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Injuries, Mental Errors Impacting Packers' Secondary the Most

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Injuries, Mental Errors Impacting Packers' Secondary the Most

It was never the plan to have Green Bay Packers safety Kentrell Brice playing cornerback on Sunday. Unfortunately, that's how bad the injury situation was in the Packers' secondary during their defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings.

It wasn't a long audition, but it also wasn't one that defensive coordinator Dom Capers would like to see again -- or any member of the Packers' coaching staff for that matter. They entered the game with four cornerbacks -- Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, Josh Hawkins and Lenzy Pipkins -- and at one point, they only had one that was producing, and it was Randall.

While Randall managed to come away with his second interception in back-to-back weeks, Hawkins struggled severely. According to Pro Football Focus, Hawkins was targeted 10 times and gave up eight catches for 87 yards. He was evidently a soft spot that Vikings quarterback Case Keenum wanted to continue picking on, and he did.

The Packers ended up soldiering on without Rollins as well, who suffered what appeared to be a non-contact injury to either his knee or his Achilles. The injury is unknown, but given the rapidness in which the Packers moved him to injured reserve, it's easy to assume the injury is significant and his season is very likely over.

The corresponding move for Rollins being swapped to I.R. was for quarterback Joe Callahan, who is now the backup to Brett Hundley.

One move after another, the Packers may need to make a couple more to make up for the injuries to their back end. Kevin King (concussion) and Davon House (quadricep) are the two starters who weren't active against the Vikings. Even with them, Randall, Hawkins and Pipkins are the remaining healthy cornerbacks without Rollins.

That group could be one injury away from potential catastrophe -- again.

"We were fortunate we ended up getting another corner back [during the game]," Capers said during his presser on Monday. "That's the thing we have to evaluate, we have to evaluate what we can do in those situations and still play competitive football."

Pipkins and Hawkins -- a couple of undrafted players at their position -- were expected to serve as depth this season. Like last year, young and inexperienced players are thrown into the fire in the putrid face of injury. The duo of Pipkins and Hawkins did, however, combine for 12 tackles including a few in the open field.

That's what will help this defense persevere -- tackling. 

They had 11 missed tackles against the Vikings, a season-high according to Capers. Still, it's an improvement over the 16 missed tackles they had in their preseason opener back in August against the Philadelphia Eagles.

It was one of the biggest deficiencies that plagued the Packers over the last few seasons, but defensive staples such as linebacker Blake Martinez and safety Morgan Burnett, who was also out on Sunday, provide a little more stability in that department.

"I thought the guys continued to battle. We had a couple guys playing positions they hadn't had a lot of reps in." Capers said. "Biggest area we've got to clean up is the missed tackles. We had the most missed tackles than we had at any time this year, we have to make sure we get that cleaned up.

"We had a few mental errors from guys who hadn't had a number of reps at the position."

With the high-flying New Orleans Saints coming to town this week led by quarterback Drew Brees, who had made most of his living tearing apart a Capers-coached defense, the Packers may want to right their ship by patching up any leaks in it first.


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (69) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I just want to see good things from Hundley next week. I don't expect him to keep up with Brees especially if Capers has to roll out the Waiver Wire Secondary. He'll have plenty of reason to throw and we'll know a lot more about him after.

KenEllis's picture

Rollins was a bust before the injury.
Randall is a complete head case.
House had issues with injuries the first time he played in Green Bay.
Other than Kevin King who looks good, Ted Thompson did next to nothing to improve one of the worst performing groups of CBs ever in 2016.
You reap what you sow.

CAG123's picture

Next to nothing? What else could he have done? You want him to draft multiple corners and sign Revis and Cromartie? He got them a pair of promising rookies in King and Jones and signed a veteran cornerback that was familiar with the system while also trying to solidify the pass rush which would also help the secondary. It’s not his fault these guys seem to hurt themselves rolling out of bed. Hell Dallas drafted 2 cornerback prospects and one can’t stay on the field (Awuzie) and the other sucks (Lewis). I don’t know what is going on in GB and why the players seem to be so easily hurt but something needs to change.

KenEllis's picture

You have a point about Thompson drafting multiple corners. He did that in 2015 and the results have set back the franchise tremendously. He should never be permitted to do it again.

But the Packers this past offseason needed to acquire at least 1 top flight veteran, 1 mediocre veteran, and to draft multiple rookies to fix the dreadful CB position, because Randall, Rollins, and Gunter could not be counted on.

Instead, Thompson brought in the mediocre veteran and drafted just one CB because doing any more would be admitting he screwed up when he drafted his boys Randall & Rollins in 2015. (Jones is not a CB and never will be).

