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Pickett\'s Transition

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Pickett\'s Transition

One of my biggest concerns when the Packers announced their intention to switch to a 3-4 scheme was the nose tackle position. I said then (and still worry now) that Ryan Pickett just isn't the kind of dominate player you need at the position for the Packers to be successful. I also think far too much has been made of the transition Aaron Kampman is going through while Pickett's transition has been completely whitewashed. I realize this is partly due to the perception that he's just a big guy bumping into other big guys, but believe me, going from a defensive tackle in a 4-3 to the nose tackle in a 30 front is a big change.

So it's nice to read things like this:

The common  thread was the defense taking it to the offense for most of the live work. The quarterbacks spent a lot of time running out of the pocket. The running backs spent a lot of time on the ground at or behind the line of scrimmage. On one play, Aaron Rodgers was chased out of the pocket immediately when Ryan Pickett split a double team.

The Packers need to see a lot of that for this to work and now that his main backup, rookie BJ Raji, is holding out, Pickett's presence becomes even more valuable and important. He needs to be disruptive and demanding double teams on every play. If he can do that, this defense will have a chance at being truly dominant.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (29) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackersRS's picture

I doubt that we'll be dominant. At least not to the level of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Philadelphia or NYGiants. I don't think we need to be, though. IMO we need to be efective to the point that it won't be a liability, and will be the major reason we win some games. If we can be as effective as Indy was in the 2006 playoffs, I think we'll be fine. For that to happen, I don't think Pickett needs to be disruptive and demand double teams on EVERY play.

packeraaron's picture

Wow. Sorry, I almost never do this, but look how many times you use the word 'we' in that paragraph.
To your point - I agree for the most part, but Pickett's play will go a long way in determining anything the Packers are able to do on defense this year.

Shootz's picture

How much of Pick's big-play ability during camp is due to him being good for the position and how much of it is due to below-average play on the offensive line? Looking forward to seeing if he can continue this sort of form into the preseason and beyond, I think a d-line of Jenkins, Pick and Raji (toss in Kampman and even Matthews in certain packages) could be insane if they can all produce like the team seems to think they can produce.

Ron La Canne's picture

Shootz, Amen! Is Picket's abiltiy to split the double team due to his prowess or the piss poor play of the O line? I am worried!

Aaron's picture

Ron stop. Just stop. You mean the oline that produced a 4000 yd passer? Just. Stop.

Oppy's picture

Once we get Raji in there, we're looking at a 3-4 d-line made up of three linemen who each should command a double team, in theory. Pickett has been doubled most of his career, Cullen "Big Sexy" Jenkins :)needs to be doubled unless he's injured or the opposing team thinks he looks cute running around the backfield, and if Raji can play at the next level at half of his collegiate dominance, he's a double-teamer as well.

I think our LBs are going to be looking very good this season, due to a DL that should be eating up multiple blocks like they were bratwursts. Kampman playing behind an athletic 335lb monster like Raji instead of a prototypical 300lb 3-4 DE should make his sack total soar.

PackersRS's picture

"Wow. Sorry, I almost never do this, but look how many times you use the word ‘we’ in that paragraph."
So I'm illiterate... big news and big deal.
And I agree with Shootz. For the most part. I mean, Pickett commanding double team is because of the OL, but not because it sucks, cause it doesn't. The interior of the OL is changing weight. And they're not big to begin with. So it's easier for a bigger DT to command double team on that line. They'll be ready when season starts. All of them. Wishful thinking.

wgbeethree's picture

or does he mean the ''piss poor'' line that the nfl's leading rusher since week 10 of '07 ran behind?

packeraaron's picture

PackersRS - wasn't saying you were anything other than a typical die hard. (That's a compliment, btw) Love when fans say 'we' when they talk about their teams. I just always found it fascinating.

