Green and Bold: Get It Together, Damarious Randall

The Packers defense has been its secret weapon in Green Bay's wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears the last two weeks, compiling a plus-10 turnover differential for a team that was ranked 24th in that category heading into Week 14. 

It's no question that winning the turnover battle often means winning games; just ask head coach Mike McCarthy, who loves to espouse the merits of that part of the game. And the specific heroes to whom Green Bay owes their recent success are safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett and Micah Hyde, who have five between them in two weeks. 

Cornerback Damarious Randall did his part for the turnover differential against Seattle, picking off Russell Wilson two times. But in terms of fundamentals, Randall's play is now threatening Green Bay's playoff run. 

Getting takeaways is always a plus, but if the Packers aren't careful to shore up their bread-and-butter defense, they will jeopardize their ability to win the NFC North. 

Randall has turned in strong performances this season after being thrust into a No. 1 cornerback role with Sam Shields going on IR before missing five straight games himself due to injury. But the second-year cornerback has let his fundamentals get away from him as the season draws to a close, leading to his ultimate benching in the fourth quarter against the Bears. 

Randall's most egregious gaffe came when he whiffed on a tackle and allowed Bears receiver Joshua Bellamy to connect with Matt Barkley for a touchdown. He was later in coverage on Alshon Jeffery's eight-yard score.

But Randall's play was suspect throughout the game, when the Packers played the Bears pass-catchers with a lot of zone coverage. 

The Packers don't have a lot of options at cornerback this year. It's unlikely that Randall remains on the bench for long. But with the team fighting for its playoff life, it's alarming to see its starting cornerback struggle with fundamentals. 

Green Bay has had a bad habit of allowing opponents to claw their way back in the second half of games this season. Part of that has been due to defensive coordinator Dom Capers moving into prevent defense too early. But a lot of it comes down to execution. The Packers need Randall to zero in on his assignments and nail the fundamentals if their defense is going to see them into and through the postseason. 

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Comments (36)

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EdsLaces's picture

December 21, 2016 at 06:31 am

I honestly think this week's game was kinda flukey. We all seem to forget it was like 3 degrees. Dropped balls ..missed tackles...stuff like that is gonna happen more when it's ice freaking cold...

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 21, 2016 at 06:49 am

The biggest problem with Randall IMO, was fundamentally. Backing up 7-10+ yards off the LOS gave the QB the quick throw and it allowed the WR to make a move on him. Had he lined up within 5 yards, odds are the QB doesn't throw the ball on that quick pass, and if he does he is in better position to make the tackle.

Simply he lined up out of position and that is why he failed.

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Hematite's picture

December 21, 2016 at 07:16 am

I agree.
He gives waaay too much cushion.
That speaks to a confidence problem in my mind.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 21, 2016 at 07:52 am

But also, where is the coaching on that? Where are the coaches telling him he can't do that?

Hopefully the benching did him some good.

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pacman's picture

December 21, 2016 at 09:18 am

Agreed. Doesn't that tell you the DC's famous prevent D is at work.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 21, 2016 at 09:15 am

He spent too much time staring at the QB as well. So did Rollins. By the time he had his focus back on the receiver he was already out of position. Same with Rollins.

Maybe these guys are not zone coverage CBs. Maybe they have not been coached for it, it certainly looked that way. Maybe they don't have the vision for it, which would surprise me for Randall as he was a safety in College.

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PETER MAIZ's picture

December 21, 2016 at 08:19 pm

He played baseball, I believe 1or maybe 2 years of football.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 21, 2016 at 09:49 pm

Rollins played basketball.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 21, 2016 at 06:46 am

I'm not sure how many CB's line up 12 yards off the ball and have much success. I'm not really sure what Randall was trying to do. Even the worst QB in the league could complete that simple pass.

Randall has a lot of upside, but he is still a very young and raw CB. Missing half of this season has hurt his growth no question. But for us to make it farther we need him to play better.

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Razer's picture

December 21, 2016 at 07:15 am

Could be that Randall is reverting back to his safety play from college. Packers seem hellbent on drafting and retraining guys. Randall is a scanner who likes to play centerfield as per his Baldwin interception. Hard to break some of these habits.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 21, 2016 at 07:25 am

I did question that.
I was wondering if it was an overconfidence type of thing, or if it was a lack of confidence. Overconfidence in that he was trying to bait Barkley into making that throw thinking he was going to run up and make the play. Lack of confidence is that he didn't think he could stay with the WR's.

