Defense won't save the Packers
November, 12, 2013
By John McTigue, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Mike Roemer With Aaron Rodgers on the sideline, the struggling Packers defense is exposed.
The Packers are No. 13 in the Week 11 ESPN.com Power Rankings, their lowest rank since Week 7 of the 2010 season (15th).
With Aaron Rodgers on the sideline, it’s easy to pin the dip on backups Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien. The two have combined for a 24.2 Total QBR the past two weeks, a far cry from Rodgers’ fifth-ranked 70.3 QBR this season.
The offense wasn’t expected to perform at the same level without Rodgers and with just one touchdown on seven red zone drives without him, it’s clear it hasn’t.
But without Rodgers and the offense matching opponents on the scoreboard, a struggling Packers defense has become more and more exposed.
The Packers have intercepted three passes this season, fewest in the NFL. This is in stark contrast to the previous four years of the Dom Capers era, when the Packers recorded 103 interceptions, 17 more than the next highest team.
The Packers’ interception leader from 2009 to 2012 was Charles Woodson (19), who signed with the Raiders in the offseason. Woodson’s veteran presence not only led to interceptions for himself, but also for others.
Tramon Williams was second on the Packers during that stretch with 16 interceptions. Williams played nearly 400 snaps more than Woodson in their last four seasons together, but recorded only one of his interceptions with Woodson off field. Williams has no interceptions this season despite playing the most defensive snaps for Green Bay.
On the whole, the Packers averaged an interception once every 20.7 attempts from 2009 to 2012 with Woodson on field, and once every 29.9 attempts with Woodson off field.
This season the Packers have averaged an interception once every 101 attempts.
No stops in the fourth quarter
In Week 10, the Eagles were able to run out the final 9:32 of game time. In Week 9, the Bears killed 8:58 of game time in the fourth quarter on an 18-play, 80-yard drive. This inability to stop opposing offenses when it matters has been a trend for the Packers this season.
The Packers have allowed an NFL-worst nine drives of at least 10 plays in the fourth quarter this season (in nine games played) despite allowing six such drives in the first three quarters.
Breaking instead of bending
Most of the long fourth quarter drives against Green Bay have resulted in touchdowns. The Packers have allowed a touchdown on 42 percent of opponent drives in the fourth quarter this season, 10 percentage points worse than the next highest team (Falcons) and 24 percentage points worse than the league average.
The Packers have allowed more touchdowns throughout the game, however. Twenty-four percent of all drives against the Packers this season have resulted in a touchdown, worst of the Capers era and twice as frequent as the Packers’ 2010 Super Bowl season.