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Jenkins The Weak Link Against The Run?

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Jenkins The Weak Link Against The Run?

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.

Comments (12)

WoodyG's picture

The Pack have got to be quietly hoping a healthy & motivated J. Harrell can help with this potential issue. Raji, Pickett & Harrell (all 1st rd picks) could be the answer. Before anyone scoffs at this idea, I'll remind you that Capers is the new DC. Everything is in play.
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I haven't given up on Harrell as most have. There's too much precedent for a 25 yr old 1st rd pick entering only his 3rd season to succeed when healthy & coached up.

bomdad's picture

Jenkins is good enough to get a double team in run blocking. And thats the point of the 3-4 end. He was hurt for most of last season, so I dont know where the fear comes from-in 07 he was the best lineman. Unless he is unable to recover, I dont see anything different about 09.

packeraaron's picture

Woody - completely agree with you here. Corey and I have gone round and round on this one on the podcast. Obviously, Harrell has been disappointing up to this point, but he has a completely clean slate with a new staff and system. If he doesn't take this opportunity and run with it, THEN I'm over him. But right now, I'm excited at the possibilities...

Andrew in Atlanta's picture

Some love for Justin! Way to go Woody.

packeraaron's picture

bomdad - He was the best in 07? Really? I completely disagree with that. He WAS playing the best in 08 before he got hurt, that I'm on board with. That said, as I indicate in the post, the responsibilities are vastly different and yes, he's taken on double teams in his career, but never for more than a handful of snaps per game. It will now become a down-in and down-out existence for him. Not every player is cut out for that. We'll see...

bomdad's picture

aaron, I am holding out hope he transforms into a Richard Seymour DE. If you have Pickett and Raji getting doubles, to get another double now your putting the TE over Cullen and 6 blockers on 3 DL, or your leaving Raji single teamed to penetrate or collapse the line from the backside. I like that scenario.

As far as best DL in 07, I have to caveat interior linemen. However he produced on par with Kampman when moved to DL at the end of the season. Kampman had a monster year against the run and pass. Who is your best DL?

Franklin Hillside's picture

...and then Harrell sits out for "undisclosed reasons"

This definitely tempered my enthusiasm.

Could be nothing, he could have just been gearing up for the bowling tournament, it determined who entered the next round robin.
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Dang. I need to watch another movie..

packeraaron's picture

Franklin - the question is - was it league play? If so, he is most def excused. ;)
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bomdad - Best DL on the 07 squad? Ryan Pickett, without question. Throw in the fact that he played hurt for the second half of the year and it is a truly remarkable performance.

Mark's picture

Have to agree with bomdad - with Raji and Pickett (hopefully) commanding double teams, Jenkins should be one on one most of the time. Or, if he is getting doubled and the O-line holds off Raji and/or Pickett, they can send the OLB around Jenkins which will either cause a lineman to leave Jenkins (bringing him one on one again), or allow the OLB to roam in the backfield.

Jayme's picture

I understand your concern, but I think this speaks volumes to where we are at right now if Cullen Jenkins is the weak link on our starting DL. Things could be a lot worse.

Obviously, if he doesn't recover fully from his injury, this becomes an even bigger problem, but I have faith that he will.

PackersRS's picture

I have this concern if the base is Jenkins Jolly and Pickett. If Raji is on board, I have no concern. Two NT plus an ex-DT, a former DE at OLB... If they slide the line to Jenkins, not only I absolutely think he can handle it, but be sure that Raji and Kampman will make them pay...

Ron La Canne's picture

My only concern with Jenkins is physical. His upper body strength could be deminished significantly. That will definetely not be known until they get on the field during pre-season. During the OTA's and non-mandatories injuries are treated as if they don't exist in TT and MM's world.

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