At his press conference Sunday, Mike McCarthy had the following to say about the defensive line:
So we’re trying to, if you recall two years ago we had an excellent rotation we felt in the defensive line, and we’re trying to get back to that.
It’s a little thing, but it’s incredibly important. The game of football is won from the inside out. Many of you have, correctly, pointed to the collapse of the defensive line as the biggest reason for the Packers’ defensive struggles last season. I was constant in my criticism of Thompson last offseason for not keeping the cupboard stocked, as it were, on the defensive line and I think I was proven correct by the turn of events over the course of the 2008 season.
So now we have the above from McCarthy, which would indicate that he and Thompson have taken the painful lessons of last season to heart. But have they? I mean, I’m as excited as the next guy about the addition of B.J. Raji, but is he really the lone addition that the defensive line needs? Obviously, I’m not so sure. I do like that they are playing him both at the nose and at end. The prospect of Raji and Pickett on the line together is exciting, especially in base personnel. The trouble I see is at the other end. Who do you play? Do you put in Jenkins? You may as well put up a ‘Run the Ball To This Side’ sign for opposing quarterbacks, so that they can switch any run calls they have away from Pickett/Raji. Do you play Johnny Jolly? Possibly, but then you have Jenkins, your best defensive lineman last season before his injury, on the bench.
OK, so it’s a fun problem to have and it’s one that, no doubt, will be sorted out over the coming months. And it is good to see McCarthy address what was a glaring issue last season with some semblance of sense. I just hope he and Thompson have not oversold themselves on their defensive line’s true talent level.