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D Lineup Fun

D Lineup Fun




A look at the defensive chessboard for the 2009 season.






Now that we have a pretty good idea of which players the coaching staff will have available in September, let’s take a look at some possibilities for our defensive front seven. I’m going to take the coaches at their word when they say that we will have a base 3-4 defense but with some 4-3 looks as well. I’m still not sure whether we will see the 4-3 more often on running downs or on passing downs. I’m betting that there will not be an obvious pattern to this, which is the whole point. Keep ‘em guessing.

So let’s have at it, shall we? Here is my own idea for the starting defense, listed from right to left, from the safety’s point of view:

Base 3-4:

DE: Jenkins
NT: Pickett/Raji
DE: Jolly

OLB: Kampman
ILB: Hawk
ILB: Barnett
OLB: Matthews

I’ve got the split at NT because I think they could platoon the big men to keep them fresh. But I think Raji will get more and more playing time as the season goes on, and he may even edge out Pickett for the starting spot before the season begins. Notice that I’ve got Kampman on the right side and Matthews on the left, which is the opposite of what most people appear to be assuming. This is because Kampman’s strength is not going to be pass coverage, so he should not be on the side where the TE usually lines up. I love the thought of Jenkins and Kampman both coming at the QB from his blind side.

Base 4-3:

DE: Jenkins
DT: Raji
DT: Pickett
DE: Kampman

OLB: Hawk
MLB: Barnett
OLB: Chillar

Under this scenario, Kampman switches sides and plays on the line, but the transition is easy for him because he’s returning to the position that he has played for the past several years. Hawk has to move from ILB to OLB, but like Kampman, he is merely returning to his old position. I’ve got Chillar in there to dog the TE because he did a pretty good job of that last season.

The reality will be much more complicated than this, of course. If Matthews plays lights-out, the coaches will find a way to keep him on the field in the 4-3, either in place of Hawk or Chillar. In college he played DE, but I don’t think we will see that in the pros because he will get swallowed up by the big, quick OT’s. I didn’t see any success when Bob Sanders experimented with putting smaller guys at DE on passing downs, and I don’t expect Dom Capers to mess around with such a rinky-dink idea.

There will be roles for other players as well. I like Brady Poppinga a lot as a run stopper but not as a pass rusher or coverage guy, so he can come in on obvious running downs. Other players who could see spot duty in the front seven are Desmond Bishop, Danny Lansanah, Jason Hunter, Justin Harrell, Mike Montgomery, and Jeremy Thompson, among others.

I also like the idea of Raji playing some DE in the 3-4, especially if Jolly ends up in the slammer and Harrell continues to be a non-factor. If those two things happen, we will have a shortage of stout DE’s, which will leave us vulnerable to the run. I’m hoping for at least one more big DE to be brought in before training camp, as I doubt that the guy we drafted, Jarius Wynn, can be much of a factor as a rookie, and I’ve never thought much of Montgomery.

I’m sure other members of the Packers Lounge have their own thoughts on how this will all work out, and I'd like to hear them.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (18) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Profizzle's picture

I agree with all your points except I heard Pickett could play DE in the 3-4 and could possibly be starting. As for Chillar, Matthews is just a better version of him, I cannot see Chillar get any starting time in the 4-3 sets. But time will tell, good article.

PackersRS's picture

Chillar has the experience against NFL players, and has played well enough covering the TE and RB in the 4-3 to beat a rookie that, although has been asked to cover sometimes, usually just rushed the passer and played the run. But I could see Matthews starting by midseason.

I agree with the formations. Kampman in the weak side makes a lot of sense. Just one point though: call me a dreamer but I believe we'll se Harrell starting at 3-4 DE most times, specially against the run...

Asshalo's picture

Harrell has the perfect body type for a 3-4 DE, but you are dreaming if you EXPECT him to be starting. I'm not convinced he'll make the final roster-- especially if he's still injury prone. Not worth the trouble.

Asshalo's picture


retiredgrampa's picture

I really don't have a clue where these guys will end up. A lot will depend on whether Harrell is ready to go all out, and whether Jolly stays on the outside (of jail), plus if he again ramps up his production. For once though, we seem to have the talent in more than a few players so the coaches will have harder decisions to make. We're better off this year for sure.

