On the defensive

PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence acknowledges the fact the Packers need weapons on offense, but defenses win championships, and that's the direction Ted Thompson should head with his first-round pick.

This just in: The Green Bay Packers need some weapons to add some pop to a popgun offense.

That doesn't mean the Packers will, or even should, add a big-play threat at wide receiver or a talented running back to the mix with their first-round pick in April.

The Chicago Bears will play in the Super Bowl on Sunday with one of the most pedestrian offenses in memory. The Bears actually finished third in the league in scoring with 26.7 points per game, but when you eliminate Devin Hester's six return touchdowns and three more TDs by the defense, their per-game output drops to 22.8. Then take into account the easy points set up by the defense, and, well, you get the point.

It's the oldest cliche in sports: Defenses win championships.

There's a reason why the Bears beat the Saints for the NFC title, and it's because Chicago's powerful defense was better than New Orleans' powerful offense.

There's a reason why the Bears have a puncher's chance to beat the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl, even though the Peyton Manning vs. Rex Grossman matchup is one of the most-lopsided quarterback battles in the history of the game.

The last team with an offensive personality to win the Super Bowl was the St. Louis Rams following the 1999 season. Baltimore (2000 season) and Tampa Bay (2002 season) won almost strictly with their defenses. New England, winners of the Super Bowls following the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons, were led by defensive-minded coach Bill Belichick.

Those are all reasons why, when the Packers are on the clock in the first round of April's draft, Ted Thompson will think about adding another brick to the defensive foundation rather than giving Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers another threat on offense.

Green Bay's defense wasn't as good as it played during the final four games of the season, when it allowed a total of 40 points. But the defense wasn't as bad as it often played during the first 12 games of the season, when it allowed more than 30 points five times.

Assuming linebacker Brady Poppinga continues to progress and safety Nick Collins shows his Week 17 performance against the Bears was the rule rather than the exception, the defense should be better next season. Sixteen weeks of not having Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila being pushed around as a starting defensive end will help, too.

Now, add another headhunter or ballhawk on defense. Someone who can sack the quarterback or intercept a pass.

The Bears have the finest defense in the NFC, but the Packers have the talent to get to that level. Chicago's linebackers are brilliant, but the trio of A.J. Hawk, Nick Barnett and Poppinga isn't outclassed by any means. The Packers' corners are better than the Bears'. Aaron Kampman is better than anyone the Bears have at defensive end.

The difference is the Bears' defense has more marquee players. The Packers don't have anyone who can compare to Brian Urlacher or Tommie Harris.

Maybe that player will be available at No. 16.

Yes, the Packers' offense needs some help. But those rookie linemen and rookie receiver Greg Jennings will be second-year players. That alone should make that unit stronger.

Would a big-play threat at receiver or tight end help the offense? Yes, but not as much as getting a consistently short field and a touchdown every other week from the defense.

Steve Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.


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