Friday Aug 20

A Change in Chillar’s Role

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Brandon Chillar of the GreenBay PackersThe 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.

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0 # Brady Augustine 2010-08-14 21:19
The pass coverage that Brandon offers is what makes this move logical. He is the best pass covering LB we have. He's not perfect, no LB ever will be, but he is going to do a good job from this position and like you say, a handful of sacks will be enough from there.
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0 # Mike Davidsen 2010-08-15 22:15
On the pass coverage note, I think you make a good point. To add to that, Chillar wasn't what you'd call a dynamic run stopper. Just by comparing his size and build to that of Hawk, Bishop or Barnett, you know that he's probably better fit to be rushing the passer and covering receivers. Why have a guy like this playing inside when you could argue that he's better built to be playing outside?
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+1 # John Rehor 2010-08-15 09:05
After watching last night's game, I would say Chillar has a long way to go to be an effective OLB. However, the entire D looked flat the entire game. Hopefully it was Capers not wanting to show too much this early in the preseason. Chillar showed nothing coming off the edge last night though, so that is cause for concern. Lets see what game two brings before calling this experiment a failure.
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0 # Brady Augustine 2010-08-15 11:38
Yeah John, I was hoping to see Chillar active as he was early in the Bears season opener last season but not so. I think he will help us against TE's from there. Your comment that the defense looked flat is telling...I think this game will be good for the team going into the season. A lot of good tape to look at.
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0 # Globalpack 2010-08-16 09:14
Nice article. Wonder what this means for poppinga.
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0 # Brady Augustine 2010-08-16 11:09
Good point GlobalPack. On one of the touchdown passes, Poppinga had to be held to keep him from getting a sack.
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0 # Mike Davidsen 2010-08-16 17:48
That is an interesting thing you bring up with Poppinga. He came out and said that he could rush the passer effectively, like he did in his days at BYU. I'm a bit skeptical and think that Chillar is a more natural pass rusher, though not dominant. Thanks for reading.
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0 # asshalo 2010-08-16 20:05
"Since I don’t think the Packers will necessarily hit a home run with whoever they insert at outside linebacker this season..."

Have to agree. They can only hope to maximize the personnel they have. Is it bad I've already been looking at OLB prospects for april 2011?
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0 # Mike Davidsen 2010-08-17 10:31
Not bad at all. If it isn't Brad Jones, then I don't know if we have that "ROLB of the future" on the team. I had some hope that Obiozor would show some flashes this camp and maybe even steal that job by October, but he's not off to a great start. It may be that Matthews' compliment at OLB isn't part of the team yet. Doesn't mean that we can't win and have a solid pass rush with what we have, though.
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0 # Tarynfor12 2010-08-17 06:50
Let's see what we got,a makeshift OL,a makeshift LB squad,a makeshift RB squad,a makeshift of all makeshifts with SPT's.Can we get out of makeshift and find a steady gear in any of these engine parts,or are we still convinced we can get drive to Dallas with Rodgers and our receivers only.
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0 # Mike Davidsen 2010-08-17 10:28
LOL, actually a very accurate statement. McCarthy doesn't help the makeshift OL with his musical-chair approach, but that's a whole other topic. In terms of the linebackers, I don't believe that our linebacking corps. will be "set" when we go to Philly in about a month. Maybe Jones will be the starter but Chillar will still see significant time at OLB. I know they like to use Chillar's versatility in different packages. So, what happens if Chillar is named the starter? Who becomes his "replacement" as the fifth LB that can play inside on third downs?
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