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Defense Discussion [2017]

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Saw an interesting tidbit today that caught my eye:

 

Dom Capers was hired in 2009. #Packers defense since:

- 1st in INTs

- 3rd in sacks

- 4th in comp. %

- 5th in passer rating

- 8th in points

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Posted (edited)

So in 2016 v. 2017-18, to recap:

CB (B- / B- ): Same grades, different reasons. Significant upgrade in depth, health, upside, size, speed, and athleticism. But the loss of a bonafide shutdown corner (Sammy Shields) is something you can't quantify, nor replace with a lone player. It's going to be a group effort.

Spearheading that effort is King and House. The duo gives us a pair of boundary sized corners to complement Gunter. House and Gunter afford us experience and consistency. Randall and Rollins return healthy and with chips on their shoulders. Randall taking on slot duties while House resumes boundary duties might make us better at two positions. The House acquisition might be the most unheralded free agency signing in the NFC North, and maybe the NFC. It might be the missing glue to our secondary woes. He massages our youth and inexperience with leadership and perspective. His physicality and size is welcomed. Whereas we had one legitimate no. 1 corner in 2016--and a physically limited one at that--we have three in 2017. As far as roster composition goes, the 2017 edition is superior to 2016. 

S (B / B+): Maybe our strongest group. The veteran experience of HHCD/Burnett is critical to the stability of this defense. The above takeaway/impact play numbers rests on HHCD's shoulders, and with Josh Jones' selection and ability to slot inside in the nickel/dime roles, we might see more HHCD-Burnett. That is an excellent development for the defense. Throw in K. Brice's surprising development and authoritative disposition and the backend is set. 

Hyde's exit hurts from a "glue" perspective. You have to hope one of Rollins or Jones is able to absorb Hyde's multiple responsibilities, but it's more likely the snaps are divided among two or three guys, and that may in turn have the effect of offering the opposing offense more varied and dynamic looks. Brice will see a few hundred snaps, the majority of which will be in three safety looks. Jones should see some dime snaps and might rotate inside on passing downs. All said, you have to be comfortable with the trade-off. We lose experience and instinct in Hyde, but gain enormously from an athleticism point of view by inserting Brice and Jones. Whereas instinct keeps you in games, I think athletic superiority and natural ability wins you games. 

Mix in Josh Hawkins and Herb Waters and we have almost a dozen guys competing for snaps. Whitt's praise of Waters/Hawkins might also have the effect of igniting a fire under Randall. It's a healthy picture compared to last year. You have to expect those takeaway numbers to see an improvement in 2017 as the secondary remakes itself.

We're simply better off, and as long as one of King, Waters, or Hawkins shows up, in addition to Randall/Rollins regaining their health and confidence, we have Super Bowl-worthy combination of abilities. More importantly, a lot to prove. 

Heading into 2016 v. 2017 (re: GB's secondary):

  • Top-End Ability: B / B- (losing the alpha corner hurts however you spin it)
  • Upside: B- / B+ (add two young athletic freaks; Rollins/Randall enter year three; Hyde swapped for more athletic Brice, Hawkins, Waters)
  • Versatility: C+ / B (Randall/Rollins can focus on the slot; King/House/Gunter give us a trio of boundary options)
  • Experience: C+ / C+ (Losing Sam hurts, but House brings a stable perspective and leadership)
  • Depth: C+ / B (Flat-out better with the development of three/four third year players)

 

Will post thoughts on where we stand with re: to the defensive line and linebacking corps later. Just thought I'd try to start a bit of discussion.

Edited by CentralFC

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I believe in Dom Capers when he has the right players.

I believe we would have been a top 15 defense last year in points if Shields had played the year out.

I believe we are heading towards a top 10 finish in points allowed this season.

Davon House and a healthy Damarious Randall would have improved our defense alone.  We also added King and Jones, who I think will pay massive dividends in our passing defense. 

The one thing that will hold us back is health in our pass rush.  I believe Elliot/Biegel/Fackrell will be more than capable relief pass rushers, but I do not have faith in their starting ability. 

