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Barnett In the Mix As An Outside Rusher

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Barnett In the Mix As An Outside Rusher

Been meaning to post this for awhile, pretty much since Jason Wilde mentioned it on one of his many radio appearances shortly after the NFC Coaches breakfast. Of course, waiting has meant that I've been beaten to the punch, so to speak, by Brian - among others. Yes, Mike McCarthy mentioned having Brandon Chillar (been there, done that) and Nick Barnett rush the passer from the outside.


We’re going to try to be creative with those guys, keeping those guys on the field in sub. I think both Nick and Brandon Chillar have outside pass-rush ability. I’m not saying we’re going to do it all the time, but it’s definitely an option for us that we’ve talked about.

I'm not sure I'm completely sold on Barnett rushing from the outside linebacker position. What I like about what Barnett does in the A Gap blitzes is how he uses his athleticism to weave through the wash and get to the quarterback. When presented with a one-on-one matchup, he rarely wins and usually does his best A.J. Hawk impression, giving his man a shake - which does nothing - and then barreling into the guy, completely negating himself in the process.

Funnily enough, when I went looking for a play that could back up what I'm talking about, I found a play where Barnett is rushing...from the outside - from the left outside linebacker position, the very position where the Packers are so desperately trying to find a compliment to Clay Matthews.Take a look below - it's all there:

Now, a big caveat is in order here:

There is every possibility that Barnett had contain on this play - Roethlisberger is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league after his initial steps are complete and he is downright deadly when rolling to his right, which causes defensive coordinators to use plays where they instruct their left ends and/or backers to rush up the field but to keep under control and to simply set the edge, so as to keep Big Ben in the pocket. That MIGHT have been Barnett's responsibility on this play.

If it WASN'T - well, I've seen all I want to see from Nick Barnett the pass rushing monster at outside linebacker. (I mean, that's Willie Colon, for God's sake. If there's a right tackle Barnett should be able to fly by, it's Colon)

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (24) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

James Rarick's picture

Wow, more than Barnett, Jenkins completely whiffed on Big Ben. Not good.

packeraaron's picture

He did that on that final drive as well.

PackerBacker58's picture

I dont like the idea of him as an outside linebacker

packeraaron's picture

Well, in McCarthy's defense, he's not talking about using him there full-time, just on the odd package here and there. But I agree with your point nonetheless - just don't think it suits him.

PackerBacker58's picture

yeah it doesn't suit him it also left a big hole up the middle for Roethlisberger to run

frosty's picture

In defense of Capers, isn't this the type of thing we want to see from time to time? I mean, you've got the Big Okie package and all the other wrinkles that're thrown in there but you still have a guy like Kurt Warner who claims to not see anything unexpected. I sure HOPE they're coming up with things that we can't find on film.

JohnRehor's picture

I like the idea of having Barnett off the outside because of his aggressive style of play. But aggressive can also get you into trouble if, as was mentioned, you over persue and lose containment. I say keep him inside for base D and move around occasionally for different looks.

Ruppert's picture

Bad move. As I mention constantly on this site and others, I don't think any of our linebackers from the 4-3 era are good pass rushers, no matter where they line up. Let's hope McCarthy is deflecting attention from the fact that they'll be drafting OLBs in a couple weeks.

PackersRS's picture

Barnett is our best ILB by far. When healthy, the best at stopping the run, the best at playing the pass.

So why let another guy cover the middle?

I can accept playing him like in the vid, with noone it the middle. But otherwise, keep him in there.

Jersey Al's picture

I just shook my head when I first heard that quote. As Ruppert said above, the Packers have some pretty poor pass-rushing linebackers. If that's going to be the "solution", that would make me very sad...

Oppy's picture

Hey, if these guys can prove they can at least legitimately threaten the offense with an outside pass rush, it's a great boon for the the Packers in the chess game that is Offense v. Defense from a personnel stand point.

The more versatility the LB's have, the better. If the OC can't be sure that seeing Barnett and Chillar on the field means they'll be spying the middle of the field, on TE's, or blitzing the A's, it's a minor victory.

packeraaron's picture

That last is a great point Oppy.

