Packers pass rush has propelled Green Bay to resurgent season on defense
First-year head coach Matt LaFleur has refused to address the team's big picture time after time this year, preferring take things one game at a time. But LaFleur knows how pretty the picture looks for his Packers at 8-2 on their bye this week.
“The reality is, we are sitting in a pretty decent spot,” LaFleur said. “But you can't take that for granted. As so as you start to get comfortable, you are going to get beat.”
One reason for all the wins? An improved pass rush. The Smith Sack Exchange has already totaled 18.5 quarterback takedowns.
But beyond that, the Packers are getting the down-after-down pressure preached by linebackers coach Mike Smith. And last week in the snow, no one had better footing on snowy Lambeau Field than Smith's pass rushers.
“That was actually one of Za'Darius' best games rushing,” Mike Smith said. “I think he had 12 or 13 pressures, same thing with Preston. We have talked about it before. Sacks are nice, but we are all about affecting the quarterback.”
With home field throughout the playoffs a distinct possibility for these Packers, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine knows how huge that would be for his unit.
“Obviously it's important to everybody,” Pettine said. “Just look, statistically, home teams at home in the playoffs in the NFL have a high win percentage than in any other sport. It is huge and certainly here with the possibility of the getting the conditions that favor the team that resides here. That is huge. I think Lambeau Field is special and obviously we would love to be here through the NFC playoffs.”
After talking about that possibility, Pettine turned right around and noted that being 8-2 now assures his team of only one thing, that they won't have a losing record this season.