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Kampman: Not As Good As His Rep

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Kampman: Not As Good As His Rep

First, I'm going to begin by saying that I'm an Aaron Kampman fan. He's a great story, a great man, and a great football player. Over the course of his career, and especially after the 2007 season, Kampman has come to be regarded as one of the league's premire pass rushers.

However, he is not a great pass rusher, not even close. 

A 5th round throw-in pick from the deal that landed the Packers Javon Walker in the first round, Kampman has spent his eight seasons in the NFL working harder and training smarter than almost anyone else in the NFL. He is without question one of the smartest defensive players in the league when it comes to the game of football. All of this does not add up to pass rushing greatness. Oh Kampman will collect his sacks - often times against the weakest of competition. He's good enough to beat the trash on a regular basis and will beat the odd journeyman. But when the chips are down, when the Packers absolutely need a sack, and Kampman is going against something more than a journeyman, you can forget it. 

For a pass rusher to be truly great, he needs to be able to deliver the deciding blow for the defense when it needs it most. In the current game, think of Harrison, Ware or Allen. In the modern game, think of Reggie White, Lawrence Taylor or Richard Dent. Going back All-Time, of course, one can't help but think of Deacon Jones and Merlin Olsen. All these guys have or had the ability to take over a game at the most important time. Put plainly, Kampman does not even come close to having this ability. 

Now, I know many of my brethren in the Packer Blogosphere have floated the idea of trading Kampman and I have been quick to shoot them down each time. Yes, he could probably fetch a couple of draft picks, but then what for the Packers' pass rush? When your pass rush consists of one above average guy and a bunch of stiffs, you don't trade away the one above average guy, not unless you want to revert to having the defense count to '5 Mississippi'.  

It will be interesting to see how Kampman takes to the new defense. Much has been made of his switch to OLB, and Kampman has, somewhat surprisingly, been completely silent on the issue. Hanging over all of this, of course, is the fact that he will be a free agent in 2010. And this is the crux of the issue. Kampman could get paid one of two ways - as a good all around football player, or as a pass rusher. If he is able to collect a bunch of sacks, his price will skyrocket. The Packers would be foolish to pay him along the lines of a Julius Peppers or a Jared Allen. He is simply not as gifted when it comes to getting to the quarterback as those types of players. And make no mistake, that is why Allen, Peppers and the like get the big bucks. Because they get to the quarterback with regularity. Packer fans know only too well what happens when a team overpays for 'pass rushing talent' based on reputation. The Packers are still eating through Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila's contract, another pass rusher that collected most of his sacks against inferior competition but could never deliver against the better offensive tackles in the league.  

Some have intimated that Kampman plans on riding out this year and then hitting the free agent market so that he might sign with a team that runs a 4-3. I tend to think that's overblown a bit. I do think Kampman is concerned with the switch and is in 'wait-and-see' mode when it comes to Capers' schemes and how effective they end up being. To that end, he's not much different than the average Packer fan. But those fans, and more importantly, the Packers, should not let Kampman's reputation as a 'premire' pass rusher cloud their judgement when it comes time to resign him to anything more than a Packer-friendly contract.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (33) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Kevin Purcell's picture

Who is saying he is truly great? I haven't heard that. Above average at least and maybe good. But he is no Reggie White.

packeraaron's picture

I'm probably overreacting, but the germ for this post was born last offseason when Kampman was going to the Pro Bowl. Ever since then commentators and fans have inflated Kampman's ability, esp when it comes to rushing the passer. Again, I'm probably overstating a bit, just think there's a danger there of a KGB repeat.

Ron La Canne's picture

"When your pass rush consists of one above average guy and a bunch of stiffs, you don’t trade away the one above average guy, not unless you want to revert to having the defense count to ‘5 Mississippi’."

What I've been saying for how long? Let's hope Raji is an immediate impact. Let's hope Jenkins is fully recovered by the start of the season. Let's hope Jolly is not convicted of a felony. Let's hope Pickett isn't slowed by a lingering hamstring again. And, let's hope that Harrell can actually play more than two consecutive games at an acceptable level.

