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Cory's Corner: The ghost of Sam Shields

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Cory's Corner: The ghost of Sam Shields

It was a year ago when the Packers entered the season with so much promise on defense.

But then Sam Shields’ head collided with Jacksonville running back T.J. Yeldon early in the second quarter and everything changed.

The defense was able to hold its own for awhile. The pass rush finished tied for sixth in the NFL in sacks. The Packers were eighth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed.

Things were surprisingly looking OK, even though it appeared that Shields would never put a Packers uniform on again.

But like an injured person, the defense started to lean more on other parts of its anatomy. Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins battled through a flurry of injuries and LaDarius Gunter unfairly became the goat. In the NFC Divisional Playoffs and the NFC Championship Game, Gunter gave up a total of 312 receiving yards to Dez Bryant and Julio Jones putting the fan base in a tizzy.

Fast forward to this season and after a couple games, Shields’ injury still comes into view. The season opener vs. Seattle didn’t really give a good indication because of how soft its offensive line is. But Atlanta sure did.

Randall was helpless against Jones and now defensive coordinator Dom Capers is left scrambling yet again in terms of who his cover corner is. Rookie Kevin King was arguably the best player on defense vs. the Falcons and he was matched against Jones for a majority of the time.

This is how far the Packers have come. From a concussion in the sweltering Florida sun to now scratching their collective heads in order to find an answer in the secondary. Because the secondary needs to be tightened in order to prevent leakage in other areas. With Mike Daniels and Nick Perry likely out on Sunday, the front seven isn’t going to be close to what it can be.

And after not allowing a catch on four throw in 32 cover snaps, it looks like King will be the next man up in a long line of cover corners.

The question is, will the line stop there? With so many key injuries so early in the season, the Packers cannot afford to have poor play once again in one of the most desperate places for defense.

It’s amazing what a simple hit can do not only for a career, but for a team. Where would the Packers be if that injury didn’t happen? Well, for starters, the defense likely would’ve gotten deeper in the draft by taking a front seven player first.

But as it stands, the Packers are riding the cornerback carousel. Here’s to hoping that King can keep riding for a long time. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (34) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

BPEARSON21's picture

I like Kevin King a lot. I think he's played pretty well thus far for being a rookie. But for the last week all I've read is how King is going to be our saving grace on defense... that worries me. Not because I don't think he can eventually be that guy, but lets not fall into the trap of unreal expectations for this 22 year old rookie.

It's not fair to put all the pressure on him. He shouldn't have to be in a situation where essentially our defense relies on him. I'd much rather cool it down with the expectations and let him develop otherwise people are going to give up on him if he's not lock down, which by the way - he was not. When you go back and watch the ATL film I counted 2 times that he was thrown at where he was completely beat for a big gain, but the pass was poor so it was incomplete. It wasn't good defense it was just bad offense. Sure he was thrown at 4 times with no completions, but 2 of them very easily could've been big plays.

I just think we need to lower our expectations a tad and let this guy develop. Also, I really hope nobody truly thinks this guys is our lock down corner this year... that's just unrealistic and you will be let down and I don't want King blamed for that.

Lphill's picture

Bring in Revis for insurance . House hurt , Randall and Rollins ineffective . Why not?

CAG123's picture

Because he was getting smoked last year and has definitely lost a few steps so why bring in am older equally ineffective player based on what he used to do?

Somedumbname's picture

Revis can not tackle and often avoids contact. He has also regressed and will continue doing so. Signing Revis would be a detriment to the Packers organization and a waste of money.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Insurance is only as good as the company which provides it. If that life insurance company with the great rates that you never heard of before goes under, so does your coverage, by and large.

Revis as insurance is only as good as Revis can play. Since that is probably terribly, he isn't worth the roster spot, much less the money.

dobber's picture

if Revis really had much upside left, at a position like CB, at least 25 teams would be kicking the tires on him.

