Earier this week, , I took a few minutes to chat with Devin Shanley from Acme Packing Company, our Packers blog. We discussed both sides of the ball, and I posted about the Packers offensive discussion yesterday. I thought I'd use today to post Devin's responses to a pair of defensive questions I had. I had one specific question about the return of Charles Woodson, but really wanted to focus on some of the defense's overall improvements, as well as remaining weaknesses.
Niners Nation: What does the return of Charles Woodson mean for the defense?
Acme Packing Company: Charles Woodson means that the defense can have a bit more unpredictability to it. Woodson is one of the better tacklers in the secondary in the leauge and may be the best blitzing DB in the league right now. In run defense, Woodson is a big difference between Adrian Peterson running for 200 yards and not quite making 100. He also adds a bit of experience to a very young secondary.
NN: Green Bay's defense finished the season 11th in points allowed and eighth in Football Outsiders' rankings. How has the defense improved, and what weaknesses still exist?
APC: Last year's defense is all about how you define a successful defense. If we stick with the points allowed then it wasn't as bad as many remember, finishing 14th. So this year there still is an improvement but it's not as drastic as yards allowed or passing yards allowed.
Couple things have affected the defense this year. The biggest thing is the improvement is the safety play. Last year the Packers had injury problems there and Charlie Peprah became a bit of a liability from time to time. This year Morgan Burnett has improved his game and Jerron McMilliand and M.D. Jennings have been pretty solid. Having Charles Woodson back there hasn't hurt either.
The pass rush has also improved. Clay Matthews has gotten much more help this year. Early in the year it was Nick Perry. After he went down the defensive line started to up their game, most notably defensive end Mike Neal. Rookie UDFA Dezman Moses has also flashed talent as well.
The last thing that has improved the defense are two players on the inside. B.J. Raji has moved from NT to DE with Ryan Pickett moving back inside. This has resulted in much better play from Raji, especially in the run defense. Brad Jones at ILB has provided a bit more a physical presence to stopping the run on the inside as well.