Defensive line was probably our strongest unit last year all things considered, and we got BETTER there.  Not only with RJF, but also with Lowry, who I think is heading towards a very promising rotational career, and also with Kenny Clark, who I think is going to be our first first round HIT on the defensive line. 

I am very confident in our defense going into 2017. 

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Agreed with pretty much all of that.

Another issue plaguing our 2016 defense: play action. I believe it's been discussed here already but we ranked dead last IIRC against action passes. A direct result of the lower body injuries suffered by Randall/Rollins, impeding their ability to make quick, decisive, responsive cuts. Throw in the inexperience and we gave up significant chunks in key spots. 

Tighten the screws. Be healthy. Identify some semblance of an identity; I think House and HHCD are really working to something in the latter regard.

 

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This all seems a bit too optimistic.

There's still very little going into this season that you can count on at CB.  Healthy Randall could still be bad.  House could be just ok.  King might take 2 years to be consistent or see the field.  Hyde is gone.  Rollins has never shown anything outside of preseason 2015.

We didn't add anything to the pass rush.  While we added bodies at DL, Guion is a subtraction.

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6 minutes ago, skibrett15 said:

This all seems a bit too optimistic.

There's still very little going into this season that you can count on at CB.  Healthy Randall could still be bad.  House could be just ok.  King might take 2 years to be consistent or see the field.  Hyde is gone.  Rollins has never shown anything outside of preseason 2015.

We didn't add anything to the pass rush.  While we added bodies at DL, Guion is a subtraction.

It's a little optimistic but not unrealistic. 

This is all assuming that we are at full health, but we should have confidence in House as a CB1 based off of what he showed in Jax two seasons ago and his mentality coming back to GB. He is hungry. Gunter most likely won't be any more battle tested then he was last season and I think he will use that experience to turn into a solid CB2. Randall and Rollins can fill in where needed and with Josh Jones it gives us a little more inside allowing Burnett and HaHa to roam more freely and help guys like Gunter over the top. Pass rush could certainly be a concern but we saw great flashes from Lowry. Clark really started to turn it up at the tail end of last season. We all saw the development of Nick Perry take 4+ years and now we have Jayrone Elliot who could possibly breakout into the player he has shown he is capable of being in the preseason. We also get another year of development from our guys in the middle, Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez. I am much more confident in our defense going into this season then I was last year.

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1 hour ago, skibrett15 said:

This all seems a bit too optimistic.

There's still very little going into this season that you can count on at CB.  Healthy Randall could still be bad.  House could be just ok.  King might take 2 years to be consistent or see the field.  Hyde is gone.  Rollins has never shown anything outside of preseason 2015.

We didn't add anything to the pass rush.  While we added bodies at DL, Guion is a subtraction.

Hyde wasn't a cover corner. It wasn't his niche. His role was limited by his athletic ability. We might take a step back in processing/instincts, but we make three steps forward in athleticism and explosion. It's a trade-off that's worked for Atlanta and other defenses. 

King will see the field this year. I'd be hard pressed to bet against Joe Whitt developing a day two pick. Rollins is a third of the athlete King is. The Washington guy will have a role.

Guion's not a subtraction IMO. Added zero to our pass rush. Great in goal line spots, but you're limiting your value if in this league if you can't push the pocket as an interior defensive lineman. Clark, Lowry, and Jean-Francois will be upgrades. 

 

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I feel like Davante Adams never happened.

I also feel like Davon House never happened.

I just don't understand how people can still be nervous about cornerback.  Especially in light of what Randall has said about last year.  You might as well call him Davante 2.0 right now.

This is a team that got Ladarious Gunter/Sam Shields/Tramon Williams (all undrafted) ready to start games in the NFL, and now we've added King.  People might point to Lee or other corners who haven't exactly thrived here, but those guys haven't exactly been as physically gifted as King, either. 

Our secondary is going to be fine this season.  More than fine. 

