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The Curious Case of Jarrett Bush

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The Curious Case of Jarrett Bush

For the past few weeks Packers fans had read about the string of fantastic practices Jarrett Bush was putting together. After his big play in the Super Bowl, and subsequent blistering start to training camp, it seemed as though Bush had turned the proverbial corner.

Then came the preseason opener against the Browns.

Bush looked, to put it charitably, less like the version of Jarrett Bush that the media had been glowing about since the beginning of training camp and more like, well, Jarrett Bush. You know, the one that Packer fans have spent the last several years being frustrated with. Bush was seen trailing his man in coverage and generally getting beat more than a few times against the Browns, a chilling return to the form that has given Packers fans headaches over the years.

Then, a funny thing happened. The Packers returned to practice and the "new" Jarrett Bush returned. The last two days have seen another set of live reports from practice telling us how Bush is excelling in coverage, even ending today's practice with an interception, albeit from the safety position.

Two things.

One, it's well known that Bush attributes his big interception in the Super Bowl to the film work he did on the Steelers, and I don't doubt that for a second. But I also think he's benefiting from those types of study habits in practice. Think about how many years Bush has been working against Mike McCarthy's offense. He's spent the last five years watching every route combination McCarthy can throw at a defense. Not only that, but he's gotten extremely familiar with many of the receivers on the Packers roster, including Greg Jennings and Donald Driver.

And two, Bush should be playing exclusively at safety. I know the Packers like his athleticism. I know they like the fact that he can serve as a back up for both the cornerback and safety position, all while being their punt coverage ace as an outside gunner.

But the fact remains that after 5 years he has still not developed the skills required to play man coverage in the NFL. He just doesn't play the ball well in the air, even when he locates it well. But his athleticism and football IQ would serve the team well at safety, where he would be allowed to face the quarterback for the majority of the time. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers already utilizes Bush rushing the passer in some of his pressure packages, where he can use Bush's speed off the edge as a nice change-up every once in awhile.

The Packers would do themselves a favor if they stopped being fooled by Bush's amazing practice performances and faced the reality that they have a very talented backup safety on their roster, one who would serve the team well by getting as many reps at that position as possible between now and the opening of the regular season.

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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.

deelux523's picture

Thanks Aaron. This kind of nuanced, unique perspective is why I visit CHTV daily. It's like the slate.com of Packerdom.

packeraaron's picture

Thanks very much. Very nice of you to say.

Pizzadoc's picture

+1

Ian's picture

Do you see him as more of a ball-hawking center fielder type or an in-the-box run helper? Either way, I think Bush/Peprah as backup safeties makes me feel very good about the depth for that position.

PackersRS's picture

IMHO both Peprah and Bush play their best in cover 3 playing close to the LOS or in a similar role. They don't play well when they're not facing the QB, and they have problems with deep throws.

Peprah is a better player though. He plays much better against the run.

But still, both are limited players, that make the coaching staff have to adapt the defense to mask their deficiencies.

PackersRS's picture

Oh, perfect. Great article, Aaron.

"He just doesn't play the ball well in the air, even when he locates it well." Exactly. WHEN he locates it, which is rare.

McCarthy and Co: BUSH IS NOT A CORNERBACK! A cornerback HAS TO be able to cover man to man deep. Bush is completely incapable of doing that. That is not debatable anymore. He simply can't play the ball in the air. (BTW, Lee isn't an NFL caliber CB either, but that's another story)

Keep Bush as the backup FS behind Collins and you'll open up a roster spot elsewhere, making the team better. It's win-win. You keep your best ST player, fill a position of need at backup FS where noone is really promising (maybe Levine), and allow a better CB (Davon House, Gordy) to make the team.

andrew harman's picture

i think levine should stay.. and if pat lee stays this year i will honestly be upset because as you said gordy and house are better corners lee is just not good enough i dont even like him being our dime corner should that ever happen.. bush is fine as a dime corner because you are usually running a zone or he is covering an underneath route. but i do feel bush should stay on the team as the 3rd string guy at every secondary position and an ST. he can play both safety spots and be a corner when we really need it he should just be a failsafe that you have dress for his special team and flexibility

Ruppert's picture

Great piece. Bush HAS to face the QB or he's pretty much lost.

jeremy's picture

Well done Aaron. Part of me is wondering however if Anthony Levine's overall ceiling is higher than Bush's. Would there be space on the roster for 5 safeties assuming spots for Collins, Burnett and Peprah are locked up?

packeraaron's picture

I would be very surprised if they kept 5 safeties.

andrew harman's picture

but bush isnt really a 5th safety he is a safety/corner and can be used as both if needed.. i know 5 safeties is a lot. but since bush can play a little corner i dont see it being impossible

Chris K's picture

Well, let me ask you this... As it stands now, it would seem like the Pack would keep ten DB's with Bush counting as a CB who can play safety in a pinch.

Do you think the Packers would be daring enough to only keep Peprah as the lone backup and Bush serving as both OR do they like Levine enough?

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