As for the pass rush, what? The Pack has just 11 sacks this season in six games Peppers has 6.5 himself in Carolina. The abysmal pass rush further exposes the below average CB play. The D is a mess again this season.

At some point, someone is going to have to hold the great Ted Thompson accountable for the year's of mediocre to bad defensive play.

Tarynfor12's picture

Peppers has talented guys on the defense again to help have impact but he wouldn't be so here in GB. It's deceiving but also truth awaking.

mrj007's picture

Injuries are a convenient excuse for why the defense under Capers has sucked for years. Even without injuries the defense hasn't played will in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2105 even when healthy. Now that the team have no shot with Rodgers out, why not clean house? I mean - can it suck any worse than 1) No Pass rush 2) No Coverage and 3) Inability to tackle? It doesn't seem like the Packers have ANY healthy players.... EVER so what would be the difference anyway?. Watching Minnesota and Dallas convert what seemed like EVERY 3rd down the past few weeks is just a repeat of the last FIVE YEARS. It would be nice to try a new approach since the defense hasn't helped the team very much in recent history.

justjoe's picture

Hey Ken,

Since you obviously better at being a GM then TT is. Let us know when an NFL team calls you and offers you a job. I for one hope the Packers hire you, then we will finally be guaranteed several super bowl victories in a row and no one on our team will ever get injured again.

I can hardly wait.


fthisJack's picture

you have to tell Joe that the salary cap is not 500 million dollars.

fthisJack's picture

i meant Ken...sorry.

Finwiz's picture

Jesus - Peppers has SIX sacks this season?
That's totally sobering.
Guess that trade off for Ahmad Brooks for Peppers didn't work out so well either.
What has gone right for the GB Packers this year?

Johnblood27's picture

Loved those color rush uni's...

dobber's picture

House played 16 games 3 of the last 4 years. Missed 3 games in 2014.

KenEllis's picture

"As a rookie in 2011, House sustained a hamstring injury and it more or less ruined that season. He played in only two games.

The next year, he was practically a lock to start until a shoulder injury against the San Diego Chargers knocked him out for the six games of the 2012 season."

"House missed the last three games of the 2014 season with a shoulder injury to his right scapula he suffered against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 14."

It is true that because he was benched in 2016 by Jax and thus hardly played that he did not have an injury.

dobber's picture

"It is true that because he was benched in 2016 by Jax and thus hardly played that he did not have an injury."

I still stand by the fact that he was healthy and available for all 16 games 3 of the last 4 years. That's actually pretty durable in today's NFL. You're saying he would've been hurt if he'd played? I'm sorry Ken, but that's horseshit.

Finwiz's picture

He's quoting factual information, and you're arguing?
What's wrong with you today, still despondent over Rodgers getting hurt?
Nothings going to change - he's gone.

dobber's picture

My quotes were factual as well...I'm calling out his baseless claim that a player WOULD HAVE gotten hurt. Nobody knows that, and it's ridiculous to even throw it out there as fact.

Finwiz's picture

House was a gamble they only brought back because they were desperate.
Clearly they lost that bet because he's been totally ineffective, even when he's actually played.
He'll be gone again next year I presume.
Injured or not, he isn't any good and the fact is, now he's injured.
Whether he played the prior 3 years or not is inconsequential.
He has injury history, and 1 of those prior 3 years he was benched and didn't play.

Duke Divine's picture

"He's quoting factual information, and you're arguing" sounds like a white house press conference...

dobber's picture

I did revert to name-calling, so I think you might be right...

KenEllis's picture

Dobber, my original comment about House was, "House had issues with injuries the first time he played in Green Bay."

I then pointed out, in response to your comment, that House missed extensive playing time in 3 of his 4 seasons in Green Bay. 24 games over 3 seasons to be exact.

If you want to ignore those incontrovertible facts go right ahead.

As for horseshit, that is what I would refer to when a fan tries to pretend that a guy who was benched for non-performance, as House was in Jax last year, is durable because he was available for all 16 games.

By that standard, the Packers will never have more durable WRs than Jeff Janis and Trevor Davis, because while they virtually never play the position they are always, always available.

dobber's picture

My comment was that he WASN'T hurt for all but 3 games the last 3 years. Does a guy who plays 450 snaps (sum of defense and special teams) contribute? Is that enough snaps for a guy to get hurt? I think he proved in TC this year that he doesn't need any defensive snaps to get hurt... ;)

My point is that you said that he WOULD HAVE gotten hurt if he'd played as if it were an incontrovertible fact, or more specifically, that the only reason he DIDN'T get hurt was that he wasn't playing a lot of defensive snaps.

