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I was doing some reading this morning and noticed quite a bit of optimism concerning the return of Atari Bigby and Brandon Jackson. Although I am happy to see them back, I don't agree that things will automatically improve.





According to Rory over at PackerChatters:


"Bigby is assignment steady (meaning if he was playing, we likely wouldn’t have seen Brint make some of the big plays he did, especially the long completions to both Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin), and he is a hard hitting, fear inducing tackler."


At this point, I don't think Bigby is any of the above. Maybe at one time he induced a little fear after a couple of big hits, but assignment steady hardly. The truth is Atari Bigby hasn't done a single thing since the middle of last season. He hasn't been able to stay healthy, he isn't game ready, and I can't think of a single monster hit that isn't a long gone memory.


Now I agree he is probably a better alternative than Derrick Martin or Jarrett Bush, but the truth is giving Bigby the benefit of the doubt right now is way off base. Atari Bigby had one good half a season since he has been a Packer. Thinking that his return is a solve all for the secondary breakdowns is naive at best.


The same can be said for Brandon Jackson. If you read this page regulary you know I have often called for less Ryan Grant and more Brandon. However, as it stands right now you really don't know what Jackson brings to the table. Yes, McCarthy has lauded his efforts in practice for nearly three seasons now, but never has had the confidence to hand him the rock on a regular basis.


Jackson may be the change of pace back that we need, but his return hardly guarantees the missing "spark" that the Packers are looking for. Once again, you have a player who can't stay healthy, doesn't have any reps this season, and hasn't been utilized enough to predict any kind of guarantee.


I hope they both return healthy and are able to contribute as the season goes on. That being said, anointing them bonafide saviors upon their return will do nothing more than set you up for disappointment.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (24) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jrarick's picture

What about Matt Giordano? Can he play strong safety? It was interesting that Frank Walker was on the field for the Ravens loss on Sunday, and was called for a pass interference penalty on the Bengals winning drive. I bring that up because perhaps Giordano can be as servicable as Walker (but hopefully without the penalty issues).

But you know, this is crazy to me. Do all other teams have defenses without one marginal player that they have to cover for at least a little. That seems ridiculous that we could have a porous defense because of one player? I think it really comes down to pass rush.

Asshalo's picture

That and overcommitting to the rush defense. You an elminate any one player from a game (Peterson), but it makes you vulnerable-- in Peterson's case, the pass.

It was poor game planning in my opinion. You don't have stop Peterson, just prevent him from having a career day. Favre isn't that hard to defend IMO. He's pretty darn good 20 yards or less, but after that he doesn't really have it.

PackersRS's picture

It's because of the ILBs and the SS IMHO. Since they can't handle stopping the run, and they can't make any impactful plays, we need to commit the FS, Cbs and relinquish the one-gap DEs to stop the run.

Rory's picture


I don't think I described Bigby or Jackson as "bonafide saviors," and if I did, I certainly didn't intend to. As you note, history tells us not to place too much stock in Bigby, as he has had his fair share of injuries over the past year or so. The question with Bigby is whether we'll see the rising player of 2007 or the disappointing, injury plagued one of 2008. At this point in the season, he appears akin to the latter. However, undermining his return on that basis alone is, I believe, equally naive.

Bigby isn't an all pro safety by any means, and he certainly has a lot of room to grow into the position. However, he is clearly a better option than Rouse was, and I highly doubt he would have been exploited in the secondary in the same way Chillar and Martin were the past two games. And really, what secondary breakdowns were we seeing prior to Bigby getting hurt? None really, as the rest of the secondary is composited of Pro Bowl players. Part of the reason we saw little secondary breakdowns with Bigby is because of trust; that is, Harris, Collins, and Woodson all have faith in Bigby, which is evident in how hard they lobbied for him to start in 2007 despite his being relatively unknown at the time.

I'll be the first to admit that Bigby needs to prove himself further, but he is surely the best option the Packers have at that safety position, so in that regard, his return is a positive. Just the way McCarthy talks about Bigby exemplifies how much an improvement he brings compared to what's there when he's hurt.

Jackson, on the other hand, has proven quite consistently that he deserves more carries. I don't think any player is, as you say, a "proven guarantee": after all, it only takes one bad hit to end up on the sidelines. That said, Jackson's track record on the field speaks for itself. His 5.5 yards per carry and 30 catches last year is nice production from your second string back, especially when we see how limited his snaps were. If anything, I wish we'd see more of Jackson.

Your point on whether he will be in game shape is well taken, but in my writing about Jackson, I wasn't thinking of his impact in terms of a one or two game vacuum; rather, I was thinking of his potential impact through the remainder of the season.

You're right to intimate that these two players' returns won't alone result in drastic and palpable change, but their contributions coupled with, say, the defense adapting further to the 3-4 and the offensive line playing at a respectable level will result in the overall changes us fans want. Whether that really comes to fruition remains to be seen, but, as my original article suggested, it gives us reason to be optimistic.

Alex Tallitsch's picture

I'll give you most of that, and my bonafide savior may have lumped you in with a growing train of thought.

Like I said, Bigby is better than what we have, but how long until what we have is what we have again? It's all about consistency and availability on the field. I don't think Bigby has either.

I also agree that Jackson has the better numbers and is the better back. I have lobbied for Jackson quite regularly for almost 18 months particularly due to his YPC.

