This should get some other teams' fans riled up. :icon_lol: Green Bay defense has designs on domination Players believe in personnel, scheme By BOB McGINN firstname.lastname@example.org Posted: Aug. 29, 2007 Nashville, Tenn. - Under the cover of relative anonymity, the members of the Green Bay Packers' defense positively cannot wait for the start of the regular season. Coach Mike McCarthy will complete the exhibition season tonight against the Tennessee Titans with his No. 1 defense having been intact for just five series in four games. Ten days from now, that defense will step from the shadows into what some of its members predict will be the glare of greatness. "Our goal is to be the No. 1 defense in the NFL," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said earlier in the week. "We think we can do it. Everyone in the room agrees with it. We think we have the talent and we think we have the scheme." Pickett was 17 years old in 1996 when the Packers led the National Football League both in yards allowed and points allowed. That defense was part of an NFL championship team and was the last group in Green Bay to be considered really dominating. Based on their level of confidence, the defenders of today expect nothing less of themselves. "I really think we can be a dominating defense," cornerback Al Harris said. "Hands down. It's so hard to say you're going to get shutouts, but I see us controlling the game on defense." Baltimore, Jacksonville, Chicago, San Diego, Dallas, Carolina and Pittsburgh might come to the fore when experts name the leading defenses. Green Bay's is thought to have potential. In its pre-season rankings, Pro Football Weekly gave the Packers' defensive line a C, the linebackers a B-minus and the secondary a B-minus. It was a rather typical view from afar of a unit that was languishing at 29th in yards allowed after 12 games before a fast finish enabled it to rank 12th at year's end. Now the Packers are primed to show an unsuspecting national audience just how good this defense can and will be. "I don't think people know what we have." linebacker Nick Barnett said. "We're definitely underestimated, and that's a good thing for us. I think we're going to be a top-10 defense. We want to be a No. 1 defense. It's on us to execute." Four months from now, Barnett and others can foresee a string of games in which flustered opponents couldn't run the ball, couldn't throw the ball, picked up fewer than 10 first downs and failed to gain even 200 yards. "Yes, just like the old Baltimore defense did," said Pickett, referring to the Super Bowl championship defense of 2000 that yielded merely 165 points during the regular season and then 23 in four playoff games. "We feel like we can do that." Do these Packers realize how hard it is to dominate games? Maybe, or maybe that won't be the case until somebody lets the air out of them. But for now, at least, many of the players couldn't be more bullish about their future. "Honestly, I feel we have one of the better fronts in the league," Pickett said. "I really feel we have about the best linebackers. And I feel like our secondary is second to none." Every defender of consequence is back from '06. The worst starter, safety Marquand Manuel, has been replaced by Atari Bigby. For the time being, the draft and free agency offer little help, but veterans suggest not much was needed. "Our front and our linebackers are playing very well," Harris said. "In the back end, we're pretty glued in as far as who we're playing with. We know where every guy's going to be. Once we establish a third corner, we're going to be dominating." Last year, an excessive number of blown assignments plus faulty technique in coordinator Bob Sanders' match-coverage scheme led to 53 passes of 20 yards or more, up from 36 in '05. Manuel was responsible for some of the damage but he wasn't alone. Sanders, his coaches and many players shared blame as well. Assignment errors haven't been as glaring in this training camp as they were last summer, but no one has been tested yet, either. "A lot of the big problems last year were communication," Barnett said. "People starting new schemes. Now we got a year of that under our belt and kind of got those growing pains out of the way." The unit is healthy, and most of the roles have been determined. Cullen Jenkins has been the starting right end since Week 13 last season. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila now is a designated rusher. Brady Poppinga is another year removed from reconstructive knee surgery and locked in at strong-side linebacker. The nickel job should be Jarrett Bush's. A cadre of veterans will platoon the middle of the unchanged 4-3 front. "Really, in the end, it comes down to, and it's probably pretty clich, but we're starting to really trust one another and we're starting to care about one another," end Aaron Kampman said. "That, to me, is something that you can't manufacture. It's not a false confidence." The 53-year-old Sanders, a first-time coordinator at any level in '06, probably is more comfortable with his job description. The name of Jim Bates, one of his mentors, is almost never heard anymore. "I really think he's at ease with the whole role," Harris said. "Guys are taking to him. He's doing a good job." Sanders will press with his cornerbacks, try to play the run with seven in the box and be happy if the unit once again can generate 46 sacks, which ranked fourth in the NFL. He blitzed on merely 24.9% of passes last season but might open up to accommodate A.J. Hawk, Barnett and Bigby, all of whom were on fire against Seattle on Aug. 18. "I don't get into projections, but I do know our whole mentality is to disrupt and constrict what an offense wants to do," said Kampman. "We disrupt timing and that gives us more time. You might say that's every defense's philosophy but some guys would rather sit in a two-deep shell and keep things in front of them." Kampman didn't say it, but his implication was clear. This defense intends to get after people, take things away and intimidate. "I know," Pickett replied, when told fielding the No. 1 defense is an enormous objective. "Real big. So is winning the Super Bowl."