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Packers D Goes Boom!

Packers D Goes Boom!




The injury bomb fell on Green Bay, Wisconsin this Sunday, and the fallout will surely hit Charles Woodson the hardest. Just as many Packer fans were marveling at the relative good health of this team, Aaron Kampman and Al Harris, two Packer stalwarts that have had few injuries throughout their careers, were hit hard by misfortune.





The first question that comes to mind is, " Will these injuries have the same devastating effect on the Packers defense as Nick Barnett's and Cullen Jenkins' injuries did last season? With the improvement this year in personnel and scheme, I wouldn't expect that drastic a drop-off.


What hurts as much as anything is that the two players whose seasons have just ended might have been the Packer's two least-injured players.


When Kampman missed the Packers' Nov. 15 win over Dallas because of a concussion, it was the first game since 2003 Aaron had missed. Harris has only missed 4 games in his entire career, all last season when he suffered a ruptured spleen. For his part, an adamant Al Harris says he'll be back in six months.


The fallout from these injuries will affect the Packers in many ways: For one, the inexperienced Brad Jones and much-maligned Jarret Bush suddenly will see a lot more playing time and another cornerback will probably be brought in.  As I am writing this, I see that it's already happened. On Monday, they worked out and signed Josh Bell, a former Denver Broncos backup who started five games last year.


With Dom Capers' propensity for playing nickel, Jarret Bush will now see significant playing time as the nickel back, as Tramon Williams moves into Harris' spot. That also means Brandon Underwood will see action when the Packers go to the dime package.


Jeremy Thompson, the OTA marvel that looked so impressive in shorts and helmets, but disappeared once the pads came on, will now be active on game day for the Packers. The Packers are unlikely to look at free agent linebackers, as they feel that is a position of depth and they also have Cyril Obiozor waiting on the practice squad.


The leadership quotient on the Packers has also taken a big hit. The veterans Kampman and Harris were fixtures on defense and in the locker room. As Nick Collins said, "Guys were ready to step up, but not hearing their voices out there, it was tough, because they’re so vocal out there and they’re leaders and everybody feeds off their passion for the game."


This also ratchets up the pressure on the offense to score more points and be more efficient in the red zone. Few people doubt the Packers ability to chew up yardage (they are currently seventh in the league in total yardage), but they currently have scored a touchdown only 52% of the time from the Red Zone (18 of 34). That's a lot of points left on the table that has kept some games unnecessarily close. The margin for error will now just get considerably smaller.


But the biggest impact, I fear, will be on Charles Woodson (AKA Superman). Can Dom Capers afford to let Woodson loose as he did in the Dallas game, where Woodson single-handedly ruined any plans Tony Romo had for a Cowboys victory?


For your answer, watch the replay of the 49er game. Two plays after Harris went out, Capers blitzed Underwood and Woodson. The result; touchdown to Vernon Davis over the top on a vertical route, covered man-to-man by Clay Mathews with too-late help from Jarret Bush.


After the game, Capers said he decided to stop calling for pressure packages at that point to keep Woodson exclusively on Vernon Davis. So for everyone clamoring to know why the Packers stopped blitzing, there's your answer. Of course, with a straight four man rush and no blitz pressure, Alex Smith had the time to quickly march the 49ers down the field for a touchdown to bring the game to a one score differential. Fortunately, the offense was able to move the chains and kill the clock on their final possession.


So the question I'll be asking myself every week is WWCD? What Would Capers Do?


Regardless of WWCD, there can be no question about one thing: the Packers defense has been at its best when they have been aggressively attacking opposing quarterbacks. A huge part of that was due to Charles Woodson. I hope this doesn't mean we've lost that.


You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and Bleacher Report.

You can also follow Jersey Al on facebook and twitter.

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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.

Stan's picture

Josh Bell's agent seemed to think he'd be playing on Thursday. You would think they'd want him for the nickel spot as I wouldn't trust Bush with any increased playing time (he fucks up enough with what he has).

Jersey Al's picture

His agent can say what he wants, but how can we expect him to come off the street, learn the defense and play after only two practice days?

Alex Tallitsch's picture

Good point, his agent said he would also be first on the field. Still, I don't think you can expect anything until next Sunday at the earliest.

PackersRS's picture

I think it was more of a promotion of his agent, saying that his guy is very commited and hard-worker, "packer people", per say.

Mr. Bacon's picture

Ill say this.

These injurys will have minimal impact, if, thats if, we are able to develop a constent pass rush to the quarterback. Some of the games we've been stuffed at the line, unable to make the quarterback feel uneasy about passing.

Develop a pass rush, force the quarterback to make bad throws, gets some easy interceptions, and Bush will become a neutral factor. A Cornerbacks best friend, and a Wide Receivers worst nightmare, is a quarterback under pressure.

PackersRS's picture

If Capers goes that 4 man rush vanilla, we're doomed. We just can't make that work. Now, if he goes a little more inventive, like he's capable of, we'll be just fine, I agree.

