Packers Tasked with Finding Raven Greene's Replacement

Raven Greene has been placed on IR and now the Green Bay Packers have to find his replacement on defense. 

Back during training camp, I wrote about how this Green Bay Packers' defense had missed Raven Greene in 2019 after he suffered what ended up being a season-ending injury in Week 2. At the time, I chose that topic because of the important role that he plays in Mike Pettine's defense as the dime linebacker.
 
Now, this certainly isn't an easy role to fill either. It requires a player who can do a little bit of everything while also having a full understanding of the entire defense. It takes a player who is athletic enough to hang with tight ends, running backs, and slot receivers in coverage, as well as a player physical enough to matchup against the run. LaFleur would also mention how the back-end of the Packer defense missed Greene's ability to communicate pre-snap last season as well. 
 
And all of these aspects that make Greene a vital player to this defense were on display this season, especially in recent weeks. Over the last three games against Indianapolis, Chicago, and Philadelphia before he left with a shoulder injury, Greene recorded 18 tackles, three quarterback hits, half a sack, and a forced fumble. 
 
Since Week 4 against Atlanta, Greene had played at least 47 percent of the Packers' defensive snaps in seven out of eight games and had two games where he was on the field for over 70 percent of Green Bay's snaps. 
 
After Greene's game against the Falcons where he recorded eight tackles, one of which was for a loss, along with a quarterback hit, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine summed up what his versatility means to this unit (via the Wisconsin State Journal):
 
“He’s a versatile guy. He can play deep. He can play down in the box. He can play dime,” Pettine said. “The other night when we lost Sully after a couple snaps, we had to move Will Redmond to the nickel. And then Will got hurt in the fourth quarter, we had to move Raven to the nickel. That just shows you his versatility that he was able to seamlessly go from dime to nickel and perform at a high level.”
 
Unfortunately, Greene was just placed on IR on Wednesday, and according to Bill Huber of SI, he is likely done for the season once again. Given Greene's level of play as of late as well as his versatility, when Matt LaFleur was asked about moving him to IR, he discussed how much the team will miss his presence (via Sports Illustrated): 
 
“That’s a tough one. He did a lot for us, not only as a dime linebacker or safety but also on special teams. That’s a tough one for us. Certainly, his presence will be missed. I feel terrible for him. He’s battled through a bunch of injuries. You never want to see go out like that.”
 
So now, with no Raven Greene available, the big question is; who takes his place on defense? Well, there isn't a straight forward answer. 
 
One option, and not a bad option either, is giving Adrian Amos more snaps closer to the line of scrimmage, where you could make the argument that he is more of a playmaking threat than he is at free safety. 
 
We could also see Will Redmond get a few opportunities; however, his tackling ability would be a bit of a concern, not to mention that he has been very up and down over his short career. 
 
Rookies Vernon Scott and Henry Black were both known for their versatility coming out of their respective Big 12 universities and fit the dime linebacker role well. But the two have only 61 combined NFL snaps on defense between them. So expecting either Scott or Black -- a 7th round pick and an undrafted free agent -- to play significant snaps down the stretch and into the playoffs may be a bit much. 
 
Another option, and perhaps my favorite of the bunch, is playing more traditional nickel packages, which allows two linebackers to be on the field at the same time. That means more Kamal Martin paired with Chrisitan Kirksey -- something that we have seen Pettine utilizing more in recent weeks -- and Krys Barnes is available again as well. 
 
As a rookie, Martin certainly still has areas of his game that need cleaning up, but he's held his own in coverage, ranking 15th out of 143 linebackers by Pro Football Focus' grading system. And against the run, he flies around the field, making a play or two in the backfield an almost weekly occurrence. 
 
When it comes to replacing Raven Greene on defense, the odds are that we are going to see a combination of all the mentioned options above and not just one. But regardless of which path or paths Pettine chooses, it's not going to be easy filling Greene's role on this defense. 

---------------------

Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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5 points

Comments (53)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Guam's picture

December 11, 2020 at 11:04 am

Ouch! Losing Greene is a significant loss to the Packer D. I suspect the adjustments will vary game by game, but I sure hope against the Titans and Derek Henry, we see two ILBs.

4 points
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PackfanNY's picture

December 11, 2020 at 11:21 am

It’s unfortunate but Packers have a lot of practice playing without Raven Greene. Not his first go around with the IR. I expect us to see more Kamal Martin on the field. Let’s hope he steps up.