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On 7/20/2017 at 9:56 AM, HorizontoZenith said:

I believe in Dom Capers when he has the right players.

Good post @CentralFC.

And that here lies my issue with Dom, he needs everyone to be at a relatively full strength to play well.  And that's not going to happen very often.  The lack of adjustments is going to be my one of my biggest issues with him, and I'm not referring to the fact that he was pretty much having to use street free agents as starting corners.

 

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I think it's the combination of two things: (1) Thompson's tendency to pad the bottom of his roster with younger pieces who might be a year from "seeing" it, rather than veteran stop-gaps like Ricky Jean-Francois (and NOT Darrelle Revis); and (2) Capers' somewhat complicated scheme tends to lead to a lot of thinking rather than reacting (at least from what I've gathered reading some of the criticisms lodged against the staff). 

When he has veteran guys who can play assignment-sure football he's putting out solid units that make a ton of plays. When key pieces start to go down, your secondary is playing on one leg, or you're relying on UDFAs at premier positions, you're going to have a hard time.

I truly think this year's edition can be a top-15 unit in PPG and takeaways. 

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2 minutes ago, CWood21 said:
2 minutes ago, CWood21 said:


@CentralFC

 

 

Okay, I tried quoting something CWood said and I can't get rid of the @central thing.  So I just gave up.  I was going to say that if Thompson had made a move once Sam Shields was clearly done for the year, Capers would have been able to compensate.  If Thompson had made a move in one of the handful of seasons in which Perry wasn't effective and Matthews was constantly hurt, Capers would have been able to compensate.  Remember the game Kaepernick ran wild?  All our pass rushers were injured that year so we had to have Datone Jones in at OLB, where he'd never even practiced before. 

It's the conclusion I came to at the end of this season.  How we managed to get as far as we did with the passing defense we had I don't understand, especially going up against the Cowboys and Giants in the previous two playoff games.  But what last year told me is that, if you're going to have a defensive coordinator that has to have the pieces he wants, you can't have a GM who won't add pieces to replace injured pieces.  If you're going to have a GM who won't add a single piece throughout the regular season, you can't have a defensive coordinator who needs replacements in the event of injury.

It's the biggest reason I'm afraid for our pass rush this year.  God knows Thompson won't replace anybody in the middle of the season, so it's quite possible we'll have t convert Heiman to pass rusher and win a Super Bowl with Elliot and Fackrell.

Healthy starting pass rush, this defense is good enough to win a Super Bowl.  Unhealthy pass rush (one or two starters hurt come playoffs), this team doesn't stand a chance and it will be another wasted season.

 

 

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Yep, and I think we're going to need to see some push from Clark, Lowry, Adams, and Daniels to get that done.

 

Key stat (IMO) heading in 2017-18: If we get a combined 30 GP from Perry and Matthews, we're in strong contention for the top-15 defense label I mentioned earlier, and for the NFC No. 1 seed. 

I think Fackrell and Elliot will surprise some people, but it will take an adjustment period. 

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33 minutes ago, HorizontoZenith said:

Okay, I tried quoting something CWood said and I can't get rid of the @central thing.  So I just gave up.  I was going to say that if Thompson had made a move once Sam Shields was clearly done for the year, Capers would have been able to compensate.  If Thompson had made a move in one of the handful of seasons in which Perry wasn't effective and Matthews was constantly hurt, Capers would have been able to compensate.  Remember the game Kaepernick ran wild?  All our pass rushers were injured that year so we had to have Datone Jones in at OLB, where he'd never even practiced before. 

It's the conclusion I came to at the end of this season.  How we managed to get as far as we did with the passing defense we had I don't understand, especially going up against the Cowboys and Giants in the previous two playoff games.  But what last year told me is that, if you're going to have a defensive coordinator that has to have the pieces he wants, you can't have a GM who won't add pieces to replace injured pieces.  If you're going to have a GM who won't add a single piece throughout the regular season, you can't have a defensive coordinator who needs replacements in the event of injury.

