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Point of Veau: Three Personnel Changes the Packers Should Make

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Point of Veau: Three Personnel Changes the Packers Should Make

So Aaron Rodgers is out for month or so. So what?

The Green Bay Packers' season isn't over. Sure, their chances of making the playoffs just got exponentially more difficult, but they face a very manageable schedule the next month or so as they try to stay afloat.

Even without Rodgers, there's no reason they shouldn't be able to compete with the likes of the Eagles, Giants and Vikings in the upcoming weeks.

No win is going to come easy over this span, so the Packers need do everything in their power to become a better team at every position in hopes it gives them that edge to win games in the absence of the face of the franchise.

Here's three simple changes the Packers can make now to make them a better team:

1. Casey Hayward (nickel) and Micah Hyde (dime) Defending the Slot Full-Time

The Packers appear to be easing Hayward back into action after missing the first seven weeks of the season due to a hamstring injury, having him play only part-time the past two games.

Hayward certainly didn't help the Packers' cause against the Bears, missing a critical tackle on Bears tight end Martellus Bennett that went for a long game and giving up multiple receptions as well. But the further he becomes removed from his injury, the better Hayward figures to get.

Tramon Williams did an admirable job defending the slot while Hayward was gone and could play there in a pinch if injury strikes again, but as long as Hayward and Micah Hyde are around, there's no reason for Williams to line up in the slot any more.

It's clear that Hayward's and Hyde's strengths and skill set are amplified the closer they are to the spot of the football, while the opposite is true of Williams.

Hayward should play in the nickel package full-time. Hyde should be in the dime package full-time, and Sam Shields should be on the football full-time no matter what down, distance or package the Packers are in.

That leaves only Williams and Davon House in a time-share at the perimeter cornerback position on the left side of the field.

It's an unenviable position defensive coordinator Dom Capers and cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt to choose between Williams and House, but there's no reason to continue the heavy rotation they used the past few weeks.

Perhaps they'll want to keep House off the field for plays immediately following special teams duty, but main point is that they can't continue to keep Hayward off the field any longer.

2. Find Out Where Derek Sherrod Is At ASAP

Now that Sherrod has been activated off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, the Packers must feel comfortable in him returning to action, and they should waste no time in doing so.

Sherrod has been taking part in practice for the past three weeks and this week's of preparation will be four, roughly the equivalent of training camp, giving him enough time to knock off the rust and get back in game-shape.

The return of right guard T.J. Lang complicates matters, not knowing if he'll be available to return in time for Sunday's game against the Eagles or not. But either way, the Packers should give Sherrod an opportunity to start at right tackle.

Marshall Newhouse looked inept in pass protection this past Monday against the Bears and should serve in a backup role the rest of this season.

If Lang is out, Barclay will fill his shoes at right guard and Sherrod should start at right tackle. But even if Lang is back, Sherrod should still get an opportunity to show what he's got.

There's little to lose in giving Sherrod a chance. If he's too slow or still not strong or stout enough, they can always fall back on Barclay or Newhouse.

But there's no need in confining Sherrod to the sidelines as long as he's healthy and capable of shouldering the workload.

3. Don't Rotate Brad Jones with Jamari Lattimore

Much like Casey Hayward, the Packers eased Brad Jones back into action on Monday as he came back from a hamstring injury that kept him out for several weeks.

But the Packers should give back Jones his old gig at inside linebacker full-time, and the decision has more to do with special teams than defense.

While Jones was out and Jamari Lattimore was starting, the Packers special teams underachieved. Lattimore wasn't playing on the coverage and blocking units, and not having Jarrett Bush and Ryan Taylor due to injury didn't help either.

But since Lattimore, Bush and Taylor were all healthy and available for special teams duty this past Monday against the Bears, the job of containing dangerous returner Devin Hester became much easier.

Lattimore's contribution spoke for itself when he blocked a punt and recovered an onside kick on special teams, and freeing him up from defensive duties will allow him to continue to make an impact outside of defense.