6 points
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Bearmeat's picture

December 11, 2020 at 03:39 pm

Greene is hurt again. Shock. Maybe it's because he is too damn small to be playing all those snaps in the box. It's not Greene's fault. His instincts are great and he is pound for pound a beast. But he is being misused. Pettine got him hurt. Again.

Burks was drafted to be a bigger version of Greene. Unfortunately, Burks is a bust. Pettine needs to adjust and get Martin up to speed. Trust your secondary to cover 3-4 routes with 4 or 5 guys. This, along with pass rush, is the defense's best asset.

I'm bummed we are losing Greene (again), but I've gotta say: Maybe this forces Pettine's hand to stop playing so much damn dime defense.

20 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

December 11, 2020 at 06:53 pm

If they are so in love with the rover concept they should have drafted Queen, but he's getting chewed up by the big guys. Get Martin and Barnes on the field, Kirksey looks like he knows coverage but lost a step. Another Groundhog Day scenario.

2 points
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nygary's picture

December 11, 2020 at 12:53 pm

I know Greene was used a lot at lb. But with him in the game the Pack was so undersized we sucked against the run. Greene can't stay healthy. Give Martin as many reps as we can.

8 points
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CoachDino's picture

December 11, 2020 at 06:43 pm

Love this board disagreed with my guy earlier this week but couldn't agree more this time. Diversity of thought helps all of us.

Your point is dead on about Greene being hurt, I've mentioned it in the past, having to take on these 200 to 230 lbs RBs not to mention TE barrelong at you is not a recope for a healthy body. Sucks this time from what I saw he dove and his shoulder was out stretched when he landed. I have done that myself in baseball and have seen iy time and time again. Its a gad injury.

There is noone on the roster who can play that position other than Amos. Thought that was a great idea, I really have no clue if the packers have another FS that can step in if Savage drops to Amos's spot.

Great article as it really breaks down the options well. All of them not being better than Greene playing but that's the point.

Tough to ever expect a linebacker to cover a slot or turn and run down field. Burkes and Barnes have some physical gifts but not the ability to cover like that. I hope the Packers draft that position this year as Greene, as much as I like him, is most likely going to be available the same going forward, not nearly enough.
KOLBY HARVELL-PEEL is a guy coming out this year that might be a perfect replacement.

Kinda goes back to the role player conversation. It's a league of specialists now days.

Saw a great video on Youtube today breaking down the Packers defensive issues. I thought it was dead on and I came away with a few new nuggets of info. Could also be confirmation bias...lol..

Really puts the blame on Clarke's level of play this year, Prestons and Z's lack of edge discipline and though the ILBs have been hampered by the poor line play they are making too many poor decisions across the board. Martin, Barnes and Kirksey. Thought Martinez and Kirsey was a wash but really showed how slow Kirksey is when the hope was he would be faster.

Summary: they are an average defense overall and average against the run and better than average against the pass.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_R_aK_TIzg&ab_channel=WeeklySpiral

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PackerBacker77's picture

December 11, 2020 at 10:01 pm

He got hurt playing special teams . Nothing to do with facing LBS and RB

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CoachDino's picture

December 12, 2020 at 02:37 am

True, thank-you. The point remains he has a history of injuries, this was just one of many over the years including this year before the ST injury.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 12, 2020 at 02:31 pm

Another reason we shouldn’t allow returns.

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egbertsouse's picture

December 12, 2020 at 08:03 am

Is that the video that demonstrates that the DL can’t keep the OL from getting to the second level, the OLBs can’t hold an edge, and the ILBs invariably jump in the wrong hole? Then the analyst finishes by saying it doesn’t matter because our pass D is decent and we have AR to put up 35 a game. That is Pettine’s philosophy to a T.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 12, 2020 at 02:29 pm

OMG...did I just hear Coach Dino say this is an average defense? How many chickenshit downvotes is he going to get for this heresy?

All year long I’ve pointed this same thing out....we’re average-ish. Probably we will finish about 11th in scoring defense, very similar to last year’s #9. It doesn’t always look that good, but Brett Favre had games where he didn’t look like an HOFer, either. We had a bad stretch against the Vikings, but our other losses featured multiple turnovers . We’ve held half our opponents to 21 or less. Our scoring defense AT HOME (which is where we’ll be in the playoffs) is 22/game.

If you can’t see this is an average-to above defense, you should watch more of the rest of the NFL. Have you seen the Cowboys? The Jets? Take a look around.

