Tramon Williams guarding the slot.
Davon House out on the perimeter.
Chris Banjo at safety.
Jerron McMillian covering the slot in dime.
The Green Bay Packers experimented with several combinations of players in the secondary this past Sunday, particularly in the second half after they had already built up a 31-0 lead.
Going forward, the challenge for the Packers will be to figure out who lines up where when the games are a little bit closer and there’s more on the line, perhaps as soon as this upcoming Sunday when they travel to Cincinnati to play the Bengals, a playoff team the past two seasons.
“I like our secondary, just the way these guys are rallying,” said head coach Mike McCarthy. “We could probably do maybe a cleaner job this week of defining roles and giving these guys a chance to really lock in at certain areas. Davon House, I thought he played heck of a game.”
House came into the game on a rotational basis this past week with no real rhyme or reason for doing so, other than being a low-risk opportunity to see him in action. He didn’t enter the game because of injury and no one played egregiously bad enough to be benched.
One series he was in the game for Sam Shields, another he took over for Tramon Williams on the perimeter, while Williams slid inside to the slot, a position he’s rarely played in Green Bay. Micah Hyde, at least temporarily, was bumped out of the lineup.
House responded, playing perhaps his best game in three years, coming up with a sack of Robert Griffin III on a blitz and allowing only two completions on four targeted passes for a mostly harmless 31 yards, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
With Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward out for what looks to be at least one more week as the Packers err on the side of caution with an upcoming Week 4 bye, House could be in line for more playing time.
Standing 6-1, compared to Williams’ 5-11, the Packers appear to like House’s ability to match up with taller wide receivers, whereas they can use Williams’ savvy in defending the slot.
Williams led the team with 15 snaps in slot coverage in Week 2, curious considering his inexperience at the position and considering Hayward figures to take over once he’s healthy.
Hyde, meanwhile, hasn’t looked as good in the regular season as he had in preseason action, although he’s still learning as rookie.
At safety, the Packers gave Chris Banjo his first extended look in a regular season game, after seeing poor play at the position out of Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings at San Francisco in Week 1.
Because Jarrett Bush didn’t play against Washington due to a hamstring injury, McMillian occasionally bumped down to the slot in the dime defensive package, which plays to his strength by being in the box, as opposed to playing in space as a deep safety.
Banjo, McMillian and Jennings were all largely invisible in Week 2, none of them coming up with any big plays, but neither were they exposed. Based upon their play against the 49ers, that can only be considered a step forward.
How the Packers divvy up snaps and playing time in the week ahead remains unclear, but they figure to spend the week of preparation attempting to sort it out.
The secondary will be charged with the task of defending one of the NFL’s better wide receivers in A.J. Greene this upcoming Sunday, so containing him will be a priority.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book “It’s Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America,” and editor of Cheesehead TV’s “Pro Football Draft Preview.” To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.