Showing posts with label Dezman Moses. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dezman Moses. Show all posts

Friday, July 26, 2013

Position Review: Outside Linebacker

I was hoping to get through my review of every position before training camp practices began (Today! July 26th!) but it was not meant to be. It looks like training camp is starting out muggy and with a chance of thunderstorms, but not blazingly hot.

Position Reviews (Defense): Inside Linebacker, Defensive Line
Position Reviews: Offense

Clay Matthews. The Claymaker is arguably the best defensive player in the NFL, but even a die-hard Packer fan like myself has to admit he's probably a step behind J.J. Watt's unbelievable 2012 season.

Nick Perry. Though he played last preseason and six regular season games, it felt like a lost season. The transition from college defensive end to NFL linebacker was going to have some rough patches, but coach Kevin Greene likes what he sees in Perry and thought he had figured out pass coverage by Week 5 (right before he was out for the year after wrist surgery). His pass rush ability has been always been there, he opened the 2012 preseason with a sack against the Chargers, and he could become a major factor because he won't command many double-teams. The return of Perry (replacing the little that Erik Walden did), plus the addition of first round pick DE Datone Jones, could transform their pass rush next season.

Dezman Moses. An outstanding training camp brought him to the forefront last preseason, but by the end of the regular season, he wasn't offering much more than Walden. Still, he recorded four sacks as a part-time player. He's got the potential, but he's got to show improvement.

6th round pick Nate Palmer. He's the highest profile college DE converting to NFL OLB in camp. He seems like a bit of a project, drafted more based on his pro day results than his play at Illinois State, but I expect he'll make the roster because they need someone to replace Walden and Frank Zombo.

7th round pick Sam Barrington. Back in April, I wrote that he looked like an inside linebacker prospect. But there are at least five inside backers ahead of him on the depth chart. So while I expect him to make the roster, his short-term future might be outside. We'll have to wait for the preseason to begin and see where he lines up.

If the Packers keep all the guys who were on the team last year, plus their two new draft picks, that's ten linebackers for the 53-man roster. They won't keep more linebackers than ten. The last three guys are either in case of injury or fighting for the practice squad spot.

Andy Mulumba, Donte Savage, Jarvis Reed. This year's group of undrafted college DEs who will get a chance at OLB. It looks like Reed, the player formerly known as Jarvis Wilson, did play some linebacker in college too. Not much separates them at this point and they'll have to prove themselves on the field starting August 9th against the Cardinals.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Some Strange Snap Counts Against The Giants

Luckily for everyone involved, I'm not going to say much about DJ World Peace other than to point out that players often rehab away from their team's facility. LB Ray Lewis is another example of a player who isn't rehabbing at his team's facility, though I've seen him on the sidelines during Ravens' games. While it's a P.R. headache to see the team's second leading rusher booking shows at gentlemen's clubs, it probably has no impact on his recovery.

As for some actual Packer news, Wes Hodkiewicz has some interesting snap counts from their game against the Giants:
It's no surprise to see that Moses played every snap since he was about the only defensive player who stood out in a positive way. But Walden had a good game against the Lions so I'm surprised that Zombo's snaps came entirely at Walden's expense. However, both Walden and Zombo were unable to get to the quarterback or shed blocks against the run, so it didn't matter which one of them was on the field against the Giants.
Unless the coaches are concerned that Hayward is hitting the rookie wall, I don't see why they limited his snaps. Having an extra safety at Hayward's expense wasn't any help. It's even worse than that for Jones: he wasn't targeted on a single pass attempt. I'm surprised they didn't make any effort to get him involved in the offense.

Having said all that, none of these trends may continue into their next game. The Packers seem to change their player rotations every week. It wouldn't have made a difference in the results, but limiting the impact Hayward and Jones couldn't have helped.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Recap: Packers Win In Detroit, 24-20

With the absence of LB Clay Matthews (and the ongoing absence of CB Charles Woodson) I was pessimistic about the Green Bay Packers' chances of defeating the Lions. Sure, the Lions have a lot of injury problems of their own, but the Packers usually lose games when Matthews is hurt. I expected an offensive shootout, but instead the defense led the way for both teams. It might have been an ugly win, but I'll take a win on the road any week, anyway they can get it.