Since '61's picture

I have to agree with BPearson on this. I want King to play and succeed but the reality is he needs to play and learn. Even at that he may never reach a "shut down" corner level of play, few corners do. However, he can become our #1 corner in a similar manner to how Shields became our #1 CB. First things first, he has speed and height, neither of which can be taught and may help to make up for some early mistakes. Second, so far he tackles well. After that comes technique and footwork (coaching). Then film study and practice. King seems to have the basic tools, how well he develops and utilizes his tools becomes a matter of coaching and his work ethic and commitment to improving and reaching the highest level of play. Herb Adderly, "When I play, I want the fans to see the best cornerback they have ever seen play." With that attitude Herb Adderly went to the NFL HOF, became the Packers lock down, shut down corner, and helped the Packers forge the greatest dynasty in NFL history. And Adderly is still the best NFL CB I have ever watched. Do I expect that from King? No. But he can be better than what we have had at CB for a while. Time will tell. Thanks, Since '61

Cory Jennerjohn's picture

Great point. But King must be allowed to make mistakes because the mistakes are going to appear -- especially against A.J Green.

Since '61's picture

Cory - I appreciate the feedback and I agree. King will make some mistakes. To me the sooner he is allowed to make those mistakes and learn from them the better for him and the Packers. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

Handsback's picture

Yeah, everything written above is very appropriate to where the Packers defense is right now. You can use Shields, Collins, Finley, etc. to understand why TT must get very frustrated. This year he may have wanted Watt, but couldn't afford the risk of losing a starting CB.

It's not just injuries that have shredded the Packers it's the permanent loss of players that creates holes that take years to fill.

CheesyTex's picture

Right on.

NFL has become a game of attrition, and the Packers just seem to be more prone to the injury bug. Last year it was the DBs, this year it is the OTs and who knows what else will happen. I don't know whether or not there are stats on this, but it is tough when you are missing your top 4 players at any position.

Bakhtiari, Bulaga, Barclay, Spriggs, all go down (I know some don't care for Barclay or Spriggs, but they were the next men up). And now, Evans on list too. No way for OL to have any cohesiveness.

You have to wonder about the strength and conditioning program, but it probably is the Bears, Lions, and Viqueens putting something in the drinking water.

Archie's picture

Early signs are good that King is up to the job. If not, it's going to be a long season for Packer fans and Ted Thompson et. al.

I'm intrigued by the quick return of Montravis Adams from surgery. People were saying he looked special early on in camp. We could use another young stud DL. His emergence would make the DL the most solid part of Packer defense.

Picking up A Brooks and Q Dial from the 9ers were god-sends for our front 7.

R2 Pick Jones is another big question mark. I've only seen him on a handful of plays but twice he was very bad at changing directions (once on a punt return). I hope that is not the case as you can't be effective on defense in the NFL if you can't change directions well. If he emerges, Burnett may be let go in FA.

I agree with most here who say throw these young defensive guys into the fire and let's see what they can do - it looks to be our only chance of emerging with a solid defense at some point. To say Randall & Rollins have been great disappointments would not be an overstatement. Ditto Spriggs & Fackrell. Looking for a bounce-back performance from Kenny Clark this week.

Ted Thompson has been in a drafting slump for about a decade now. Anyone here think he's going to get better at it in his 70s?

Packers win a close one at home this weekend. 3-1 after first 4 would be a very good start. ATL is just a much better team than GB. But we better be ready to roll after week 4 - Cowboys and Vikes are key games. Losing those two games would bury us in the Conference tie-breakers. The schedule only gets tougher after the Bye.

Lots of bikinis this Sunday at Lambeau! :):)

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

I could be wrong but didn't Adams miss all or most of minicamp as a late rookie signing (one of the last to sign in NFL)? Then he hurt his foot on the 2nd day of training camp, on one of the very 1st drills. I don't remember hearing anything about Adams' camp, positive or negative. Nonetheless, I sure hope he's the real deal!

al bundy's picture

Kind of sad for the fans on this board and the fans in general who live breathe Packers to go through another season wondering each week what kind of team will show up.
To me the Dom Capers circus needs to end. It has to start at the top acknowledging we just dont have the talent and Dom needs to go and we start over.
Otherwise your wasting the talent of Rogers.
This game will say a lot. Expecially if the feeble Bengals can light it up on offence with their two best players missing. Lets hope not

fthisJack's picture

Capers should have been gone after the Seattle fiasco.