PackersRS's picture

So I'm either illiterate because I can't make a sentece, or I'm illiterate cause I can't read one...
And Aaron, you're one too (die-hard). But you're too much of an intellectual to show it. Cmon, show that ranting, Corey side of yours.
(not that Corey just rants, or isn't an intellectual. Actually, I would like to see more posts from him. It seems that 90% is you that write. Not that I don't like what you write.)
(and isn't it interesting, that when you're too cerebral, people ask you to be more loose, and when you're loose, people attack you (Ngata for Hawk)?)

Ron La Canne's picture

wg - you mean the line that had Clifton with somewhat normal knees, Tauscher, Wells at Center, Junius Coston starting most of the year (pre-injury) at guard and Colledge at LG? That line?

Oppy's picture

Ron La Canne,

just for the record, Spitz started 12 games in 2007, Junius Coston only started 7, and Wells had one more start than Spitz at 13.

All that said, Grant still put up 1,200 rushing yards in 2008 without Wells for the most part, with Clifton playing like garbage, Spitz starting all 16 games at either center or RG, and Mark Tauscher not doing so hot in the run blocking department.. And Colledge had a solid year.

Who knows what this year will bring- but WG's assertion is true- Grant has put up a butt-load of yards since week 10 in '07.. And those yards include yards gained in '08.

Ron La Canne's picture

2008 -- 34 sacks and an overall 4.1 ypc

packeraaron's picture

Ron, if you think Sitton is a downgrade from Coston, there is no hope that I can offer you...

Oppy's picture

Wg specifically menioned Grant's yardage behind that line, not pass-pro or sacks.

As far as the 4.1 YPC, that puts the Packers at a three way tie for 18th in the league last season (behind a three way tie for 7th, followed by a 4 way tie for 10th, and a 4 way tie for 14th).

Average? yes. Of course, that 4.1 came with a Ryan Grant playing with a bad hammy and not being right for half the season, as well as a O-line that was (yet again) all banged up with guys playing out of position often.

Oppy's picture

BTW, Chad Clifton was recently quoted as saying that while he'll miss playing with Mark Tauscher, that the current stable of Packers offensive linemen are the most talented and athletic group he's ever played with, and he thinks with alittle time, they will gel and be something special.

Bad Knees's picture

"In other injury news, the top two right outside linebackers, Clay Matthews (hamstring) and Jeremy Thompson (groin) left the evening practice. Matthews' injured the same hamstring that kept him out of off-season practices.

Ruvell Martin also dropped out with a groin injury."

These are the types of injuries that wouldn't happen if the Packers had a qualified sprain/strain doctor on staff. These injuries are a result of misaligned joints. They will not heal completely (Matthews is a good example) until a competent sprain/strain doctor sets the joint and watches over the healing process. Three potential starters out due to incompetent medical staffing by TT. By the way I am a fan of TT, he is just screwing up royally in this area. He needs to find and hire a competent sprain/strain doctor, they don't have one on staff. It's not that the medical staff is incompetent, they are STAFFED INCORRECTLY, missing an important specialist. With the way they are (under)staffed, sprain/strain injuries are to be expected. The Packers (TT) better get their medical staffing fixed or the season will be lost as more (unnecessary) injuries of this type are on the way!!

Oppy's picture

Bad knees,
I don't know your backround- perhaps you're in the sports-medicine field, and if that's the case, I digress.

However, while I can understand your assertion that the muscle sprains/strains result from misaligned joints and shouldn't be this frequent, I would say that's probably extremely accurate for normal people who lead normal lives, or perhaps even athletes for play in organized (but not professional) low-to-no contact sports.

However, from my ignorant perspective, we're talking about professional football players who get worked out in a rigorous fashion with plenty of cutting, over-extension, twisting.. and all of this with a heavy dose of contact throughout. Isn't it possible these injuries aren't a result of incompetence or incompleteness of the medical staff, but rather a result of the fact that the demands that professional football makes on the human body are more than the human body can be reasonably expected to take? I mean, guys who play 10 years in the league retire with all but crippled bodies.