So, no you can't let the best pass rusher you have go. Regardless what the football purists believe, he is the best GB has.

PackersRS's picture

I'm sorry. Okay, he's not as good as Ware, Peppers, Merriman. And Harrison, okay, he WAS def. player last year, even though that's it. He has no prior stats...
BUT ALLEN? Really? Jarred Allen?

You DO know that he's only behind Merriman and Ware in sacks since 2005, right?

retiredgrampa's picture

While, admittedly, I know very little about the 3-4 and only slightly more of the 4-3, I can see that Kampman's future depends on how well he adapts to his changed responsibilities with the 3-4 scheme. The big question in my mind is whether he can be disruptive when he drops back into coverage. I doubt his expertise in that role. I can see him coming in when the 4-3 is called and putting his hand down. But in the 3-4 he would always be fully covered up. The Packers are being stacked up with speedy guys who can both rush and drop back into coverage. I wouldn't be surprised to see him traded after this season to a 4-3 club. For us now, the 3-4 is the way to go and he becomes a part-time player. And the Packers do not give big contracts to such a player. From now on, our pass rush will come from Raji and speedy OLBers. But Kampie will always be remembered as a man who worked hard to maximize his talents.

packeraaron's picture

PackersRS - sorry, I hate him, but Allen is worlds better than Kampman.

packeraaron's picture

retiredgampa - not quite accurate to say that Kampman will be a part-time player. He'll still be on the field for almost every down. In the base 3-4 he'll be standing up as an OLB and in sub packages, when they switch to a four man line, he will line up at his old end position, maybe even inside sometimes. But he won't be coming off the field very much.

Also, the Packers can't trade him after the season, he'll be a free agent. That's why so many people have suggested trading him before he hits the market. I just don't think it's worth it.

Alex Tallitsch's picture

I am pleasantly surprised to not hear Joe Johnson's name.

I learned you good.

Franklin Hillside's picture

No question mark?

Jayme's picture

PackersRS - Take a look at the way that Kampman gets his sacks. Very rarely are they straight up dominant sacks where Kampman nails the QB before he even gets a chance to find his receivers. Many are outside the pocket sacks in which Kampman has been beaten once but, through shear effort, makes up for it and gets the sack after most DE's would have quit.
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Yes, he does get a lot of sacks, and yes, he is a valuable asset on the team, but no, he's not an elite, dominant defensive end.

Ryeguy812's picture

A couple of things Aaron:
1. Kampmans value stems from his ability to do all things well. He isn't great at any one skill set. He isn't a premier pass rusher, he isn't a bonafide run stuffer, he isn't the dominant player on a defense. But he is very solid in all those aspects. He's a well rounded defensive end, that's where his value comes from.
2. I think your next post should be titled: "Peppers: Not as good as his reputation." He had 2.5 sacks two years ago and barely got into double digit sacks the 3 years prior to that. He takes plays off and doesn't even show up some games and he's looking for elite player money. I'd rather have a consistently-good-but-not-great Aaron Kampman than a flashes-of-greatness-but-also-goes-missing-for-games Julius Peppers.

3. And couldn't we say the same thing about all DEs in terms of building stats against mediocre tackles? Elite tackles are hard to come by for a reason. Even the best pass rushers can be neutralized be an equally good tackle. Take Reggie White for example. Eric Allen of the Cowboys had his number every game and Reggie knew it (even admitted it in his book). That's why tackle is so important.

Paul W.'s picture

I really really have to disagree with this article. You made some good points about how he isn't a dominate pass rusher which is true, but to call him just above average is an insult.

The reason for that is while he may only be an above average pass rusher but he is an elite run stopper, he's one of the best in the league at it.