Jones and A.J. Hawk are more than capable of holding down the fort at inside linebacker.

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: on Comments (37) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

G-man's picture

Expectations for Sherrod are to high. We seem to forget that many people were saying he was a bust before he was injured.....now he's an immediate starter!????

Brian Carriveau's picture

All I'm saying is to find out. They can put in Barclay or Newhouse if he's not up to the task.

trvs's picture

Pretty sure Brian suggested giving him an opportunity to start. Nothing was said about guaranteeing him a spot on the line. I would much rather see Sherrod get a shot, then put Newhouse back out there.

Good article, send it to TT. I hear what your saying with Jones/Lattimore, but damn Lattimore played well in relief of Jones. Just saying.

Stroh's picture

IMO Lattimore easily outplayed Jones. If it were up to me I would start Lattimore and use Jones in sub-packages. Lattimore to me anyway, was more impactful w/o looking at any stats. He just seemed to show up on a lot of different plays more often than Jones.

Sherrod should be given some reps in practice but he hasn't been on a football field for nearly 2 years. I don't see that kinda rust being kicked off in a month of practice. I just don't see it being very likely that he even plays on offense this year. Get him on ST if active, get him some practice reps to acclimate him to football again and let him compete in earnest in the offseason and training camp for a starting job. Preferrably at LT, w/ Bulaga at RT.

steven's picture

no baktari will keep lt.

Tibbits's picture

I'm with you. #69 has performed well enough that they'll keep him entrenched there until he loses it 1st round pick or not. Remember how long it took for them to give up on Newhouse even though he was getting killed week in week out. Sherrod will compete with Bulaga for the RT spot. They might pay lip service to a competetion for LT, but it's Bakhtiari's job to lose at this point.

Evan's picture

"We seem to forget that many people were saying he was a bust before he was injured"

What people?

Evan's picture

Certainly anyone calling a rookie who had no off-season a bust after just 5 games is no one whose opinion should be taken seriously.

ben's picture

I for 1 have very low expectations for sherrod. Partially because the severity of his injury. But mainly because I've seen him take quite a few snaps in a packer uniform. At no point has he shown to be a starter or even good backup. But I'm still for throwing him in there before Rodgers gets back to see what happens.

lebowski's picture

Look at the "can't miss" left tackles taken first and second overall this year. Both have struggled. You don't just come into the NFL and take over from the get-go. Throw in the fact that Sherrod had no offseason that year, then our coaches for some brilliant reason threw him in at guard, left, and right tackle, and yeah... he struggled a bit. No way in hell is he a "bust" already.

KennyPayne's picture

Agree with the first 2 points wholeheartedly. Disagree on Lattimore, slightly. While he is invaluable on STs, the D missed his speed/hitting ability against the Bears.

Also, I think Lattimore should not replace Jones but rather Hawk on passing downs. Give Bears coach Trestman credit for attacking Hawk over and over again. AJ had a -5.1 rating from Pro Football Focus.

I expect Chip Kelly to ruthlessly exploit Hawk's deficiencies this Sunday.

mike's picture

pass defense and tackling still stink

rjw's picture

Good recommendations with facts to support these changes. The biggest employee move should be made at the end of the season... replacing Capers with a proven DC that doesn't rely on finesse schemes. If someone like Rex Ryan becomes available there will be a move. While the balance of strength in the NFL has shifted to offense Capers cannot get his defenestration's off the field and there times, like we saw Monday and will see in the next few weeks, where the D must stop the opposition.

Fish crane's picture

Pass defense sucks? It's about pressure.

ArodMoney's picture

Exactly this.

The TKstinator's picture

+1

Point Packer's picture

I'm not sure about 2 or 3.

Uncle Louie's picture

The DB's are too small. They are timid, take bad angles on tackling attempts, lunge instead of squaring-up on a ball carrier. Very overrated group. Burrnett is average at best (over paid). Time to bring in veteran free agent next year. Remember Reggie White and Charles Woodson. And we wouldn't have won the Superbowl without Andre Rison in 1996. TT has had many misses with his draft picks, give up a few to pick up a nugget in free agency.

