The Packers defense will be very good.
Kenny Clark finally has a running mate in rookie Devonte Wyatt. The Packers have finally valued the inside linebacker position after re-signing De’Vondre Campbell and drafting Quay Walker. The secondary will be one of the best units in the league after locking up shutdown corner Jaire Alexander and bringing back the undervalued Rasul Douglas.
But can Green Bay’s defense be transformationally good?
The last time the Packers were ranked top five in defensive points and yards was in 2010 — and ironically enough, that team brought home a Lombardi Trophy.
Now you may scoff and say, “Come on Cory. There’s no way that this defense is going to be that good.” Why not? Granted, two rookies will be asked to play key roles and we all know that rookies usually have a learning curve that shows glaring mistakes.
But I don’t see the learning curve to be that steep with this crew. There are so many leaders on this side of the ball. Not to mention, both Wyatt and Walker are coming from a University of Georgia team that was one of the best defensive units in college football in the last 10 years. That unit got stops — drives that end in punts, turnovers or turnovers on downs — on 84 percent of all drives.
And I haven’t even mentioned the guy that will be the best player on defense. I have eaten plenty of crow with the Rashan Gary pick, but this year, I am going to visit the buffet line. Entering his fourth season, he has gotten progressively better each year. This past season, he tallied 56 hurries and 9½ sacks. In 2020, he had 27 and five. This is the year that Gary is ready to explode.
So go ahead and complain about how Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst addressed the defense. But your complaints will be shortsighted because that unit was already good and now they are within a whisper of being great. And yes, I know that this is an offensive game. The rules are designed for quarterbacks and offenses to stay on the field, rack up first downs and points. But it was the Rams defense that cemented a Super Bowl by intercepting Jimmy Garoppolo with 1:19 left in the NFC Championship and forcing a turnover on downs with 43 seconds left in the Super Bowl.
Depth is the only thing the Packers don’t have much of on defense. The defensive line appears to be moderately deep with T.J. Slaton and Jarran Reed, but don’t hold your breath at linebacker or in the secondary.
But when injuries start knocking on your door, depth is a concern for every team.
Which is why this defensive core is going to be something special. There are plenty of questions, but Green Bay’s defense has so many answers.
Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on “Clubhouse Live” and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn