21

August

Fixing the Packers Defense up the Middle

Charles Woodson

Will Charles Woodson at safety improve the Packers defense up the middle?

Doesn’t it seem like the middle of the field is 20 yards wider whenever the Packers defense is out there?

Packers defenders always seem a step behind covering a receiver down the middle and off-balance when trying to make an open-field tackle between the hash marks. If teels like there’s too much space for them to cover.

Green Bay struggled to cover the middle of the field last season, even before Nick Collins got hurt. So far this preseason, it doesn’t look like much has improved.

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s early, but man, I don’t think I can handle another season of Packers’ corners giving receivers a 10-yard cushion, then looking helpless as opposing teams pick apart the middle.

I realize the middle of the field is difficult to defend for all teams, not just the Packers. I also realize that every offense tries to attack the middle, especially in this day and age of rules that favor offense, tight ends that can’t be covered and quarterbacks that are as accurate in real life as they are in the Madden football video game.

If the Packers want to shore up how they defend the middle of the field, here’s what needs to happen:

  • Pass rush. Specifically, get pressure up the middle. QB pressure cures a lot of problems, but getting pressure up the middle is one of the few things that seems to rattle today’s quarterbacks. Teams need to find ways to prevent quarterbacks from stepping into their throws and staying in rhythm. A pass rush from the outside definitely helps, but it doesn’t take much for an athletic QB to make one move, slip away, and make plays outside the pocket. A pass rush up the middle helps keep the QB contained. Losing Desmond Bishop hurt the Packers pass rush up the middle, but hopefully Jerel Worthy can generate some pressure. Otherwise, it will be up to Dom Capers to scheme something.
  • Charles Woodson. We’ll see how the Woodson at safety experiment plays out. Either way the Packers need him down the middle. Woodson isn’t scared to stick his nose in there and be physical, and with Bishop out, I’m not sure who else can cover a good tight end. Let’s not forget about tackling, either. Watching the Packers try to tackle in the open field resembles a clown show. Woodson’s tackling is nothing to laugh at, though, and it needs to stay that way.