Also, nice point from Michael Lombardi: With these injuries, our offense's gonna have to control even more the time of possession. And I think MM can do it. I really, really liked what I saw from his gameplan the last 2 games. Specially against SF, he was almost perfect...

Jersey Al's picture

Amazing: saying McCarthy was almost perfect. Yet, you are right. I think he outsmarts himself sometimes, as was evidenced in the Tampa game.

PackersRS's picture

Yeah. Believe me, I'm also baffled that McCarthy could correct his mistakes. After the loss to the vikings at home, I thought he had completely lost it. Then the Tampa Bay game confirmed my fears.

But then, he got his back to the wall, and I think the players, as well as him, realized then the seriousness of the issue, and rallied to correct themselves...

Don't know, just a theory. But just by looking at the games, and then looking at the tape, it's astonishing the difference between before and after the Dallas game, in terms of playcalling, adjustability and preparation altogheter. If he keeps it this way, we're bound to make the playoffs, despite the injuries, and he'll get at least another year, for sure.

Jersey Al's picture

Have all those Nitrites gone to your head, Mr. Bacon? Minimal impact? Even under the most optimistic "if" scenario you can concoct, it will not be a minimal impact. And as I explained in the article, these injuries will serve to diminish the pressure we will be able to put on quarterbacks. We already saw it in the 49er's last drive. So I don't see much hope for your "develop a better pass rush" plan. Wish it could be otherwise, but...

Mr. Bacon's picture

Leadership wise it hurts, but you have to agree, Kampman's bullrushing technique has lost some of its luster. He has been inconsistent, and really never has been able to clip the quarterback. Cullen Jenkins has been that person.

As far as Harris, well, we are more likely to give up the big play because Tramon is now on his spot. I have faith in Tramon to fill in for Harris.

I think the big key is can we get at least 3-10 play drives, to allow the defense to rest.

I dont want to say time of possession, because it can be misleading if Packers is up by 21 but only has a time of 10:35 while the opponent has 40:25.

Jersey Al's picture

It's not Tramon for Harris I'm concerned about, it's the move up the depth chart for Bush and Underwood, which will force capers to keep Woodson at home a lot more.

PackersRS's picture

What Al said. Actually, Harris for Tramon IS a dropoff, and this coming from a guy that called Al Harris the "pass interference man"... But I agree, Tramon is more than capable of holding his own. But Underwood? Bush? It's not like people say, that now we'll have what other teams have. Right now, Bush and Underwood couldn't even play nickel in other solid teams. Not saying they won't be able to perform well, just saying they haven't so far.

Jeremiah's Johnson's picture

Rev up the "Excuse Train"....

I hear a Lion upset this week...and thousands of Packer fans with ptomaine poisoning from some bad turkey and Ted Thompson-itis...

PackersRS's picture

You also heard a 9ers upset last week...

And without both Megatron and Stafford AGAIN, there's no way Detroit wins...

Jersey Al's picture

Where have you been Jeremiah? You don't come around much when the Packers win, do you?

Stan's picture


I just had a horrible dream. Kampman and Harris were both out for the season with an ACL injury......

..... phew, thankfully it was all a dream.

Mr. Bacon's picture

Jeremiah's just upset because Gary Anderson couldn't kick a field goal when the Vikings needed it most.


cow42's picture

bush is a quality athlete... he just can't cover anyone. try sending HIM on blitzes and let woodson cover. i'd rather have that happening than woodson blitzing while bush tries to cover someone.

Jersey Al's picture

They've done that. They also sent them both at the same time.

Greg C.'s picture

I would say that this season has now passed up last season in terms of injuries. Losing Harris and Kampman is worse than losing Barnett and Jenkins. Although Jason Spitz has been the only other starter to end up on IR, Will Blackmon was a significant loss, plus we've had lesser injuries to key role players like Jermichael Finley, Jordy Nelson, and Brandon Chillar. Maybe McCarthy will have to fire another strength and conditioning coach so he looks like he's doing something about all this.

I agree with Al that this year's defense is in better shape to handle the loss than last year's defense was. I think Clay Matthews has a lot do with that.

It will be interesting to see how they do. Maybe not interesting in a good way, though. I'm not feeling very optimistic right at the moment.

PackersRS's picture

We didn't have a competent substitution to neither one of them. And we still lost Harris for 4 games and Bigby. Last year was terrible, and we were less prepared. I think we are prepared now. I hope we are prepared now, that we learned our lesson. And by we I mean Thompson...

Jersey Al's picture

Yes Greg, I agree Clay Matthews is a big reason the Packers D are better prepared to weather such injury storms.

West TX Cheesehead's picture


I'd rather play Bell or Underwood more. Bush is always a step late ON EVERY PLAY.

Jersey Al's picture

We have no idea what Bell is yet, so be careful about calling for him.

PackersRS's picture

He sure sounds like Derrick Martin without the ST play...

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