Sam Shields Must Improve in 2012
It is no secret that Sam Shields struggled at cornerback for the Packers last season. After a surprisingly successful rookie year following being undrafted out of Miami, Shields took a step back in year two.
The future looked brighter than ever when Shields capped his sensational rookie campaign with a marvelous game against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship. He finished with two interceptions, a forced fumble and a sack. His last minute interception sealed the game and sent the Packers to the Super Bowl.
This excitement was dulled in 2011 as Shields not only failed to improve, but regressed.
Shields had a better season statistically in 2011 when it comes to tackles, interceptions and passes defended, mostly based on increased playing time. Despite the jump is basic numbers, Shields’ year was filled with missed tackles and blown assignments. On the season, Shields was responsible for 10 missed tackles and gave up 9 passes of 20-plus yards.
It has been said over and over that Shields was probably the player most hurt by the lockout. It will be interesting to see how Shields reacts to having a full off-season in Green Bay.
With the Packers using Charles Woodson more and more around the line of scrimmage to cover the slot receiver and tight ends, Shields needs to be able to effectively cover wide receivers outside. A lack of pass rush also hurt Shields, but his game was far from fundamentally sound.
Shields needs to improve and get back to building on his 2010 season if he intends on maintaining his standing in the Packers defense. If he is unable to improve, the Packers are likely to go in a different direction in the near future. It is likely the Packers add a cornerback in the upcoming draft and also have young guys in Davon House and Brandian Ross waiting in the wings. Jarrett Bush got playing time in Packers playoff loss to the New York Giants, so that’s a possibility as well.
If Shields can forget his 2011 season and build on his 2010 year, the Packers are in decent shape going into the near future at cornerback. In addition, the Packers should have a healthy Tramon Williams, after he played almost all of 2011 with a shoulder injury.
A refreshed Shields and a healthy Williams should help to improve the Packers defense that could use any help it can get.
Michael is a sports writer currently attending Seattle University. You can follow Michael on Twitter .