Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Now, Let's Build a Defense!

Greetings, G-Force.

Dom Capers will control our defense. I'm happy McCarthy brought in a big name. He should be a significant upgrade over Bob Sanders, but he'll need players - in abundance. If we think that we have the arsenal to play a 3-4, we're fooling ourselves.

It should be noted that I wanted Gregg Williams. He says that he chose New Orleans over Green Bay. That tells me that either we didn't offer him enough money, he was not confident in McCarthy's plan or Green Bay is simply not an attractive place for an Assistant Coach to plan his future. All could be possible.

I have not seen the contract for both Williams and Capers. Clearly, Williams was McCarthy's first choice. He would have been mine as well. In his past, Williams has done a lot with a little. Capers has been the architect of some stellar defenses. He's also had terrific LB's when his defenses have been at the top of the NFL. He's pressured the QB. When he has not had an extraordinary front 7, it could be argued that Capers has failed. With our current roster, Capers will mightily struggle. With Carolina, he had Sam Mills, Lamar Lathon and Kevin Greene. With Pittsburgh, he had Levon Kirkland, Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene. He was wise to take Greene with him to Carolina. If I can recite this from memory 12-15 years after the fact, you know these defenders could play. I believe that all were Pro Bowlers at one stage of their career.

It'll be interesting to watch both the Saints and the Packers defenses this year. McCarthy vs. Payton. Capers vs. Williams.

Clearly, Capers has what it takes to bring our defense to an elite status. But, in order to to this, the Packers have to make investments via FA and the Draft. This investment has to be made in our Front 7. Capers needs his Kevin Greene. In fact, it'd be great to bring a guy like Kevin Greene into our program to partner alongside Capers. Sure, Greene does not have coaching experience, but he was a master in Capers system. And our organization could use his toughness.

Capers also needs his Sam Mills/Levon Kirkland. Both were tremendous in the middle of Capers' defense. They flourished in Capers defense. They pressured the QB. They stopped the run. They attacked the line of scrimmage and covered the field from sideline to sideline. They filled passing lanes. Our LB's have failed in each of this criteria.

Ted Thompson has some major decisions to make during this offseason. Does AK-74 fit in a 3-4? What about Cullen Jenkins? Ryan Pickett? Johnny Jolly? In a 3-4, is Colin Cole worth minimum wage? If McCarthy fails in '09, the media will be calling for both his and Thompson's head. While I disagree with this notion, '09 must be a success. In order for it to be, we need to focus on building a defense. And this starts in FA.

Terrell Suggs is a terrific 3-4 DE/OLB. He gets to the QB. He'd be one of the solutions to our most pressing problem. We were miserable at rushing the passer. I doubt that the Ravens will apply the franchise tag to Suggs as other valuable Ravens, such as Ray Lewis, are FA's. Although, I suppose, it depends on what happens between today and February 27th.

Obviously, I'd be stoked to see Peppers as a Packer. But, I would not give up the #9 pick to get him. A Franchise tag on Peppers would rule out my desire to bring him in.

If Karlos Dansby is not tagged, I'd aggressively pursue him. He can do it all. And would be a guy that our Front 7 could build around.

I'd also be excited to make a run at Thomas Howard. Two years ago, Howard had 6 picks. He also had 11 passes defensed. He finds the football. He plays sideline-to-sideline. He can play on the inside in a 3-4. He'd start immediately. He can be had at a reasonable cost.

Bart Scott is a proven commodity in a 3-4 defense. Can he play without Suggs and Ray Lewis on the same front? I'm not positive. But, I'd talk to him.

When healthy, Leroy Hill has also been a legitimate playmaker, but I'm not certain that he'd transition to a 3-4.

It's also worth talking to Michael Boley and Angelo Crowell.

I'd also bring in Mike Peterson for a visit. I'd see if he's still serious about playing football. Does he still have the legs? We know he'd bring the attitude and the physical presence. But, does he still have what it takes to be a premier NFL LB? If I'm not positive about it, I would not bring him in.

Also, at S, I'd love to complete the secondary with Oshiomogho Atogwe. He's a ball hawk. Plays the ball well in the air. He's looking for the strip when making the tackle. He'll come up and stop the ball carrier.

While I'd love Suggs, I'd be absolutely stoked with an offseason that would bring in Dansby and Atogwe. If Dansby is tagged, I'd be totally satisfied with an offseason that brought in Atogwe and Howard. Spend the money, Ted Thompson.