Since '61's picture

Capers should have been gone after 2014 and then we would not have had the Seattle meltdown. I wanted him gone after the 2013 season because the defense didn't stand up in any game after Rodgers was injured. They played gallantly against SF in the playoff loss but by then they were a shattered unit anyway. Now I pretty much accept that Capers is there as long as TT and MM remain. Thanks, Since '61

dobber's picture

"Kind of sad for the fans on this board and the fans in general who live breathe Packers to go through another season wondering each week what kind of team will show up."

It's only week 3...

Tarynfor12's picture

Ah, we have the scapegoat on hand if a loss happens.
We lose when our high dollar must signs play but when they don't the search is quick to find the dupe.
I asked in another article,....If the Packers are okay without a player(s) of, ahem,must sign status for one game or more, why are they must sign players at all when their Win Above Replacement is basically zero.
If your paying top money for 50/50 production, there's plenty of same for less with same 50/50 production.
Then finding a dupe to pregame blame is already visible weekly as is witnessed on a rotation from the must signs who are unable to put coherent weeks of play together via lack of true talent, brittleness or fear of tackling.

Tarynfor12's picture

Or to say simply in the words of that esteemed ex NFL player and criminal Cris Carter. ....always have a fall guy on hand.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Tarynfor12, The Line is down to GB - 7 1/2, still GB - 8 1/2 @ Stations. Your bet is looking Good. We had a Good night at GV. Hit $360 on a Triple Stars. Have a Free Bet so far on Oak -3 of $100, but the more I look at it, the more I think I'm the wrong way. Hate going against the Home team Sun or Mon, night, especially when they're getting points.?? Think I'm going to go your way with a parlay & try to hit a 4 teamer. Cinn/Over Oak/Over What do you think??
LVT

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Cinn/Under???

Tarynfor12's picture

If you hate going against home dogs in Sun/ Mon nights, then drop Cincy game and go Ari/under

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Tarynfor12, I'm going to stay with Oak, because I already have them bet. I don't like the whole board. I think it's time I gave this up. I'll let you do the picking. If I get there, I think I'll take a 3 Teamer. Oak/Over, & Tenn or Cinn.
LVT

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

We lose when our high dollar must signs play but when they don't the search is quick to find the (malichi) dup(r)e.

Nick Perry's picture

Hopefully Kevin King is up to the task of being the Packers "Shutdown CB" because frankly he's the ONLY option. Fair or not, ready or not, that honor falls on King simply because there's not anyone else.

Thompson gambled way back in the 2016 FA period that Randall and Rollins would make the 2nd year jump and let Hayward walk. Say what you want about Hayward's 2015 season, he was worth a 3 year deal for $15.3 million and $6.8 guaranteed. Randall and Rollins didn't make the 2nd year jumps, many of us blamed it on injuries. (Myself included, at least with Rollins). Now through 2 games this year it doesn't appear they'll make a 3rd year jump either.

I'm not in full panic mode yet, mostly because if the defense struggles again, I can point to the injuries to Perry and Daniels. After all they are our best 2 defensive players. But even with those 2 injured the concerns over the defense doesn't sit well, especially at CB. In three years the Packers have used 10 of their top 11 picks on defense. They've spent two #1 picks and two #2 picks in the last 3 years on the defensive backfield yet were talking about the "Ghosts of Sam Shields" and the defense.

Something positive needs to start happening with this defense and start soon. There should be no more excuses, not with the draft capital spent on that side of the ball. The defense needs to show up and they need to do it starting Sunday and every week after. If that doesn't happen then Thompson needs to step aside and Capers needs to retire. Not either/or, BOTH! Aaron Rodgers had just turned 27 when they won SB 45, he'll be 34 this December. Lets stop wasting what little we have left of his career and get a damn DC and GM in there who can do the job.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

The Seattle game this year was definitely a positive for the defense, albeit a relatively small positive when taken into the context of Dom's entire Packer coaching career. That 7 year 27-34 span sure went quick...

flackcatcher's picture

No choice Nick. Injuries have forced the packers hand. Lets hope King and Jones are ready to play in the defensive scheme. Even so early in the season, there is no choice, packers may be running out of guys due to the heat. At this time it's 84 degrees, it will be a few degrees hotter by game time. Heat exhaustion and dehydration and cramps will figure in this contest. Oh, and good luck and firing Capers. He's Mike's man, and Ted backs Mike, so that is the end of that story. Unless you have a plan...

