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Green Bay Packers Next Step: Jake Ryan

Jake Ryan Jake Ryan


NFL Packers Defensive Woes

Jake Ryan made great strides at the middle linebacker position last year, but the Packers defense still struggled. The 363.9 yards per game the Packers allowed in 2016 was the eleventh worst in the league. The Green Bay Packers have had a championship-caliber offense since the 90’s. Aaron Rodgers is arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. However, the defense is continuously lackluster.

Consistent, high-level defensive play has been hard to come by in recent years. The linebacker position has been one of the darkest spots on the roster next to last year’s group of cornerbacks. Fourth round draft pick Vince Biegel will add depth, but can only have so much on his shoulders.

That being said, he will need to continue his growth for Green Bay to develop a suffocating defense.

Bring in Jake Ryan

During his rookie season in 2015, Jake Ryan was thrown into the fire as a linebacker during 14 games. He allowed over 80 percent of passes his way to be completed and did not defend a single pass. However, 2016 was a different story. By Pro Football Focus metrics, his grade jumped from 42.5 to 76.4. Ryan defended three passes in his 14 games and had a coverage grade of 73.1, according to PFF, which was good for 45th in the league by a linebacker.

Tackle Machine

One big positive to Ryan’s game is his ability to tackle. Last year he racked up 82 combined tackles in a season that was shortened by injury. In that same span, Ryan missed just two tackles. He has been a consistent factor in the run game, recording six tackles for a loss on rushing plays in 2016.

Take it Away Now

Though Ryan has become a sure tackler in Green Bay, turnovers are a necessity on any successful defense. Unfortunately for the Packers, Ryan has not produced in that area of the game. The only turnover on his career is a fumble recovery during his rookie season. He has yet to intercept a pass or force a fumble after 28 regular season and five postseason games.

As a defender, it is essential for Ryan to have a nose for the football.

Jake Ryan Needs to put the Pressure on

While the Packers ranked sixth in sacks last year, Ryan failed to get in on the fun. For the second straight season, he was unable to record a sack. His Pro Football Focus grade on pass rushing opportunities was just 56.6. However, the departure of Julius Peppers could mean that Ryan will hear his name called with greater frequency in blitzing situations.

Going forward, it will be essential for Jake Ryan to make more big plays as the Packers look to improve on defense.



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