Another thing to note is that on every play if you watch him on most plays he has two if not three guys on him and even then he still manages to get pressure. Before Jenkins got injured watching him with single guys on him it was embarrassing but later on in the season they could just stack up on him.

Basicly what I'm trying to say is that while he isn't an elite pass rusher he is still very good at disrupting the passer whether he puts him on his ass of by flushing him out of the pocket. But what makes him an excellent player is the fact that he can stop the running back in his tracks which is why the comparisons to KGB made me shudder.

I hope you don't take this as an attack but I'm just trying to point out there is alot more to a DE then just sacks.

packeraaron's picture

Good stuff Ryeguy.

1. I could not agree more. The question becomes, how much are you willing to pay for those attributes? As I say in the post, I think there's a real danger that the Packers could overpay here, though knowing Thompson, I doubt it.

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2. Again, I agree. Perhaps I'll post that over at the Other 31 ;) But since this is a Packers blog, I generally don't post about defensive ends that play for the Carolina Panthers.

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3. To some extent, this is true. And yes, most players will tell you they have trouble with this guy or that guy. But the best pass rushers know how to set guys up to take advantage of them at just the right time - Reggie and Taylor were masters at this. Sure Allen and maybe even one or two others could keep Reggie at bay, but he got the job done a hell of a lot more times than he didn't, no matter who he was facing. The same can be said of all the greats.

packeraaron's picture

Paul - read the post again. I could not agree more that he is an excellent all-around football player. I disagree that he is an 'elite' run stuffer. Even when the Packers went 13-3 in 2007, running off the edge against the Pack was the best way to move the ball on the ground. Watch the NFC Championship game again. Kampman gets pushed around. (Needless to say, he wasn't alone...) As for Kampman having 'three guys on him' - this is something that gets thrown out a lot by fans that just is not true. Yes, he will occasionally draw a double team, perhaps a chip from a back out of the backfield, and yes, I have on occasion seen an offense roll towards him with the end result being a tackle, back and TE all hitting Kampman, but this notion that he is getting 'triple teamed' on every play is absurd.

PackersRS's picture

Okay, I get that his physical abilities are not elite, but he IS an elite DE. He can play the game for sure, and has will power equal to none.

He has an average of 10.8 sacks since 2005, accounting for an average 29% of Packer sacks.

While Ware has an 13,37 sacks avg., he also has 29% of Cowboys sacks.

Merriman, excluding last season, has 13,16 for 25% of SD sacks.

Allen has 12,12 for 33%

And while I can't compare tackles between LBs and DEs, Kampman has an 74 Tackle average in that spam, while Allen has 62,5. One can say Kampman plays the run better...

By stats, I DO have to account Allen, specially since he has played for KC and suceeded, but Kampman's stats are close enough to the elite pass rushers...

BobbyOShea's picture

bwahahahahahahahaha!

Jayme's picture

PackersRS - Many of Kampman's sacks come outside the pocket. He's not getting them because he's dominating, but rather because the play breaks down because of the dominant (at times) defensive backfield. I'd be curious to see how many "coverage sacks" are attributed to all of these guys.
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As for tackles, that can be misleading. If a cornerback has a lot of tackles, that's usually a bad thing because it means the ball is being thrown his way a lot. While defensive ends are not quite the same story, I do believe that something similar may have been happening, especially since he was playing opposite of Cullen Jenkins, who, I believe, is a much better run-stopper than Kampman.

PackersRS's picture

Okay, but you can't just say his numbers are misleading and the other guys numbers are not. A sack is a sack. It gives a negative yardage and a loss of down. He's helping his team. I don't care if he sacks just by pushing the guy or by outwitting him, or wathever. He's beating them. You can't say he has been given all his sacks and Ware hasn't when he has the same percentage of team sacks as Ware.
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Like I said, he's def. not as physical or as disruptive as the other guys, but he's more passionate and more intelligent. In the end, AS NUMBERS SHOW, it balances things out.