2 points
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CoachDino's picture

December 12, 2020 at 06:41 pm

Ya Mt Letterhead people like to shoot the messenger. i think you make a great point concerning perspective. It seems to me media and fans often like to grade in a vacuum, where if you follow the rest of the league and take into consideration why they play soft and the success they've had with Petinnes pass first focus you may see them more as average. . Perspective. Some people just love to b%$#h, others reference the days when we/they used to play (games always changing) and others are just not going to put in the time and just fall back on cliches. "It starts with run defense" Absolutely nothing wrong with any of that, I have my opinion, they have theirs, we both are able to enjoy the articles and discourse as fans. In the end my opinion means the same as those I disagree with as media and fans, nothing.

My opinion on how far the Packers can go remains the same. It's on Arod and the offense, this defense and how they play is based on it. It's A strategy/game plan/Identity/Formula whatever you want to call it. Scores lots of points and force the opponent to execute and use clock on their scores.

Maybe I'm all wrong, I really don't know. I would also assume if the offense wasn't what it is the defense would focus more on the run, turnovers, 3 and outs, giving up minimal yards etc.. There is a risk to all of that. Using more blitzes, stacking the line, less discipline, jumping routes etc...It;s a team game played to win not 3 units(o,D,ST) trying to maximize the stat sheet. When you play as a team, well we know.

1 points
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PeteK's picture

December 13, 2020 at 08:31 am

I fully agree LH. Better examples are playoff teams like the Chiefs, Seahawks, and Raiders.

0 points
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GLM's picture

December 11, 2020 at 09:22 pm

I agree with you the dime is not working... they give up too many yards and conversions in dime, or at least it certainly seems that way.

2 points
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CalPacker's picture

December 12, 2020 at 01:02 am

My understanding is that Greene hurt his shoulder trying to tackle Reagor on the kick return TD.

1 points
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stockholder's picture

December 11, 2020 at 11:45 am

The Steelers use LBs. Oh thats right. We don't like ILBs. The Patriots use LBs. Oh thats right. We don't draft ILBs. The Chiefs use LBs. Oh thats right. Traded failures. The Rams use LBs. Are ILBs are Busts.

6 points
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Bearmeat's picture

December 11, 2020 at 11:51 am

Gute and Thompson (correctly IMO) view ILB as the OG of defense. Important, but not a blue chip importance. CB, FS, Edge, NT are all way more vital.

Of course, GB has largely hit on day 3 OGs for 20 years and can't hit on a day 3 ILB to save its life. Hopefully, Martin bucks that pattern.

7 points
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packerbackerjim's picture

December 11, 2020 at 01:40 pm

GB is never in a position to draft a blue chip prospect at all. They have done a pretty good job at scouting and developing at other positions except at ILB and lately DT to pair with Clark. So yeah, you get what you emphasize.

4 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

December 11, 2020 at 06:14 pm

They moved up for Matthews, if you see a guy go for it. They have not moved on a #1 pick @ ILB since Barnett and Hawk.

1 points
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Stroh's picture

December 12, 2020 at 03:47 pm

Hawk was drafted as a 43 OLB and Barnett as a 43 ILB. Both were good projections by the Packers to transition to 34 ILB.

They really haven't had a chance at drafting a 1st rd ILB until this year. But ILB isn't a premium position which is where you want to use 1st rd picks, there are some exceptions.

They moved up for Matthews because he played a premium position (edge rusher) and because they had a really high grade on him (almost took him #9 instead of Raji). So they thought he was outstanding value in the 20's.

2 points
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NickPerry's picture

December 12, 2020 at 04:12 pm

Ummmm...Yes they were. His name is Patrick Queen. He may not be a "Blue Chip" but sorry, he's more of "Blue Chip" player than Jordon Love. I HOPE I'm proven wrong and the Packers have 3 plus decades of HOF quarterback play.

Time will tell.

1 points
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CoachDino's picture

December 12, 2020 at 06:54 pm

Once again it seems both are right. Queen was considered a Blue Chip player due to his speed, playmaking, coverage ability. He dropped a bit due to the risk of his size not translating well for a 3 down ILB. I may have taken him to be honest, the other guy I would of taken was the OT out of Houston. Both have had terrible rookie years. Queen is the worse ILB in the League as of a few weeks ago. He may turn it around, it's tough to be a rookie anything in the NFL, ILB is on the tougher side. he has some special tools.