"It is true that because he was benched in 2016 by Jax and thus hardly played that he did not have an injury."

If you want to argue that my comment is garbage, that's fine, but yours was also indefensible.

KenEllis's picture

This will be my final post about House.

If you want to praise Thompson for signing a CB who was benched, by the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, and played only 25% of that team's defensive snaps in 2016 because he did not get hurt last year while also playing 174 snaps on STs, go right ahead. I don't know what else to tell you but more power to you.

As for me, I stand by my original comment that House experienced significant injury issues during the 4 years he was previously in Green Bay. Hence, it is not exactly a surprise to me at least that House has already missed significant playing time in 2017 just like he did in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

dobber's picture

**tips hat**

flackcatcher's picture

No he did not. House's problem was lack of game time preparation. It took him 2 years to understand the mental part of the game. Green bay was very deep in CB in 2012-2015 so he rode the bench the first year. Got spot time during 2013, and played deep minutes in 2014 and at one point bypassed Haywood as a slot CB. His finest moment as a Packer when he went in for Sam Shield and man up on Julio Jones. Shut down Jones in the 4th quarter. Ryan went to Jones three time in the end zone. Last play Jones fell on him injuring House's quad. House could have played, but the Packers shut him down in fear the quad could be torn away from the muscle. Next game Sam Shields went down with a concussion and was done for the year. The last game, the starting CB were Williams and Haywood, with Randall in the slot and Rollins the dime. So, the only year where House missed time was 2014, and that was at the end of the season. House not playing before that was strictly a coaching decision. (Joe Whitt was House's position coach then, as he is now)

flackcatcher's picture

I should add that this was from a conversation I had with both men during training camp. We were talking about the mental preparation it takes to play in the NFL. While House was hurt, the injuries would not stop him from playing if Whitt thought he was ready. House was not mentally prepared for the NFL his rookie year, so outside of special teams, he did not play. Nice men, both very smart, both very sharp. The main takeaway I got, is injuries do not slow these guys down. But not knowing your assignment is a job killer. So you are correct about the injuries House suffered, but they did not keep him off the field. It was not knowing his job that did. (After listening to these two, I could see why the Packers give their Doctors the final say on players coming back into the game :)

flackcatcher's picture

And yes, that should be 2011 his rookie year. (Brain lock. I think I'll quit here 0:)

fthisJack's picture

so....they shouldn't have signed him cause he was going to get hurt again in GB? everybody gets hurt in GB!

baldski's picture

Why did he get rid of Casey Howard who is doing a bang-up job for the Chargers????

croatpackfan's picture

Well, if Casey Howard is so excellent how it comes that they have record 2-4 and Packers with shitted secondary and shitted pass rush have record 4-2.

Hematite's picture

Simple answer: Aaron Rodgers!!

stockholder's picture

I thought they were going to try josh Jones at cb. Randall was considered a safety too. Seems maybe they should have tried Jones. I believe he went out. But try Jones again.

4zone's picture

Brees is gonna torch this secondary. Our best hope is long drives and scoring every possession. Hope King gets back for the game, we will need him.

fthisJack's picture

best hope is to break Brees' collar bone

dobber's picture

The problem being that a Packer would have to get close enough to him to hit him...

croatpackfan's picture

Well, not exactly. It is OK if Clay will be 2 steps away when Drew throw the ball. It is legal, obviously!

baldski's picture

We have no pass rush. Nobody will lay a glove on him.

Razer's picture

I am going with lack of talent. King has given us a flash that we haven't seen in a while and we are gaga over the man and he is a green rookie. Let's face it, Ted Thompson has missed on so many defensive picks, it is crippling. We've been rebuilding this defense for 5-6 years now and we still can't field a top ten defense - even when healthy. This failure rivals the failure to surround Brett Favre with weapons. A lot of missed opportunity.

fthisJack's picture

i think a lot of it is Capers. players just can't seem to get on the same page every play. simplify the frickin defense.

BPEARSON21's picture

Our first string defense allowed 23 points against the Vikings second string offense... you tell me.

We had a few injuries sure, but the vikings were missing their #1 and #2 quarterbacks, their #1 RB and their #1 WR.

So even if we were playing guys out of position or playing our "back ups" they still allowed another teams second string offense run up 23 points on them.

Bring on the excuses though. Keep defending them everyone. Where my "bounce back year for Damarious Randall" people at?

dobber's picture

AT least you're not pitching your blog...

