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TheOnlyThing

Inside Linebacker ... IT IS TIME

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One undeniable constant during the Packers current 8.5 seasons of mediocre to pathetic defensive play has been the presence of underwhelming "talents" manning the inside linebacker position.

It is also undeniably true that the one year the defense played well enough for the team to advance to the SB (in 2014) it took the mid-season benching of Hawk and the insertion of an in-his-prime Clay Matthews to ILB to get the defense to that point. When Clay returned to OLB the following season, the defense reverted to form and what a bad form it has been.

GB has lacked a linebacker with the athleticism to cover the middle of the field throughout this period of defensive ineptitude. And it is not like the ILBs that have played have been heavy-hitting run stuffers either. 

Much like Special Teams, the ILB position has mostly been ignored in GB and the lack of a worthy player at the position has directly and critically contributed to the overall poor play by the defense. 

Thus, it is time, actually long past time, that the Packers take the position seriously.

That means firstly, moving on from Martinez. Blake is the epitome of the assignment-sure, does nothing well, tackle stat padder that has occupied the position during the run of defensive futility in GB. 

Then, we must either sign a veteran free agent, make a trade, or use a premium pick on an inside linebacker.

It is worth noting that the current top 5 teams in scoring defense are NE (10.6), SF (14.8), Buffalo (15.7), Chicago (17.1), and Minnesota (18.6).

These teams obviously have a lot of talent throughout their defenses. However, they all also feature high-draft picks at inside linebacker:

NE Dont'a Hightower (Round 1), SF Fred Warner (Round 3, 70th pick overall), Buffalo Tremaine Edmunds (Round 1), Chicago Roquan Smith (Round 1), and Minnesota Eric Kendricks (Round 1).

You can't be soft and weak up the middle and hope to have a top 10 defense.

Perhaps Gute traded up in the 3rd to take Burks because he recognized the importance of a plus player at ILB to the overall play of the D, but that gamble has apparently failed and, unfortunately, he is going to have to try and rectify the problem again this offseason.

When it comes to ILB ... it is time.

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Lol, my goodness gracious this is atrocious.  Using Roquan Smith as a reason to use a high pick on an ILB.  Lol.  People who use Roquan Smith as evidence for taking an ILB with a high pick are dumber than they think I think they are. 

Roquan Smith is bad.  He is having a bad year.  He's a bad player who makes up for it with speed.  Nick Kwiatkoski is having a significantly better year than him and he was a 4th round pick. 

But everybody sees Roquan Smith get that interception against Jared Goff when Goff threw the most ill-advised pass in the season and he must be great. 

Before you get all offended and cry, yes, it is time we improve at the ILB position.  But draft one in the first round for the sake of it?  Lol, no. 

We will be just fine if we use our second round pick on an ILB. 

The issue is not with our ILB.  Blake Martinez is rated at lock-solid in both pass defense and run defense this year according to PFF.  He's not lacking in physical ability.  In fact, we could compare things here to the linebackers listed in the original post. 

The difference that you see between our ILB and other ILBs is that all those teams are attacking defenses.  We're not an attacking defense.  We're a bend, don't break defense and it's pretty easy to think we have tremendous issues at ILB when a QB has plenty of time to pass to a running back because we only send 4 players at the QB. 

If we were to fire Pettine, nobody would have any issue with Blake Martinez.  He's fine in most defenses.  With Pettine, yeah, we need to change things at ILB, but you're all expecting Martinez to do the job of two ILBs.  You wonder why Martinez isn't blowing things up in the backfield every play like you see other inside linebackers do and all you have to look at is how we play defense.

Also, Blake Martinez has 2 less tackles for loss than Hightower. 
He has one more tackle for loss than Roquan Smith. 
Three less tackles for loss than Edmunds. 
One more tackle for loss and the same amount of QB hits as Eric Kendricks. 

There's nothing wrong with Blake Martinez compared to those others, and here's the most important thing about all of this.  THis can all be summed up with one simple fact:

If Blake Martinez was the starter for New England, Chicago, Buffalo, San Francisco or Minnesota, EVERYBODY HERE WOULD BE SAYING WHY CAN'T WE HAVE A GUY LIKE BLAKE MARTINEZ?

