Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll be giving you one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry.
Calling Mr. Perry
In 2010, Clay Matthews had 13.5 sacks and the Packers' outside linebackers combined for 21.5 sacks. Of the 13 teams running a 3-4 scheme as their base defense, the Packers' sack total from their outside linebackers ranked third in the league.
It was a different story in 2011, as you well know. Matthews' sack total plunged to six and the rest of the outside linebackers contributed six more sacks, pushing the Packers' total to a meager 12. Of the 11 teams running the 3-4 last year, the Packers' sack total from their outside linebackers was last in the league. The Jets were next-to-last with 15. Take Green Bay out of the equation, and the other 10 teams averaged 20.1 sacks from their outside linebackers.
From that perspective, the entire season rests on Nick Perry.
"Of the qualities we look for (in an outside linebacker), the first thing is the guy's ability to rush the passer," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "We think he's a guy who has the speed to come off the corner and certainly has the size and the power where he can convert that from speed into power in terms of rushing the passer."
Teams that rush the passer have a better chance of stopping opposing passing games. It's right out of the manual "Football for Complete and Total Idiots," which nobody owns because it's filled with such oh-duh logic.
More specifically, though, it's teams that rush the passer that typically prevent big plays through the air. And it's big plays that kill a defense. As Capers pointed out, if the offense gets a play of at least 15 yards, the chances of it scoring quadruples.
Only two teams had fewer sacks than the Packers' 29. As a consequence, the Packers finished 26th with 7.8 yards allowed per passing attempt. Taking a bigger-picture look: Of the eight teams allowing at least 7.7 yards per passing attempt, six finished in the bottom eight in the league in sacks.
Another way to look at it is net yards per passing attempt, which puts sacks into the yardage equation. Last season, only Green Bay and New England reached the playoffs among the bottom 11 teams, while the top five teams all qualified for the postseason.
When the Packers finished second with 47 sacks in 2010, they tied for fifth with 6.5 yards allowed per passing attempt and were third with 5.4 net yards allowed per passing attempt.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.