“We’re gonna be a little different on defense”, McCarthy said and further elaborated that the change will involve using a more broad range of weapons and packages. The statement came in response to a question about reports that the Packers were planning to get smaller on the defensive line and McCarthy made it clear: “We’re definitely not gonna be smaller.”
Of course, as with any press conference and particularly at the Combine, coach McCarthy did not fully elaborate on the nature of the changes but two things were very clear:
1. “We gotta be sure we’re emptying our guns every week.” This statement got my attention and McCarthy later elaborated that the reason the Packers couldn’t empty their guns on defense this past season was because of the injuries. That said, it is exciting to think that a new attitude might be coming to the Packers defense this coming season. Reading between the lines, coach McCarthy believes the defense has weapons as it stands, which makes me wonder if reports that the Packers intend to pursue change in free agency are true. The Packers have plenty of salary cap space right now but with Jordy Nelson and Sam Shields as priorities, that number will shrink, and McCarthy made it clear that they wish to lock up their own players first.
2. McCarthy believes last year’s first round draft choice Datone Jones will be a big part of the Packers improvement on defense. “Datone Jones will be one of those second year players that takes a huge jump.” the coach said, explaining that Jones was a key player in certain defensive packages. The coach stressed that making that jump would be expected of Jones as a player in the coming season.
So with the Combine starting tomorrow, things are already starting to take shape in the minds of the Packer brass even though we don’t see it all just yet. Coach McCarthy did mention that he is about five days behind where he wants to be because of the coaching changes but with his organized approach to coaching (which I think is one of McCarthy’s greatest strengths), I believe next years defense is really gonna surprise some people, I just won’t be one of them.