Will the Packers’ Best Defensive Players Be On The Field?

Posted by  Brady Augustine   in  , ,      1 year ago     221 Views     4 Comments  

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Packers vs PanthersThe Packers will enter the 2016 season off an off-season that was typical by their standards. Sign back as many of your own players as possible, pick up a second (or lower) free agent, and build through the draft. This was enough to garner an exciting B- grade from Pro Football Focus apple for the teacher anyone? 

Dom Capers and Mike McCarthy have learned the hard way in the last two seasons that you can’t have some of your best players riding the pine because there is a pro-bowler in front of them…you have to think outside the box. Clay Matthews is an outside linebacker, that’s where he is most comfortable, that is where he is most effective. But the Packers defense was better with Matthews at the middle. The reason for this is, in part, because Matthews is a fantastic player. I mean, how many LB’s can play at a pro-bowl level at both inside and outside…not many. But another reason that the Packers’ defense got better when Matthews moved to the middle is addition by subtraction. The other inside linebackers on the team were not good enough…period. Matthews was and upgrade and that is why he had to stay for so long.

Most Dangerous Substance on Earth - Packer Offense

sam barringtonWell, other than new addition of Blake Martinez…what has changed at inside linebacker on the Packers’ defense? One thing has…Sam Barrington is going to be back…color me skeptical. Barrington is a thumper and has shown flashes and I think with his experience can hold the line at the inside position, but that is not the question. The question is…Do the Packers have their best players on the field with other players standing by and watching? Guys like (a healthy) Nick Perry, Datone Jones, Kyler Fackrell, etc. will be watching the game and yes, rotating in but shouldn’t the Packers be trying out some of these guys to see if they could fit in the middle?

McCarthy was very clear that the Packers’ defense needs to do what it takes to get their best players on the field. They have proved that they can convert an outside guy to a pro-bowl inside linebacker (and yes, it was Clay Matthews and they only have one Clay Matthews on the team…I understand that) and it made the defense better so that means the outside game, while not as good as it would have been with Clay there, was still good. Imagine if the Packers could get one of these outside guys on the field at the inside position, able to shore up the middle of the field and even threaten to pressure the quarterback.

I know, I know it is easier said than done to make a switch like that work. But we have some veteran players who understand this defense that will be watching a lot of football this year. And we’re talking first round draft choices here in Perry and Jones…what better way to make what seemed like a swing-and-miss by TT into gold. Now, Jones is a hybrid DE/OLB so he probably wouldn’t be a good fit but Perry could be interesting at the inside position. And I also think Kyler Fackrell has potential there too with his length. Fackrell is a rookie which poses problems but at the same time means he is moldable and fresh.

I’m not saying that the Packers don’t have a serviceable ILB ready to go out and hold the line for them this year. My only question here is are they getting their best players on the field. If they are not…maybe it is time to get creative and have a guy like Nick Perry, who has to wait in line for reps, get on the field more. Perry was dominant when he got healthy in the playoff run last year, compiling six sacks in five games! That’s third all time in Packers playoff history behind Clay Matthews and Reggie White! As Wes Hodekiewicz of Packers.com has said, Perry is on a one year prove it deal and ready to become the difference maker the Packers thought he could be. 

This year is a critical one for the Packers coaching staff. Fans have all but forgotten the Super Bowl win so many years ago after sotime many years of having teams good enough to win the North but not good enough to get the job done in the playoffs. One characteristic of the Super Bowl winning team that Mike McCarthy put together was creativity (ie. BJ Raji on offense) and creativity is the key ingredient to finding ways to get the very best players the Packers have on the field as much as possible. There is still the need for rotation so development can still happen. There is still training camp to go through so maybe one of these ILB’s will just be too dominant to even consider anything else. But this question of the best players and their time on the field needs to be answered.

Go Pack!


Brady Augustine is co-owner and content creator for www.greenbaypackernation.com. He currently resides in Tennessee and also conspires with brother, JR on www.cheesnewswire.com

1 Comment

  1.   August 15, 2014, 1:45 pm

    It works both ways Brady, Can our ILB’s step up and cover those quick slants also? Will Hawk and Jones start to play with more fire this year? Doughty was looking like the man until he got hurt so now can Lattimore be that guy? Is Hubbard going to get his head out of the clouds and stop thinking he is Gods gift to football and start playing up to his abilities? Can this new kid Bradford bring the pressure in the big leagues like he did in college? We did not get to see much of the him in the first game. He took the last two snaps when they ran out the clock is all! So these are questions I will be looking for to be answered in the next two games. With a healthy D line I think the answer to all could be “Yes” but the key to it all is pressure like you said. GPG

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