Calabasa's picture

Jesus- the Andre Rison argument?

These DB's are good, just inconsistent. Better DB's don't come on the market, and if they do, they're too expensive.

rigit's picture

I say you are on with all but Lattimore. That cat brings energy and attitude. Jones can sit. Never liked his, Hawk like, getting sucked into a crowd and not break free. Latt's a beast.

Kt's picture

Get Hyde on the field and keep him there. He makes tackles.

Stroh's picture

Sorry but there is no way in hell that Hyde should be on the field at the expense of House! House needs to be on the field more than he has. Doesn't anyone remember all the passes House has defended already? It a given that Hayward is gonna be the nickel CB working the slot, but in the dime, Williams should move inside along w/ Hayward and Shields and House should be outside! It makes no sense to limit House to playing that little when he has been nearly as good as Shields.

Hyde is the 5th best CB right now (and that's not a knock on Hyde just the truth) and if Williams is released in the offseason as I expect, he'll still only be the 4th best CB on the roster. House is simply to good to be on the sideline as often as you say just to get Hyde in the game. That makes no sense whatsoever!

Katsuya's picture

I agree. Shields and House mak3 the perfect duo on the outside, because of their ability to press. Honestly, at this point l see tramon as the 4th, maybe even 5th best Cb on the team.
I also agree that Lattimore should be starting over Jones. I also believe his explosiveness helps Hawk play better as well. Kind of like how Bishop did.

Stroh's picture

So let me get this straight regarding Lattimore. You want to take a guy that is making plays on both Defense and ST and limit him to only ST? How does that make any sense? Lattimore is a damn good playmaker, if anything what he has done on ST should earn him MORE playing time on D, at the expense of Jones!

When you have a guy like Lattimore outplaying another LB (jones) AND making plays on ST you reward him w/ more playing time on D so he can make even more impactful plays. Let Jones go back to being a ST only guy. But for Gods sake don't take Lattimore off the field! We need more playmaking on D, not less.

hump's picture

house is in no way,shape or form,any better in coverage than micah hyde,and micah hyde shouldnt even be playin cornerback,but hes just that good of a football player. House looks the part,but will break your heart as he gives up on plays for some insane reason. carriveau,you are spot friggn on in this article!!! lattimore is an exciting Hombre,but has nowhere near the coverage skills of brad jones,and i love barclays 'want to' but he just doesnt have the natural ability to play outside in the NFL.Derrick Sherrod can do better even with some rust and even if he struggles a bit,hes such a natural pass protector that he wont get Arod killed when he returns. GOOD WORK HERE BRIAN!

ben's picture

come on hump, house may be the best all around corner on the team. He is having a very good year. He's sticky in coverage and both a better tackler and in press coverage than shields. Extend devon right now. Franchise shields. Heyward to ball hawking safety. Not only that, pay tramon his 7 million and keep him as an excellent starting #3 back. Hyde the dime.

Evan's picture

Off-Topic: SI lists AJ Hawk as one of the most disappointing players this season. Do these people even watch the games?

ArodMoney's picture

Not sure how he can be a disappointment when the expectations were so low.

ben's picture

AJ has been more aggressive this year and has played as well as I've seen him play. But he still should be included in the conversation in who should sacrifice snaps at MLB.

KennyPayne's picture

Hawk has an overall -9.1 rating by ProFootballFocus this season. He had 3 sacks against Baltimore, he has O in the other 7 games.

AJ has created 0 turnovers again this year.

