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McCarthy Admits the Obvious

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McCarthy Admits the Obvious

At his press conference Sunday, Mike McCarthy had the following to say about the defensive line:

So we're trying to, if you recall two years ago we had an excellent rotation we felt in the defensive line, and we're trying to get back to that.

It's a little thing, but it's incredibly important. The game of football is won from the inside out. Many of you have, correctly, pointed to the collapse of the defensive line as the biggest reason for the Packers' defensive struggles last season. I was constant in my criticism of Thompson last offseason for not keeping the cupboard stocked, as it were, on the defensive line and I think I was proven correct by the turn of events over the course of the 2008 season. 

So now we have the above from McCarthy, which would indicate that he and Thompson have taken the painful lessons of last season to heart. But have they? I mean, I'm as excited as the next guy about the addition of B.J. Raji, but is he really the lone addition that the defensive line needs? Obviously, I'm not so sure. I do like that they are playing him both at the nose and at end. The prospect of Raji and Pickett on the line together is exciting, especially in base personnel. The trouble I see is at the other end. Who do you play? Do you put in Jenkins? You may as well put up a 'Run the Ball To This Side' sign for opposing quarterbacks, so that they can switch any run calls they have away from Pickett/Raji. Do you play Johnny Jolly? Possibly, but then you have Jenkins, your best defensive lineman last season before his injury, on the bench. 

OK, so it's a fun problem to have and it's one that, no doubt, will be sorted out over the coming months. And it is good to see McCarthy address what was a glaring issue last season with some semblance of sense. I just hope he and Thompson have not oversold themselves on their defensive line's true talent level.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (22) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Keith's picture

If I were standing beside a wishing well, I would wish for Harrell to play like a 1st rounder so we could go: Raji - Pickett - Harrell some of the time. I also think the move to the 3-4 could help a guy like Thompson, who I thought looked pretty strong, if not all that explosive. I'm not expert on the responsibilities of lineman in the 3-4, but I always assumed they were more "hold the line, keep contain, and keep the backers clean" type responsibilities.

packeraaron's picture

I really like Thompson - he just needs to learn to cut the corner. He gets washed outside way too easily. Hopefully an offseason in the weight room will help.

Keith's picture

Agreed. I've softened my stance on some of the guys from last year. I think they'll benefit from a rotation that keeps them fresh. Remember, only 3 spots on the line now (most of the time), so that should help. Still do not understand why Pickett's name is etched in stone at NG.

packeraaron's picture

Yeah, I find that odd as well. As for the 3 or 4 guys on the line thing - it's really only in base, which won't be used that often this year. Lots of 4-man lines will be used...

Keith's picture

Oh, I understand that, but I still think it will be beneficial, even in limited use (if that's what ends up happening.)

PackerFAN's picture

I think Line will end up being Jenkins-RAji-Harrell ( if he's improved) Jenkins is like the perfect 3-4 end. He can play the run well, and can stay in on passing downs. I think Picket and Raji will both be in in run situations without a doubt. Perhaps Jenkins- Picket-Raji will be the run package. I think that will be what happens.

Jayme's picture

I thought that McCarthy had, at some point, hinted that Pickett may be moved to DE at least some of the time. My belief is that they should make sure to give Raji and Pickett enough rest and not worry so much about getting them both on the line at the same time all the time. They won't be any good to us if they are worn out when December rolls around.
That's not to say they shouldn't both be on the line together some of the time, but really, the 3-4 defense is less about what the line's doing and more about about what the linebackers are doing. The line doing the minimum of what's required of them for the entire season is the goal, anything extra is just a plus.

Rainman's picture

If only there was an option, other than the draft, for a team to bring in new personnel to improve the club.
Some sort of way to find players who were free of contracts who could be used to fill such holes. If anyone comes up with such a way they should let TT know.

Ryeguy812's picture

It's been said before, but the success of our defense this year hinges on the injury recoveries of Barnett and Jenkins. Jenkins can be a stud DE in the 3-4 if he's healthy.

Rainman: We could try luring players out of retirement like the Vikings are doing with that one QB that used to play for the Jets?