Randall needs to step up and play better regardless.

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Spud Rapids's picture

December 21, 2016 at 01:42 pm

Keep in mind he has one season of cornerback experience. We can complain all we want about his lack of fundamentals but factor in he has missed a lot of time. Right now the footwork isn't there because he's coming off injury. A guy like Randall with limited experience at the position needs to constantly be working on his fundamentals throughout a season until it becomes second nature so he can play fast and not think about it. You can't do that with a bum hamstring so I think we are just seeing the ups and downs of him getting back to peak form. I think Seattle he felt 100% for the first time and played free and aggressive. I think in Chicago the weather had him thinking about his hammy which was probably tight therefore causing him to play slow and flat footed. Also, that is the first time Randall played at Soldier field late in the year and that turf is notoriously tricky to play on. It seemed like he played conservative and slow as a result of all those factors. I think he'll bounce back just fine.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 21, 2016 at 10:55 am

I agree completely.

Both him and Rollins are developing. The biggest thing is they need to learn from their mistakes. Hopefully this game we see him improve.

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rdent's picture

December 22, 2016 at 12:33 pm

I wonder if he still isn't 100% from his surgery?

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TCLAX33's picture

December 21, 2016 at 07:04 am

I agree they go into prevent a little early, but as I have said over and over the basics of tackling are not there, good teams make the plays defensively Barkley looked like Brady on Sunday 17 point lead was not safe against this team? Hyde makes a great play but the fact lineman come running on the field late just shows me team not paying attention to detail. They are fighting for playoff lives and 2 weeks in a row player blows assignment not sure I was supposed to be on the field. That's coaching SORRY

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Michael Grunewald's picture

December 21, 2016 at 07:13 am

My only problem with this article is that it seems to assume Randall wasn't struggling before the injury. Hell, he was reaponsible foe almost 400 yards of receiving ti the like of Diggs and Marvin Jones in consecutive weeks. He has looked lost the majority of the season.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 21, 2016 at 07:21 am

To be fair, Jones' had 70 yards on one play when he was lined up across from Josh Hawkins.

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PackFan619's picture

December 21, 2016 at 08:44 am

I agree with this. He has not had a very good year in general, and I think that seems to be forgotten. I think he's got a ton of potential, but he's not there yet, and he's especially struggling in man to man coverage. I honestly think Gunter is their best cover man right now, and unfortunately he's very susceptible to speedy receivers. Randall and Rollins are still very raw and I think they are playing more than would be ideal at this point in their development.

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rdent's picture

December 22, 2016 at 12:38 pm

I agree, not just Randall and Rollins, they have had to play a lot of those guys more than planned.

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Spud Rapids's picture

December 21, 2016 at 09:58 am

Watch Marvin Jones highlights below from week 3, I don't think Randall was that bad.

-60 yard TD on Hawkins
-Catch over Randall (Randall was step for step with him Jones just made a play)
-2 catches on the soft spot of cover 2
-Touchdown where Randall fell

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap3000000709388/Marvin-Jo...

Defon Diggs lit everyone up in that viking game.

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dobber's picture

December 21, 2016 at 02:10 pm

...and what has Diggs done since? Nothing.

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rdent's picture

December 24, 2016 at 09:12 am

They made Diggs look All World that day.

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stockholder's picture

December 21, 2016 at 08:03 am

Fundamentals for ultimate benching? The announcers said during the game that he was playing hurt. Nursing his past wound. The cold surly is not going to help anyone run fast, or have a punishing tackle.

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Rossonero's picture

December 21, 2016 at 08:20 am

Randall's erratic play is just more evidence that CB should be the Packers top need in the 2017 draft. I don't count on Shields being back and Rollins gets caught peeking at the QB far too often. Goodson stinks and his knee injury is probably a career ender anyway. Hyde could be brought back for the right price, but he has his struggles as well.

I'd also like Ted to please stop drafting basketball players (Rollins, Goodson) or guys whose primary position was safety (Randall). Why can't we just draft a pure CB? I'll admit it's one of the hardest positions to draft in the NFL, but in a passing league, we need some serious help and fast.