BPEARSON21's picture

I take it you have subscribed yet... lol

Duke Divine's picture

0.0 sacks and 11 missed tackles...Inexcusable! This defense is terrible and Arodge masked it

cheesehead1's picture

Exactly, when we go up against a good to very good offense we get torched time and again. Injuries are no excuse. MIN probably has the same or more as do many other teams. Somehow and I mean somehow, this defense has to carry the load the rest of the way. Not impossible, but I’ve yet to see this D rise to the occasion in the past few years. Regardless, I’m still a direhard Packer fan and will continue to support them.

dobber's picture

If the Packers are going to lean on their defense to win games for them from here on out, they might as well not come out of the tunnel.

The offense has to find a way be efficient (i.e. keep the defense rested) and productive (scoring points to overcome weak defensive weeks). That's how this team is built and it's too late to radically change what they do. Someone suggested that this team needs to go to a 60/40 run/pass play selection. NOBODY does that anymore, rules don't favor it, and the Packers aren't built to do it. Last year, Buffalo and Dallas were right at 50% and led the league in run play percentage. But you're right, the Packer are going to have to run more and get yards when they do it. Either play more 2 TE sets and make play calls at the line or spread the field and rely on the athleticism of your RBs.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I think Randall has largely bounced back. Not up to his draft status (I hated the pick and went on a rant) but he looks like a perfectly adequate #3 or #4 CB to me right now. I expect him to be a nice #2 CB in the NFL in the long term.

A Pickled Packer's picture

Read an article that suggested, no matter how bad our defense is we were better off drafting O-linemen and only O-linemean in the event key players at this position go down. The argument was that if you lose AR you lose the season and no matter how bad your defense is Aaron Rodgers would make up for it. At first I thought this to be ridiculous, now however that line of reasoning makes total sense.

croatpackfan's picture

Stupid argumet that did not hold the test from 2011 till today. The closest Packers were to SB was 2014 when Aaron and offense was not able to put more than 1 TD on the score. D was playing so good that they shut out Seattle offense in the first half.

Very firm support to umbeliveable poor offensive performance was given by ST which allow TD to Seatlle and onside kick...

So, your argument that D was not good and that Aaron and O was always possible to make it up for D is not valid.

From 2013 playoff Packers D was healthy only in 2014 season. 2015 season was little bit healthier than, by injury ruined offense, and 2016 injuries were heavy on the both side of the ball...

That is how good you are with the facts and how solid are your conclusions...

If Mike Murphy would listen fans, there would be Packers franchize bellow Browns, and Packers will be for derision...

splitpea1's picture

With or without Rodgers, It's clear that this organization is in need of an overhaul. The same management has been in place for a long, long time. They've had great regular-season success, but to go further in the playoffs you have to excel in other things beside passing offense (we've got a pretty good kicker, too). I think the first thing is to hire a credible outside auditor to find out why this team sustains so many injuries year after year. Next, since the bye is right around the corner, wouldn't this be a great time for some new defensive leadership? Actually, it's been time for a few years. Obviously, TT deserves partial blame for these ongoing defensive issues. Finally, we need a consistent running game, one that is mostly implemented by running backs instead of wide receivers or the quarterback. A couple of bulldozers on the line would really help.

This stuff seems pretty obvious to me. Where am I going wrong--somewhere between Murphy and TT?

flackcatcher's picture

Two years ago the Packers did a complete overhaul in both the medical and strength and conditioning programs. They also brought in a number of people to make outside evaluations of not only their coaching staff, but their front office, up to and including both TT and President Mark Murphy. Don't kid yourself, while Murphy has a great deal of leeway, the Packers executive board is watching him very closely. It has become clear that the Packer front office is operating differently than in the past. And we see TT consulting with both Ron Wolf and Joe Dorsey. To put it bluntly, the Packers are a well run organization, one of the best in the NFL. Outside of having a magic wand to wave away injuries, I don't know what the Packers can do.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I assume you mean John Dorsey? Where did you see that? Dorsey was a disaster as to cap management in KC, but a good talent evaluator.

dobber's picture

I think Joe Dorsey is his accountant.

flackcatcher's picture

Sheesh..... For some reason I keep mixing up John Dorsey with Joe Dorsey, use to lead a Big Band in the 1940's. Wife hits me on it all the time.

Johnblood27's picture

Good regular season results, very little playoff success?

Sounds like Marty Schottenheimer to me...

Oh Yeah, thats where MM cut his coaching teeth...

Time to realize the truth.