Bad Knees's picture

I believe many on this site think I'm "out to lunch" on the sprain/strain doctor approach needed on the Packers Medical Staff. Aaron you have called my position "ridiculous". Not really. Back in the 1970's members of the USA Olympic Track and Field team demanded such a team doctor or they wouldn't compete. Such a doctor was eventually found but Olympic rules limited the number of doctors a team may have on site...the result was the surgeon was left home as it was noted if the athlete needed surgery he/she would not be able to compete. (healthy athletes have little use for a surgeon). Since the 1970's Olympic teams always have a sprain/strain wellness doctor traveling with the team. Without one the team would be at a severe competitive disadvantage.

What jogged my memory on this subject was a recent article about The USA Wrestling World Team.

Dr. Emmett Blahnik will travel to Herning, Denmark Sept 21 to 28 with the USA Wrestling World Team for the World Team Championships. Blahnik, founder of Body at Work and Maximized Living Health Centers of Madison/All About Chiropractic. is the official team chiropractor and wellness advisory co-chairman for the USAW World & Future Olympic Teams. He is a former All-American wrestler and three-time IronMan Triathlon Finisher. Maximized Living is an official corporate partner and chair of the USAW Wellness Advisory Counsil."

I do not know how the Olympic doctors are currently chosen. In the past invitees were brought to USA Olympic training facilities and worked with the athletes. Based upon their body of work a team doctor is picked. These doctors are good!!

My position that the Packers need this type of doctor on staff is the correct position. I just hope we don't have to have another losing season due to unnecessary injuries before TT and Murphy upgrade the staff.

Bad Knees's picture

Oppy, a well positioned joint is very strong. A slightly misaligned joint is weak and can very easily be damaged from physical exertion. The major joints, knees, pelvic girdle, spine, shoulder girdle should be checked and "tuned-up" everyday. By doing so the joint injuries and the associated muscle and ligament injuries can be greatly reduced or eliminated. Other joints can be checked and corrected periodically. Please remember Olympic athletes had to revolt in the 1970's to get this type on doctor on the Olympic staff. Their argument was their personal doctors had these qualifications and now that they made the Olympic Team they had to give up their personal doctors (Olympic rules) and would be receiving "substandard" care from the USA Olympic Team doctors. They refused to downgrade to "substandard" USA Team care (fear of injury and poorer performance)for their sport. Eventually the USA Track and Field management agreed to the athletes demands.

Bad Knees's picture

I want the Packers to have a medical staff equal to or superior in ability the USA Olympic Team medical staff...And, I see nothing wrong with that!!

Oppy's picture

Bad knees,

You're referencing Olympic track and field and Olympic Wrestling for your assertions about sprain/strain doctors and joint alignment as it relates to the NFL.

Again, these are Professional football players. They differ from almost all other athletes because they are absorbing monstrous impacts not found in other sports.. Olympic track athletes' joints and muscles are only taking impact from the ground and the forces generated from their own inertia and body weight. Wrestlers' joints do have to take the added torque applied to their joints by their opponent, and the occasional throw to the mat.

Football players have all the impact on their joints that a Olympic track star has, plus they get the unworldly impact of having other Athletes who weigh anywhere from 200-350+ lbs running full speed into them while they are in compromising positions. The human body is not meant to take that abuse. Sprains and strains will happen. Heck, players occasionally break the strongest bone in the human body-the femur- from playing pro football.

I'm not saying it would be a bad idea to have a specialist on staff- but you seem to be saying the reason the injures happen is because of the absence of one. I think you are either grossly over estimating the strength of the joints and a sprain specialists' ability to prevent injury to professional football players, or under estimating the force of impact and wear and tear the professional football player absorbs.

Bad Knees's picture

Oppy, As I have stated in an earlier post the Professional Bull Rider Association have these doctors on site for all of their events. Bull riding is a much more violent sport than professional football. They hired these doctors to prevent injury to the contestants. Without them everyone would be injured. THE MORE VIOLENT THE SPORT THE MORE YOU NEED THIS TYPE OF DOCTOR!!

