Pawsitively Packers: Defensive Unit Seems Primed for 2018

Recent player interviews during OTA’s are showing an excited and hungry defensive unit.

 

As the 2018 Packers team gathers as a whole unit for the first time for organized team activities, the defensive players are glowing with rejuvenated excitement.  While excitement is always plentiful around the start of OTA’s, minicamp and training camp, this year has a much different feel being exuded by the players in Mike Pettine’s first year with the defense.  The great thing to see is that the enthusiasm is being shared by veterans, rookies and new free agents all the same.  As the media has gained access to several of the players, some common themes are coming out that should bring a ton of positivity to Packers fans as this defense gets ready to head into training camp come July.

Aggressiveness – even though it was known that a Mike Pettine defense would be aggressive, hearing veterans like Clay Matthews and Kenny Clark express the thought is very reassuring.  Matthews pointed out the fact that the defense would be playing with a renewed energy and that guys would be moving around the field a lot to cause disruption for opposing offenses.  Clark hinted at the notion that Pettine’s focus is for the defense to have a dominant mindset and to play both aggressive and disciplined.  The keyword moving forward is discipline and Mo Wilkerson, who has played under Pettine, reiterated the fact that Pettine’s defenses are built on 11 men all doing their job at full speed.

Accountability – if you had a chance to hear Josh Jones’ interview earlier in the week, his words spoke volumes about his mindset moving forward with the Packers defense.  After starting the 2017 season in full stride after a great training camp, Jones struggled to end the year and took full responsibility for his play.  He is now solely focusing on the safety position and making the year two jump as a pro where he will be focused on playing at a high level for all 16 games. 

The introduction of Pettine as the new defensive coordinator seems to have brought a new sense of accountability among others as well.  Clark pointed out that Pettine has already come across as a very demanding coach, which will drive each and every player to be at their mental and physical peak come game days.  Matthews couldn’t stress enough that the time has come for the defensive unit to start holding up their end of the bargain for the Packers team.

Youth stepping up – hearing the young rookies and second-year players speak, one could tell that they are mentally prepared to step up and help this defense succeed.  When asked his thoughts on the Packers spending their first two picks on cornerbacks, Kevin King emphasized that he was excited about the new defensive backs in the room and that they came to the team hungry.  He also stressed that their arrival wouldn’t let him get too comfortable in his role with the team.

A veteran like Wilkerson talked about how he is helping the young guys on the team to learn Pettine’s system.  While some of the language has changed since his time with Pettine, the schemes are similar and he’s taking a role to help the youngsters on the defense step up.

New veteran presence – the impact of the additions of both Tramon Williams and Mo Wilkerson is being felt by players all across the defense.  King talked about the fact that having Williams, along with Davon House, in the meeting rooms and on the field is helping him soak up knowledge to become a better player.  Williams’ presence alone will go a long way in helping the rookies in the cornerback room as well.

Wilkerson’s presence on the defense brings knowledge of Pettine’s playbook and schemes.  Several players commented on the huge playbook to learn and Wilkerson is helping players along the way.  He is also joining the defensive line as the yin to Mike Daniels’ yang.  Clark commented how Daniels has the loud mouth, trash talking presence and Wilkerson brings a calm, quiet demeanor with a mean style of play on the field.

Defensive line dominance – speaking of Wilkerson, fans were excited for his arrival to the defensive line and they had good reason to be.  Wilkerson pointed out that the unit was already acting like a group of brothers, pushing each other to be better.  He mentioned that the group was learning from each other both on and off the field.  Clark mentioned that he was leaning on Wilkerson to help learn the new schemes.  Clark also reminded people not to forget about Dean Lowry and Montravius Adams as part of the mix on the defensive line and that they are primed to bring it on a daily basis.

A new attitude – from the bald head to the sunglasses and to the scowl on his face, Pettine brings the look of one bad man roaming the sidelines and his attitude already seems to be projecting out to the players on defense.  Matthews talked about how the unit as a whole would be ready to rock come training camp in July and that Pettine was bringing a mentality to the defense that everybody would benefit from.  While Jones was hesitant to compare the schemes of Capers and Pettine, he said that everyone will see come week one.

Finally hearing the players speak on the new look Packers defense only brings optimism for the unit when the season kicks off in September.  Perhaps Matthews said it best when he mentioned that someone had to fall on the sword after last season and that person was Dom Capers.  While many had called for that sword to be fallen on for years, Matthews had a long tenure with Dom as his coach.  Though they had a great working relationship, Matthews is motivated and ready to fly around the field under Mike Pettine as the new sheriff patrolling the sidelines for the Packers.  I know I’m expecting huge things out of this defense from day one when the season kicks off on September 9th.

 

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Ryan Brunner is an avid Packers fan hailing from Chippewa Falls, WI.  He is a firm believer that punters are NFL players too!  Follow him on Twitter @brunwardo

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Comments (25)

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DD's picture

May 25, 2018 at 01:49 pm

This is the best news I have heard yet from the defense. New attitude and agressiveness was needed. I like it!! So looking forward to the season. Now, I'd like to hear more from no change MM. Will his style and attitude change? Jury out yet on him!!

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EddieLeeIvory's picture

May 25, 2018 at 10:21 pm

Philbin

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freddisch's picture

May 25, 2018 at 03:33 pm

I am also excited to see a change in the defense. Should have happened several years ago. The lack of accontability rests squarely on MM shoulders His inaction speaks volumes of his lack of leadship in this matter.