GB Packers NEED to move on from this "very successful football coach" and find a WINNER.

croatpackfan's picture

Can you give us the name? But please, the name of the certain winner!

dobber's picture

The grass is always greener. People always assume that any change is a change for the better. When you're at or near the top of the league, there's a lot more room to fall down than there is to move up. I'm not saying the Packers CAN'T do better than the status quo, but when the change finally does come there will be people high-fiving over it, but you need to be careful what you wish for. How did that change from Lovie Smith turn out for the Bears?

flackcatcher's picture

This was a tired team, and secondary that played on a fast turf for the second week in a row. Tired players get sloppy, and sloppy players get hurt. Listen to MM presser yesterday, yeah he mad. He's mad at himself and his coaching staff for underestimating what the Dallas game took out of their players. While MM thinks there is something more he his staff, and his trainers could do. The reality is the Packers could do very little outside of what they were already doing to get their players ready for Minnesota. Outside of giving Packers players drugs and blood transfusions there was no way to speed up the recovery cycle. To the credit of the defense, they kept this game close, and never gave up. Two turnovers led to 10 points. That's the work of Dom Capers and his staff too. Sometimes teams have to take the hit and play on. That is just the way it is in the NFL.

cheesehead1's picture

MIN played Monday night so they played on fewer days rest. Let’s be real here, we got beat by a backup QB who was minus his top receiver and RB.

croatpackfan's picture

No we got beat by injuries.

What facts you did not read or hear?

Fact 1. Starting OL finished with only 2 starters. And 3 third string players - one with first start for Packers (Ulrich) ...
Fact 2. At one point of the game Packers had only one healthy CB (Josh Hawkins) who was not playing his best game...
Fact 3. Packers lost to injury their best player on the second posession of the game. Replaced by Brett HUndly who did not have much snaps (if any) with 1. offense during the game preparation...
Fact 4. Packers started game w/o 2 very important players in their secondary - one CB and one SS
Fact 5. There was lot of players playing through injuries from the beginning of the game...

Still, decimated D was able to keep Vikings to only 13 points (10 points goes to Vikings D, or Packers O if you like!) and they made huge plays that allows Packers to put their 10 points on the board!

Sorry, but this whinings are pathetic...

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Wow. I don't think I've ever heard this excuse before. Playing on turf 2 weeks in a row tires out player? Really?

dobber's picture

Playing 37 minutes on defense does, though...

flackcatcher's picture

Oh come on, you are smarter than that. Teams build around their home field to get every advantage possible. Turf makes players faster. But it also cuts down on player life span, knee and groin being the biggest. Atlanta is two steps faster on their home turf. But they get exposed for being a smaller team on the road. As I wrote here last week, the heat in Dallas led to cramps and dehydration among the secondary. Packers were shuttling players in and out all game long. Second half Packers played a lot of Dime and Nitro. Run 30 to 40 years on every play in 90 plus heat and what do you think is going to happen. Most teams got rid of their turf in the 90's cause of the damage it does to players bodies overall. Even with the vast improvements both college and pro avoid turf, unless it is the very last option.

badaxed's picture

Football is not rocket science. The team that blocks better and tackles better wins. I believe too much has been put on the fact that scheming , hard counts, snap the ball with 12 on the field or playing street ball (Rodgers holding the ball until someone gets open) are more important than blocking and tackling. \We would run the ball down their throats if the line could run block. Rodgers would never have to escape the pocket if his receivers could get open and the line could block. The defense would go three and out if they could tackle someone.........roll out the donuts MM and get practicing..... and I do not mean the "Dunkin Donuts" chubby.

splitpea1's picture

I'm just trying to find someone who can explain how the Packers can seemingly have three times more injuries than other teams--for what, about a decade?

Also, I believe Schottenheimer lost 13 of 18 playoff games, while MM has won 9 of 16, including the Super Bowl--so we're doing a whole lot better there. But after years of high defensive draft picks, it seems that we should have been back by now. Not to rehash the past, but those three recent OT playoff losses were really tough.

splitpea1's picture

Correction: That's 10 wins out of 18.

flackcatcher's picture

You just ask the most important question in the NFL. No body knows, if they did every club would be changing how they prepared. Most believe that the players are bigger and faster, the hits harder, that the injury wave we are seeing is the natural outcome of today's game.

baldski's picture

The defense suffers from bad picks. #1 pick on middle linebacker Hawk. He was mediocre. #1 spent on DT from Tennessee = complete bust. Mathews OK. Where are the other #1's on defense?

croatpackfan's picture

Kenny Clark?

Razor's picture

Errors, injuries and lack of talent.

Draft a safety to be a corner. Draft a basketball player to be a corner. Bring back a cast-off to be a corner. Call Sam Shields. Call Tramon?

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