Packer Update

Cool to starting Chillar outside

Chillar could be starting at outside linebacker this season

Coach Mike McCarthy informed the media on Monday afternoon that Clay Matthews will miss “at least two weeks” with a hamstring injury, and while losing a Pro Bowl player for any length of time is never a good thing, there are a couple of silver linings. The big one is that the former USC star should return in time for the season opener against the Eagles. The other is that Brad Jones now has a better chance of retaining his starting job at left outside linebacker. Why’s that good news? Because, in our humble opinion, the defense would be stronger with Matthews and Jones than it would be with Matthews and Chillar. Here’s why:

By starting Chillar at right outside linebacker, the coaches would be forcing Matthews to learn a new position. And don’t think for a second that switching sides is an easy thing to do. It requires significant adjustments, from the placement of feet to the distribution of weight. And more. “Beyond all that, it’s kind of seeing how plays develop,” Matthews explained to Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “You’ve got to learn how to set the edge against a tackle or tight end. Gotta learn how to rush the passer, kind of tilt your hips (differently).” That’s a lot to master in a short period of time, and while he could probably do it, why risk it – especially for a player like Chillar? This brings us to our next point.

Chillar is a really nice guy to have on a football team, but he’s not a starting outside linebacker in a 3-4. Or at least he’s not going to be a very good one. At 237 pounds, he’s very small for the position (yes, Jones played last season at a similar weight, but he’s stronger, faster and had Johnny Jolly in front of him). And while the coaches love to talk about his athleticism, the truth is, his physical skills are hardly élite. DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys is an élite athlete. Matthews is close to being one. Chillar is not.

Because Chillar is undersized and not a great athlete, he’s going to have trouble playing outside on a full-time basis. In his first five seasons as a 4-3 outside linebacker in St. Louis and Green Bay, the former UCLA star was never particularly good against the run, and that was when he lined up at a position and in a scheme that played more to his strengths. Chillar can chase the ball, but he’s never done a consistently good job of using his hands to fend off blocks and protect his lower body. And he won’t get much help working behind right defensive end Cullen Jenkins, who was the line’s weakest link against the run last season.

As far as rushing the quarterback is concerned, well, let’s just say Chillar isn’t going to cause many sleepless nights for left tackles around the league. His most effective path to the quarterback is blitzing from the inside. That’s where he can use timing, quickness and guile to navigate his way through traffic and create pressure. Expecting him to beat 325-pound athletic left tackles one-on-one is asking too much. And don’t be fooled by what Chillar may do in August. Things are a lot different once September rolls around and veteran offensive linemen are actually motivated to play and well-prepared for what they’re going to see.

None of this is to suggest that Jones is the answer at left outside linebacker. The second-year player from Colorado still has a lot to prove, but he showed enough potential as a rookie to merit a longer look with the starters than just one day. And due to Matthews’ injury, he’ll get just that. If he doesn’t get the job done in the next few weeks, then starting Chillar might indeed be the best option. But as things stand now, maintaining the status would seem to make the most sense. Keep Matthews where he’s most comfortable, let Jones develop opposite him and continue to take advantage of Chillar’s greatest asset – his versatility – by lining him up all over the field.

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7 Comments to "Cool to starting Chillar outside"

  1. DaveK says:

    I think Jones and Matthews are the starting OLB’s and I think they are getting Chillar some work at OLB because they need better depth options at OLB. They have three other good options inside and Chillar can always go back inside if needed but you can’t have him help outside if he doesn’t get the work in this summer.

  2. stroh says:

    THe Packers made the move of Chillar before Matthews got hurt. That indicates to me that Jones wasn’t exactly living up to the expectations everyone, myself excluded, thought he would do. I understand that Jones had a little bruise but I hardly think that would be enough for the coaches to make such a radical adjustment in alingment. If Chillar provides more pass rush than Jones I am all for it! Jones would still be on the field on passing situations along w/ Chillar and Matthews. I wasn’t too impressed w/ Jones last year, so IMO, he has ALOT to prove, and this indicates to me that he wasn’t doing what the coaches wanted of him!!!

  3. Tangysizzl says:

    No the Chillar move was made because Jones missed time, performance had nothing to do with it. Capers says he hates wasting reps on guys that won’t be here, he knows Chillar will be and decided it was best to give him the opportunity to learn a position thats just not very deep. It now gives the Packers 3 good players at both ILB and OLB with Chillar able to play both positions.

    Brad Jones will earn the job, I have little doubt about that but the versatile Chillar is IMO a quality option there in case of injury or to spell either Clay or Brad from time to time.

    As for the Matthews switch to LOLB well I don’t love it but it does seem to be more than just an experiment. They want him on the strong side because hes bigger and stonger than the other guys.

    • stroh says:

      So you think they made a major positional move over a minor bruise?! Sorry but that doesn’t make much sense to me…

  4. curious says:

    What I’m curious about is how much did Bishop’s comments affect this? From the reports at practice, it seems that he’s getting more reps now, and most importantly, he knows he’s the top backup. Just something to consider.

    • Mike says:

      I believe the additional reps are a byproduct of more installs from Capers playbook, not Bishop opening his mouth and complaining. Neither McCarthy nor Capers have much of a history of responding to complaints to placate a player. Capers is adding substantial material (sub-packages) that this team wasn’t ready for last year in the transition.

  5. Michael Rodney says:

    Capers said he moved CM because he wanted more size on the left side. Makes sense, so why didn’t he make the move during the offseason? The timing of this is curious to say the least.

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