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Patience the Name of the Game for Packers Rookie Nick Perry

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Patience the Name of the Game for Packers Rookie Nick Perry

The Green Bay Packers drafted linebacker Nick Perry in the first round of the 2012 draft with the idea that adding another talented pass-rusher opposite Clay Matthews would help solve the team's deficiency in getting to the passer.

So far, the results have been mixed.

While Matthews is on pace for 28 sacks (seven through four games) this season, Perry has mostly platooned with Erik Walden on the left side. The rookie has sometimes struggled disengaging right tackles and covering players in space.

But if Matthews in 2009 taught anything, it's that a little patience is required with Perry now.

Consider these stats from our friends over at Pro Football Focus:

Clay Matthews through four games in 2009: 150 snaps, one sack, three hurries, two stops (tackle that constitutes a negative play for the offense), one forced fumble, touchdown, seven tackles, three missed tackles.

Nick Perry through four games in 2012: 146 snaps, one sack, seven hurries, five stops, 15 tackles, zero missed tackles.

Matthews had his one impact play, a strip of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson that he returned for a touchdown in the Packers' Week 4 loss in Minnesota. But overall, the numbers across the board are very similar.

PFF's stats actually point to Perry being the better overall pass-rusher through four games.

Admittedly, Perry has had more early struggles in coverage, allowing five receptions for 60 yards in four games. Matthews only allowed one catch through his first four. But by the end of the 2009 season, opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 99.9 against Matthews. Perry has given up just one catch since his NFL debut, too.

The moral of this story: There's no need to rush to judgement on Perry. I have been as critical of Perry as anyone, but even a superstar like Matthews wasn't an instant hit.

This adjustment from college defensive end to NFL outside linebacker is a difficult one, just as it was to a lesser degree for Matthews. And if Matthews is any indication, real results may still be a few weeks down the road.

In 2009, Matthews had just three sacks, three quarterback hits and five hurries through the first eight weeks. From Week 10 on, however, Matthews recorded eight sacks, 11 quarterback hits and 21 hurries.

In this instant gratification society, fans want production right away. The Packers understood when they took Perry that an adjustment period was awaiting them early in 2012.

If Dom Capers gets even half the late-season production from Perry as he did with Matthews, this Packers defense will be just fine. A little patience right now is required.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (25) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Mike's picture

Thank you Zach! That is exactly what I've been preaching to my friends and other Packers fans, some of whom have gone so far to mark Perry a bust already! Clay had a great rookie season - arguably one of the best in team history.
The one big difference that should also be made is the fact that Clay's position at USC, the Elephant, was a DE/OLB hybrid that had similar responsibilities to those of a 3-4 OLB in Capers' scheme. Perry was always a down DE for his sophomore and junior seasons. Never had real coverage responsibilities. He's learning to play on his feet - if you've never played football, this may not sound difficult, but it is extremely challenging.
The other issue I've had are the fans who immediately wanted to compare Clay and Perry and say "Perry should be just like Clay". Wrong comparison. I believe Perry has HUGE potential...and Kevin Greene is the perfect coach to have in his corner. The player Packers fans should look to for a comparison is the Steelers' LaMarr Woodley.
Perry will be great - just give him more than 4 games to prove himself. Go Pack Go!

Tibbits's picture

The biggest knock I have for Perry is that he's so predictable. He needs to learn Clay's violent hands and develop a pair of workable counter-moves. He does that and he'll show that impact that everyone wants from him.

Chip Soup's picture

It's that little tidbit, Tibbits, that will determine if Perry turns out to be anything more than just a run-stopper.

PackersRS's picture

Great piece. Contrasting and putting into perspective is the best possible argument. Well done.

MarkinMadison's picture

Forgive me for cutting and pasting once Zach, but I just wrote this a few hours ago on your article grading the defence:

"Not sure the comparison to CM3 is fair to Nick Perry. Different guy. Different level of experience with coverage. Different attitude coming into the position. I understand folks not liking the pick if you were looking for another CM3. I’m hoping that he will turn out to be more like Lamarr Woodley. A second rounder, he put together four sacks and only 13 tackles in his first year. This may be a process folks. Give him a little time – like a year or so, before throwing your hat in there."

