Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Packers New Starting Inside LB: Sam Barrington

The Packers surprisingly gave inside LB Sam Barrington his first NFL start last Sunday against the Panthers. I still think LB Jamari Lattimore is better in pass coverage, though that's not saying much. If LB Brad Jones could recover his 2012 form, he'd be their best coverage LB, but that season seems a long ways away. He's been given extensive playing time in two games (at Seattle, at Miami) and he was terrible in both because of penalties and missed tackles.

ILB Snaps Sack Pass Defense INT Tackles
Hawk 484 0.5 2 0 52
Lattimore 261 0 1 1 34
Jones 113 0 1 0 6
Barrington 50 0 0 0 6

LB A.J. Hawk is slightly behind Jones for the worst grade at inside linebacker, according to Pro Football Focus, this season, though Jones recorded a similarly awful grade in only one-quarter of the number of snaps. Their rankings for Lattimore and Barrington are about the same; both are average players. They aren't making big plays but they aren't getting burned either. I'm not sure how many missed tackles Jones has this season, as a team the Packers are about league average in allowing yards after the catch, but he does lead the team with four penalties this season.

The coaches basically split time for Lattimore and Barrington against Carolina, and that doesn't seem like a bad idea until one of them emerges (or one stumbles). The coaches have a love of A.J. Hawk that makes any reduction in his playing time seem impossible. Jones has clearly made the case that he doesn't belong in the discussion.

One side note; the Packers aren't blitzing any of the inside linebackers much. After recording five sacks last season, Hawk only has a half-sack through seven games. That isn't a problem; it means they're getting enough pressure from their front four that they can drop their inside backers into coverage. I don't have the exact stats on blitz percentages, but it seems like they're blitzing less this season.

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