A quick updated look at the Mock Draft now shows:

1.) Michael Johnson. When I think 3-4, I think of guys like Kevin Greene, Greg Lloyd, Shawne Merriman, Shaun Phillips, James Harrison, DeMarcus Ware, Adalius Thomas, Willie McGinest, and Mike Vrabel. All these guys have the ability to rush the passer. They all could drop in coverage. They all are above average against the run. While Johnson is occasionally run over, I believe he has the physique in which he will put on upper body strength. Sure, the draft is 3 months away, but at this stage, Johnson is my overwhelming favorite to be our pick at #9. I'm interested to see how he performs at the combine, but if he performs like I think he will, he could be the guy that you build a defense around. But, again, since the draft is still 3 months away, I do reserve the right to change this pick as the draft nears. I will say that we cannot afford a bust at this pick and Johnson can disappear.

I'm also high on BJ Raji as there does not seem to be as much depth at the DT position once you drop below the 2nd round. Clearly, we need a steadying force to clog the middle Raji might be that guy. For as much as you need dominant edge rushers in the 3-4, you also need your Haloti Ngata. Raji would fit that role.

2.) Larry English, DE/OLB, Northern Illinois. Kevin Greene had Greg Lloyd. Then, he had Lamar Lathon. Shawne Merriman has Shaun Phillips. Harrison has Woodley. Suggs had Adalius Thomas during his best years. Joey Porter had Jason Gildon. DeMarcus Ware has Greg Ellis. People might not notice, but Ellis has over 20 sacks combined over the last 2 years.

As for English, I have not watched him play in a game. I've listened to the NFL Network's talking heads glow about him. I've seen him in pads. I watched him in some drills. He looks like the real deal. And his stats are outrageous. Can he drop in coverage?

I'd also consider Clay Matthews at this spot. It's in his genes.

3a) Sean Smith, CB, Utah. Saw him once. Was totally buzzed. But, he fully caught my eye. Grabbed my attention. I watched the game without volume, but everytime I looked at the TV screen, I felt that #4 was making plays. Big. Fast. Nose for the ball. This might be a little late for him as he could be a 2nd rounder.

3b.) Zach Follett, LB, Cal. This offseason is about getting the QB. Becoming a nasty defense. This guy punishes. Zach Follett will make plays at the next level. Follett, too, might be drafted before this when draft time arrives.

4.) Myron Pryor, DT, Kentucky. If Raji is not the pick in Round 1, I'd be excited to see him drafted in the middle rounds.

5.)Asher Allen, CB, Georgia. Pimp with a limp. I love his game. He'd be a potential steal at this spot. He's a bit small, but he makes up for it in heart. And he's got all the confidence in the world. I cannot believe that he's listed as being this low, but from what I see, he's not rated very high.

Interesting to note - for those that follow the blog - Bradley Fletcher is now listed as the #18 CB in the draft.

6a.) Phillip Hunt, DE/LB, Houston. I watched him in the East-West Shrine Game and I was not as impressed with him as I was when I first watched him. Nonetheless, his stats earn him street cred and the memory of his Bowl game continues to last in my mind. Again, I'll be interested to follow where he's projected come draft time.

6b.)Keith Fitzhugh, S, Mississippi St. Plays with attitude, totally intense. A mean competitor. Sometimes, he comes across as a punk. But, the guy believes in himself. And when he hits you, you feel it. Overshadowed on the field, at times, by his S mate, Derek Pegues. From what I saw, I thought he played well in the East-West Shrine Game. He's worth a look.

7.) Terrill Byrd, DT, Cincy. Everytime I watched him, he performed. He made a lasting impression. Sure, he's undersized. Still, he's slippery and might be a good inside rusher on passing downs.

Spend the $$$. Build a defense.

Talkin' S-Mac.


Grammy said...

I have been hearing rumblings about the Bears looking into Johnson in the first round. Haven't looked much into it lately but that's what I've heard...don't know much about the guy.

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Let the offseason rumors's one of them:

Two days after turning down an offer to remain as defensive coordinator of the Panthers, Mike Trgovac has reportedly been hired as defensive line coach in Green Bay. The Packers haven’t made any announcement, and Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette says they probably won’t until they’ve filled out the rest of Dom Capers’ staff.

Before becoming the Panthers coordinator in 2002, Trgovac had spent 16 seasons as a defensive line coach at the college and NFL levels. One of those seasons, 1999, was spent in Green Bay as a member of Ray Rhodes’ staff.

Trgovac’s move would add a twist to discussion of the Packers as a potential landing spot for Julius Peppers. Peppers has made it clear that he wants to play in a 3-4 scheme next season. When Capers announced they’d be running his customary 3-4 next season, the Packers became a possibility. How hiring his old coach will affect Peppers’ destination, or if Trgovac’s departure puts the Panthers back in the hunt, will be worth watching.

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Not sure if y'all have seen what Raji has recently said, but sounds like he's in for coming to Green Bay. He's quickly gaining on Johnson as my desired choice...

Stack said...


