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Packers Experimenting with New-Look Secondary

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Packers Experimenting with New-Look Secondary

Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams. Photo by Corey Behnke of CheeseheadTV.com.

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 carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (12) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

hayward4president's picture

If House is lined up against AJ with no help Sunday ......I'm sellin my game tickets.

L's picture

I like House. It's about time he's given an opportunity to shine; although, matching 1v1 w/ no help over the top against AJ.Green is a tall order indeed.

Beep's picture

So what happens to this rotation when Hayward comes back? Its a good problem to have this depth at CB, but what about S? Can it hurt to try House or Hyde at safety?

redlights's picture

It will allow Hayward and Burnett to be brought in on a snap count, so they have less risk of re-injury; plus, the Pack is less exposed to any rust.

Stroh's picture

I think they're just test guys out to see who can play and what roles they can handle. Once Hayward is healthy, he'll be the slot guy, so whoever shows he can play slot best now will be the dime CB. House is pretty much strictly an outside CB IMO, same w/ Shields tho he got some snaps in the slot I guess. If Williams shows he can play slot really well, it would mean he and Hayward inside in dime, w/ Shields and House outside. Otherwise Hyde or McMillan could play slot CB w/ Hayward and Williams and Shields outside.

However it shakes out having at least 4 quality CB is a luxury. I don't think Williams will be returning next year, so I hope Hyde can step up next year. We'll see tho.

Bibbon Hazel's picture

Shields will lock down AJ. He'll get his touches but I believe Domfounded and MAshed Potato Mike go with Shields exclusively on Green with Tramon in the slot and House on the opposite outside spot. Tramon and McMillian will have the task of stopping Eifert and Greisham while they see time in the box. Shut down the run and the Oline holds their own against this huge (and pretty darn good) dline I believe the PAck can roll this week. Expect to see a lot more man coverage and presure on Dalton, more than we've seen in the first two weeks. I expect a few sacks and a convincing W.

redlights's picture

Cinncinati looked pretty good against an arguably cruddy Steelers team. That said, Andy Dalton has over-achieved against WI teams before (Rose Bowl).

mexpackfan's picture

I love this team I am considering moving from Mexico to Green Bay

Fred's picture

For sure I see Hayward in the slot when he's finally healthy, then for dime we get House & Shields outside w/ Williams & Hayward inside. Yeah, that sounds pretty good to me! Looking forward to that in week 5.

Bearmeat's picture

Neither House, Hyde, nor Williams is fast enough to play the slot effectively. Shields is too small for the slot.

And don't get me started on McMuffin and the Dr.

Heyward is the only answer Capers has at slot. Just like Burnett is the only answer at Safety.

IF those two can get back and stay healthy (arguably along with Shields), then the secondary will be pretty darn good. Any competent DC can hide one mediocre player. (SS in this case)

Tramon and Shields outside. House as primary backup (taking Tramon's job as early as next season)

Hayward in slot. Hyde backing him up and at other slot in dime.

The least of the evils at safety across from Burnett.

Stroh's picture

In the slot quickness is far more important than Speed. Speed is much more important outside. That's why Hayward is so good in the slot... he has outstanding quickness, but his speed is marginal, same w/ Hyde. Shields and House are both much better outside. Williams should be equally good inside and out, IMO.

Lou's picture

Per practice today it looks like McMuffin has already lost his starting job to Banjo.

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