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Point of Veau: I Still Love Jarrett Bush... But Yes, It's Time for Sam Shields

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Point of Veau: I Still Love Jarrett Bush... But Yes, It's Time for Sam Shields

Here's the book on Jarrett Bush as a defender: He's been an insurance policy to Charles Woodson for years. You wouldn't know it, because in his seventh season with the Packers, Charles Woodson has missed a combined three games.

It's kind of like having a backup to Aaron Rodgers. You have one, just in case, but you hope he doesn't have to play.

The point is, Jarrett Bush's best position on the field is as a slot cornerback. As a slot corner, you don't have to cover down field very often and most everything is kept in front of you. It fits Bush's strengths. He's great on the blitz, and he's among the best form tacklers on the team. Even Hall of Fame scribe Bob McGinn can attest to that.

There's a lot of positive qualities about Jarrett Bush. He's probably the best special teams player on the Packers. He's also regarded as a leader by his teammates who have voted him a postseason captain for two consecutive years. These are the reasons Bush is kept on the roster and the reason he was signed as a free agent this past offseason.

So what do you do with a backup slot cornerback when Charles Woodson plays virtually every down? You allow him to compete for other spots on the field, even though they might not be his ideal fit. Such is the case as a perimeter cornerback.

For two straight games––the playoff loss to the Giants and Sunday's season opener versus the 49ers––the Packers have basically instituted a time share at cornerback opposite Tramon Williams. Essentially, Bush plays in the base 3-4 defense and then gives way to Shields in the nickel.

It works out that the Packers are more likely to use their base defense when opposing offenses are more likely to run. The Packers are trying to utilize Bush's toughness and tackling ability in that capacity.

It's hard to blame to coaching staff for using this timeshare system. They were trying to send a message to Shields who was a milquetoast tackler last year, beyond pathetic.

Shields, however, seems to have gotten the message. Between his play in the preseason and the 49ers game, he's finally showing to be a willing tackler even if he's not a big-time hitter. His two interceptions in the preseason haven't gone unnoticed either.

As long as Shields is willing to tackle, he should start as the perimeter cornerback opposite Tramon Williams in both the base and nickel defenses.

That leaves Bush back on the sidelines for the most part, but that's fine. There's still a role for him in the dime defense, the only time two slot cornerbacks are on the field at the same time. And the word coming into the season is that the Packers are planning to use more dime defense this season, probably once they start seeing more pass-heavy teams.

After a less-than-impressive performance from M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian as the nickel safety, I'm leaning more toward keeping Woodson at safety on a full-time basis, which would actually allow Bush to be the slot cornerback.

It's presumptuous to think that will happen after only one game, but the play of Jennings and McMillian will be under the microscope in the next few games, and they're going to have to play better than they did on Sunday.

Such a lineup would also allow Casey Hayward to see some action in the dime defense with a hypothetical lineup of Woodson and Burnett at safety, Shields and Williams on the perimeter and Bush and Hayward in the slot.

Fans are probably have to have to become accustomed to Davon House not being a big part of the defense in 2012. His dislocated shoulder is probably just not going to allow him to play physical enough to see significant action.

Maybe he'll get healthier and better as time goes on, and it wouldn't surprise me to see the Packers used their injured reserve exemption on House to make room for suspended linebacker Erik Walden this week.

With six weeks off, perhaps House will be better equipped to participate later this season. And until then, the Packers will have to roll the dice on Shields and hope that bet pays off.

Brian Carriveau is the author of "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America" and an editor at Cheesehead TV. To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (18) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Kevin's picture

For a while a few years ago, didn't they have Bush learning the safety position? It seems like that might be a better fit for him. I would think he would be able to keep plays in front of him and play physical occasionally covering slower tight ends.

Anybody know what happened with that?

PackersRS's picture

1. Bush is absolutely awful at playing the ball in the air, which is crucial for a safety
2. A good safety needs to be able to recognize offensive formations and properly relay the info, something I don't believe Bush is capable of doing (nor any safety in the roster for that matter).

Bush to me is a teacher's pet, and they keep trying to work him. He keeps his head low, does what he's told to and has a great attitude about it. He really seems like a great guy and he has developed into a good special teams player but that's all he is, and this insistence with him is costing the Packers.

I get that they were trying to pass a message about tackling, but it ended up costing them. Time to stop fooling around and do some coaching instead of playing games.

Oppy's picture

Bush has a problem locating and adjusting to the ball when he's running down field in coverage and has to crane his neck around to look back for the ball. He has shown time and time again that when facing the LOS he excels at playing the ball (such as when in zone coverages).

He's also been singled out as being extremely good at play/formation recognition in the past. Film study is exactly what netted him his SB pick. I have no reason to believe Bush is an ineffective communicator. Seems like a smart enough kid.

I actually believe Safety puts Bush in the best position to utilize his talents.. I usually see things about the same as you do, but I'm on the complete other end of the spectrum on this one.

packsmack25's picture

Agreed across the board, but I still think McMillian is the best option at the safety spot in question.

Packerdoc's picture

Bush better be a great tackler because he is never in position to defense a pass. On the rare occasions he gets close to the ball, you can bet he'll get a penalty. And he has taken many STUPID penalties over the years. If were an opposing quarterback I would throw at Bush every single play knowing I'll get either a completion or a PI call. He is probably a great kid but an NFL pass defender he is not. it's a darn shame about House. He looked like the next big thing, the real deal.

CanadianPackersFan's picture

Right on the point..

Oppy's picture

Over the years, Bush has actually been in VERY good position to defend the pass.

He's often right on top of his man.. The problem is he can't turn his head and find the ball to save his life.

Doesn't make it any better, but I'm just sayin'.

lebowski's picture

I thought they already used their IR exemption on Sherrod

jmac3444's picture

Sherrod is on the PUP. They still can use the IR exemption rule

Oppy's picture

I don't think you have to pick a player for exemption.

If I'm not mistaken (and, I very well could be), to use the exemption, the only criteria is that the player must be on the active roster on week 1, and the player must be on IR for 7 consecutive weeks or longer. If a player meets those criteria, he can be re-activated. Don't think you need to "Designate" a player. This can only be done for one player a year.

Again, might not have that quite right, though

Pack12's picture

Whenever I hear Bush's name mentioned during a game something happens that is not good about 80% of the time. Keep him on Special Teams. Please put Shields in.

woodson4president's picture

I miss 36.....

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Yeah... Butler was the bees knees.

BubbaOne's picture

Woodson led the team in missed tackles last year. Aikman said he led the team the last TWO years in penalties. He had at least one of each yesterday that were big and untimely.

I'm pissed off he's been held to little if any accountability for his transgressions. Leave him at safety where his loss of speed and quickness can be minimized. Let Bush, McM or Hayward play nickel and dime.

ben's picture

I've been saying it for years, he's terrible. Especially considering he's getting nearly $2million/year! McMillian isn't only a better safety, he's a better slot corner. As is Richardson. I'd love to see bush cut when Neal gets back week 4. It ain't happenin, but....

Brian Carriveau's picture

McMillian and Richardson are better slot corners than Bush? And you're basing that on the zero snaps either one of them have taken as a slot corner?

D B H's picture

Bush the special teams player is one of my heros.

Bush the cornerback is directly responsible for me going bald.

Fish/Crane's picture

still happy about that tackle by Shields on Gore. The defense is going to be a secondary mess for eight weeks and then be good enough...one hopes

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