GreenBay Packer Nation

Big Changes Coming to the Packers Defense

2015 was the first season in recent memory in which the Packers defense stood the hero more often than the offense. So, of course, the defense is where the bulk of the changes should be this off-season (tongue firmly planted in cheek). 

Before the steam had finished coming out of Packers fans’ ears from the loss to Arizona, coach McCarthy announced that Clay Matthews would be moving back outside. To my mind, this should have signaled that the Packers planned to sign a significant free agent. Why a free agent? Because the hole that Matthews filled at MLB was not just as a great player, not just as a leader, but also as the defensive game manager who makes sure that the strong side is correctly called and players are in the right positions. Sure, the Packers can draft linebackers in the draft…but who is going to run the defense. Well, now the most likely candidates are “Bucks” Jake Ryan, Nate Palmer, and Joe Thomas.

One scenario that has often come up is that the Packers could get Reggie Ragland in the draft. There are a couple problems with this (though I like the idea).

  1. I see it as unlikely that Ragland will make it to the Packers at pick 27
  2. As I have already said, I believe it is most likely that the Packers pick a DL with their first pick.
  3. Even our high draft pick (at number 5 overall), while being adequate, was not a stud. AJ Hawk handled the mental duties well, but was not a hero. I think we need a hero. Clay Matthews was the other first round LB that Thompson made a splash with…he needs the latter, not the former.

The Packers have done a good job defensively with what they have had, but the announcement that Clay is going back outside, coupled with no defensive pickup in free agency makes me think this team is just pushing the problem around rather than solving it. If we keep this up, we may very well get burnt eventually.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining here. I am excited to see what the pickup of TE Jared Cook will do for the offense, I can’t wait for the draft, and I am extremely excited to see Clay Matthews back on the outside terrorizing quarterbacks. But I see the MLB problem as a critical one for the success of the defense in 2016. With the Packers’ best player available philosophy, I have doubts as to whether we will have a legitimate (potential) star at the position and just picking a MLB in the first or second round doesn’t guarantee anything (AJ Hawk).

Will the Packers be willing to force Clay back to MLB if it is best for the team, even if it means going back on their word? Maybe. But I think the draft is our last chance to get the right player, or the right mix of competition to elevate a current player at this oh, so critical position.

Go Pack!