Ron La Canne's picture

Aaron, just how many games has Sitton played in? Just what in those two games did you see that makes you think he is better than Coston? Be specific please! (Just kidding - I hate avatars)

Asshalo's picture

Completely agree. John Clayton had similiar piece sometime ago in the last few days. One of the reasons NE and SD were so successfuly earlier on in their transitions was the fact that their NTs bought into the switch. I guess Pickett is actually somewhat pumped about the switch. Good news so far.
"Seeing nose tackle Ryan Pickett smiling and joking around in defensive line drills caught me off guard. At 29, Pickett is making a career change from being a 4-3 defensive tackle to a nose tackle in the Packers' new 4-3. That's a position switch that usually turns veterans surly and resistant. Normally, defensive tackles prefer shooting gaps in the 4-3 as opposed to wrestling with two blockers as a nose tackle. But Pickett loves it. The 340-pound Pickett called friends around the league who play nose tackle and has embraced the move.
If Pickett succeeds at the nose, the Packers could be the most successful 3-4 transformation since the San Diego Chargers in 2004. By the way, a big reason the Chargers succeeded with the 3-4 switch was nose tackle Jamal Williams' willingness to embrace it."

Ron La Canne's picture

Aaron, Sorry about the length!

I feel the need to explain my reluctance to fall in line with the popular idea that the Packer O-Line is filled with All-Pro potential. Let’s deal with them one at a time:
1. Andrew Hartline – FA filler
2. Evan Dietrich-Smith – FA filler
3. Dane Randolph – FA filler
4. Scott Wells – entering year 6 – Serious back injury could end his career.
5. Duke Preston – UFA – Inconsistent at Buffalo – Could develop but is entering year 5 and should have shown more by now.
6. Daryn Colledge – entering year 4 – Inconsistent play at guard throughout his career – Showed some potential at Tackle – he’s playing LG in camp.
7. Josh Sitton – entering year 2 – Injured most of 2008 –I believe he started the last two games and performance was average (Nothing too bad but nothing great)
8. Breno Giacomini – entering year 2 – Injured all 2008 – No basis to evaluate
9. Jason Spitz – entering year 4 – Plays Center and Guard – Center seems to be his best spot – As a guard his weakness in run blocking was shown – combined with an injured Tauscher / Moll/ Barbre GB rated 27 in run production to the right side.
10. Tony Moll – entering year 4 – Hasn’t played a game that he walked off the field with his jock still on.
11. Allen Barbre – entering year 3 – See Tony Mall
12. Chad Clifton – entering year 10 – At 33 and having both knees cleaned out (I believe four times in total) he is, at best, playing with serious question marks. A once very good player is near the end. Let’s hope he can play out this year with the motivation for a new contract (probably not with GB) for next year.
13. TJ Lang – R – Rookies equal uncertainty – Maybe he will maybe he won’t – Remember the hype on Colledge, Moll and Barbre – Not saying he will be the same just saying GB needs to see more
14. Jamon Meredith – See TJ Lang

I hope this explains my reluctance to join the masses on the O-Line Band Wagon. As my old Italian grandfather told me once, “Wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which one fills up first.” I want the line to succeed but I don’t see any improvement from last years’ revolving door line in the near future. As always, I hope you guys are right and I’m wrong but I tend toward the “Show Me” side of the ledger.

bomdad's picture

I read an account that outside of Pickett, Jenkins, and Kampman, the OL has been stonewalling the DL.

packeraaron's picture

Thanks Asshalo - sometimes feel like I'm tilting at windmills...

packeraaron's picture

Ron - you have taken every member of the OLine and jumped to the worst possible conclusion of each one. If that's how you want to be a fan, cool. Just not my cup of tea. You have NEVER SEEN guys like Randolph or Dietrich-Smith play, yet you've completely discounted them. That, my friend, is true ignorance. And Scott Wells is actually as healthy as he's ever been. But go on assuming the worst...

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