Ruppert's picture

Yes, but it has to be a legitimate threat. And IMO, moving Barnett from the middle compromises TWO positions...the middle, based on his absence, and the outside, based on the fact that he's not a good pass rusher. Versatility and unpredictability are both nice, but it does matter what you sacrifice to get them.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Pardon the interruption,this is a wee bit off-topic...

So I've got the latest edition of 'Sporting News' in front of me (their "NFL Draft Preview" issue), several Packer-related things in here that I found interesting:

There's an article called "Rules to draft by":

#1. Thou shalt not draft a character risk

#2. Thou shalt not draft a medical risk. Who's picture would you guess that they have next to the header, as the 'Poster-boy'? That's right, you guessed it... BUSTIN HARRELL. And I quote "The Packers are still paying for drafting former Tennessee defensive tackle Justin Harrell 16th overall in 2007. He has played in 13 of 48 games in three years and spent 2009 on injured reserve. Harrell's inability to crack the line rotation led the team to select B.J. Raji ninth in the '09 draft".
Nothing groundbreaking there, but I feel somewhat vindicated in the fact that the pundits agree with just what a terrible reach of a pick that was...

Russ Lande has his top 100 picks listed, he has us taking the following:

1st - Ryan Mathews (I like the kid, but not there)

2nd - Rodger Saffold (Meh)

3rd - Zolton Mesko ( a bit early for a punter. No? When did we take Sander?

Last but not least, A.J. Hawk has a full page 'My Profile' piece, in it he lists things to do on his 'Bucket List'

1. Wrestle in the WWE
2. Skydive
3. Have kids

#1. Seriously? Alrighty then.

Oh, and his hero is "Iceman" from Top Gun. And he's got Jimmy friggin Buffet in his Ipod.

I can only come to one conclusion, A.J. Hawk is kind of a weird dude.

Carry on


FITZCORE1252's picture

I finally figured it out. Seeing "your ugly mug" I knew you reminded me of somebody, Kevin damn Spacey. Have you heard that before?

FITZCORE1252's picture

Haha, that's one way to go.

Wiscokid's picture

I'm thinking more of Charlie Sheen. Well, at least the photo of his "ugly mug".

retiredgrampa's picture

I'm not happy with either Chillar or Barnett rushing the QB. I want one of the really good OLBs available in the draft. No half way measures for me.

Dilligaff's picture

Both Hawk and Barnett are OLBs on that play, clearly Hawk is no better as an OLB than an ILB. I am praying for McClain to drop to the Pack at the 23 pick

on that play that Hawk was lined up next to Mathews on the line , Hawk rushes the QB and Mathews drops back in coverage.

Barnett at least made the play and looks fast coming back from knee surgery, Hawk looks pitifully slow for a 5th overall pick going into his 4th year. And I believe Mathews still got to the play.

andrew's picture

hawk actually runs around the tackle with ease... he got back there.. which barnett failed to do.. barnett made the play because ben started to run.. if ben had stayed in the pocket barnett wouldnt have gotten there? so i dont understand your comment hawk had potential to make a play if ben didnt break away from the run... hawk isnt the best olb.. but he didnt better than barnett from the gettin to the qb standpoint

packeraaron's picture

"getting back there" without getting the proper angle and the corner, which is what Hawk does here, is useless.

Dilligaff's picture

Hawk did not make the play, the lineman was leading Hawk right where he wanted him, Hawk was not in control of that lineman, the lineman was in control of Hawk.

All Ben did really was step up into the pocket, Hawk's motor and speed after the lineman was done with him shows his weakness, he is too slow. He needs to stop lifting weights and get with a trainer that increases his flexibility and speed, he looks like a stiff muscle man out there.

Dilligaff's picture

Aaron, I like the debate with film footage, gives a nice visual to go along with people's opinions and views.

Obvious's picture

I think its fairly obvious that Barnett had contain on that play. No way will you see him lollygag like that if his intention is to sack the QB. Give the guy a little more credit than that.

Besides, I really like the idea of having all the Lbers at least pratice some outside pass rush moves from time to time, why not. Gotta practice something if you ever want to be good at it, right?

How often they get the opportunity to do it in games depends on how good they are at it in practice.

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