GREEN BAY - A month after last season ended with an overtime loss at Arizona, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said his defense wasn’t at a “championship” level.
McCarthy apparently feels better about that unit entering the 2016 season.
“I don’t think it’s fair to our defense to say we’re not a championship-caliber defense,” McCarthy said Thursday. “I don’t think that’s fair because you’re carrying past things forward. That’s not the reality of it. Every year is a new year for everybody — the offense, the defense, special teams.
“Our understanding on defense is higher this year than it’s been the past two years. I think what you’re seeing is we’ve been relatively young throughout our defense, and now you’re seeing the maturity of these guys.”
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McCarthy said his defensive staff has kept an open mind through the years. They’re brutally honest in their reflection each spring, picking out imperfections to get better. He believes the constant review has helped defensive coordinator Dom Capers build a promising unit.
The Packers have a young defense. McCarthy said he’s especially impressed with the maturity of his second-year defensive players. Cornerbacks Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, as well as inside linebacker Jake Ryan, could player a starter’s portion of snaps this fall. Defensive tackle Christian Ringo cracked the 53-man roster after spending his rookie season on the practice squad.
But there’s also a good balance of experience, McCarthy said. The Packers defense is built on veterans Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Daniels, Sam Shields and Morgan Burnett.
“I think this defense,” McCarthy said, “has a chance to be really good. Really good. And it’s really just the maturation of our veterans. You have to be impressed so far just through training camp what our young guys have shown they can do, and hopefully they can be really successful in their roles to make us better.
“Think we have a chance to be really good on defense.”