My problem with this article is that it's saying that he's not as good as his reputation says, which is not true. He may be not as physical, which pretty much everybody knows, but he IS as good. Actually, sorry Aaron, but this article pisses me off, why not about Jolly or Pickett. About Harris, who's a penalty machine? Hell, even Barnett deserves this for last year, at least more than Kampman, a 5th round pick that has estabilished himself as a premium player to all the league.

WoodyG's picture

Aaron,
You certainly must have 2nd thoughts about posting this blog. You should have gone with your 'other' choice.
Kampman represents the type of player all fans pull for. (especially in this day where prima-donnas get all the attention - I won't mention any names). He definitely exceeded what I & most people had expected out of a 5th round draft pick from corn-country. His numbers say he's elite. Maybe he's just not flashy enough for you??
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Having said that, I doubt GB resigns him regardless of his performance in the 3-4. He's pushing 30 years old. CM3 is the new featured OLB. Most think GB has an endless supply of salary-cap space. They don't. They won't be able to sign all their core-players the next two years. Kampman, because of age, will play somewhere else.

packeraaron's picture

Woody - my post has nothing to do with how much I like him. Read the first line again. Thanks.

grhombe's picture

KGB was ONLY had one skill, he could not play the run, he could not play the screen, he could not do anything but speed rush. AK74 is more than a one trick poney. We will soon see if he can cover, but we know he plays the run well, can rush the passer (sure not top 5 in the NFL but probably top 10) and he always ALWAYS plays each play till the guy is actually tackled. Unlike most NFL DE's who assume the play is over when the QB no longer has the ball.

grhombe's picture

It is tough to be great when you have a double team every play. Allen has two Williams brothers in the middle, who does kampman have? Sure Pickett is good but who else. Double teams came his way about every play, any idea why?

L.A.'s picture

http://www.tundravision.com/2009/04/perhaps-it-is-time-to-shop-kampman.html

I wrote this a month ago, and still stand behind it. I agree that Kampman is a great asset, but in a contract year and putting him out of position, we stand to gain nothing if he is merely serviceable as an OLB and he decides to bolt.

As you say, he's not an overpowering guy and is really an overachiever...but there is a team out there that is going to look at his stats and Pro Bowls and overpay for it...and we get something out of it.

I find it somewhat ironic that it was so important to squeeze a third-round pick of value out of Brett Favre, but some of us seem content to see Kampman go for nothing after this season.

Paul W.'s picture

I didn't say he gets triple teamed on every play, but he does occationaly get hit by the tackle, TE and HB, but he does get double teamed almost every play, especially after Jenkins was gone.

BobbyOShea's picture

Well written article, Aaron, but I just disagree with you. Kampman isn't a one trick pony, but an outstanding all around football player. He has the potential to be a Mike Vrabel in this defense, which is fine by me.

Pack93z's picture

Must be getting desperate for material to start chipping away at our most complete defensive player on the roster.

Hell might not be elite in terms of the HOF greats, but in today's game, hard pressed to say he isn't in the argument for top 10 or 5 ends in the game.

He plays both the run and pass very solidly.. not many in the game can say that.. most do one or the other.. rare for players to be highly effective at both.

bucky's picture

It's interesting to see the Kampman posse represent. When other guys on the defense fail to make a play, it's because they suck. When Kampman fails to make one, it's because he's got two, or three, or nine guys blocking him.

I've said in the past that Kampman has sucked just as much as the rest of the Dline, and while there's a bit of hyperbole there, I'll stick by it. He's not terrible, and he's not "just a guy"- but not by much. He's a hard worker, but not a difference-maker. As Aaron said, many of his sacks come when plays break down. That's a credit to his motor, which is commendable, but not to his abilities. One of the other jobs of a D end (besides getting to the QB) is to control the edge; he really doesn't do that very well at all.

I think Kampman is popular because, like Tauscher before him, he's a guy that many Packer fans can identify with. Fairly low-key, a hard-working grinder, a midwesterner who likes to do the things that small town midwesterners like to do. There's nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't make him an elite defensive player. It just makes him popular.

