Set­ting the tone in Green Bay

Pack­ers will need con­tin­ued growth from the de­fence

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - SPORTS -

Not only did the Green Bay Pack­ers pick up their first win with Brett Hund­ley at quar­ter­back by beat­ing the Chicago Bears, they got a sorely needed boost from their de­fence.

Af­ter al­low­ing a to­tal of 56 points, 902 yards and a 57.1 per cent con­ver­sion rate on third downs in home losses to New Or­leans and Detroit, the Pack­ers yielded 16 points, 323 yards and a 28.6 per cent con­ver­sion rate on third downs in Sun­day’s 23-16 vic­tory at Chicago.

“To con­tin­u­ously hear how much we’re not show­ing up, I think we stepped up to­day,” de­fen­sive tackle Mike Daniels said.

The de­fence set the tone from the start. Jor­dan Howard, who en­tered ranked fifth in the NFL with 662 rush­ing yards, was stopped for mi­nus-1, mi­nus-1 and mi­nus-3 on his first three car­ries. He fin­ished with 54 yards on 15 car­ries, with 39 yards com­ing on runs of 25 and 14 in the first half.

With Green Bay stop­ping Chicago’s rush­ing at­tack, it forced the Bears into third-and-long sit­u­a­tions. That’s what the Pack­ers did in last week’s de­feat against Detroit. In that game, the Lions av­er­aged 1.9 yards per carry but con­verted 8 of 13 third-down plays any­way. On Sun­day, the Bears con­verted only 4 of 14 on third downs, in­clud­ing 0 of 4 in the sec­ond half.

“We went back to work. We spent a lot of time on third down this past week and I think it paid some div­i­dends,” de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Dom Capers said.

Capers tem­pered the suc­cess, though. The Pack­ers were un­able to stop New Or­leans’ Drew Brees and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, a pair of ac­com­plished vet­eran passers. At Chicago, the op­pos­ing quar­ter­back was rookie Mitchell Tru­bisky.

Com­ing up this week at Lam­beau Field, it’s Bal­ti­more’s Joe Flacco, who has strug­gled this sea­son with eight touch­downs against 10 in­ter­cep­tions but has started a com­bined 162 reg­u­larsea­son and post-sea­son games.

“You’re talk­ing about two dif­fer­ent quar­ter­backs. Stafford’s one of the very top quar­ter­backs in terms of ball place­ment and tim­ing and all those types of things,” Capers said. “When you have a game like we had on third down against Detroit, you’re ob­vi­ously go­ing to em­pha­size it. You al­ways be­lieve you’re go­ing to get what you em­pha­size. I was pleased that our guys did a much bet­ter job ... it was big in the game. The sec­ond half, they didn’t have a con­ver­sion.”

The Pack­ers will need con­tin­ued growth from the de­fence. While Hund­ley de­liv­ered a pair of big-time fourth-quar­ter com­ple­tions to Da­vante Adams in his finest per­for­mance, the run­ning back depth chart is in tat­ters. Rookie Aaron Jones, the team’s lead­ing rusher, sus­tained a knee in­jury on the open­ing series and will be out for sev­eral weeks, ac­cord­ing to coach Mike Mccarthy. Ty Mont­gomery, who en­tered the sea­son as the starter and had a 37-yard touch­down vs. Chicago, rein­jured the ribs that were bro­ken against the Bears on Sept. 28. Mccarthy said Mont­gomery has “a chance” to face Bal­ti­more.

In their place on Sun­day, rookie Ja­maal Wil­liams car­ried the ball 20 times for 67 yards. His long run went for only 7 yards but the coaches cred­ited Wil­liams with break­ing seven tack­les. It was a break­out game for the fourth-round pick, who en­tered the day with only 11 car­ries, in­clud­ing two in the pre­vi­ous four games.

“To­tal con­fi­dence change (from) the way he started the sea­son,” Mccarthy said. “I think when the sea­son started, he was try­ing to do it right. He was try­ing to do things right. He was think­ing too much. When he got in there yes­ter­day, he cut it loose. He took a big step and I would say the key to it is con­fi­dence.”

“I was pleased that our guys did a much bet­ter job ... it was big in the game. The sec­ond half, they didn’t have a con­ver­sion.”

Green Bay Pack­ers de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Dom Capers


Green Bay Pack­ers cor­ner­back Kevin King (20) breaks up a pass in­tended for Chicago Bears wide re­ceiver Josh Bel­lamy (15) dur­ing their NFL gamein Chicago on Sun­day

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