28

March

2012 Packers Position Group Analysis: Defensive Backs

Green Bay Packers defensive backs, Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Charlie Peprah

Defensive Backs Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Charlie Peprah

Packers Defensive Backs: We’re back with the third of this series where we examine each Packers position group as it currently exists. Today we finish the defensive side of the ball by examining the Packers’ secondary. As before, this article will examine three main points from the Packers’ perspective: where we are, where we want to go and what we need to do to get there.

Previous installments can be found here:

Packers Defensive Line:

Packers Linebackers:

 

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects:

Charles Woodson (1st round)
Tramon Williams (undrafted)
Sam Shields (undrafted)
Jarrett Bush (undrafted)
Davon House (4th  round)
Brandian Ross (undrafted)

Nick Collins (2nd round)
Morgan Burnett (3rd round)
Charlie Peprah (5th round)
M.D. Jennings (undrafted)
Anthony Levine (undrafted)

While this position group has six undrafted players, only three are regulars and overall there is better representation near the top of the draft than in the defensive line and linebacker groups. That’s especially true if you count Pat Lee, a second round choice the Packers recently allowed to leave via free agency.

The Packers’ secondary had a tough time in 2011. As a group, they gave up 71 plays of 20 yards or more, and a lot of those were significantly more than 20 yards. The Giants alone had four plays over 40 yards in two games against the Packers. Yes, it was not pleasant.

So let’s start with Charles Woodson: In 2011, Woodson was a bit of a paradox. On one hand, he was what we have come to expect from Charles Woodson; the guy who makes the big play. Woodson had 3 sacks, 7 interceptions and a total of nine turnover plays on the year. On the other hand, his tackling, which used to be a strength, almost became a liability. ¬†Woodson finally started showing signs of age, as he lost some of that quickness he previously counted on to avoid blockers and track down ball carriers in open space. Woodson was charged with 18 missed tackles on the season and nine penalties (more than twice as many penalties as any other Packer player). He also gave up five touchdowns, leading the team in that category as well.

19

March

2012 Packers Position Group Analysis: Linebackers

Packers Linebacker Clay Matthews III

Packers Linebacker Clay Matthews III

Packers Linebackers: We’re back with the second of this series where we’ll examine each Packers position group as it currently exists. We’ll be addressing three main points from the Packers’ perspective: where we are, where we want to go and what we need to do to get there.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects:

Clay Matthews (1st round)
A.J. Hawk (1st round)
Desmond Bishop (6th round)
Brad Jones (7th round)
D.J. Smith (6th round)
Erik Walden (6th round – is a free agent)
Robert Francois (undrafted)
Frank Zombo (undrafted)
Vic So ‘oto (undrafted)
Jamari Lattimore (undrafted)

Much like the defensive line spot, Ted Thompson has built this position group from the bottom of the draft up. Eight out of ten players came from the 6th round or later. I suppose that’s a bit of a necessity in today’s salary-capped NFL, especially with salaries for offensive skill players going through the roof. But it’s still a bit startling when you examine a roster closely and really see how a team is built.

Let’s start with Clay Matthews: Matthews could have been nicknamed “Fast and Furious” his first two seasons, taking the league by storm with 23.5 sacks. While sacks get the attention, getting stops in the run game are almost of the same value to coaches. To that end, Matthews was certainly lacking. There’s no better evidence than the now famous sound byte from the Steelers’ sideline during the Super Bowl. A Steelers coach is heard telling his offense they’re going to run at Matthews all day, because all he wants to do is rush the passer – he doesn’t want to play the run.

2011 was a different type of year for Matthews, but it was still a success. Gone were the high sack numbers, as Matthews was double-teamed an average of 37% of the time in 2011, and had practically no pass rush help to draw attention away from him. But other parts of his game solidified. He improved both in pass coverage and against the run, intercepting three passes, leading the team in tackles for loss and was only charged with 7 missed tackles on the year (according to Bob McGinn). So while many fans asked “what’s wrong with Matthews?”, the answer of course was, “nothing.” All he did was become a more complete player.