lack of a pass rush would not be an issue if the Packers didn't have Aaron Rodgers as a quarterback.

If Thompson passed on Rodgers in 05, the Packers would have had plenty of opportunities to grab guys like Miller of Denver and Watt of Houston in the top of the annual draft.

Instead, because of Aaron Rodgers, the Packers led the team to a Super Bowl and was the MVP; he led the team to multiple Conference and Division titles; and caused the Packers to draft in the bottom five of the draft year after year.

So instead of getting Watt, Miller, etc, the Packers wind up with guys like Datone Jones, and should I even mention the name Harrell.

Wait, maybe it wasn't so bad being stuck with Rodgers and making Ted Thompson's sit on the sidelines while others sip the cream off the top, just like my dad used to do with the old glass bottles of milk that were delivered decades ago.

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