Great stuff from Pete Dougherty today on Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji and the Packers’ apparent desire to keep them on the field together in their base set as often as possible. It makes perfect sense when you think about how awful the defense looked against the run last season, on first down in particular. (What’s interesting is that during the final month of the season, the interior run defense actually seemed to stiffen. Pickett and Jolly in particular played extremely well over the course of the final three games)
Dougherty has a brief mention of Cullen Jenkins and how a deeper defensive line rotation should help solidify the run defense. But Jenkins is what is worrying me. This isn’t Bob Sanders’ scheme where he can line up at end, read the play and then rush the passer or contain the run against an outside tackle, one on one more often than not. In this scheme, he will be asked to take on multiple lineman, not to mention steamrolling fullbacks. That is not Jenkins’ game. Yes, he is used to playing inside, and has done well in the past when inserted in sub-packages. The problem is, on those occasions he has been inside on mostly passing downs where his responsibility honoring the run was minimal. He was allowed to slice into the backfield as quickly as possible and make plays. And from all accounts, this will still be his role when the Packers go to nickel and dime. But in base, I worry that opposing offenses will target Jenkins in the run game. How? The easiest way will be to use the Packers new tendency to keep their guys ‘left’ and ‘right’ against them. Lining up the tight end away from Jenkins will ensure he is on the weakside of the offensive formation, which is traditionally where you want to run the ball against a 3-4 defense. Sure, he may hold up at first, and Capers can counter that tendency by adjusting any number of front calls to compensate. But make no mistake, until he shows that he can hold the point against sure-to-come double teams, offensive coordinators will target Jenkins early and often in the run game.
Filed Under: Cullen Jenkins