That said the value between a Prospective Blue Chip QB, which Love was, some saying he had the highest ceiling in the draft at QB, and a Blue Chip ILB are worlds apart. If one values the positions the same ok, but IMO and what seems to be the consensus in the League it's a Top vs bottomish (maybe OG,RB,Run only NT for sure FB,RB).

2 points
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CoachDino's picture

December 12, 2020 at 06:00 pm

Great point Big Bear

0 points
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CoachDino's picture

December 12, 2020 at 06:00 pm

Great point Big Bear

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nygary's picture

December 11, 2020 at 12:54 pm

Cant agree more.

1 points
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SterlingSharpe's picture

December 11, 2020 at 08:32 pm

Oren.
Burks.

Horrific draft pick, and I was at that draft here in Dallas.
The next pick was J'Mon Moore.
And later we took a long snapper & a skinny punter.

2 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

December 12, 2020 at 12:20 am

The Trifecta hurt their chances for a SB with lack of contribution from #2 Jackson, #3 Burks , # 4 J'Mon. Josh Jones another wasted # 2.

2 points
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CoachDino's picture

December 12, 2020 at 06:15 pm

For sure, Spriggs, Adams, Rollins, Randall even Dix. How many years did they have to go back into the draft for DBs. Then had to sign Turner because Spriggs sucked. I am a fan of The Packers GMs less TT at the end,. Murphy should of done something sooner considering his condition. Gute has been tremendous. We keep talking about how great the OL has been , how they handle injuries and depth. That's ALL Gute. Its one of the top reasons for the teams success.

OK, sorry went off track, Bad draft picks happen though, some are because the player never develops Adams and Burkes were really solid Picks and others are questionable from the start. Rollins, trading up for Spriggs - I'd call Jackson a tweener as he was a one year wonder who played a s[ecific scheme as well as Josh Jones and J'Monn.

But ya not hitting on these guys certainly didn't help.

0 points
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CoachDino's picture

December 12, 2020 at 02:48 am

So do the Packers (use ILBs). The question is how often do they play 2 ILB vs how many times the Packers do in, total, broken down by scenarios. PS..The Steelers haven't won a Superbowl in 12 years using ILBs and having a Hall Of Fame QB. Why? HOF QB/HOF WR/ Pro Bowl All Pro RB with a defense focus perception.
The Rams cared so much about ILBs position that they let who many considered the best 3 down ILB in the League go.

4 points
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BAMABADGER's picture

December 11, 2020 at 12:18 pm

JK Scott is the answer....

4 points
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KC Mack's picture

December 11, 2020 at 12:39 pm

That's funny. But we all know JK Scott would get trucked in the Lingerie Bowl, let alone in any real, football action...

1 points
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PewAuKeeFan's picture

December 11, 2020 at 03:25 pm

This comment reminds me of my favorite one: Da Bears still suck!

I hope it does not become our opponents' favorite one.

0 points
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SpikeHyzer's picture

December 11, 2020 at 04:03 pm

Just a few more months on the tackling sled and he'll be ready.

BTW--I was utilizing something called Mystery Haze. It keeps me clear!

1 points
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PeteK's picture

December 12, 2020 at 01:18 pm

"light up everybody join us in this celebration'

0 points
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Lare's picture

December 11, 2020 at 12:25 pm

The Packers were lucky to get Raven Greene as an UDFA after they traded picks away to move up in the draft for Oren Burks and he bombed. Greene has certainly played well in the hybrid role when healthy, but unfortunately he hasn't been able to stay healthy.

Barnes (6'2" 229 lbs) and Martin (6'3" 240 lbs) would be favored to fill Greene's role as long as they can cover RB's and TE's in pass coverage, the question is if they can fill his role as one of the best tacklers on the team.

8 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 12, 2020 at 07:52 am

Martin certainly appears to have coverage skills, Barnes seemed to have some too. In reality though, neither are proven as neither have much experience in that role because Pettine has never used them there as well as injuries/Covid.

Both have made plays and missed plenty of assignments as well. If we do use them, it’s going to be an up and down ride. That said, surely we have to take a step for the future? We need to bite the bullet now to at least get them time before the playoffs.

With Savage questionable, Redmond is likely needed deep (where he should be). Playing Scott or Black represents even more inexperience than Martin/Barnes. Surely Pettine will go with one of the ILBs? Why do I find myself doubting that?

