Pettine on NFC Champ run defense: "Beyond Disappointing"

Published: May. 22, 2020 at 5:17 PM CDT
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"Can't use any other phrase than beyond disappointing," said defensive coordinator Mike Pettine on Friday, not shying away from the reality of his unit poor performance in its last outing, giving up an NFC Championship record 220 rushing yards to Raheem Mostert, who scored 4 times.

"It's tough to realize that we played our worst game at the worst time," Pettine said. "But at the same point, we own it and we are not running away from it. We went through it in detail with the staff and talked to the players about it. There are no excused being offered. We just weren't good enough in any aspect, whether it was scheme, effort, energy, or technique. The key is to learn from it so it doesn't happen again."

Pettine made it clear there will be no hiding away from that negative spotlight, but he won't let it change how he operates.

"We are not going to let it be the dark cloud that hangs over us and let that define us," said defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Plenty of people saw the cavernous running lanes, and open gaps for Mostert to run through. And while the performance was poor, simply shoring up run gaps is not going to be the Packers' answer.

"One of the things we're not going to do is teach guys, 'Hey, this is your gap and you absolutely 100 percent need to stay in it," Pettine said. "We talk about up front, with the defensive linemen especially, we want to get knockback. We don't want to play lateral at the line of scrimmage. We want to play aggressive up front. If I am lined up outside shade of a guard and I knock him 2 yards back in the backfield but my helmet ends up in the A Gap, so be it. That is a win. You are out of your gap. But the distance we have created with the knockback now gives the linebackers a chance to overlap it. And that's a concept that takes some linebackers a little longer to learn, but it is something that we believe in."

The Packers newest linebacker? Christian Kirksey, previously of the Browns, doesn't need to learn it. He learned it when Pettine was the head coach in Cleveland.

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