From McGinn regarding Monday's game: "A.J. Hawk's limitations were exposed for the second straight game. He has lost weight to increase his range, but in a ground-and-pound contest like this his lack of bulk hurts the defense. He was engulfed, trashed and bounced too much. To his credit, Hawk almost never quits on a play and is forever trying to spin off blocks and into the ball carrier's legs. Then TE Martellus Bennett ran right by him in man coverage for 27 yards even when he had inside leverage. Hawk played all 77 snaps ahead of Brad Jones (43), who alternated with Jamari Lattimore (23) on the other side. Jones returned from a three-week absence; it will be interesting to see if McCarthy goes back to Jones or stays with Hawk as his every-down linebacker."

Nononsense's picture

Apparently just the Bears game.

I too think Lattimore should play more not less and I agree he should replace Hawk in coverage siuations not Jones. I like Hawks aggressiveness this year but hes still pretty bad in coverage. Let him continue to shoot gaps and make plays moving forward not going backwards.

marcopo's picture

Obviously, the defense slipped back Monday night. What no one has mentioned is how suburb the Bear offense was. Yes, is hard to compliment the Bears, but their backup performed better than Cutler ever did against the Packers. As the defense spent more time on the field, their performance dipped further. I agree with most of the posts that Lattimore should spend more, not less time playing. He's earned it and has prove he's a player. I don't know what to say about the DB's. Overall, their play has been pretty good, but it seems they don't have the confidence yet to break on the ball and manufacture some interceptions. The one Williams dropped was frankly inexcusable for a player with his experience.

Morgan Mundane's picture

I'm thinking if we would have solidified the O line with a couple of top young draft picks like Chicago did, we may not be talking about Rogers getting hurt.
Ted put his eggs in the Sherrod coming back basket and he still hasn't come back yet, the Bulaga -gee had a hip injury no problem basket and lost on both counts.

Wonder how that Datone pick in the first is working out for us?

Brian Lee's picture

I agree all the way on having Hayward full-time in the slot for the nickel and dime. I would love to see House be consistent enough to be full-time at corner opposite Shields and TW come in only in the dime. I know House looked pretty bad on a couple of throws in the Bear's game, getting turned around and losing his balance; but House has also had some very impressive games too. Bottom line, TW has not been able to regain the form he had before his shoulder injury.

I would love to see Jones and Lattimore on the field together full-time with Hawk as the back-up. Hawk's recent great performance was due to the way Capers used Hawk. Hawk is a huge liability any time he is in pass coverage. Unless Hawk is blitzing, he is a huge hole in the defense on any passing down. Jones and Lattimore would be the best combination for the starting ILBs.

madmanJack's picture

the defense got eaten alive Monday night. no pass rush, poor tackling, poor coverage. you can't blame this all on the players though as i think capers got outcoached by trestman. giving these big receivers a free shot off the line will kill you. cb's needed to be up in their face knocking them off their routes....didn't happen. pretty passive/aggressive all night.

Bibbon Hazel's picture

"Hyde here, Hayward there, Tramon in and House out and Shields on House off" None of this shit matters on the back end when any top 25 QB has 5 seconds to stand back there with decent protection and throw to multiple wide open receivers that run away from coverage after so long. It comes down to pressure! Dom was passive and was owned by Trestman. Clay and Perry will win some one on ones that Dom kept expecting Palmer and Mulumba to win last Monday... The Pack could have Deon, Ronnie Lott, and every other hall of fame dback on the field, in their prime, and Dom's timid plan would have failed miserably Monday. The tackling certainly sucked. The lack of rush effected that as well. First blitz from the slot I noticed was with 10 minutes left in the game! WTF Dom? Without Clay and Perry winning one on one matchups this defense will get shredded. Hawk sucks. Jones and Lattimore need to be on the field 90% of the time. "Accountability" loses some luster when it turns to "liability"

fred's picture

I believe GB has only run two padded practices since Sherrod came off PUP. If that's true, the premise that Sherrod's four weeks of practice is "roughly the equivalent of training camp" is more than a little off base. Sherrod wasn't exactly a world beater prior to the injury, has put on pads twice in the past two years, and now the team is going to be improved by throwing him into the fire at OT? I don't see it.

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