1 points
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Razer's picture

December 11, 2020 at 02:59 pm

You gotta applaud Raven Greene's effort but let's face it - he was punching way above his weight class. He won't last two more seasons taking the pounding that he does. We need a fast linebacker who isn't solid between the ears (like Burks). The Packers draft minds have under performed at LB and D-line and THAT has set the low ceiling on our defenses these past years

8 points
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dobber's picture

December 11, 2020 at 03:08 pm

"he was punching way above his weight class."

Very apropos...

6 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

December 11, 2020 at 06:17 pm

Let him be a safety and call it good. Hope the kid can recover. He is a pro player.

2 points
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Leatherhead's picture

December 11, 2020 at 03:18 pm

Greene can cover and tackle. He’s been injured off and on...he’s been in 20 out of 44 possible games. He plays special teams, too.

This isn’t helpful.

7 points
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Stroh's picture

December 12, 2020 at 03:56 pm

He can only be helpful if he's available! And as you pointed out he's well below 50/50 in that regard. So no... not really helpful.

0 points
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SpikeHyzer's picture

December 11, 2020 at 04:01 pm

Tough task, though the tougher one is keeping him healthy.
He's a gamer and a hitter though, and he was playing the best football of his career at a critical position for this defense. Maybe this was even his longest healthy stretch.

I have a feeling Kamal Martin can cover and do the things he did out there. I have no faith in Kirksey anymore and hope Barnes gets all his reps.

5 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 11, 2020 at 05:13 pm

Martin is the most obvious, it Pettine fights that all the time. If savage is out, Redmond will be where he plays best, deep. Hopefully that forces Pettine’s hand a bit. Amos is better there than Redmond, but I don’t want him hurt and I dont think it’s the best use of his s skillset.

Greene is instinctive and has high awareness, which is actually his distinguishing feature. Just being a good tackler in that position is probably not enough. Not sure Scott or Black have shown that they share Greene’s instincts.

2 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

December 11, 2020 at 06:19 pm

Let Scott blitz the A gaps, get Stafford off his mark.

3 points
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PeteK's picture

December 12, 2020 at 01:21 pm

Might as well give action Jackson another chance.

0 points
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Stroh's picture

December 12, 2020 at 04:03 pm

He might have been playing well, but when he's on the field, the D in general is a sieve in run D.

What they need to find is an ILB or 2, that can play like Seattle LB. And even Seattle doesn't use 1st rd picks on them.

Martin might be sn answer but while Barnes looked decent, there is a reason he was undrafted. He's undersized and not a great athlete.

0 points
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CalPacker's picture

December 12, 2020 at 01:07 am

I would argue that, based on the tape I've seen, the Packers should seriously consider trading up in Rd 1 to get Collins (Tulsa) to play ILB. An alternative would be Bolton (Missouri). We've been dealing with these 2nd and 3rd tier ILBs for long enough--time to invest some serious draft capital in a playmaking LB

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 12, 2020 at 07:56 am

I have a feeling mid round picks may be at a premium next year with the cap. I actually think that, in Martin and Barnes, we have potential for the future. That’s if Pettine is retained, which I think will depend in large part on how the D does over the rest of this season.

-2 points
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Leatherhead's picture

December 12, 2020 at 02:47 pm

Watch the YouTube link Coach Dino posted.

If the best running attack averages 5 yards/ attempt, and the worst passer averages 6 yards/attemp, why would you be worried about the run?

0 points
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Stroh's picture

December 12, 2020 at 04:08 pm

ILB who can run and cover are essential in Seattle's Defense. Even they don't use 1st rd picks at that position. Dallas hss 2 outstanding ILB but they still have a pathetic Defense. Its just not a good use of a 1st rd pick, unless he's easily the best player available. Stop drafting for specific positions unless its a premium position, which ILB certainly is not!

1 points
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bigdave's picture

December 12, 2020 at 07:02 am

I love Greene's play but I have the feeling we may find out that having 2 linebackers on the field more will benefit the "D"

6 points
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Stroh's picture

December 12, 2020 at 04:16 pm

Very much agree, but those ILB need to be able to be assignment sure and be able to hold up in coverage.

0 points
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GregC's picture

December 12, 2020 at 06:27 pm

Well, Raven Greene did not have much experience before taking on this role. You have to start somewhere. So maybe you roll the dice with Vernon Scott or Henry Black. Don't throw them out there for most of the defensive snaps right away. Break them in easy. I don't trust our ILBs in coverage, so I don't feel great about having two of them out there in passing situations.

0 points
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