GreenBay Packer Nation

Quickslant: Circle The Middle of the Field

While I believe the Packers have had an admirable off-season thus far, there is still one big question mark for this team. The off-season has gone the Packers’ way to a great extent…first of all, in that Jordy Nelson got (is gettting) healthy. Then, the addition of Jared Cook (yes, he will be fine) and the work that Eddie Lacy has done to get his body right makes me certain that this year’s team will be as formidable as any we have seen in the Aaron Rodgers era. While I have few worries on the offensive side of the ball, there is for me a big question mark on the defense.

Football is a bit like chess in that it is a big advantage to control the middle of the field (board). Not that the game can’t be played, and played effectively on the perimeter…but the perimeter is by definition limiting. Controlling the middle of the field is priority one for a defense as it limits the opposing offense. Now, with Clay Matthews committed to the outside LB position, and BJ Raji gone…the middle of the Packers defense is a big question mark. Even Sam Barrington is a question mark in that he is coming back from injury. A weak middle and a high scoring offense can get the job done against some teams but the Packers’ schedule does not allow for us to once again struggle in the spot just vacated by Matthews, much less having a weak NT (the keystone of the base 3-4) and no answers at MLB.

Last year, the Packers dominated Adrian Peterson in the final game of the season with only 67 yards and less than 4 yards per carry even though it was a losing cause. That was with Clay Matthews in the middle. The Packers meet the Vikings the second week of 2016 and Peterson and the Vikings will be looking to chew up the area of the field vacated by Matthews. I believe AD will have over 100 yards in this game and if the Packers defense holds him to less than that I will consider it getting off on the right foot. The Packers can still win this game but it might be an early test not just for the Packers defense but for the fans who could very possibly have “deja va all over again”. But that early in the season, patience can still pay off if the young defensive middle shows tenacity and looks like they can strengthen over time.

The last thing this team needs is to have coach McCarthy take the podium and have to take another step back by admitting they have no answer but Clay at the middle. At this point in his career, that could be a very bad sign moving forward. But to say there is a big question mark is NOT to say that there are no proposed answers at this point. We just have to wait and see. Kenny Clark, Jake Ryan, Barrington and I even have high hopes for Blake Martinez – these guys will be on everybody’s radar in training camp and the preseason. Personally, I would love to try Kyler Fackrell at ILB because Fackrell’s length is an advantage and the coaches have shown they can coach the switch.

So the questions at nose tackle and inside linebacker are big. No one on the current Packers team has showed themselves to be the answer except Clay Matthews and he is moving back to the outside. The answers are coming though and for me this will be the central question to the Packers’ chances in 2016. We have needed someone to step up for sometime…hopefully, that time is now.

Go Pack!