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Focus On Pass Rush Will Improve Secondary

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Focus On Pass Rush Will Improve Secondary

Going back and watching the losses to the Vikings, Steelers, and Cardinals (yes, I am a glutton for punishment) its easy to see why fans and pundits alike say that infusing the secondary with fresh talent is a huge priority. I tend to think the Packers are better off at corner than at safety, and yes, both positions could definitely use an extra body or two.

But much more pressing, in my eyes anyway, is the need for a pass rusher who can 'win' without Capers needing to scheme him free. Watching those games again, they each have a common theme - experienced passers that can recognize almost every coverage and every blitz thrown at them. The old saying, when it comes to facing great veteran quarterbacks, is to "play coverage". Of course, Capers tried this to some extent, against Favre in particular. The biggest problem was the inability of the guys up front to win their one-on-ones. The most damning example, of course, was in the Monday night contest in the Metrodome, on a play where Favre had 7, yes, SEVEN seconds to sit back in the pocket and wait for a receiver to work open. I mean, seriously, I've never seen that in all the years I've been watching professional football and it should be an embarrassment to guys like Jenkins and Jolly. I don't expect 3-4 defensive ends to collapse the pocket instantaneously. I DO expect them to be able to provide enough of a push in UNDER 8 SECONDS to at least move the pocket for the quarterback.

There are plenty of other examples, of course. The point is - the aerial shows against the Packers defense would not have been half as devastating had the Packers had someone other than Clay Matthews to get around the edge. You saw everything you needed to in that regard in the playoff game against the Cardinals. With virtually no threat on the other side, the Cardinals constantly kept a back in to chip Matthews, or called for the tight end to be on Matthews' side. The point is - it was way too easy. If Warner saw blitz, he knew where the holes would be. If he saw coverage, he knew Matthews was the only one to worry about, and that he was pretty much taken care of.

Yes, the secondary is questionable, with Al Harris coming back from injury and guys like Will Blackmon and Pat Lee unable to stay on the field. But just remember this: The Patriots won three Super Bowls with guys like Hank Poteat, who they signed off the street at the end of the year, in their secondary. Why? Because of the pressure their front seven was able to apply to opposing quarterbacks.

I expect Thompson to look at all options, obviously. But the quickest way to fix what ails the pass defense is to find another legit pass rusher.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (21) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

hyperRevue's picture

Julius Peppers! (Just kidding.)

But what about a Joey Porter?

packeraaron's picture

The problem w/Porter is that he a) wants to start and b) will want way too much money. He's still able to rush the passer, it's true but he can't play the run to save his life, but still wants to start. That aint gonna happen, not in GB. Now, if he sits on the market for a couple months, I would not be surprised to see the Packers take a look.

PackersRS's picture

Aaron, I've heard the Packers are in love with Jarred Odrick, from Penn State. What do you think about this info and about the guy???

I, personally, like Corey Wootton or Alex Carrington more in the later rounds than getting Odrick in the 1st...

packeraaron's picture

PackersRS - Odrick's got a bit of nasty to him, which I like. Thompson's history suggests that if he likes the guy, and he's there to be taken, he'll pull the trigger regardless of perceived need at other positions.

ZeroTolerance's picture

Finding a pass rusher even in Round One is difficult (refering to Harrell and Raji). Thompson has to do better in April.

packeraaron's picture

Zero - here's the thing, though. You can find college DEs that are too small for the NFL that translate to OLB in the 3-4 much further down the draft. Don't forget, PIT has made a living on finding guys late or undrafted and turning them into pass rushing studs.

hyperRevue's picture

For what it's worth, Matthews was lobbying for Sean Weatherspoon on twitter.

PACKERS.'s picture

Agreed.(when don't I agree with you) Every unit on the defense is very intertwined. I fully support getting more talent, but we need to apply it to both the line and the secondary.

lmills's picture

Fully agree. I'm also interested to see what they have in Bell & Underwood this year. I think pass rush is more of a liability than secondary right now. Add 1 corner this offseason via draft or FA.

packeraaron's picture

lmills - completely agree on Bell and Underwood. I think Bell in particular is better than he showed last season.

RockinRodgers's picture

I like what I saw from Brandon Graham during the Senior Bowl. As far as the secondary goes, it looks like Antrel Rolle will be released. If we go after one free agent, he would be a good one.

