Green and Bold: Gunter Rising

The 6-6 Green Bay Packers have gotten themselves into a situation in which every game has become a must-win. Two games back from the Detroit Lions and tied, record-wise, with the Minnesota Vikings but not currently holding the tiebreaker against them, Green Bay now has to beat the Seahawks, Bears, Vikings, and Lions to stay in the hunt for the playoffs.  Needless to say, it's imperative that every player turns it up to 11 over this final stretch and taps into his deepest reserve of aggression. The Packers have to want this more than anyone else. And, as far as the secondary goes, that's exactly what cornerback LaDarius Gunter has been doing. 

The 6-6 Green Bay Packers have gotten themselves into a situation in which every game has become a must-win. Two games back from the Detroit Lions and tied, record-wise, with the Minnesota Vikings but not currently holding the tiebreaker against them, Green Bay now has to beat the Seahawks, Bears, Vikings, and Lions to stay in the hunt for the playoffs. 

Needless to say, it's imperative that every player turns it up to 11 over this final stretch and taps into his deepest reserve of aggression. The Packers have to want this more than anyone else. And, as far as the secondary goes, that's exactly what cornerback LaDarius Gunter has been doing. 

The undrafted free agent, who was one of only two rookie free agents to make Green Bay's opening-day roster in 2015, ascended from the No. 4 corner on the depth chart in 2016 to a starting role due to injuries to Sam Shields, Damarious Randall, and Quinten Rollins.

His early starts weren't without struggle; against the Dallas Cowboys, Gunter was forced to move to the starting left cornerback spot after Randall aggravated an injury to his groin. In the man coverage assignments that came with the switch, Gunter got burned badly. 

However, the Packers have grown and improved since that ill-fated outing against Dallas, and so too has Gunter. 

Now, Gunter is the Packers' leader in passes defensed, with nine on the year. Two of those came in Sunday's game against the Houston Texans, in which the Packers batted, blocked, or defended Brock Osweiler's passes seven times. Gunter was the only member of the secondary with more than one pass deflection. 

Gunter doesn't have an interception on the season yet, but his improvements show on film as much as, if not more, than on the stat sheet.

At 6'2" and 202 pounds with 31.5" arms, one of Gunter's touted qualities coming out of college at the University of Miami was his ability to redirect out of press coverage and to use his physicality near the line of scrimmage. That press-man coverage has helped him own his matchups and redirect wide receivers, and, as previously mentioned, make plays on the ball. 

Given how many times Gunter has gotten his hands on the ball this year, it's only a matter of time before he takes one away. And the Packers could really use that kind of playmaking ability in their crucial remaining stretch. 

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Comments (39)

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 07, 2016 at 11:53 am

With Gunters lack of speed, the winter months could be where Gunter shines the most. The game slows down a bit and that is good for Gunter.

He could be one of the best players the during the remaining games as 3 of the next 4 are in the outside environment.

What really helps Gunter though is the return of Randall and Rollins. Gunter no longer has to go up against the opposing teams #1 WR all game long.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 07, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Yep, now they can cherry pick who Gunter covers. This is a big deal.

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Rossonero's picture

December 07, 2016 at 09:50 pm

He reminds me of Davon House. I recall Shields struggling badly vs. Julio Jones in a snowy game at Lambeau a few years ago, so the Packers moved House over. He was the only guy who could cover Jones.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 08, 2016 at 06:52 am

Yeah, I can see that a bit. Gunter is better against the bigger WR's where he can be more physical with.

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The TKstinator's picture

December 08, 2016 at 08:31 pm

"Turns it up to 11"...I like what you did there, MB. I also hope the drummer doesn't spontaneously combust.

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zoellner25's picture

December 07, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Sounds like an 80s movie title. But what is a Gunter?

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Chad Lundberg's picture

December 07, 2016 at 12:06 pm

People sure do like giving Ted Thompson a lot of crap, and when he decides to put Eddie Lacy on injured reserve when he possibly could have returned at the end of the season, he sometimes deserves it. But he's brilliant at finding Diamonds in the rough. Ladarius Gunter is the latest example. This guy on his best days has looked every bit as good as Sam Shields. Next year he could be a perennial Pro Bowl type player. I know that's jumping the gun a bit but he was giving a rating of 92 against the Texans. For comparison's sake Tom Brady has a rating of 95. Hes not as fast as Shields, but fast enough and he can cover a little better.

Sam Shields can retire knowing his position and his team are in good hands.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 07, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Which is why TT should be promoted to Sr. General Manager and Head of College Scouting and someone else should be doing the overall GM duties.

