11

July

Gilbert Brown, B.J. Raji and Creating Havoc on the Packers Defensive Line

Gilbert Brown

Former Packers great Gilbert Brown created plenty of havoc in his day.

Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel caught up with former Packers defensive lineman Gilbert Brown on Tuesday. After Brown talked about his football camp and what it’s like coaching the Green Bay Chill, he shared some thoughts on B.J. Raji and the Packers defense.

Here’s Brown’s best quote on Raji:

“B.J. has all the tools to be great. I think he has the drive, he has whatever he needs. But he has to turn it up a notch I would say. Because if he gets out there, creates havoc and makes noise, it’s contagious. Everybody wants to be like that. B.J. has it. He’s the monster in the middle. He has to set the tone for the team.”

Create havoc. I love that phrase. That should be the No. 1 goal for Raji and all Packers defensive linemen.

I’ve gotten into some spirited discussions in the comments section of this blog about what the role of the Packers defensive line is in a 3-4. I say that there is no rule against a 3-4 lineman dominating opposing blockers, maybe even making a play every now and then. Others say it’s unfair to expect a 3-4 lineman to get the glory or pile up stats. A 3-4 lineman’s role is to tie up blockers.

When I hear the phrase “tie up blockers,” I shudder. I think of battling the offensive lineman to a draw. Draws are worthless. You need to win your battle with whomever is trying to block you. Period.

In today’s NFL — with its super QBs, talent-rich WRs, freakish TEs and an endless stream of fresh RBs — a draw is actually a win for the offense. If the Packers defensive line goes into the season with a tie-up-blockers mindset, this defense will show little, if any, improvement.

To be clear, I’m not saying every defensive linemen should be gunning for the QB, leaving their gaps, and trying to make the big play by themselves on every snap. That would be reckless.

But the Packers need to ditch the tie-up-blockers mindset. They need their linemen to create havoc. Creating havoc means winning your individual battle, not merely tying somebody up and settling for a draw.

Creating havoc is beating whomever is trying to block you. Don’t just hold the gap, occupy it like a conquering superpower would occupy a weaker and inferior country.

Disrupt a play. Strike first. Come off the ball with a purpose. That offensive lineman won’t be able to get to the second level and block Desmond Bishop if Raji blasts him off the ball and leaves him on the ground. That double team won’t be very effective if Jerel Worthy stands both blockers up and shoves them into the backfield.

Make the offense notice you and adjust for all the chaos you’re creating.

No, creating havoc doesn’t mean always making the tackle or getting the glory. But it means a lot more than just belly-bumping with a fat offensive lineman, then congratulating yourself for tying up blockers.

We do not know what each lineman’s specific assignment is on each play, but it needs to be more than just occupying blockers. Blockers are more occupied when they’re worried about the guy their trying to block kicking their ass.

If Dom Capers and the Packers coaching staff are still using the phrase “tying up blockers,” they need to ditch it. Instead, they should heed Brown’s words and encourage their defensive linemen to create as much havoc as humanly possible.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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11 Responses to “Gilbert Brown, B.J. Raji and Creating Havoc on the Packers Defensive Line”

  1. JimR_in_DC says:

    Yes! Create Havoc! That has to be the defense’s goal this and all future seasons.

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  2. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    Lets think about what ‘tying up blockers’ really means in a 3-4.

    Notice especially the *plural* blockers.

    So it is the job of *each* DL to force the offense to double team them. That happens when the offense tries to single block the DL and finds that the DL beats the cr*p out of the single block.

    So ‘tying up blockers’ is NOT a euphemism for a ‘tie’ — it is a *requirement* to win every individual battle and force a double team.

    When that happens the offense needs 6 guys to block the 3 Ol, leaving 2 linebackers to pass rush, and if the offense keeps an RB in to stop a LB, every one of the 3 remaining receivers is double covered.

    Granted those ratios are ideal. You can probably get away with one DL taking on a single block if you have 2 LBs who force double teams as well. Granted also that among the issues the Packers had last year were at least 2 of the nominal starters in the front 7 (one DL, one LB) having no ability at all to force double teams, and then also losing one of their top cover guys (Collins) forever in game 2.

    Did those problems get fixed in the offseason? Only Worthy, Perry and Hayworth can prove it for sure. But I’ll bet it will be a lot easier for Raji to ‘create havoc’ and force double teams playing next to Worthy instead of Howard Green (or whoever).

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    • CSS says:

      You are 100% correct. Look no further than last years Eagles to see how bad a defensive line/unit plays when you simply ask every lineman to get up field and create ‘havoc’. They had no gap control, no discipline and never played as a unit under a single coherent philosophy. All the individual talent in the world…..that’s played like a bunch of individually talented players.

      The discussion should be more about what Raji did when he had his individual opportunities (i.e. – when Capers called on Raji to ‘Jet’ or get vertically up field). He simply didn’t take advantage of the opportunities last year and win one-on-one battles when afforded the opportunity.

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    • Turophile says:

      Good call Ed, like your post. Tying up a double block is a win for the D.

      I want Clay Matthews to be re-named ‘Wolf’ and Perry re-named Doberman.

      THEN we can “Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war”…….heh

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  3. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

    Whenever it crosses your mind to fault Rajis’ play speak these names to yourself first..Wynn,Wilson,Neal
    v v v
    Who What When
    Stepping up is easier when you don’t need to drag your own to the fight.

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  4. D-Maniac says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Creating havoc up front is key, but, as you pointed out, doing so without being reckless. There’s a difference between controlled aggression and a mindless spaz attack…The offense of course knows what the play is going to be, so “draws” absolutely favor the offense. If you don’t disrupt their timing, if you don’t disrupt their plan of attack, you’re done.

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  5. Ron LC says:

    Whatever the hell the D was doing last year didn’t do the job. Especially 3rd down D. Creating a little havoc would sure help the LB’s. If the “occupy” strategy was so effective where the hell did the opposing O get the guys to double/triple cover CM3 on virtually every play.

    Capers job – “FIX IT.”

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  6. A-roge says:

    The packers did draft Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels didn’t they?

    Did either of those guys excel and occupying blockers in college?

    I think the answers to both those questions should more than highlight how Dom Capers and the packers look at what they need to improve on with d-line. Both those players are specific in their ability to penetrate and cause havoc in the backfield.

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    • Oppy says:

      IT is more a reflection of the fact the Packers are playing more nickle than they have been playing base, due to the league being absolutely pass-happy.

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    • Oppy says:

      IT is more a reflection of the fact the Packers are playing more nickle than they have been playing base, due to the league being absolutely pass-happy.

      expect to see more 4-man fronts from our nickle packages this year.

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  7. 1990 Michael Haddix says:

    The defense will be playing a LOT of Nickel this year. The Packers plan on getting a big lead with their awesome offense, and then letting the pass rush go with their young players. Daniels, Worthy, Perry, CM3, Bishop, here they come. Time for Capers to stop trying to scheme for Woodson to make big plays, and start putting CM3 all over the field to utilize his playmaking ability….he’s the best player on our defense….let him thrive

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