Dilligaff's picture

Yes I agree that another pass rusher in our front 7 is key for this defense to move forward, kind of crazy how things play out, we need another pass rusher and Kampman will walk or be a highly paid and reluctant player in the 3-4 system. I truely believe that another stud LB is needed, inside or outside has priority over the secondary. I guess that is where I have the biggest concern about keeping Hawk this year, when he is in our defense is more predictable and has less options. IMO the LBs are the core of a good 3-4 defense and that a 3-4 defense works the best when other teams QB does not know what you are running. When a player like Hawk is in, Capers options are limited. As far as pass rush Jolly is also a liability here, and the problem is compounded when both Jolly and Hawk are in at the same time when 1st 10. Keys to the success for next year will be Raji on the defensive line, we must get a pass rush from him and Jenkins. I still hold out hope for Brad Jones, who should be much more prepared going through an entire off season work out program. Last year he was splitting time with his education, not putting all his eggs into one basket being drafted in the seventh round. He was a long shot at making the team, where as this year he can devote all his energy on football, knowing he has a great chance of making the roster this year.

LACheez's picture

FYI - Nick Barnett is chatting on NFL.com today, Monday at 4:30pm EST. Tune in to ask questions about the Packers defense!

DR.AW"'s picture

"The New Orleans Saints will not place their franchise tag on Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper, a source close to the situation said Monday."
according to ESPN, The Pack should definitely try and bring him back for at least one more year with his first pro team.

hyperRevue's picture

Question for Nagler - So, the final 4 teams aren't allowed to sign a free agent until they lose one of equal or greater value, right? I'm wondering what determines each player's value? Is there a system set up like in baseball (Typa A free agents, Type B free agents, etc..) or what? I haven't read anything about that.

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I was thinking about LT and what team he could go to that would give him the best shot at a super bowl run, and I thought of the Vikings. If they lose Chester Taylor, is that enough of a loss to sign LT? I mean, statistically LT had a much better 2009 than Taylor did, but I don't think anyone would disagree that Taylor has more upside going into 2010.

(Not that I think that the Vikes will sign LT, just a hypothetical situation to illustrate this "value" question.)

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Is value bases solely on last year's performance? An average of the last several years, like in baseball? A projection of future production? A combination of all 3?

packeraaron's picture

hyper - there's a formula in the CBA's 'Final Year Plan' that determines the 'value' - it involves salary and total compensation in 2009. The Final 8 teams can not sign a free agent unless they lose a FA of comparable 'value' - you should note, though, they CAN sign players that have been CUT from any team.

hyperRevue's picture

Oh, interesting. So, it's a salary-based assessment and not performance?

packeraaron's picture

hyper - I've got to go back and look at the language, but that's my recollection...

packeraaron's picture

hyper - this is from a summation paper from the NFLPA and NOT the official language. But you get the idea:

the four clubs participating in the Conference Championship Games are limited in the number of new free agents that they may sign; the limit is determined by the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs. Such a team can replace a player it loses in free agency with a player having a comparable salary; the team also can sign its own free agent players without restriction. For the four clubs that lose in the Divisional playoffs, in addition to having the ability to sign their own free agent players without restriction and additional free agents based on the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs, the teams may also sign additional free agent players based on specific financial parameters – in general, one free agent with a first year salary of $4.925M or more, and any number of free agents with a first year salary of up to $3.275M (with future 30% increases).

bucky's picture

I remember the play against the Vikings to which you refer like it was yesterday. Watch that film again; it sure looks to me like the D line was not even trying to rush the passer, but was instead playing some sort of contain rush like they might have against Michal Vick a few years back. I have no idea if that was by design or what, but it made me sick.

I am of course a big fan of Corey Wootton, who seems to be projected anywhere from the late first to third ronud. He was a beast his junior season until getting hurt in the bowl game v. Missouri, then started pretty slow in 09 while he recovered from reconstructive knee surgery. He seemed to come on strong toward the later part of the season though (ask Rick Stanzi if Wootton can rush the passer).

hyperRevue's picture

Ha. Jeez, I'd hate to read the official language.
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But, yeah, it seems to be salary-based "value" and not performance-based. That I didn't know. Thanks for the info.

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