It was the same exact way with AJ Hawk.  AJ Hawk had 13 tackles for loss (13) in 2013 and everybody remembers him as "Derp a derp, he will make the tackle 5 yards past the line of scrimmage."  Like... ****, yeah, you think?  If your DL sucks, your ILB is gonna be making a lot of tackles past the line of scrimmage.  Lol. 

AJ Hawk came out as the best off-ball linebacker in twenty years and he thrived in his first year, thrived his second year.  This was when we ran a 4-3 defense.  He had 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 7.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 15 QB hits, 12 passes defended while playing for Bob Sanders in his first three years.  Literally nobody thought he sucked.  Then we switched to a 3-4 and asked a 240 pound ILB to play like a 260 pound ILB. 

It's just like Clay Matthews all over again.  You cannot expect a finesse pass rusher (who is doing extremely well this year by the way) to play like a power rusher and have much success. 

There's nothing wrong with our current ILB, there's everything wrong with our DC. 

Martinez is probably all-pro in an attacking 4-3 type defense.  But, again, expecting a 237 pound ILB to play like Hightower or run like Roquan Smith is asking for failure.  It's why Pettine is trash and always will be trash. 

If we keep Pettine, do NOT re-sign Martinez.  If Pettine miraculously gets fired because he is pure trash, re-sign Martinez and save the second round draft pick for IDL or OT, whichever we don't take in 1. 
 

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I just don’t understand it sometimes.  I watch Martinez covering a RB who could burn a faster linebacker on a 3 or 4 man rush and I look at Pettine, not the guy physically incapable of covering him.  Same way I look at a safety playing ILB not being able to tackle a RB 10 pounds heavier than him.  

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When was the last time an elite defense ran a 3-4?  I'm a bit clueless here, but it seems like all of the top defenses run a 4-3. 

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Just now, KFP7 said:

When was the last time an elite defense ran a 3-4?  I'm a bit clueless here, but it seems like all of the top defenses run a 4-3. 

YES!  HYBRID AT THE WORST.  THE VALUE OF A 3-4 DEFENSE WAS THAT THE TWEENERS FELL BECAUSE THEY DID NOT FIT A 4-3.  NOW THE MAJORITY ARE 3-4 DEFENSES, SO THE ADVANTAGE HAS GONE BACK TO THE 4-3. 

WE NEED A 4-3 ATTACKING DEFENSE. 

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2 minutes ago, Outpost31 said:

YES!  HYBRID AT THE WORST.  THE VALUE OF A 3-4 DEFENSE WAS THAT THE TWEENERS FELL BECAUSE THEY DID NOT FIT A 4-3.  NOW THE MAJORITY ARE 3-4 DEFENSES, SO THE ADVANTAGE HAS GONE BACK TO THE 4-3. 

WE NEED A 4-3 ATTACKING DEFENSE. 

what are you thoughts on Aaron Rodgers though?

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28 minutes ago, KFP7 said:

When was the last time an elite defense ran a 3-4?  I'm a bit clueless here, but it seems like all of the top defenses run a 4-3. 

Bears last year. Doesnt the Niners run a 3-4?

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38 minutes ago, KFP7 said:

When was the last time an elite defense ran a 3-4?  I'm a bit clueless here, but it seems like all of the top defenses run a 4-3. 

The list below is irrelevant because the majority of the league run more nickel than base but I still put it together to show you that the best teams arent strictly a 4-3 base. 

Rank 2019 Team Pts/Game Base Def.
1 New England 10.6 3-4
2 San Francisco 14.8 4-3
3 Buffalo 15.7 4-3
4 Chicago 17.1 3-4
5 Minnesota 18.6 4-3
6 Dallas 19.1 4-3
7 Pittsburgh 19.3 3-4
8 Baltimore 19.6 3-4
9 Denver 19.7 3-4
10 Tennessee 19.7 3-4
       
Rank 2018 Team Pts/Game Base Def.
1 Chicago 17.6 3-4
2 Baltimore 18.2 3-4
3 Tennessee 18.9 3-4
4 Jacksonville 19.8 4-3
5 Houston 19.8 3-4
6 New England 20.4 3-4
7 Dallas 20.9 4-3
8 Indianapolis 21.2 4-3
9 Philadelphia 21.3 4-3
10 Minnesota 21.3 4-3

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I wouldn't move on from Martinez, but I would definitely look to upgrade the pieces around him. Burks is a failure. He's hurt, he has no instincts, and his tackling is a questionable. It's too bad Curtis Bolton got hurt because he'd probably make us forget about Burks given the preseason he had.....we would hope. I wasn't a fan of the Ty Summers pick, but at least he's showing that he can be a decent rotational guy albeit his IS a rookie.

