GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Mike Daniels gets right to the point.
He loved the long weekend off that the Packers had after routing the depleted Minnesota Vikings 42-10 on Thursday night.
On Monday, it was back to work to build on the most complete performance of the year for the Green Bay defense. There is always room to improve.
”They scored on us,” Daniels said. The straight-faced third-year player speaks in a taciturn tone that fits one of the Packers’ toughest defensive linemen.
A trip to Miami to face the Dolphins is next for the Packers, who are tied atop the NFC North at 3-2 with Detroit.
While the defense has been far from perfect – stopping the run remains a work in progress – it has shown signs of improvement each week.
”The last three games, division games, you know we gave up 10 against the Lions, 17 against the Bears and 10 against the Vikings,” coordinator Dom Capers said Monday. ”You know over that period, we’ve given up 12 points a game, which is a step in the right direction.”
The Packers have come up with two interceptions in each of the last three games. The defense amassed six sacks against the Vikings, which started struggling backup quarterback Christian Ponder.
Green Bay kept harassing Ponder. Capers liked how the defense was able to get pressure with a four-man rush. That, in turn, frees up seven in coverage. More defenders in coverage theoretically would lead to more big plays.
”The really good defenses that I’ve been associated with can disrupt the quarterback with a four-man rush, and you’ve got the extra guy to cover with,” Capers said. ”I think you’ve seen that show up in we’ve given up fewer big plays, and the fewer big plays ends up with fewer points on the board because people have a hard time scoring a lot of points on you if they don’t get big chunks.”
Capers and coach Mike McCarthy tweaked the defense this season to go more often with four linemen after relying on mainly a base 3-4 scheme in recent years. That change seems to cater to the addition of veteran Julius Peppers in free agency to play a hybrid defensive end-linebacker role.
”I think the flow of how we’re using our players, it (has) come together and our substitution patterns are where they need to be,” McCarthy said. ”I think we have definitely gotten better on defense the last three weeks.”
The Packers seem to have a more active group at safety than a year ago with converted cornerback Micah Hyde and first-round draft pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix partnering with Morgan Burnett. The veteran Burnett had a nice game against Minnesota with 11 tackles and a forced fumble.
Daniels led the way up front with 1 1/2 sacks, along with tackle Letroy Guion. The third-year pro from Iowa has become a key cog for his leadership and on-field play.
”We’ve got some pretty good players back there and got some good guys up front to get after the quarterback,” Daniels said. ”We just continue to feed off each other and put this thing together – I’m very optimistic about it. It’s going to be fun.”
Daniels spoke in the most subdued of tones. It was time to get back to work.
Note: The team signed WR Kevin Dorsey to the active roster from the practice squad Monday and signed CB Tay Glover-Wright to the practice squad. Tight end Ryan Taylor was released.
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