Packnic's picture

- Jolly / Pickett / Jenkins
Kampman / Hawk / Barnett / Matthews
- Harris / Collins / Bigby / Woodson

Thats how i think its going to roll out on day 1. Raji will be the first guy up in the rotation subbing out for any of the three down lineman. Harrell and Raji sounds like seriously good depth on paper, wether or not that transfers to the field is the problem. I think it will.
I also think stacking Jenkins and Kampman might not be the best idea. Both guys have proven they can get pressure on the quarterback by themselves. With some improved depth at NT and hopefully that transfering to middle pressure up the gut. I would like to see effective rushing on all sides of the ball rather than an offense just gearing up to one side on us. Hopefully Matthews can step in and provide some rush behind Jenkins and that would be the best of both worlds.

Good article Greg.

Alex Tallitsch's picture

Quote: <blockquote cite="comment-3374">

<strong><a href="#comment-3374" rel="nofollow">Asshalo</a></strong>: <P>Harrell has the perfect body.</P>

Asshalo's picture

I'm actually training my body to be more like his. Tried out my version of the Raji burger the other day: pattie, pulled pork, bbq beans and pepper jack. It wasn't bad, but going back to the drawing board.

Graffin's picture

Six pack of a nice IPA a day ell do the trick

Brandon's picture

I can't see Jolly on the outside. Maybe Raji on the outside. We'll have to see who is playing at end during the first minicamp. Harrell fits the bill at left end better than anyone the roster, but that's a big if with his injury history.

Graffin's picture

At this point there is a stupid amount of potential but it's all a bunch of if if he plays then if he works out there, and he'll fit perfect there, I think he'll make the switch easily. There is alot of talent and if if if it can be put in the right place....

Jay Cutler will have a new topic to cry about.

Greg C.'s picture

Quote: <blockquote cite="comment-3373">
I also think stacking Jenkins and Kampman might not be the best idea. Both guys have proven they can get pressure on the quarterback by themselves. With some improved depth at NT and hopefully that transfering to middle pressure up the gut.I would like to see effective rushing on all sides of the ball rather than an offense just gearing up to one side on us. Hopefully Matthews can step in and provide some rush behind Jenkins and that would be the best of both worlds.


I think the coaching staff would agree with you on this. When they had Matthews in on Friday, the lined him up on the right side. So my idea of putting Kampman on the right side in the 3-4 was a bit of a stretch. But I still like it.

You make a good point about getting pressure up the gut. Maybe Raji can provide that, as I don't think Pickett will. I am also hoping that Hawk can be effective on some blitzes. I like him a lot better blitzing in the interior than off the edge, and as an ILB he's in a better position to do that now.

Jersey Al's picture

When I read your lineup left to right from "the safety's" perspective, I thought that you thought the safety played in the offensive backfield. As I read on, I was surprised to read you were calling for Kampman and Matthews to switch sides. So, in addition to teaching Kampman a new position, now you want to take away what he has made the Pro Bowl for - pass rush from the left side. And now you want to ask Matthews to also learn to play on a different side, in addition to everything else he's going to have to learn? "Stretch" is not the word to describe all that.

Also, I would have liked you to address the defensive backfield. Not all of us are assuming it will be the same four back there. I for one am seriously hoping that Tramon is able to send Harris to the bench.

Finally, if Chillar is starting in any scenario, we still have problems on defense.

Greg C.'s picture

Please tell me what you really think, Al. Don't beat around the bush. Seriously, when I was writing this article, I hit upon an idea that I liked--Kampman on the right side--and just ran with it. Besides, when you think outside the box, you generate more discussion. I don't think playing on the other side would be that big of a position change for Kampman or Matthews. And I wouldn't mind seeing Chillar getting serious playing time. He was arguably our best LB last year.

Since the switch from 4-3 to 3-4 doesn't affect the DB lineup, I decided not to go into that. As long as Harris doesn't slip due to age this year, he should stay in the starting lineup. I suspect that injuries are going to do him in eventually, and maybe that started last year. But if he stays healthy, I think he'll be fine.

Jersey Al's picture

I wasn't trying to mean, if that's how it sounded. I just had completely different views on those topics. So you generated the discussion you were hoping for. I often write stuff where I'm not even sure if I support what I'm writing, but I know it will cause a bit of controversy and discussion. I know where you're coming from. So, sorry if I came on too strong - we tend to be a bit direct here in Jersey...

Jersey Al's picture

" mean..."

Graham's picture

I bet chillar over matthews just for the factor that chillar knows the positions and its going to be hard for matthews to learn the 4-3 responsibilities as well as teh 3-4. Two totally different positions. But past this year matthews should be on the field all day.

george's picture

why does no on have any love for harrel. it is only his second year acually playing. and 60 percent of the reason why our rush defense blew last year was because johnny jolly blows.

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