Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Packers Biggest Question Mark Entering Training Camp

A few questions about the Green Bay Packers were pondered on by Tyler Dunne. I'm not worried about anything on the offensive side of the ball. My biggest question is: Did the Packers make the right decision on Nick Perry?

Based on the first team reps at OTA, it looks like Perry is locked in as the starter at outside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews. Both Frank Zombo and Erik Walden are back, but there's been no mention of either player in a significant role during the open OTAs. Perry might be sliding a little bit under the radar because he's just one of three early round defensive draft picks (Jerel Worthy and Casey Hayward being the others) and the out-of-nowhere performance by undrafted rookie Dezman Moses.

But Moses might still turn out to be nothing more than another Brad Jones. And Worthy was always going to get playing time as a rotational defensive tackle. Hayward might overtake Sam Shields on the depth chart in training camp, but the defense will only take a big step forward when Perry emerges.

Does Perry really want to play linebacker? While he didn't drop back into coverage much in college, all of the weaknesses mentioned by Dan Kadar sound like things that can be improved with coaching, but his speed off the snap cannot be taught.

Right now, I've got no answer to this question, and it won't be answered until he's playing in games next season. His ability to rush the passer, along with the additional depth on the defensive line and the return to health of CB Tramon Williams, could be the final piece needed to turn the defense back into a force. If he struggles, then they'd have to count on players like Williams, Charlie Peprah, and A.J. Hawk to bounce back from disappointing seasons, which might be too much wishful thinking.


NorthStarr said...

My thinking on this

"Does Perry really want to play linebacker?"

is that, in spite of anything he said prior to the draft, he seems to be more receptive to it than Aaron Kampman was.

Brandon said...

And Kampman was still a good pass rusher (prior to his first knee injury) while playing linebacker. But Kampman never seemed to be a fit for the other aspects like dropping back in coverage or playing in space. I don't think Perry's pass rush abilities will be hindered one way or another, but I do worry whether he'll be able to pick up those other aspects.