Problem: with whom do you upgrade? The FA pool is littered with older players and others who we despise like Darron Lee for example. The draft isn't all that great in the first two rounds either unless you really like Malik Harrison or Kenneth Murray. 

I too have been frustrated with the ILB situation, but I can't help but think we SHOULDN'T address it in the first two rounds this year because...

5 minutes ago, Gopackgonerd said:

DL should be priority next season.

We have nothing but JAG's and a rookie next to Clark. Lowry and Adams are both too inconsistent and since we have that major issue there, too many OL and RB's are getting to that soft second level as a result. We will have to solve the DL issue BEFORE the ILB simply because that's the current lay-of-the-land. Additionally, going by Drafttek's rankings, it really looks like we have a ton of prospects to choose from that have a 3-5 round ranking. 

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FACTS.

We haven't had an ILB who can cover since Desmond Bishop in 2010. Even Brandon Chillar was good at covering!!

Zach Brown should have been signed in the Spring. Its obvious that relying on mid-late picks like Blake or Oren Burks who isn't a player, is not the right strategy.

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15 minutes ago, Kenrik said:

The list below is irrelevant because the majority of the league run more nickel than base but I still put it together to show you that the best teams arent strictly a 4-3 base. 

Rank 2019 Team Pts/Game Base Def.
1 New England 10.6 3-4
2 San Francisco 14.8 4-3
3 Buffalo 15.7 4-3
4 Chicago 17.1 3-4
5 Minnesota 18.6 4-3
6 Dallas 19.1 4-3
7 Pittsburgh 19.3 3-4
8 Baltimore 19.6 3-4
9 Denver 19.7 3-4
10 Tennessee 19.7 3-4
       
Rank 2018 Team Pts/Game Base Def.
1 Chicago 17.6 3-4
2 Baltimore 18.2 3-4
3 Tennessee 18.9 3-4
4 Jacksonville 19.8 4-3
5 Houston 19.8 3-4
6 New England 20.4 3-4
7 Dallas 20.9 4-3
8 Indianapolis 21.2 4-3
9 Philadelphia 21.3 4-3
10 Minnesota 21.3 4-3

boom there we go.  

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2 minutes ago, Joe said:

Problem: with whom do you upgrade? The FA pool is littered with older players and others who we despise like Darron Lee for example. The draft isn't all that great in the first two rounds either unless you really like Malik Harrison or Kenneth Murray. 

One name that might pop up is Danny Trevathan from the Bears. His contract is up and Chicago is both up against the cap and looking at a significant re-tool of the roster.

Plus, Trevathan expressed interest in coming to GB last time he was a FA -- back when the Packers did not believe in signing free agents.

As for Martinez, he really is a liability in virtually all phases at this point and has fully earned his poor 57.5 rating from PFF.

It is laughable that some want to blame Pettine for forcing Blake to try and defend a RB in the passing game. If Blake can't stay with a RB and is not capable of guarding a TE what exactly is a DC supposed to do with a guy like that on passing downs?

It is reminiscent of the blame heaped upon Dom for expecting Hawk to stay with "fleet footed" TEs like Kyle Rudolph. 

Competent teams attack the opposition's weakness and right now we have a subpar player in Martinez and nothing next to him at ILB, so teams are completing passes at will over the middle.

Re-signing Martinez would be rewarding mediocrity (at best) and a poor allocation of limited salary cap resources IMO.

An upgrade of talent is needed ILB and it is up to Gute to make that happen through FA, a trade, or the draft. The status quo means more of the same on the defensive side of the ball.

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and you can argue that Jax interchanges their fronts regularly just like New England and Baltimore do. 

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