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egbertsouse's picture

December 07, 2016 at 01:31 pm

So what I am hearing is that Gunter can play cornerback almost as well as Tom Brady. I agree with that.

I also agree that TT should be promoted to Director of College Scouting for Florida...on the beach...with a pina colada...and a round of golf every afternoon. And Capers should be his assistant in charge of flip-flop quality control.

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Chad Lundberg's picture

December 07, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Some people just insist on sucking the fun out of the subject...

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Rossonero's picture

December 07, 2016 at 09:51 pm

I agree with everything you said except for the comparison to Sam Shields. Shields is a speed guy, Gunter is not. It's the reason why he went undrafted -- his 40 time was 4.69. He's a different type of CB than Shields. But yes, Thompson deserves credit for taking a chance on him.

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Lphill's picture

December 07, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Well Revis has no interceptions either.

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MarkinMadison's picture

December 07, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Um I've been a Gunter fan since the 2015 training camp. I love his height and physicality. But if he ever makes the Pro Bowl I'll show up at the designated CHTV game and buy everyone a beer to celebrate. And I would never even put Gunter and Shields in the same sentence because I can't imagine how two corners could be any more different.

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Allan Murphy's picture

December 07, 2016 at 01:34 pm

No one can be Sam Sheilds but Gunter is a special guy could be great for this team time will tell.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 07, 2016 at 01:49 pm

Per McCarthy.
Perry has a significant hand injury and will be out against Seattle.

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Bert's picture

December 07, 2016 at 03:45 pm

I assume they should be used to playing without Perry by now.

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Bert's picture

December 07, 2016 at 07:41 pm

Where is Carl Bradford on the depth chart assuming it even goes that deep?

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 07, 2016 at 08:47 pm

The bottom.

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wolfie's picture

December 07, 2016 at 03:15 pm

I usually don't comment but am I the only one who sees Gunter shying away from tackling?

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Lphill's picture

December 07, 2016 at 03:43 pm

I was never on the Sam Shields bandwagon yes he is fast but to short to cover the taller receivers , I would be more comfortable with Casey Hayward.

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Dzehren's picture

December 07, 2016 at 08:14 pm

U R talking bout Ahmad Carroll Bro- 2002- Mike Shermans guy to cover The Randy Ratio - Superman Ahmad Carroll.

Not Sam Shielss YaaYaaa

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Dzehren's picture

December 07, 2016 at 09:18 pm

Actually Ahmad Carroll- total BuST went by Bartman. Joe Thomas from Auburn was r second bust from Auburn in the same draft.
2 BUSTS from GM Sherman that set us back 3 yrs.

Carroll & Thomas are no Randall and Rollins That is for sure. For all the crap Thompson gets- at least we don't have the likes of these 2 guys IMHO -

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Dzehren's picture

December 07, 2016 at 09:46 pm

Please stop comparing Shileds to Hayward. You are losing serious cred bro.

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Dzehren's picture

December 07, 2016 at 05:20 pm

We have too many UDFA's in the secondary
Gunter- Evans- makin Dorliant- Brice- Hawkins Etc. to have a championship or playoff "D".

Tramon & Shields were All Pro type UFFA's so I get it. We have A-Rod and need to win now.

Big rumor in Chicago- Nic Fangio Bears DC via SAN Fansico may be let go so the Bears can run a 4-3, Fox wants that scheme. Fangio could be a good replace for Capers.

We have big money next year to fix it
We need in the draft or free agency
2 CB's
2 LB's
1 DL
1 WR
1 OL

Peppers 10M gone
Shields 10M gone
Matthews ILB hamstring's 9M restructured
Perry contract up 5m ??
Datone Jones contract up ??

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Christopher Gennaro's picture

December 07, 2016 at 06:30 pm

if that rumor is true, i love to see fangio here or at least the afc, just to either have him or away from us.

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stockholder's picture

December 07, 2016 at 08:02 pm

Shields will be back. No way he gives up that money. Not only that, I don't think there are to many CBs that can run under 4.5. So no make up speed. Then how many are 6 foot to match up with the bigger Wrs of today. Then which ones can Tackle? So your 2 good Cbs are out. How many CBs will make the 1st round? Top 5 Cbs- King, Tabor,Jackson,White ,Lewis.

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Rossonero's picture

December 07, 2016 at 09:56 pm

I'm surprised you're that confident. I don't think the Packers will let Shields back. I'm sure they want him back, but they can use the savings on the other many FAs they have to sign. They care about a player's personal life. Like they did with Jermichael Finley, Nick Collins and Jonathan Franklin, they let guys go so they can preserve their health.