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The TKstinator's picture

May 25, 2018 at 10:09 pm

Gun show: noted.

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The TKstinator's picture

May 25, 2018 at 04:05 pm

I also hope that the first time the defense allows a touchdown Pettine is not immediately labeled an idiot.

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gbslapshot's picture

May 25, 2018 at 06:14 pm

It took me witnessing Clay Mathews and Julius Peppers both out in coverage for me to say that about Dom

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Bearmeat's picture

May 26, 2018 at 07:39 am

UR AN IDIET! ;)

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The TKstinator's picture

May 26, 2018 at 09:39 am

Heh heh
Another good one is “YOUR an idiot” ;)

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 26, 2018 at 01:40 pm

"Your a idiot" is the famous phrase.

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The TKstinator's picture

May 27, 2018 at 02:15 am

Also great.

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KamThomps's picture

May 26, 2018 at 04:23 pm

As is "you're an idiot."

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The TKstinator's picture

May 27, 2018 at 10:11 am

Not quite getting that one.

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

May 25, 2018 at 04:28 pm

This has got me stoked. If this defense is half as dominant as it already is in my mind, it will probably be the best in the history of the game.

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Descarte's picture

May 25, 2018 at 05:14 pm

It's great the defense is creating a new attitude. I hope the offense follows suit. The 2017 offense at seemed a bit stale and predictable at times. There was a lack of speed and separation from our receivers, which forced Rogers to have to extend plays in order to find someone open. Hopefully the speed and size from some of our new receivers will make the offense more explosive. A healthy Aaron Jones (if utilized) and Montgomery will help create a faster and more dynamic offense as well.

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Tundraboy's picture

May 25, 2018 at 10:25 pm

Love this.

 The Packers used to be the masters of the screen pass. 

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EddieLeeIvory's picture

May 25, 2018 at 10:22 pm

Who is Rogers?

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The TKstinator's picture

May 31, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Who is Eddie Lee Ivory?

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

May 26, 2018 at 08:53 am

I sometimes wonder what would happen if we moved Montgomery back to reveiver, starting him with Adams and Cobb. That just seems more explosive and physical than starting Allison, and it would clear the way for Jones to fully take the reins at halfback.

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Spock's picture

May 26, 2018 at 09:24 am

" Matthews couldn’t stress enough that the time has come for the defensive unit to start holding up their end of the bargain for the Packers team."

IT - IS - TIME!

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egbertsouse's picture

May 26, 2018 at 01:09 pm

So far this is all talk. I've heard this spiel about accountability and aggressiveness before. Blah, blah, blah. I can't wait to see if they can back it up. I hope so but I won't believe it until I see it.

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The TKstinator's picture

May 26, 2018 at 01:29 pm

Whereas, in stark contrast, I won’t see it until you believe it.

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KamThomps's picture

May 26, 2018 at 04:25 pm

Now, if only Clay Matthews would cut his hair and start acting like the mature, experienced player he now is, instead of failing to be the fierce young warrior he was ....

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Archie's picture

May 27, 2018 at 06:04 am

Heads should roll in DEC if this team doesn't improve in all phases this year. And if that happens, the first to roll should be MM. Ditto Pettine if the defense goes bust. Personally I have much more faith in Pettine than I do MM. Another wash-out season should also eliminate all long term high paid vets on the team, of which there aren't that many. It would truly usher in a a fresh start for this organization. The question is whether Rodgers, Philbin and Pettine can save MM's bacon from the fire. Unfortuanately, they may able to do so. I say unfortunate because I think MM and his ways are holding the development of this team back. They win despite MM, not because of him.

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Rak47's picture

May 28, 2018 at 03:18 am

R-E-L-A-X!!!! there is more than one way to skin a cat or play defense. I will say it again that this is not Capers defense and does not need the production from OLB that Dom's defense did. Let's just take a look at the top 2 consensus defenses going into the year which are the Viqueens and Jaguars. Can anyone name all their starting LB's on either team and their backups? The Queens have Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr, and Ben Gedeon. Their top backups include Eric Wilson, Kentrell Brothers, and Reshard Cliett. Not exactly a list of who's who in the NFL at LB. Now let's look at the Jags. Their starters are Telvin Smith, Blair Brown,and Myles Jack. their top backups are Donald Payne Brooks Ellis,and a familiar name in Lerentee McCray. Another group not exactly beating down the door of dominance. My point being that those 2 top defenses are built around their defensive lines, and secondaries where the Majority of their talent and dominance reside. In Minny they have Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Sheldon Richardson, Danielle Hunter, Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes, and Trae Waynes. The Majority of their best players in the secondary and defensive line. The Jags are built the same way with Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Cambell, Marcell Dareus, Malik Jackson, Abry Jones, and Taven Bryan holding down the trenches while Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, D.J Hayden, and Tashaun Gipson, lock up the secondary. The Packers biggest strength on defense is the line and if all the top picks in the secondary step up they too could have a dominant defense sooner rather than later. It appears the new wave is not dominant outside rush, but rather dominant defensive line play with physical press corners on the outside to disrupt timing and frustrate receivers like Minnesota and Jacksonville. Looks to me like the Packers are copying that model. I would not be surprised to see both CM3 and Perry gone by the end of next year for this reason.

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Cartwright's picture

May 28, 2018 at 05:58 am

We used to be called the Mean Green defense. Maybe they'll be calling us that again sometime soon.

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