A Change in Chillar’s Role
Written by Mike Davidsen Saturday, 14 August 2010 20:35
The Packers released an unofficial depth chart on August 9th, which generated some talk within Packer Nation about where certain players stand at this point in camp. One name that stood out among the first-teamers was Brandon Chillar, who had been seeing significant playing time at outside linebacker thus far in camp. Chillar’s name listed as a starting outside linebacker has sent the signal to fans that the organization is serious about keeping him there to begin the regular season. Is moving Chillar from a reserve inside linebacker to starting right outside linebacker the right decision?
By moving Chillar to the starting outside linebacker role, Brad Jones will have to take a back seat at the position. Just like that, the thoughts of Jones becoming Aaron Kampman’s heir are kicked to the curb…at least for now. After bulking up during the offseason, fans were convinced that Jones would begin the year as the starter and eventually develop into an everyday 3-4 outside linebacker. Jones suffered a back injury during training camp last week, which may have contributed to Chillar’s move.
Personally, I think the coaching staff had made up their mind a while back that Brandon Chillar was going to get some looks at roles outside of backup inside linebacker. I’d be left scratching my head if the Packers’ front office told me that Chillar’s 5-year, $21 million deal that he signed last December was just for his contributions as a third down inside linebacker. With the Packers thin at outside linebacker, and Jones not currently meeting the Packers’ expectations there, Chillar naturally got his chance.
Chillar has proven that he can drop back into coverage well, so moving him outside makes sense on that front. Additionally, he was not the stoutest against the run when playing inside, something not overly-pressing at outside linebacker. Of course, playing outside linebacker requires the innate ability to rush the passer, an area where Chillar has only shown flashes. Overall, his skill set seems to fit the outside linebacker role equally, if not better than inside linebacker.
Something to consider when analyzing this move is the depth behind AJ Hawk and Nick Barnett at inside linebacker, if Chillar remains outside. Desmond Bishop would become the only veteran backup at the position, a player we surely don’t want to see in on third down. It’s possible that prospects Alex Joseph and Robert Francois would benefit here and could possibly steal a roster spot as a result.
While moving Chillar outside may be a good move for now, it surely won’t change offenses’ game plans too drastically. With Chillar, you’re getting a guy who can probably take a little bit of pressure off of fellow pass rusher Clay Matthews, and tally a handful of sacks by the end of the season. Fans certainly shouldn’t be hoping for Terrell Suggs-type of production out of the guy. If the Packers wanted to hit it big from the outside linebacker spot opposite Matthews, they’re better off taking a chance on a young player like Jones or Cyril Obiozor. In short, I think Chillar’s production has a ceiling.
Since I don’t think the Packers will necessarily hit a home run with whoever they insert at outside linebacker this season, I like the decision to move forward with Chillar as the starter for now. The Packers use subpackages so frequently that even if Chillar wins the job, we’ll almost certainly see Jones still getting a fair share of playing time. If he’s able to stay with the first-teamers throughout camp, Brandon could have the opportunity to justify the fat deal that Ted Thompson handed him last December.