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.
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 so