So the answer to the question of where the Packers would find a pass rush without Matthews: they'd find it everywhere. A lot more blitzing by defensive backs (CB Davon House and S Morgan Burnett each recorded a sack) but also pursuit from LB Erik Walden and LB Dezman Moses. While they recorded the sacks (and Moses forced a fumble), it was the interior push by the tackles that usually forced the action. Rookie DT Mike Daniels was a factor, but all the big guys deserve credit: QB Matthew Stafford rarely had a pocket to step up into. And when they did get a pass off, the young defensive backs made plays, led by a huge game from CB Casey Hayward (5 pass defenses, 1 INT) and the INT returned for a touchdown by S M.D. Jennings. RB Mikel Leshoure had some success on the ground, but the Packers were letting the chance by rarely playing with more than two defensive linemen. Even with some running room available, the Lions preferred to throw the ball, calling 46 pass plays to only 22 carries.

My biggest complaint with the offense was the featured role for RB James Starks. With a make-shift offensive line, I'm sure Mike McCarthy wanted to keep the pressure down on QB Aaron Rodgers with a conservative game plan, but the result was a stalled offense. Starks had 26 touches while WR Jordy Nelson, WR James Jones, and WR Randall Cobb combined for only 23 carries and targets. While the Lions defense didn't have a huge statistical day, DT Nick Fairley was huge with 2 sacks and 2 tackles for a loss, and he probably disrupted at least a couple other plays. The overall conservative strategy was sound and they might not have had anymore success with a pass heavy attack, but a few more pass plays might have gotten the offense going, and Nelson, Jones and Cobb should combine for more plays than Starks.

Poor K Mason Crosby. I've been on his case all season, and he came close to hitting bottom in this game with two recorded misses (plus the other one he missed while he was being iced by the Lions). The coaches probably have more confidence in Crosby than any street free agent they could bring in at this point, so releasing him seems like an extreme reaction. His job security might be better addressed in the offseason. Instead, they should focus on restoring his confidence in the interim. Kicking is a pretty inconsistent business, and Crosby's gone through more good streaks than bad. The odds are more likely that he'll kick himself out of his slump instead of falling down further.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dezman Moses and Frank Zombo Will Replace Clay Matthews Against The Lions

The absence of LB Clay Matthews has been my biggest concern for the Green Bay Packers' defense over the past three seasons, and hopefully the game against the Lions on Sunday will be the only time we see it this season. There's no replacing him and the defense will take some lumps without him.

I'm not surprised to see LB Dezman Moses will start in Matthews' place, but I wasn't expecting LB Frank Zombo to return because he hasn't played at all this season. I don't expect Zombo to make a big impact, but Moses and LB Erik Walden seem to play better when they have to play fewer snaps. At least he can help them stay fresh.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Nick Perry Is Probably Lost For The Season

The Green Bay Packers have been getting a lot of bad injury news lately, and some more was dropped on election night.
On one hand this isn't such a big deal since Perry has only recorded two sacks and two QB hits. On the other hand, it'll turn 2012 into a lost season for their 1st round pick who might have given the team it's best chance of weathering the storm while LB Clay Matthews is out with a hamstring injury.

Supposedly Matthews's hamstring injury isn't as bad as it was in 2010 and the Packers probably have a good idea on how to manage the injury since it's been a problem in the past. But when he does return to the field, he might not be the same player. Back in 2010, he played through the month of November with an injured hamstring and, unsurprisingly, he wasn't himself. One game that comes to mind was the win over the 49ers, when he lined up against then struggling rookie RT Anthony Davis and only recorded one QB hit (no sacks). Before his 2010 hamstring injury, Matthews was dismantling poor offensive tackles like Davis. Once he returns this season, he might not be much of a factor if he's not completely healthy.

No defensive lineman has made much of an impact this season, though DE Mike Neal did beat LG Daryn Colledge last week for a sack, so it'll fall on the linebackers to make a difference in the pass rush. That might come from inside if defensive coordinator Dom Capers dials up more inside blitzes from LB A.J. Hawk and LB Brad Jones, but primarily it's got to come from the outside.

They only offered him a minimal one year deal in free agency, and drafted Perry to replace him, but LB Erik Walden has remained and their No. 2 pass rusher with 11 QB hits on the season. Walden is as inconsistent as ever, he had a great game against the Cardinals but did nothing against the Jaguars the week before, and he'll certainly struggle if Matthews isn't around to occupy additional blockers. He'll be asked to do more, and I'm not sure he's up to the challenge, if Matthews is out.

