When told Green Bay had the league’s 31st-ranked pass defense a year ago on NFL Total Access Monday night, Daniels responded with this:
“Here’s the deal — I’d like to see anybody take a bunch of rookies and put them on the defensive line and at inside linebacker and have the No. 8 run defense in the NFL. And if you take away two plays, we’re the No. 2 run defense.
“Then, look at — OK, we had a lot of young guys on the back end. On top of them being young guys, they were hurt. One guy had a hernia surgery in season and continued to play (Damarious Randall). Still No. 6 in sacks. So for us to have had the success we had, still make it to the NFC Championship game with as banged up as we were on the back end, I think we did a heck of a job. Especially against teams coming in full power all season.”
While Daniels is right, it would be inaccurate to assume that this defense doesn’t need some work. Green Bay spent their first four draft picks this year — cornerback Kevin King, safety Josh Jones, defensive tackle Montravius Adams and linebacker Vince Biegel — on the defensive side of the ball despite some fairly pressing needs at running back and for some depth across the offensive line.
If nothing else, the team’s core players proved they could step up in an unenviable spot without breaking, allowing their offense to take over games as its built to do.
Should the defense get lucky with injuries next year, a more complete Packers team will be quite an intimidating presence in the NFC North.