It's the biggest reason I'm afraid for our pass rush this year.  God knows Thompson won't replace anybody in the middle of the season, so it's quite possible we'll have t convert Heiman to pass rusher and win a Super Bowl with Elliot and Fackrell.

Healthy starting pass rush, this defense is good enough to win a Super Bowl.  Unhealthy pass rush (one or two starters hurt come playoffs), this team doesn't stand a chance and it will be another wasted season.

 

And that's definitely a knock against Ted.  He's not very proactive about fixing issues, he's more reactive.  And I get the wanting to try and fix the issues internally, but at some point you have to look outside the organization to help.  And I don't think it's necessarily an issue that he's not receptive to FA, I just think he's got a bit too high affinity for guys he brings in as draft picks.  I mean, neither Kyler Fackrell or Vince Biegel really inspire confidence after Clay and Perry.

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Just now, CWood21 said:

 

And that's definitely a knock against Ted.  He's not very proactive about fixing issues, he's more reactive.  And I get the wanting to try and fix the issues internally, but at some point you have to look outside the organization to help.  And I don't think it's necessarily an issue that he's not receptive to FA, I just think he's got a bit too high affinity for guys he brings in as draft picks.  I mean, neither Kyler Fackrell or Vince Biegel really inspire confidence after Clay and Perry.

Yeah, it's the most frustrating thing about Thompson.  He always preaches Packer People and all that crap, but you can only do that to a point.  John Kuhn was a fan favorite that did nothing if not the "Packer way."  Donald Driver still had a year of productivity in him even after the year Thompson started fazing him out.  Woodson had another five years of more than productive play, and he was let go when we were in desperate need at safety.  Peppers wasn't  even asked to re-sign and now we're heading into the next season with three HUGE question marks behind Matthews and Perry.

Thompson's stubbornness was on full display last year, and it has made me believe he can help this team to a Super Bowl, but it's also made me look forward to his last year, which I hope is soon.  There were literally retired free agents posting to social media that they would come in and help us win a Super Bowl when Randall, Rollins and everybody else was hurt at corner.  Nothing.  It's one thing to not bring in a replacement just before playoffs, but to not do a SINGLE THING once Sam Shields goes out for the year and Randall gets the type of injury that nags at a player a few weeks later, the fact that we didn't play the Patriots last year is on Ted Thompson and his damn stubbornness.  I used to love Thompson, I still like his basic strategy, but his stupid stubbornness drives me insane after last year. 

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On 7/23/2017 at 1:25 PM, HorizontoZenith said:

Yeah, it's the most frustrating thing about Thompson.  He always preaches Packer People and all that crap, but you can only do that to a point.  John Kuhn was a fan favorite that did nothing if not the "Packer way."  Donald Driver still had a year of productivity in him even after the year Thompson started fazing him out.  Woodson had another five years of more than productive play, and he was let go when we were in desperate need at safety.  Peppers wasn't  even asked to re-sign and now we're heading into the next season with three HUGE question marks behind Matthews and Perry.

Thompson's stubbornness was on full display last year, and it has made me believe he can help this team to a Super Bowl, but it's also made me look forward to his last year, which I hope is soon.  There were literally retired free agents posting to social media that they would come in and help us win a Super Bowl when Randall, Rollins and everybody else was hurt at corner.  Nothing.  It's one thing to not bring in a replacement just before playoffs, but to not do a SINGLE THING once Sam Shields goes out for the year and Randall gets the type of injury that nags at a player a few weeks later, the fact that we didn't play the Patriots last year is on Ted Thompson and his damn stubbornness.  I used to love Thompson, I still like his basic strategy, but his stupid stubbornness drives me insane after last year. 

And it's part of the reason why I'm hopeful that when they do transition on past Ted Thompson whether it be Wolf or Gut or someone else that they're going to be a bit more receptive to FA.  I'm not asking for them to break the bank on FA year after year, but 1 year deals for veteran players isn't the worst additions to make.

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