Packer Update

Perry and Jones Must Deliver

Linebacker Nick Perry play in only 6 games last season due to a wrist injury

Second-year linebacker Nick Perry played in only 6 games last season due to a wrist injury

While others who should have known better buried their heads in the sand, I opined last November that the Packers weren’t good enough on defense to get to the Super Bowl. Forget about my lack of faith in coordinator Dom Capers, I knew that any team starting C.J. Wilson at end, Erik Walden, A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones at linebacker and M.D. Jennings at safety wasn’t going to be feted with a parade in February.

So how do things look 8 months later?  Better, but I still don’t see a defense that will be good enough to get the Packers to the Super Bowl. Capers somehow survived the debacle in San Francisco – his unit’s third January meltdown in four years. Hawk and Jones are still starting, and unless young Jerron McMillian makes a big jump in July, so is Jennings. In my opinion, the defense needed a much bigger facelift than the one it received. GM Ted Thompson gave it botox. He needed to give it the Joan Rivers treatment.

The only way I see this defense being good enough to shut down a high-powered offense after New Year’s Day is if rookie end Datone Jones and second-year outside linebacker Nick Perry emerge as true difference makers. Because let’s be perfectly honest, Capers hasn’t fooled anybody since 2010. Nowadays, well-prepared quarterbacks figure out his blitz packages about as quickly as a ninth-grader figures out long division. The defense will only succeed if enough players win their one-on-one match ups. A year ago, only perennial Pro Bowler Clay Matthews managed to do that on a fairly consistent basis.

Jones and Perry are certainly talented enough to win their fair share of one on ones, but will they be able to so early in their professional careers? That’s the big question. If the answer is yes, the defense has a chance to be much better – even with Hawk, Jones and Jennings playing prominent roles. If the answer is no, the defense still has a chance to be marginally better than a season ago, but I don’t see that as being good enough in a conference that boasts some of the NFL’s most-balanced and talented teams.

As great as Aaron Rodgers is and as excited we all are about rookie running backs Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, the fate of the Packers will once again rest with the defense. If Jones and Perry are able to make an impact, there’s a decent chance Jersey will be inundated by Cheeseheads in February. If Jones plays like a typical rookie and Perry still looks more like an end than an outside linebacker, there’s a decent chance the Packers won’t even get the opportunity to be embarrassed in January. That’s how challenging their schedule looks as of today and how loaded the NFC figures to be.

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7 Comments to "Perry and Jones Must Deliver"

  1. Saguaro says:

    Good thing you have your own website, cause a Green & Gold mob would be screaming for your head elsewhere. You nailed it. Amazing how quickly and how far this defense has fallen since their SB run. Maybe the offense can cover, but it looks pretty iffy this year also.

  2. Nerd says:

    I do believe Datone Jones and Nick Perry will get it done. Johnny Jolly could make things interesting on the DL. Think Neal can stay healthy two years in a row?

    However, I also believe Jerron McMillian and Terrell Manning will step it up in year two. We’ve got some nice DBs at the back end, and some interesting competition on the front end.

    • Michael Rodney says:

      Nothing wrong with being optimistic in June.

      • BubbaOne says:

        …or pessimistic.

        If Nerd is looking at the glass half full, you’re looking at it as half empty. Since the biggest jump in performance is almost always between year one and two that bodes well for Hayward, McMillian, Moses, Perry, Daniels, Richardson, and Worthy (when he comes back). Jennings, House, and Brad Jones (had moved from OLB) in essence played their first year on the field. Maybe Lattimore, Francois, or Manning makes Hawk a 2 down LB.

        If a fan from another team told you that the current ILB for his team who had made the switch from MLB had avg’d 102 tackles, 2 sacks, was the defensive play caller during a season they won the SB and another where they were 15-1 while only missing two games in his 7 yr career, wouldn’t the player be a shoe in for his team’s HOF? Hawk may not be a playmaker but every team needs “steady Eddies” like him.

        Datone’s athleticism alone should provide help in pass rushing situations. Neal had the 2nd most sacks while missing the 1st four games. Raji, Pickett, and Burnett are in contract years which usually elevates their play. And et’s not forget a productive offense inherently makes the D better. MM committing to the run should improve time possession while also taking opposing D’s out of a two S shell. Call me a homer but I think we have a legitimate top 10 D. If true I like our chances in Jan…and Feb.

    • Nick Perry says:

      100 % right on that. They keys to this whole season on defense other than HEALTH are Perry, Jones, McMillan, and Manning. I feel good about Perry. I think as long as he stays healthy he’ll deliver 8-10 sacks for the Packers. What will be the huge difference is Matthews will hit 15-18 sacks with a healthy Perry. We saw flashes of what McMillan could do last year but he did struggle at times with assignments and being in the right place. A year of studying his playbook, of OTA’s and training camp should be a huge difference helping in that area. Ted T doesn’t give up his precious draft picks for just anyone. He gave up 3 for a chance to pick Manning. This kid plays with the speed other ILB on the Packers don’t have. I think we see Manning on the field at times in the beginning of the season, and with a little luck replacing Hawk by the end of year.

  3. [...] I feel good about Jones, not so much about Perry yet, Perry and Jones Must Deliver. [...]

  4. Nick Perry says:

    I love your articles Michael and I agree with pretty much everything you said. Watching teams like Seattle and Denver add a piece here and there, and the Packers standing pat again is a bit frustrating. I understand we’re a draft and develop team. I also believe Ted T is a master at managing the cap. No one better. BUT, to ignore the option, the possibility that a FA just may help this team over the hump will end up biting us in the you know where. The Packers gave up 51 sacks last season so what do they do? Move the same 5 players around. While I think it’s best to protect Rodgers blindside, lets hope the Brian Bulaga that played against Seattle doesn’t show up, not even once. Kerry Rhodes is still available, so is Eric Winston. Both would be huge upgrades over the players the Packers have on their roster. It also would allow Burnett to roam the field in the back end because Rhodes is beat in run support. Sometimes you just can’t wait around for these players to develop. I wish just once Ted would do what he did in 2006. Sign a decent FA. I mean Woodson and Pickett turned out pretty good for the Packers.

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