LB Dezman Moses has gotten rave reviews all year, but he hasn't made a big impact on defense this season. In 115 defensive snaps so far this season, he's recorded 1 sack and 2 QB hits. There's an argument to be made that he just needs more of an opportunity, and it looks like he'll be getting a chance to prove it.

LB Frank Zombo has just returned from the PUP list and he was inactive last week against the Cardinals, so I'm not expecting anything from him until he proves he can step back onto the field. Even then, since he's played so little over the last two seasons, it's hard to believe he'll be an effective player immediately.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Emergence Of Dezman Moses

The Green Bay Packers find promising undrafted talent every year, and they've done a good job of finding free talent at outside linebacker (Erik Walden, Frank Zombo, Vic So'oto). Unfortunately, after promising starts from them, they've each fallen back on the depth chart.

This year's surprising undrafted talent is former Tulane DE Dezman Moses. Just like the previous three players, Moses is a former college DE making the switch to outside linebacker. But plays like the one below hint that he may have more athleticism than any of them.
He had 9.5 sacks in 2011, and 15.5 over the last two seasons at Tulane. That school was a mess last season as they fired their head coach in October. As an undersized (for the NFL) defensive end who played for a bad team, I'm not surprised he went undrafted. He probably drew little attention from scouts.

With the Packers, he's been noticed since the summer OTA practices began. While he's not been a real threat to challenge LB Nick Perry for the starting job, he has played a lot with the first team defense. But I hadn't really seen anything exceptional from him during the preseason; until the game against the Bengals.

His stats during don't jump out (4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 pass defense, and 1 QB hit), but each of those single stats were an exceptional play on it's own, and he looked like the second team defender that the Bengals had to pay attention to. His pass defense was almost a gem, when he ran at the quarterback on a naked bootleg, tipped the pass up in the air, and almost had an interception off the jump ball. He really stood out and looked like the player I had been reading about all summer.

But can he keep it up? That is the question, and I don't have an answer to it either. It depends on his health, his opportunities, and his continued development.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Packers 90-man Roster: Linebackers

The Green Bay Packers are bringing thirteen linebackers into training camp next month, so this has to be one of the biggest areas of competition on the roster based on size alone. Though they could keep as many as ten on the 53-man roster. Overall, this may be the best group of linebackers to play for the Packers since the early 1980s.
Player Height Weight Age Experience
Bishop, Desmond 6-2 238 27 6
Francois, Robert 6-2 255 27 3
Hawk, A.J. 6-1 247 28 7
Jones, Brad 6-3 242 26 4
Lattimore, Jamari 6-2 230 23 2
Manning, Terrell 6-2 237 22 Rookie
Matthews, Clay 6-3 255 26 4
Moses, Dezman 6-2 249 23 Rookie
Perry, Nick 6-3 265 22 Rookie
Smith, D.J. 5-11 239 23 2
So'oto, Vic 6-3 263 24 2
Walden, Erik 6-2 250 26 5
Zombo, Frank 6-3 254 25 3
Unless there's a big shake-up in training camp, it will be Bishop, Hawk, Matthews and Perry starting at linebacker. There should be no doubt about Bishop and Matthews, and while Hawk had a poor 2011 season, the coaches are publicly supporting him and I can't imagine they'd take away his starting job in training camp.

I don't believe the Packers would have drafted Perry in the 1st round if they didn't expect him to be good enough to start immediately. They might limit his snaps if he struggles in some situations, such as obvious rushing downs or on defensive calls when they need a linebacker to drop into pass coverage, but I expect he'll start one way or another.

While the Packers should keep six (or seven, if a linebacker is kept on the practice squad) of the remaining nine players listed, I have no idea who they might be. It all depends on whether they can stay healthy, and how they play this preseason.

Francois has been cut before, so he's not a lock. Jones has been in-and-out of favor for the past three seasons, he's been lining up inside this summer, and he'll need a strong camp to stay. Lattimore looked good last preseason, but he did little when he had a chance to play during the regular season. Smith might be the one sure thing among the backups, but a poor preseason could doom his chances too. So'oto followed an outstanding 2011 preseason with a MIA regular season due to injuries, and he did little when he was able to play. Walden received little interest in free agency, and despite his limitations as a pass rusher and in coverage, he's probably the best outside LB after Matthews and Perry. Zombo had a lost 2011 season due to multiple injuries, and he'll have to prove that he's healthy and productive. Overall, there's a lot of potential with the returning backups, but an awful lot of question marks too.