WoodyG's picture

I think I have it finally figured out. Aaron is a ViQween fan using the G&G to further his own agenda.
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First, he rips on N. Collins, then points out all of AR's flaws. Now he calls A. Kampman 'great' but not really & here are the reasons. Who's next ??
"Charles is a great NFL CB but here are the reasons he's not all that good." Come on Aaron. Take down that poster of 'Fran the Man' that's still up in your rec room. Aaron will tell you that the top 3 RBs in NFL history are Foreman, Smith & Peterson.
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Aaron, you've been exposed. That purpulish car in your driveway is evidence enough for me. (Note: this post is no more than an attempt at sarcasm directed at resident blogger. I do not want the "Purple People Eaters" showing up at my back door.)

buckslayernyc's picture

Yeah,

I kind of agree with Bucky here. I just don't think you are a good evaluator of talent on the defensive side of the ball Aaron. Kampman is Jared Allen, they are indistiguishable...why do you even mention he was a throw in if not to tarnish him by association of draft status?

I have been amazed at your unfettered criticism of Collins as well....I think you just don't like these guys, but you do a good job of dressing up your criticism in cogent thought. Between the lines you just don't like them.

Which is odd because they both are in the top 5 of our best players

Jennings
Woodson
Kampman
Collins
Rodgers or some such. Did Kampman spit in your latte'? Did his mom copy your wife's hairdo? Did Collins play your favorite Sinatra tune backwards?

Weird.

packeraaron's picture

That's why I leave it to the film to defend my position for me.

Look at this clip -<a href="http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/09000d5d80cf3866/Steve-Smi... rel="nofollow">http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/09000d5d80cf3866/Steve-Smi...
It's a perfect example why you're wrong about both Kampman and Collins. 4th Quarter, Packers leading by a TD, a 3rd and long in definite favor of the defense - and both Kampman and Collins do absolutely nothing. In fact, Collins completely blows it by losing his depth and letting Steve Smith get behind him, the number one cardinal sin at that point in the game, and indeed for a safety playing deep in general. Again and again we saw this type of thing last year from both Kampman and Collins.
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And to all the commentators who love to go on and on about how Kampman was 'double and triple teamed every play' - you'll note he's going against a second year tackle, one on one, and losing.

matthew's picture

Aaron,

Great topic and thank you for taking on the ridiculious and false statement that Kampman is "always" double or triple teamed. He very rarely gets double teamed. He is a very good player and at his current salary i think he is a great fit on this team. But I hate when fans through out false "facts" jst to prove a point. I wish those fans could have watched the NFL networks replay of the game at Minnesota yesterday. Kampman wasn't doubled teamed once i the first half (small sample i know).....anywyas.... keep up the great posts...some peopel only see the world asd black and white.

buckslayernyc's picture

I can find film where every NFL players looks horrible.

I am not sure what the point is?

If a defensive end is single teamed he is supposed to get a sack? That's silly. Left Tackles get paid too, just ask Chad Clifton who has done a pretty good job on Jared Allen in the three times he has faced him...one on one.

I think the premise of your article is just plain silly, but that is not a personal reflection on you.

Kampman is not, in fact, over rated. He is rated right where he should be...about in the top 8 to 12 defensive ends in a 4-3 scheme in the NFL, same as Allen. NO one that I know of has been so bold to say he deserves to be mentioned in the same breadth as Strahan or Merriman...right?

I just get tired of Kampman's critics constently boxing him in a space called "try hard overachieving nice guy"
Fact is that he has consistently delivered over the last 5 years. If those sacks were so easy, than there should be a bunch of other guys that have also gotten them to prove he is not a special player.

the numbers don't add up

ACDC84's picture

It seems that guys like Allen, Harrison, and Ware play with a better group of guys that helps even out the blocking. The Packers had Kampman and no one else as rushing threats after Jenkins went down.

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