As a handful of defensive players spoke to reporters in the locker room on Tuesday, two themes emerged.
They remain displeased over how the defense is performing at the midway point of the season, but they haven’t lost an ounce of confidence that the unit can return to last season’s form.
“We know we’re going to get there,” defensive lineman Ryan Pickett said. “We have segments of great games, but we have yet to put a complete game, the way we want to play, out there. We know it’s coming, and we’re just going to keep fighting until we get it.”
The process began with reviewing the film of Sunday’s game in San Diego, which produced some “how did we do that?” moments, according to safety Morgan Burnett.
San Diego rolled up 460 yards, the third straight game and fifth in eight contests overall the Packers have allowed more than 420 yards.
Most importantly, the Chargers scored five touchdowns, the most surrendered by Green Bay since the forgettable 2009 NFC Wild Card playoff game in Arizona.
The players reiterated what the coaches discussed on Monday, that communication issues led to several of the Chargers’ explosive plays.
Without saying it specifically, the players seem to be taking the approach that communication falls on everyone on the field, not just one or two players. It will be a focus this week of their preparation and practices, which begin on Thursday.
“We have to get more vocal, clear – make sure when we make a call, everybody gets it,” Pickett said.
“That’s what happened some of the plays. We had the call, but we didn’t echo it, and then the guy on the far side of the field didn’t get it, and then he was playing this and the other guys were playing that. It’s stuff that every team goes through. We just have to tighten it up.”
It’s not as though the defense hasn’t stiffened at times this season, despite less-than-desirable rankings in yards allowed (30th) and points allowed (17th). Neither Chicago nor Atlanta reached 300 yards, and Atlanta was shut out over the final 42 minutes. Both of those teams are in the thick of the playoff hunt.
The evidence is there, so the confidence isn’t shaken. The players don’t believe strong stretches like the last 2½ quarters in Atlanta (106 yards allowed, zero points), or the first and third quarters against Chicago (two first downs allowed in seven possessions), will remain the exception much longer.
“It’s indicative of how high the ceiling is,” defensive lineman B.J. Raji said. “It’s pretty high here, but you have to make it happen in football. It’s not going to happen on its own.”
In other words, they’re tired of talking about it, and they aren’t naïve to the fact that their confidence won’t mean much if the results don’t start measuring up. So the focus now turns to the only thing it can – the next game.
“We want to go out and get that kind of game done,” Bishop said. “What better day to do it than Monday night against the rivals in the Vikings?” Additional coverage - Nov. 8