A birthday has passed recently and it has left Stack with untold wealth. Over the course of the past year, things were good, things were bad, and everywhere in between. At the end of the year, you appreciate that it is, and strive to better enjoy that. And let me just say I've been appreciating a smoke on a cold day and a couple shots of whisky to shush the cold from my skin.

Most of my best thoughts about the Pack happen in one of two places. Without fail, they come in bed and they come in the shower. Makes me think I should work from home. Anyway, so I'm the rinse cycle of my shampoo and it dawns on me that we've added an identity to our football team. Dom Capers is, as Scott so aptly put, a name. The guy carries experience and has experienced success. Earlier, I wanted to see Sean McDermott interviewed for the job. It seems that Philly ended up denying his request, but I feel the point is moot. We added a name you can hand a hat on in defense and we're going to the 3-4.

The New Orleans match up is just too good isn't it...? Sean Payton who wanted the Green Bay job so badly he still holds it against the Packers versus McCarthy...Greg Williams who took the NO job after the Pack had him in for talks versus Mr. Second Choice Dom Capers...Oh, too tasty! This match up is going to have some venom for the next couple of years.

I'm just going to put this out there...I have a small inkling of a feeling somewhere within me, no more than the smallest hunch, but I will not be surprised if in a month the phrases Terrell Suggs and Dallas Cowboys appear in the same sentence. Just saying.

There is no way Julius Peppers ends up in Green Bay. I'd be at front of the line to sign up for that, but it is just not happening. First of all, he would have to hit the open market, because parting with picks for him is a mistake. Secondly, we're talking about premium FA penny, it is unlike TT. Period.

Dansby has been a FA prior to this, TT has never made a play at him or even held an interest from anything that I've ever read. And I like Dansby. I don't see why we're not at least marginally interested, raised my interest the first time around, though he might have been an RFA at that time.

Bart Scott can play with anyone, anywhere. Bart Scott is everything we wish Brady Poppinga would be...the guy leads with his body into the play. He's less concerned with making the play himself as making his best sacrifice in the run of play. He'll blow up the fullback or run to spot and hit the Guard in the thighs as he accelerates through the spot. He's a smart football player. An attacker. Outstanding role player, a guy who isn't better than those around him, but makes those around him better.

Angelo Crowell is a guy that has fascinated me for years. Has everything physically, size, speed...and has made plays here and there, but have never really made an impact. He'd be a guy that I would have a real interest in. If Capers and Moss can unlock him, hey...could be Brian Williams.

Atogwe? A FA? Gotta check that out. Have seen him take some bad angles on occasion, but the guy comes up with the football. A playmaker. A smart guy. It would be too good...

More and more, I think we are on tenuous footing on defense. Put it this way, I have more faith in Ruvell Martin than any guy at #5 on our D depth chart.

Which brings me to the meat of the post. I am assuming that we will not be free agent players, and thus approach the draft with all apparent areas of need.

1. B. J. Radji - NT
Our most glaring need is at the NT position. Pickett is going to play the nose, Jolly may be able to play the nose, but we need someone there to anchor. Two years ago, we went 13-3 and Ryan Pickett was caving guys at the line. I was on the verge of buying his jersey. Last year, he's playing too many snaps and he's the guy getting caved. This is our most pressing need, holding point in the 3-4, Pickett will return to form if he gets help, Jolly should see the field but should not be the only legit option going into the season. The guy is a stud. He's worth the #9. We need him.

Would of course think long and hard about Michael Johnson, Malcolm Jenkins, and Everette Brown at this point.

Strange to think, we might be seeing what Jeremey Thompson can offer from the OLB/DE position.

2.) Clay Matthews Jr. - LB
Love this guy. Works hard. Still seems to be early in his physical development. Has the frame and room to fill without losing quickness. Physically ascendant. Familiar with the 3-4 scheme. Knows how to play football, would contribute on D and special teams. You know the bloodlines, Dad and Uncle were seen giving him pointers after the Senior Bowl practice. Maybe a bit of a reach here, but I doubt it. You know he won't make it past 58.

3a.) Matt Shaughnessy - DE Wisconsin. Similar in size to Johnson (6'6" 253#), without the elite athleticism. Still Shaughnessy gets it done. I think he might be at home in an outside role, never seemed like the prototype 4-3 end, which he played at Madison. Outstanding awareness, good athleticism. Gets it, bright kid, plays hard, and always, always gets his hands up to block passing lanes. One of the best at it. Deflects a lot of passes at the line. I'd love to see him coming off of our edge, particularly on a twist where the end rushes upfield and the OLB comes inside on the Guard...

See Moala's name a lot around this area also, if he is there, he would make an excellent DE in the 3-4...would be a great choice here.

