Reggie Gilbert got the attention of Packers head coach Mike McCarthy during rookie orientation. Gilbert has flashed real pass-rush potential but on a roster that includes some significant draft picks, he has his work cut out for him. But if Gilbert can continue to shine, he has a realistic chance of passing up draft picks for reps in the 2018 season. The Packers have been looking for a possible pass rush beyond Clay Matthews and if Gilbert can perform he can help the Pack immediately. Here are three ways Gilbert can help Pettine’s new scheme if he comes on this year.
1. Allowing Clay Matthews to kick inside
Currently, Reggie Gilbert is listed as the 3rd LOLB but with no Ahmad Brooks it will be a competition between Gilbert and Biegel for reps behind Clay Matthews. If Gilbert shows true and consistent rush ability outside, it will allow Clay Matthews to kick inside alongside Martinez. With Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, and Mo Wilkerson up front on passing downs…this will be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. On the flip side, it will be a luxury for Mike Pettine and perhaps an unexpected one in that the pass rush behind Clay Matthews has been suspect for years. Pettine still has to be on a “wait and see” approach but the ability to rotate Clay to the inside either on a crosser or in base set would be a real dimensional benefit to his scheme. The shortest distance to the quarterback is through the middle of the field and Matthews has already showed he can play at a pro bowl level inside. But the outside will have to be solid if Pettine will feel comfortable with such situations.
2. Adding to the Rotation
One of the best ways to ensure that Clay Matthews is an impact player is to limit his reps during the season. Clay is getting older and while he still is a difference maker, it would be a great benefit to take some reps off of him during the regular season, allowing him to be fresher going into (assumption granted) the post-season. Reggie Gilbert as a realistic rotational pass-rusher could have the important benefit of making Matthews more effective down the stretch. Clay knows what it takes to win it all and plays his best football in the playoffs. If the Packers can find a way to help him feel better body-wise going into the playoffs, the benefit could be substantial. Matthews is one of the elder statesmen on this defense and could be very important opposite Perry if the Packers are going to have a chance.
3. Make up for the lack of edge rushers in the draft
One thing is clear after this year’s draft…the Packers need to get edge rush either out of the guys they have, or early in next year’s draft. Clay Matthews is getting to the end of his career and Nick Perry is often injured, the Packers need a future and as of now have none. Vince Biegel is one of the guys that Packer Nation hopes will pan out but Reggie Gilbert would be a godsend if he can splash some real pass-rush ability. The Packers’ future is in doubt in terms of pass rusher and presumably, with two first round picks next year…pass rusher has to be on their radar. But there are no guarantees and a guy like Gilbert panning out would be a credit to Ted Thompson and his staff and a real gift to newcomer Brian Gutekunst. If Gilbert can become a reliable pass rusher, the future is bright.
So there are three ways I think Reggie Gilbert can be a benefit to Pettine’s scheme going into the 2018 season. What say you Packer Nation? Make your opinion known it the comments below or back on the Facebook Fanpage.