Rainman's picture

@Ryeguy812 that was funny. I'm not suggesting we go after John Randle, but some quality depth would be nice. At D-Line and RB. I'm also a little concerned about our Back-up QB situation I would love to see a veteran brought in to at least compete with our 2 second year guys for that backup spot.

Ron La Canne's picture

MM's comments are valid. One thing he doesn't address is who are the rotatees? Four come to mind, Raji, Pickett, Jolly, and Jenkins. I suspect they need at least two more dependable backups to complete the set. At this point they have Montgomery (easily trapped snd not a good run defender), Harrell (a Red Cross decal has been attached to his helmet), Thompson ( too slow for OLB and too small for DE), and Malone (Won't be on the final pre-season roster). TT still needs to bring in a Carter/Holiday type to balance out the backups.

And to further analyze the Dline, injuries from last year have to be completely healed. Pickett had the hamstring that slowed him for at least half the season, Jenkins is sorting out the chest and ankle injuries and won't be available until camp (hopefully), Harrell is always a question mark (MM is using the same positive spin he used last year about Harrell's progress) and let's not forget that it is highly likely that Jolly will not play between two to four games because of a suspension.

In short, the Dline is not set yet.

packeraaron's picture

Rainman - Actually, I love the idea of getting John Randle - as a D-Line coach. Imagine Randle and Greene on the sideline...brilliant.

bucky's picture

<i>Still do not understand why Pickett’s name is etched in stone at NG.</i>

I don't know that I read McCarthy's comments as stating that Pickett is locked in as the starter at NG. I think a fair reading might be that he is the default starter at the position, but that's not the same thing.

retiredgrampa's picture

My question....just what MORE would you recommend TT do at this point? Ask the league office for MORE draft picks? Throw out the picks for OL and try to substitute with more DL? There is only so much you can do with the draft. And TT has done it.

packeraaron's picture

retired - I'm on record for a while now saying that the Packers should sign Kevin Carter. Vonnie Holiday would be welcome. A veteran who has played in the system would help immensely.

WoodyG's picture

I wish you would quit mentioning K. Carter. Although I'd also like to see Carter wearing G&amp;G in 2009, your predictions haven't been too close lately.

Malcolm Jenkins ??? Did you go 0-8 again?? Personally, I was 4-8. (Raji, Matthews, Lang, Johnson) At least the Pack made 4 good picks, IMO.

Andrew in Atlanta's picture

"And it is good to see McCarthy address what was a glaring issue last season with some semblance of sense. I just hope he and Thompson have not oversold themselves on their defensive line’s true talent level."
I really don't mean to be a jerk here Aaron but I'm still not clear where you stand on the existing talent. I'm pretty sure you posted a number of "the defense will be fine" and "existing talent is good" messages, but then you also post stuff like the quote I just pulled. The way I read your post above, you would think you would have been screaming for defense early in the draft.
In my best Vinnie Barbarino voice, I'm so confused!

packeraaron's picture

I think the defense WILL be fine. If they follow my advice. ;)


Seriously, the talent level is much better than people make it out to be. I just think they need one final signing (Kevin Carter) to shore up the D-Line. I don't think those statements are contradictory.

packeraaron's picture

Woody - You forget my great campaign for Thompson to sign Tim Rattay. That worked out...oh, wait...

Andrew in Atlanta's picture

Ok, thanks for the clarification. BTW, Kierwan and Ryan on the NFL Network agree with you. They think defense will be a strength this year for the Pack

wgbeethree's picture

I think from a pure talent point the defense is fine...if everyone is healthy at some point this year we will line up with 6 former first round draft picks(pickett, raji,harrel,hawk,barnett, and matthews)3 former pro bowlers(harris, kampman, and collins)a guy who is both and on top of that a heismann trophy winner(woodson) and a former nfl defensive player of the month(bigby)...whether or not we play to an elite level is yet to be known but that is an insane amout of pure talent to have on one team

nerdmann's picture

I like our DL depth. Thing is, they're all DEs. At NT I like Pickett and Raji.
I think Alfred Malone is going to surprise people, and I haven't written Harrell off yet either.
Jeremy Thompson is going to be a good OLB, imo. I'm high on him. If he can crack the lineup ahead of Kampman and Mathews.

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