Sunday Night Football is now behind us, and the NFL’s longest and greatest rivalry in Packers v. Bears, ended in a dominant victory for Green Bay. One thing we can surely take away from this game is the personnel on the Packers defense is absolutely nothing to worry about. The effort on every defensive snap was clear, and it almost seemed like the embarrassing performance of last week lit a fire under the players. The only person that should be worrying about their position on that team is Defensive Coordinator for the Packers Joe Barry. Joe Barry showed a lot of incompetence in his first week as the defensive play caller, with schemes just seeming to not match up with what the offense was giving them.
Taking “In the Zone” Too Literally
The fact of the matter is, zone doesn’t and shouldn’t work for this Packers’ defense, yet we see it time and time again leaving wide receivers wide open and forcing our corners to play catch up every other snap. With easily one of the most talented secondaries in the league, not trusting each corner to match up with one guy the whole game is simply counterintuitive. This was seen in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings, where Justin Jefferson was let to run in and out of coverage like it wasn’t there, racking up 169 yards and two touchdowns in that game. In Week 2 against the Chicago Bears, it was less apparent because of amazing efforts by the secondary and pressure by the line, but zone coverage would allow receivers to get way to oopen.So what is the solution to this problem? It is actually very simple.
Trust the Athlete to be Athletic
When you have Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, and Rasul Douglas on your secondary, there should almost never be a time where man coverage can’t work as a majority of the game plan. Rasul Douglas is quickly rising as one of the better slot corners in the league, Stokes speed can close any gap that a receiver might make, and Alexander is debatably a top 3 corner in the league right now. Not only that, but the inside linebackers are snappy and aggressive even in coverage. Quay Walker was drafted for size and quickness off the snap, and De’vondre Campbell is a now All Pro who loves to hit hard on screens and pitches.
There is obviously always going to be a time for zone coverage, as there is a reason it exists in the great game of football, but Joe Barry needs to learn when and how to use it, so that the personnel on this top 5 talent defense can truly shine.