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rdent's picture

December 22, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Imo,can't have enough good CB's so I can see GB drafting one early in 2017 draft.

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Lphill's picture

December 21, 2016 at 08:37 am

First round best pass rusher , second round a true corner third round best inside linebacker .

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 21, 2016 at 09:23 am

I mostly agree with you.

IMO the top 3 needs are finding another Cover Corner, OLB, and TE. ILB I think they are ok with Ryan, Martinez Thomas and Mathews able to slide over. I think they can draft another ILB in the mid rounds for depth.

They have to get another CB. Shields is likely done.

They have to add more pass rush. Perry is in his last year. Peppers likely won't be back. Mathews can't hold up for 16 games at OLB. Jones is a FA. I think OLB maybe our biggest need going into next year.

I would like to see them resign Cook and draft a TE high. Getting another field stretching TE would open up the offense even more. We have seen the difference that Cook has made when on the field. Imagine adding another TE with speed.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 21, 2016 at 10:31 am

I think Fackrell will be a good player. He needs to add strength, so a year in the offseason program will do a ton for him. I do agree though, with his age what is his ceiling?

Elliott I would love to see get more snaps. Its unfortunate he got hurt against the Bears.

I agree with you. It starts with pressuring the QB. They need more players that can do that. To go with that they need another CB to help cover.

Mathews is still their best pass rusher but since injury his hamstring and now shoulder he has been basically been a non factor. They need another explosive type of pass rusher.

I agree that Defense is the top need. CB, OLB.

I am not sure whats going on with Clark. When he has been on the field he has played well from what I have seen. I think Lowry has offered more as a pass rusher so that is why he has been playing more lately.

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rdent's picture

December 22, 2016 at 12:56 pm

I agree, we may see more Clay on the inside next year and beyond and with Martinez, Ryan that should solidify that spot and like CB's especially in a 3-4 you can never have enough good OLB's Hopefully Elliott will still develop into a consistent PR

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stockholder's picture

December 21, 2016 at 10:32 am

BPR= Not going to be there. 2nd True corner= Unless the underclassmen come out. All have issues. Size, speed, Tackling. 3rd. Well you can just forget about speed here. Try offense if you want BPA!

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Rossonero's picture

December 21, 2016 at 10:27 am

RCPackerfan: Concur with your comments. What we've learned over the past 2 drafts is the Packers simply do not value the ILB position. To an extent, I can see why -- the classic run stuffing ILB of yesteryears is not as valuable now in a passing league.

In addition, we've seen Morgan Burnett come up and play ILB, or Matthews inside if need be. Martinez and Ryan are the future. I'd be surprised if they spend anything higher than a 4th rounder on an ILB. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the Packers do not draft one at all. Joe Thomas has improved too.

Our biggest draft needs to me: CB*, OLB, DE, TE, OG, RB**

* = need to draft 2 CBs
** = depends on what happens with Lacy and Michael

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dobber's picture

December 21, 2016 at 02:09 pm

I wouldn't be surprised to see the Packers go with two edge rushers early on. I think the need is so glaring there that it has to happen and that's an expensive spot to fix in FA (which is also true of CB). I think they'll be forced to hope that Rollins/Randall/Gunter take a step up in 2017 as they try to address other needs. They could bring in a veteran who gets cut to try to bolster the position.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 21, 2016 at 09:15 pm

Dobber, GB has to stop making need picks that are reaches. I did not hate the selections of Randall and Clark, but I thought both were over-drafted. I think all of TT's 1st round picks except AR were need picks. Of the others, only Dix, Bulaga, Raji, CM3, and Hawk were picks where need met the perceived value at the time.

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rdent's picture

December 22, 2016 at 01:12 pm

I do agree with your comment on Randall, picked too high and Rollins also I won't go into that draft as to who was available when GB picked but if my memory serves me there was imo better out there than those two,as for Clark, too early to tell but I would have liked to have seen them get Vernon Butler

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stockholder's picture

December 22, 2016 at 10:26 pm

Butler has 11 tackles , Clark 19. Carolina is in last place. Clark was the better of the picks.

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rdent's picture

December 24, 2016 at 10:04 am

Ranked 3rd and 4th in the draft, Butler better at pressuring the QB imo.

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