Finally, Manning and Moses are the other promising new additions. Manning looks like he could be a solid middle linebacker in coverage, and he could be a Brandon Chillar type of player. Moses has been the star of the OTAs, the undrafted player who's already earned some reps with the first team defense. It's very early in their careers, but so far so good.

Overall competition level: high. There are a lot of good players here, and at least one promising player or former starter is going to find himself released before the start of the regular season. The Packers needed to upgrade the position, and they've certainly done it.

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.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Looking Back At The Second Week of OTAs

WR Randall Cobb is already looking fast and catching everything thrown to him, according to JS His 2011 season was really impressive considering he had a short offseason to learn the offense, but he's a great talent and the coaches limited his opportunities, which I'm sure helped the learning curve. A receiver's second season, after he's had a year to learn the offense and build a relationship with the quarterback, should be a big one. The coaches, and Aaron Rodgers, all like James Jones, so I don't think Cobb should be expected to move ahead of him. But Jones, Cobb, and Donald Driver could each play about the same number of snaps in 2012. More of this next season!

The Press-Gazette had a lot of comments after Tuesday's open practice:

I wasn't sure if the Packers had gotten anything except an injured player when they drafted T Andrew Datko  in the 7th round, but he's been playing at left and right tackle. I doubt he's in the mix to start, yet, at either position, but the Packers have some other free agent options in camp besides Datko, so he's moved ahead of a few other players already.

LT Marshall Newhouse is starting, but Derek Sherrod is being held out as he continues to rehab his injured leg. Sherrod might have a chance to move ahead and win the starting job, but he won't get his chance until training camp, at the earliest.

The emergence of undrafted OLB Dezman Moses continues, as he battles Erik Walden for the backup role behind Clay Matthews. Maybe he'll be no better than Walden, but it sounds like the Packers found another undrafted free agent keeper. Apparently Walden wants to start, but he'll have no chance if he's stuck behind Matthews. They are leaving the door wide open, unsurprisingly, for Nick Perry to start at the other outside linebacker position, with only Vic So'oto backing him up.

CB Sam Shields is holding off Casey Hayward and Davon House. I don't expect this position to be resolved until we see them all play this preseason.

I'm really glad to read that QB Graham Harrell is showing improved arm strength. The only reason the Packers survived with Matt Flynn as the backup in 2008 was because he wasn't needed. If Rodgers were to miss a game or two next season, I was afraid Harrell wouldn't be up to the task. But he seems to be improving, and I'm looking forward to watching him this preseason.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Packers 2012 Undrafted Free Agent Class

The Green Bay Packers signed 15 undrafted free agents after the 2012 NFL draft, and I came away pretty underwhelmed. Even the big name player, USC RB Marc Tyler, isn't someone who should be considered a find. He deserved to be undrafted.

He ran a lousy 4.76 in the 40 at the NFL combine, and it gave him a poor 85 Speed Score. I would put him way behind Brandon Saine, who ran a 4.43 in the 40, and has a very good 114 Speed Score. But Tyler does a good job of avoiding defenders (field vision), following his blockers, and catching the football as a receiver.

However, these undrafted free agents may make up a big part of the roster. Looking back at the list of 15 undrafted free agents signed before the start of the 2011 season, I see that 11 of those players are currently on the roster. Some of them were released and re-signed, while Shaky Smithson spent all season on I.R., but there's no denying that they provided depth.

Though the 2011 undrafted free agent class might be a high water mark. The Packers didn't lose as many free agents as they had the previous year, and many of those 2011 undrafted free agents will still be eligible for the practice squad next season. The 2012 undrafted free agent class is going to have to outplay the returning players. Maybe they can do it, but right now it's just speculation whether any of them can. Here's the rest of the players signed:

South Dakota State WR Dale Moss.
Iowa State WR Darius Reynolds.
Vanderbilt DB Sean Richardson.
Buffalo WR Marcus Rivers.
Winston-Salem FB Nic Cooper.
Minnesota TE Eric Lair.
Gannon NT Randy Colling.
Tulane DE/LB Dezman Moses.
Southern Utah DB Dion Turner.
SD State OL Tommie Draheim.
Minnesota RB Duane Bennett.
Wake Forest TE Cameron Ford.
West Virginia OL Don Barclay.
Michigan Tech DE Drew Vanderlin.