Packers' run defense ready to prove itself

 foxsports.com  05/23/2020 19:15:29   AP May

Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine believes his teams run defense is much better than its last showing.

And he expects the team to prove that this fall.

When things are right, when things are clicking for us and guys have a good understanding of what theyre doing, we can stop the run as well as anybody else, Pettine said Friday during a media Zoom session.

Green Bay hasn’t made many offseason changes to a defense that got run over by the San Francisco 49ers in last years NFC championship game. The Packers Super Bowl hopes disintegrated with a37-20 lossin which Raheem Mostert ran for 220 yards and Green Bay gave up 285 yards rushing overall.

Pettine called it beyond disappointing and said it has made the run defense a point of emphasis during this unusual offseason, as teams try to improve themselves while being scattered across the country because of the pandemic.

Its tough to realize that we played our worst game at the worst time, but at the same point, we own it, Pettine said. Were not running away from it. We went through it in detail with the staff. We talked to the players about it. Theres no excuses being offered. We just werent good enough in every aspect, whether it was scheme, effort, energy, technique. The key thing is to learn from it so it doesnt happen again.

Since then, the Packers lost their leading tackler from each of the last three seasons when linebackerBlake Martinez signed with the New York Giants.The signing ofChristian Kirkseycould help the Packers make up for the loss of Martinez, though injuries caused the former Cleveland Browns linebacker to play just two games last season and seven games in 2018.

The onlydraft picksGreen Bay used on defense were for Minnesota linebacker Jamal Martin in the fifth round and TCU safety Vernon Scott and Miami defensive end Jonathan Garvin in the seventh round. This marked thefirst time since 1985that the Packers had waited until the fifth round to draft a defensive player.

Even so, Pettine remains confident the Packers have what it takes to stop the run. Green Bay ranked 23rd in the NFL in run defense last year and gave up 112.2 yards rushing a game and 4.7 yards a carry during the regular season.

Were not going to all of a sudden jump into a mode where (we say), Hey, weve got to stack the line of scrimmage, weve got to stop teams from running,  Pettine said. The formula of the defense we played last year, we won 14 games. Thats a really good thing. So were not going to junk our approach over the last game. But we also know wed be fools to ignore it.

They certainly didnt ignore it. Pettine said the Packers often break down plays that went wrong and try to figure out whether scheme, technique or personnel was to blame. He believes the Packers learned from what went wrong in the NFC championship game.

He wants to make sure that loss doesnt carry into this season.

Were not going to let it be the dark cloud that hangs over us and let that define us, Pettine said. We have a confident group and they know that when they execute properly and theyre playing with the right leverage and energy and focus and technique  and all that stuff has to mesh together  they know when its done the right way, that it works and its effective. We need to raise our level of consistency, but at the same time, were not going to overreact to it.

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