3b.) David Bruton - SS Notre Dame
Guy comes up with the football. There are other compliments that I could pay him, but perhaps none better than that one. A pretty sure tackler. I am subject to a lot of Notre Dame football, Bruton is a guy that I have seen play many times and while he will occasionally miss a tackle or miss on an angle, I never feel uncomfortable with him at the position. As I said earlier, as the game goes on, Bruton eventually comes up with the football. Guy always makes an impact. Football player.

4. Bryan Mouton - CB Hawaii
Can play football. Texas kid. Big heart. Small guy, good athlete. Mature, has life experience with the loss of a high school friend. I like this guy late.

5. Lawrence Sidbury Jr. - DE Richmond. This guy can get upfield and pressure the passer. There is video out there on him. Sick spin move. Fluid athlete. Looks like he has a nasty streak to him also. Haven't seen much of him, but what I have seen is real exciting.

6a. Donald Washington - CB Ohio State. Like his size, he's capable, Midwest guy. Great environment in which to develop, veteran leadership in place, high level of competition.

6b. Nick Reed - DE Oregon
One of those guys I would like in the late part of the draft. Plays on a good team in a good conference. Doesn't scare or wow you, just shows up in the game and does some things. Guy has a good feel to him. Just want to throw him a jersey and bring him into camp, worry about the "nots" and the measurables after that.

Also looks like a guy with whom I used to drink in farm fields as a teenager...

7. Britton Colquit - P Tennessee
Excellent bloodlines, he's a self-entitled knucklehead, but maybe he's seen the end of his football days after the DUI. Maybe a reality check, I don't know, but I'd check him out. If he's cool, I'd take him here to solve our woes.

There. I went all defense, which most certainly won't happen, but we're retooling. That's real. Some guys are going to step in, some guys are going to wash out. That's the reality for camp '09.

I didn't see this draft being as deep as last year's, or other recent years either. The second round is going to be an important round. Would like to add a good CB early, but don't want to move away from Raji. He'll go if we do. I believe the second is for guys like Clay Matthews, Cushing, Mike Mickens, and probably Sean Smith. I would like to come away with any of those guys, but I have a feeling we're only going to get one of them.

That's why we love it.

Stack said...

In retrospect, I would probably have to move Sidbury up, but I would be willing to do so.

Stack said...

He's probably a 3rd, 4th at the latest.

Stack said...

Ooh, and I think Mouton might have dreads at this point. Have seen him, but can't remember...

Grammy said...

Scottie, you know that if I wasn't so busy wasting my time up in Green Bay during the college football season I'd have a nice little scouting report for you on any and every Northern Illinois football player you wanted. It's the only team you get to watch week in and week out if you don't have cable.

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Yes, Grammy, I was waiting for your mastery of Northern Illinois...

Stack, Sidbury will be an interesting guy to follow over the next 3 months. It'll be great to track where guys like Sidbury, Allen might fall to.

I don't know Mouton. Have not seen him.

Let the draft mastery commence...

Talkin' S-Mac said...

I have to say that I'm enjoying what McCarthy is doing to build our defense. He's showing a commitment to bringing in proven performers. Big names. Identities.

Dom Capers name speaks for himself. Mike Trgovac has been the DC for Carolina for the past 6 years. Meanwhile, Carolina had been one of the fiercest, toughest defenses in the NFL.

And now, Kevin Greene! He'll bring heart, tenacity and will to our sidelines.

McCarthy is showing he's serious about building a winner on staff.

Now, Thompson must do so through talent acquisition.

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Is Michael Johnson tumbling down draft boards? Could he end up being a 2nd round pick?

Grammy said...

I've seen the same thing, Scottie. At the same time, I see him being one of those guys gaining ground at the combine. It's amazing how a combine can change a guy's draft status...and it's rarely positive for the team that drafts them.

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Agreed, Grammy. However, on occasion, you have a guy like D-Ware that comes out of nowhere and shows his prowess at the Combine. But, for every D-Ware, you can also get Gholston who went from a top-15 player to a top 5 player due to the combine.

I grow fond of those that have a positive end to their senior season. Play well in the Senior Bowl/East-West Bowl. And then have a good combine. DRC is a good example.

Either way - Johnson does not appear to be a guy that is going to be selected in the top 10. I really like his game. Terrific talent. Great physique. The type of guy that can put on 10 pounds of muscle to his already established frame. Going to be fun to track over the next 83 days. But, then again, who's counting?

Michael J. said...

Can Kampman play OLB?

Talkin' S-Mac said...

To me, AK-74 is not an OLB. He an end. I'd be curious to hear what others think as well.

Michael J. said...

I don't think he's athletic enough, but it's being reported today that it's least it's what they'd like to happen. It's going to be interesting watching this play out.