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"It was a year ago when the Packers entered the season with so much promise on defense."

Wasn't that a week ago?

Rossonero's picture

Cory, this is one of your better pieces. I'd add that the beginning of the end of Shields' career probably was him smacking his head on the Lambeau sideline vs. Dallas in 2015. He didn't play again until the loss to Arizona in the playoffs.

People need to take a deep breath about the defense. We lost on the road to a Super Bowl contender in the grand opening of their new stadium, without our two starting offensive tackles, no. 1 WR, no. 2 WR and no. 1 defensive lineman. R-E-L-A-X.

We will see Atlanta again in the playoffs. I'm more worried about getting healthy in December and getting hot. While injuries are frustrating and suck, we as Packer fans should be numb to it. At least I am.

The only two seasons in recent memory that the Packers were healthy was 2011 and 2014. Neither one of them ended in a Super Bowl win, much less even a Super Bowl appearance.

The defense will get better. Super Bowls are not won in September either. The defense will evolve as the season goes on. As long as we see incremental progress each week, then that's what the focus should be on.

This league is so week-to-week, the urge to overreact is easy to fall victim to. Lets get Daniels and Montravious Adams back, beat the Bengals and Bears and get to 3-1. We'll see Atlanta again.

Cory Jennerjohn's picture

Thanks. I've always liked Sam Shields' ability and without a top cover corner, the rest of the defense is marginalized.

JohnnyLogan's picture

The consensus around here seems to be that Capers needs to go. But he's been crap for years and yet he's still here. Why? It's completely baffling. He's been bad with a wide variety of players. Have they all been busts? The problems we've had covering #1 receivers, leaving the middle of the field open, rushing the passer... keep repeating no matter who is playing. He absolutely needs to go and I only wish it was right now so another year isn't wasted. This defense can't contain Atlanta. Two devastating losses in a row. Capers won't magically change. There needs to be a greater cry from the fans, to the point that reporters get more tough with Capers and McCarthy for repeating the same mistakes now for years.

flackcatcher's picture

Well, good luck with that. Mike supports Dom, Ted supports Mike. Mark supports Ted, end of story. Unless you have plan to overthrow the executive committee, firing Capers ain't happening. Best bet is for Capers to retire after this year, and I see no sign that is happening. The only way Capers goes, is MM resigns or is fired. That's not happening, period.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Every team struggles to contain the middle of the field not just the Packers. MM has said over and over that with the way the NFL has evolved the middle of the field is wide open. The Packera have been in the top 10brushing defenses in the NFL over and over during the Capers era.

Where the Packers defense has failed is to improve in one area without sacrificing another. We couldn't stop the run for years. We invested heavily in the DLine and finally have a run stuffing defense. The. Shielda goes down and we have a bottom 2 passibg defense.

3rd down is another Packer defense deficiency. Why can't we stop the opposing offense on 3rd and 15? We blitz and they pick up a big gain and move the chains. Capers runs a high risk bend don't break defense that focuses on blitzes, turnovers, and redzone defense. What's changed is we are no longer dominating in the turnover category. Instead Aaron has thrown a few interceptions and our RBs have fumbled. Clean up the turnover ratio and you'll see a .middle of the road defense when healthy.

flackcatcher's picture

The title is more app, than you realize Cory. When I look at Sam Shields, I see an gifted athlete, reduced to living in darkness to deal with his constant pounding headaches. A likely victim of CTE. A reminder of the real cost of this game that we all love. Outside of combat, this is one of the few places we see the result of concussions, and the horrible after effects. I am afraid, the 'ghost of Sam Shields' will be haunting the Green Bay Packers, and the entire NFL for years to come. Football wise, excellent article Cory.

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