Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Looking At The Packers Dime Defense

Jason Wilde tweeted from practice on Monday about the No. 1 dime defense:
Unless something surprising happens in the final preseason game, I would expect this is the defensive rotation for the start of the season. They don't usually line up in the dime package, it was only used 7% of the time in 2011 (they were in the nickel on 63% of their snaps) according to the Football Outsiders 2012 Almanac. If this were the nickel, I'd expect Bush or Shields would be pulled for A.J. Hawk. Otherwise, this is the defense that should be on the field about 70% of the time.

Defensive line. Rookie Mike Daniels was one player I wasn't sure about coming into the season. He was great as a senior, but he's a little short (6-0) and was coming off a shoulder injury. After a strong camp and preseason, he's emerged as their No. 3 defensive line pass rusher (apparently B.J. Raji was being given a break during practice). Worthy hasn't been outstanding this preseason, but it's clear he'll be playing a lot. Ryan Pickett and C.J. Wilson will be starters in the base 3-4 defense. That leaves Daniel Muir as the backup NT, and probably room for another defensive lineman. Maybe Lawrence Guy can make the practice squad.

Linebackers. Smith has taken over for the injured Desmond Bishop, though I'm surprised that he's playing ahead of Hawk in the dime package. Maybe that won't be the case in the regular season. As for the backups, I wouldn't really be surprised by any combination to make the squad, except Dezman Moses should be a lock.

Defensive backs. I didn't think Jerron McMillian would make the jump from Maine to nickel safety as a rookie, but it looks like he's in line for some significant playing time to start the season. If Davon House were healthy, he'd probably be on the field during this drill. Shields is probably the fifth CB, but after a shaky start to the preseason, he's moved back ahead of the even more shaky trio of Hayward, Merrill, and Ross. Shields made a great jump on an INT against the Bengals' No. 3 QB, but was beaten on a couple other occasions. It looks like Hayward will be in a reserve role to start the season and I hope Ross winds up back on the practice squad. I've thought Merrill has been awful on defense and special teams, though he's received praise for being so fast. I'm not sure what combination of backup safeties (Levine, Jennings, and Richardson) will make the team; they've all had a lot of playing time without any one of them standing out.


PackFaninFl said...

Brandon, I am so stoked about Jarrett Bush starting! I really think he's going to be among the league leaders in INTs and tackles from the corner position. The kid is a ball hawk and loves to tackle. I really hope you change your mind on Bush. He's one of the most incredible Packer stories on a team full of great stories!

And I am kind of scared having McMillan as our dime guy, playing centerfield. That safety position takes some veteran saviness and don't know if a rook can handle it. Even a monster talent like Nick Collins took a while before he had that position nailed. Would feel MUCH better with a Woodson and Burnett safety combo on dime, with Shields, Bush and House filling out the rest.

Brandon said...

That's true about Collins. His first three seasons weren't outstanding, though he was a solid starter.

Mike McCarthy said during the offseason that he regretted not giving Bush a chance sooner in 2011, so he might be a little more comfortable about making changes mid-season, and benching McMillan if it doesn't work out.