The question seemed innocent enough.
Darnell Savage jumped on it, though, as if he was going to put a loose ball in the end zone.
Savage, a fourth-year security for the Green Bay Packers, was asked about the Minnesota Vikings’ powerful attack last week. And when talking about Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook & Co., the questioner used the term “stacked.”
“We’re stuffed too,” Savage said, pausing to take effect. “So our mentality is to be the best. And to be the best, you have to beat the best. So we just go out and compete at the highest level we can.
“We try to prove to ourselves that we are the best. We don’t worry about anything else being outside or anything else in the world. So we know what we have in this room and in this group. So, get in line every week, do our thing and I think you’ll be fine.”
That seems to be a common belief in the defense of Green Bay these days.
The Packers finished ninth in the NFL in yards allowed last season (328.2), including a 10e-place finish in passing defense (219.1) and an 11e place displayed in the hasty defense (109.1). Green Bay was a somewhat mediocre 14e in points allowed per game, but peaked at the end of the year, conceding just 13 points in a playoff loss to San Francisco.
Now, after an off-season largely devoted to improving defense, that unit should be better.
Green Bay has re-signed free agent linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and cornerback Rasul Douglas. Campbell was named first-team All-Pro last season and Douglas was a Pro Bowl alternative.
Jaire Alexander is back after missing 13 games last season with a shoulder injury last season. In June, Green Bay signed Alexander to an $84 million four-year deal, making him the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history.
The Packers used first round draft picks on inside linebacker Quay Walker and defensive end Davante Wyatt. They also signed a defensive end to Jarran Reed in free agency.
The Green Bay defense beat the offense — and four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers — most days during training camp. Now they are excited to try and shut someone down in a different uniform.
“We can finally bring together what we saw on tape for everyone in the world to see,” said linebacker Rashan Gary from the outside. “It’s a great feeling. We are excited and ready for it.”
When the Packers take the field in Week 1, they will have six first-round draft picks in the defensive lineup: nose tackle Kenny Clark, cornerback Eric Stokes, Alexander, Savage, Gary and Walker. If you count Wyatt — who will now be operating in a backup role — there are seven first rounds on the roster.
With so much talent, it’s no wonder Alexander and others have publicly stated their intentions to become the NFL’s No. 1 defense by 2022.
“We’ve got all the pieces,” Alexander said.
Safety Adrian Amos, now in his eighth season and one of the Green Bay captains, is trying to put the brakes on – at least for now.
“It’s one thing about talent and it’s another thing about performing,” Amos said. “To me, I’m a fifth round guy. I don’t care about first round guys, where you get picked. I know a lot of first rounds that don’t show up. I’ve seen unwritten guys make it. It doesn’t matter.
“Once you’re in the NFL, rounds don’t mean anymore. It may be of interest to media or front office people. But as for me, whichever round you went, it doesn’t tell me much. But what I’m saying is we have a good mix of vets and young guys. We have the speed and the talent. But if it doesn’t come together, it doesn’t matter.”
There is no doubt that the Packers have their best talent in defense since they hit the 45 . wone Super Bowl back in the 2010 season.
Clark has been to two Pro Bowls and at just 26 years old, still at the peak of his ability, will lead a deep and gifted line of defense.
Gary was second in the league last season with 81 pressures and looks set for a huge season. Campbell and Walker are both six feet tall, run like the wind and could become one of the better inside linebacking duos in football.
And the secondary — led by Amos and Alexander — seems to be Green Bay’s best since Charles Woodson and Nick Collins roamed free.
It’s easy to see why expectations are through the roof. Now the Packers are excited to try and deliver.
“We like the hype,” Clark said. “This defense, we will stick together through whatever. I think this is a very close group of defenders and we have a lot of talent. I’m excited to see us all come together in week 1.”
“Everyone on this defense is close this year, man,” Gary said. “We all have one goal and everyone in the outside world knows our one goal, and that’s what we all strive for.
“I just love it because every day we enter this building there is a standard that you have to maintain, especially if you start with the first string. There are guys you know you can’t let them down. It’s just the standard.”
And it’s one that the Packers are eager to maintain from Sunday.