A torn biceps has ended the season for defensive tackle B.J. Raji. How does affect the Green Bay Packers immediately and down the road?
Marshawn Lynch and Matt Forte loom
Injuries are nothing new to the Green Bay Packers defense, however B.J. Raji has been one player they could count on since they drafted him in 2009. In five seasons the big defensive tackle has missed just four games. That streak is about to fall apart as his season ends thanks to a torn biceps. Up to this point the Packers have fielded the 7th best run defense in the preseason. Without him and that athletic 330-lbs body in the middle, things could get very dicey for a defense that was 25th against the run last year.
Worse yet, there won’t be any easing into the schedule either. Green Bay has to travel northwest for their grudge match with the defending champion Seattle Seahawks. That means heavy doses of Marshawn Lynch. If that weren’t bad enough they also see Matt Forte a few weeks later at Soldier Field. Forte torched them last season for 235 yards and three touchdowns last season, and that with Raji healthy. Never mind Reggie Bush and Adrian Peterson also lurk in that opening stretch as well
Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers could be rendered less effective
Perhaps the biggest problem the loss creates is it gives teams an opening to counteract the Packers pass rushing duo of Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers. By running the ball it forces those two onto the defensive, unable to pin their ears back and go after the quarterback. On top of that, keeping it on the ground will allow teams to control the clock, which means fewer touches for Aaron Rodgers and the offense. That won’t always be the case in 2014 but rest assured it will become a factor during critical games against good teams.
B.J. Raji isn’t the most devastating loss the Packers could’ve suffered, but he will be missed.