To expand on that point a little - CM3 had some experience coming out of college playing an OLB position. Perry did not. CM3 had the tools and the attitude to play position. Perry hasn't been off the LOS since high school, and was very unsure about it. Perry is not CM3. We can hope that he will be like Woodley, but physically he will never be CM3. He is just not that guy. And he doesn't have to be. And BTW, Woodley is a Pro Bowler and Perry has already matched or beat Woodley's stat's from Woodley's rookie year. Give Perry some time - meaning at least 16 more games, before you start judging him.

Sorry if this sounds too much like the comment above. I guess two of us at least see this the same way. We do Perry no favors by comparing him to CM3.

Derek in CO's picture

After seeing the speed of Seattle's Bruce Irvin, Perry certainly will never have that. But I think he can be the power, strong side guy and CM3 can be more of the "speed/finesse" guy for lack of a better term. What I like most is 15 tackles and no misses.

bomdad's picture

Bruce Irvin only has one move.

Derek in CO's picture

it worked pretty good, don't you think? ask Bulaga.

PackersRS's picture

It's called hands to the face. Which is usually illegal.

I'm half joking here. I really wanted Irvin in the draft, thought he could be a premier pass rusher. But that was more on Bulaga than anything.

Mike's picture

The 1st one was definitely hands to the face. But yeah - Bulaga is much better than that!

Fish/Crane's picture

Worried about rookie Nick Perry? Boy, I gotta like the Packer's problems.

Chad Toporski's picture

But I want a golden egg NOW, Daddy!

chicago hooligan's picture

Oh hi Jay.

TheDon's picture

I like how Perry looks so far in run stopping, but he's never going to be the speedster that CM3 is. He was always going to be more of a muscle player which is a good complement to CM3.

marcopo's picture

We have a ton of kids this year and you gotta like what we've seen so far. McMillan is a keeper. The books still open, but what did anyone expect?

Tommyboy's picture

I agree with the article because I point this out on all rookies. People have already written off Sherrod. Now that Perry doesn't have 10 sacks, people are miffed with him as well. Just. Chill.

On another note, every time I see an article by Zach Kruse I want to shout "Kruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse." And I think we can all agree that that's what truly matters most in life.

Mike's picture

Exactly! Just because Sherrod lost practice time at OT due to a somewhat questionable coaching decision to try him at OG, and then was unable to establish himself as the #2 OT against a guy (Newhouse) who had been there a year. & then they call him a bust because he was on the receiving end of a most unfortunate, and equally gruesome, injury. Sherrod needs to add strength, but he is extremely light on his feet, the good way - he can slide and mirror DEs while also anchoring against bull rushers.
As for Perry - I'll be glad with him getting only 5 sacks as long as he's collapsing the pocket and keeping QBs within Clay's reach!

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture


Pack fan from ATL's picture


Barutan Seijin's picture

Was patience a virtue with Pat Lee or Justin Harrell?

Not saying that Perry = Harrell, but by the same token, it's also premature to be comparing him to Matthews.

Tommyboy's picture

I think the comparison to Matthews is to simply show that maturation takes time. If someone is already pulling out the "bust" card this early on Perry, they're just big dumb jerk faces. Yeah, I said it. Jerk faces. No, I will NOT take it back, sir. And you can't make me.

Sometimes I drink...

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Very well put Zach. People just have no patience. If we're still having this conversation about Nick being a one trick pony two years from now, we may have legitimate cause for concern. As he is right now, I like him. He sets a decent edge and generally anchors well from what I've seen. More time with Clay and Kevin, both on the field and in the film room will only help his chances at becoming a great pass rusher.


dawg's picture

I didn't like the pick from the get go,
and neither did Perry.
And thus far he's just a body, lets hope
its just a rookie thing and he turns it
on soon.

Lou's picture

No question based on his numbers at the combine that he has all of the tools to be a good player. His size, speed, and power put him physically in a class with Dave Robinson the first of that proto-type. On his of Wilson, Gruden made a comment I had not heard before, saying that "Wilson I am sure thought he could run away from Perry" and then alluded to his combine results. Give this kid time with Greene and the results will come.

GBPDan's picture

Time will eventually answer all our rookie questions and the Sherrard and Neal questions. I have a feeling that TT had a good draft this year and we will get some good players out of it in the long run. I'm also hoping that we are surprised by a healthy Neal and Sherrard.

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