I'm sure Shields wants to keep playing, but at what cost? End up as a vegetable 10 years later? He's had 4 concussions. It's not worth it. Rashaan Salaam just killed himself the other day. It might or might be related to CTE, but why take the chance?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 08, 2016 at 12:11 am

GB has 9 million reasons not to let Shields play a few snaps for us in 2017. Shields is not playing for us unless he renegotiates his contract and gives GB a split contract.

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Kevin Carpenter's picture

December 07, 2016 at 05:33 pm

Hey @Lphill , you do know that Sam Shields and Casey Hayward are the exact same height, right? Nearly every single cornerback selected by Thompson is the prototypical 5'10"-5'11" 180lb-200lb mark. Obviously AL Harris and Charles Woodson come to mind as standouts but nearly everyone else from the past decade has fit that mold. And you forget, for many years, Sam Shields and Tramon Williams held their own against the likes of Brandon Marshall, and Calvin Johnson multiple times a year. Shields has put in more than his work for being "Too short"

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dobber's picture

December 08, 2016 at 07:28 am

When I saw Lphill's comment, I went back to the original draft scout to check because I thought they were about the same, also. They both list at 5'11" but that's a function of roundoff. They actually differ by about 3/4 of an inch based on their draft numbers: Shields was 5'10.6" and Hayward was 5'11.3". I understand I'm quibbling over 3/4 inch on guys who are covering 6'3" and bigger WR, but...just saying.

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Lphill's picture

December 07, 2016 at 08:13 pm

No Kevin thanks, I seem to remember Hayward appearing larger and playing more physical , I know shields is fast but that alone is not enough .

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Dzehren's picture

December 07, 2016 at 09:27 pm

Hayward was a cable CB. Good instinks and prototypical height and weight.
Availability was his downfall with all the hamstring issues.

He also lacked press coverage ability that Woodson, Tramon WILLIAMS and davon house excellled at.

That press coverage, man to man, aggressive CB is what seem's to be missing.

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Rossonero's picture

December 07, 2016 at 09:57 pm

Hayward was a good slot CB, nothing more. He was put on the outside when we had injuries in 2015 and got torched (remember the loss in Denver?) He had every chance to prove himself last season and was ranked as the 122nd CB in the NFL. He has regained his form in San Diego, but there was no reason for Thompson to spend money to keep him, especially given the injury issues you noted (he also had foot surgery).

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Dzehren's picture

December 07, 2016 at 10:15 pm

Yeah- Hayward was average/ capable. He seemed to be always hurt after his rookie year when he had 6 INT's then disappeared with injuries. I was not an advocate of keeping him. TT should have brought in an older vet for insurance.

Unfortunately, We all no that ain't happening.

Anyone that compares Hayward to Shileds is drinking to many spotted cows as Shileds was a top CB. Not even close.

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dobber's picture

December 08, 2016 at 07:35 am

We seem to have this impression of Hayward always being hurt, but he's played in every regular season game each season except for his second season when he missed at least 3 games. That doesn't mean he wasn't nicked up, but he was always available. Don't get me wrong: he just wasn't what you'd call an impact player in GB anymore and I was fully in favor of letting him go given the investment at the position in the draft. I'm glad for the guy...he seemed to be nothing short of a model citizen in GB. He could net the Packers a really nice compensatory pick this year.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 08, 2016 at 12:32 am

This is kind of a bandwagon article. Gunter had a good game against the Texans on a slow track in the snow.

I am not persuaded that Gunter has improved to be reminiscent of Al Harris. Used judiciously based on match-ups and surface, Gunter can give GB 400 to 500 pretty decent snaps in 2017. Gunter is on pace to play 875 snaps - hence his difficulties with good game then bad day syndrome. I do hope he has learned to press and be physical enough to play against speedier, quicker WRs. We will see.

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Handsback's picture

December 08, 2016 at 07:53 am

Gunter is OK, he's not great and he needs a lot of work to become a starter that the team needs. If he keeps working, he can make a difference.
I think he's getting way too much credit. Let him have another year and then revisit his body of work.

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RobinsonDavis's picture

December 08, 2016 at 12:57 pm

His size and physicality enables him to be something special and sorely missed right now in the CB role. But, he did struggle in the slot, which I thought he would (should) excel at. His consistency will be the key moving forward......Still an enigma to me, but I do like what I have seen from him lately.

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dobber's picture

December 09, 2016 at 05:15 am

Gunter has been a DNP in both practices this week due to "illness". Usually an "illness" won't keep a player out of games, but it did for Montgomery earlier in the year. Worth monitoring.

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