Although there were some notable free agent signings and draft picks affecting the Green Bay Packers’ offense his offseason , the biggest changes to the team’s roster — and its coaching staff — came on the defensive side of the football. Brian Gutekunst brought an old friend back in the secondary, then spent his first three draft picks on defense in an effort to rebuild a unit that had gradually slipped from great to average to awful over Dom Capers’ tenure.Now, with Mike Pettine at the helm, fans’ expectations are much different for this group in 2018. But are they reasonable? We asked Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders what he thinks the Packers’ defense will look like this season as a result of these changes.Be sure to check out the 2018 Football Outsiders Almanac for more insights into the Packers and the rest of the NFL.APC: With new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, several significant additions (Muhammad Wilkerson, Jaire Alexander, etc.), and some noteworthy departures (Morgan Burnett), what do you expect from the Packers defense in 2018?Scott referenced the Packers’ use of high draft capital in the secondary, and that is absolutely true; Pettine will have plenty of talent to mold this year. Indeed, every one of the Packers’ draft picks at defensive back over the past two years has specific athletic abilities to salivate over. Josh Jackson showed excellent lateral quickness and explosiveness at the Combine this year and improved his 40 time into the high 4.4s at his Pro Day; Jaire Alexander ran a 4.38 in Indy and had even better agility times than Jackson. Josh Jones has 4.41 speed, absurd for a 6-foot-1, 220-pound player , and Kevin King had one of the best overall Combines by a cornerback in recent memory.Yes, the success of the secondary will be based largely on how that athleticism translates onto the football field; however, Scott echoes APC’s stance that the defensive line should be this team’s strength. With two Pro Bowlers (Wilkerson and Daniels) and one soon-to-be Pro Bowler (Clark) manning the three-man line, that is as impressive a group as can be. Clark posted 4.5 sacks last year, all of which came in the season’s final five games. Daniels posted five sacks of his own, and Wilkerson is two years removed from a 12-sack season in New York.As for Pettine himself, the Jerry Hughes callback provides an exciting precedent. In three years with the Colts, Hughes recorded five sacks. Both Hughes and Pettine arrived in Buffalo in 2013, and Hughes posted ten sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. Pettine also did great things with Cleveland’s Paul Kruger in 2014, when Kruger increased his sack numbers from 4.5 the year before to 11. Clearly, Pettine has shown an ability to motivate and develop veteran pass-rushers, and if he can do the same with Nick Perry — even on a lesser scale — that bodes poorly for opposing quarterbacks.As Scott notes, an elite defense isn’t necessary for the Packers to be a contender Color Rush Jimmy Graham Jersey , at least not with Aaron Rodgers under center and throwing to an elite wide receiver. Remember that the two most recent NFC Championship appearances that the Packers made were made with defenses ranked 20th in DVOA (2016) and 16th (2014). As long as the offense does not regress to 2015 levels — which was the result of a multitude of injuries to the receiving corps — climbing into the 10-14 range should be more than enough to give the Packers a real shot at a deep playoff run.Packers QB Aaron Rodgers does Shark Week Packers All-Pro quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, joined in on the Shark Week festivities on Monday. He was one of several current and former professional athletes to join in throughout the week. Others include Shaquille O’Neal, Rhonda Rousey, Lindsey Vonn and, Patriots tight end, Rob Gronkowski.Rodgers was on the show Monster Tag, off the coast of San Diego, attempting to help the shark researchers tag a Blue Shark and raise awareness for the animals.Joined by shark researcher Riley Elliott, PhD, Rodgers and the teams’ goal was to apply a satellite tracker to a Blue Shark in order to track it’s migration patterns. With this tracker in place, it can provide more information that can help lead to the protection and conservation of the animals. While the thought of having your future Hall of Fame quarterback tangling with the ultimate apex predator is alarming, there were plenty of protections in place. Rodgers was outfitted with a diving suit that helped block electrical signals caused by heart beats that the shark’s electro-sensory system can track. He was also taught (and pulled off expertly) what was essentially a stiff-arm move to redirect curious Blue Sharks. The Blue Shark is nearly threatened with extinction so helping protect them and tracking their patterns was an essential goal to help with species survival. According to Youth Mike Daniels Jersey , the Blue Shark is an open-ocean predator, can swim up to 25 MPH, and can grow 9’-10’ in length. Also, attacks to humans by the Blue Shark are very infrequent. According to some Wikipedia sleuthing, from 1580-2013, there are only 13 recorded biting incidents with four of those ending fatally.Blue SharkOceanaWhile Rodgers was successful at accurately hitting the practice target with the tagging spear gun— because of course he was— they ultimately didn’t get a chance to tag a shark that approached them. Rodgers got a chance to execute his shark redirect move to a curious Blue Shark, but it quickly swam back into the depths of the Pacific. Now, let’s please get Rodgers back on the gridiron conquering Lions and Bears— not sharks.If you’re interested, you can track the sharks that Vonn and Gronk tagged during the episode here.Also, if you’re a passionate animal lover like Rodgers, you can get more information on protecting and restoring oceans here.
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