The bigger problem with Jackson isn't with Jackson it's with McCarthy. They don't give the guy the ball enough. Unless we get off this trend of certain people "wanting to see Grant take the majority of the snaps", Jackson won't give us anything because he will never see the field more than three times a game.

McCarthy in every single off season since his draft has heralded Jackson as the next coming of a beast. Yet, come game time, the guy never gets in.

Asshalo's picture

Bigby's injury problems date back to week two of last year. With that in mind the cutting of anthony smith and aaron rouse seem all the more stupid. You shouldn't rely on injury prone players that much

Robert Greenfield's picture

The only person missing from this conversation is Will Blackmon (although he is on the other end of the injury report). I group him in the same category as Bigby and Jackson (and to a lesser extent, Wynn). Can you ever really count on these guys? Some people are unlucky (Al Harris's spleen, for instance) and some are simply injury prone. But man, I hope they do something while they're playing.

Stan's picture

The Atari Bigby that belongs on some fans head is entirely different to the real life Bigby. He makes a lot of coverage mistakes BECAUSE he's looking to be a big hitter and get in on the play. When Aaron Rouse took over from him after his injury I honestly didn't see much difference between the two in terms of play.

If people want to "big up bigby" so be it. I can tell you this, NO ONE could honestly say that Bigby wouldn't have made the same mistakes Derrick Martin made. The facts are he should be a backup Strong Safety and nothing more.

Brandon Jackson is a player to be more optimistic about. He's developed as a good receiving back and has a little more elusiveness about him. I don't expect he'll ever be more than a backup but we could utilise him nonetheless.

Rory's picture

"When Aaron Rouse took over from him after his injury I honestly didn’t see much difference between the two in terms of play."

Then you weren't looking hard enough.

There's a huge, huge difference between the two. As a quick reference, watch the Detroit Lions game from Week 2 of last year when Bigby gets hurt.

Look, in particular, for the production from the Lions' receivers after Bigby leaves the game. Also note who is supposed to be in coverage on those plays.

Rouse shouldn't have even made the roster this year.

Stan's picture

"watch the Detroit Lions game from Week 2."

yeah sure, let me just whip that DVD from my collection......

PackersRS's picture

Watch the Bengals game this year, instead. You'll see Rouse failing BADLY in that 3rd and long conversion, missing his man in one of Palmer's TDs, and beeing 15ft away from Ochocinco, on the Flea Flicker play. Just. A. Bad. Player.

RonLC's picture

Dawkins and/or Sharper could have been signed to strengthen the Safety position during FA. TT's responce, we have everyone we need in place. Bigby, like Harrel, has an injury problem that goes back far enough to give one reason to doubt their ability to play a full season. Yet another position that TT wants to fill on the cheap. And we are now seeing just how well that has turned out (See O line).

Robert Greenfield's picture

DAWKINS - YES. Philly gave up way too early on him.

RonLC's picture

Robert, FYI I believe Sharper leads the league in INT's.

PackersRS's picture

And in being a douchebag.

Robert Greenfield's picture

Dawkins is a complete player and has a couple years left, not to mention he's captain material. Sharper is prolonging his career by living in his hyperbolic chamber. He is done. Nice player in his time though.

Greg C.'s picture

Saviors? No. Significant improvements over the guys who replaced them? Hell, yes.

Bigby is generally overrated by fans, but he's much better than Rouse or anyone else they can throw back there right now. I remember Rouse's gaffes in that Detroit game from week two last season, which Rory refers to above.

You can "hide" inferior players if they are a little bit inferior, but if they are really bad, they are going to get exploited, as Rouse so often did. The secondary is particularly vulnerable to this. The DL and OL are other positions where one inferior player can be exploited relentlessly by opponents.

Stan's picture

I could pick out a dozen gaffes by Bigby as well. Considering he's the starter (seeing more first team practice and of course playing time) I'd expect him to be miles better than a backup. Is he? it's debatable just how much better he really is. not only is he injured A LOT but when he's playing I'm not exactly filled with hope (which was exactly my sentiments as regards Rouse).

Greg C.'s picture

I was filled with hope when Rouse played too, and he almost never delivered. He had a lot of physical skills and grabbed some interceptions, but he never became a reliable player.

While it's true that Jackson and Bigby have been injured often, I'm not going to downgrade them on the expectation that they will get hurt again. If it happens it happens. I'm just glad that they will be back in the lineup now. Why turn a positive into a negative by saying that they're just going to get hurt again? Can't we enjoy even a little bit of positive news?

Stan's picture

No, you are right, it is good news to have starters back. At a time when our whole team seems to get criticised you forget how few and far between the positives get.

Paul's picture

Correct me if I am wrong, but was the nock on Woodson not that he was injury prone. TT took a shot on him and it turned out to be preaty good. A guy can be prone, but that does not mean he will always be injured.

Stan's picture

if Bigby turns out to be one of the best Safeties in the league then fair play. I mean it would take a massive step up in his game, but hey!

All we can say, right now, is that Bigby has had problems getting on the field, and for a guy we are pretty reliant on, that ain't good!

Say want you will about Atari Bigby, but I'm not convinced, as of now, that he's a starting caliber Strong Safety.

Stan's picture

Of course now that I've condemned Bigby he'll likely have one hell of a game if he plays against the Lions. ....... who else can a condemn. . . .

Greg C.'s picture

Ah yes, the old reverse curse. We'll know who to thank if Bigby has a good game.

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