Green Bay Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy promised the Packers’ defense will be a better unit in 2014 than they have been the last three years when they have flirted with the bottom of the league.
The reason they are in this situation is because their first-round draft picks of the last two years have not panned out yet and injuries have struck other picks that did like Casey Hayward. The Packers have been winning with a less than stellar defense but bowing out early in the playoffs is largely the result of not having a playoff-caliber defensive unit.
Now McCarthy has basically taken control of the defense instead of firing his defensive coordinator – Dom Capers. McCarthy promises to dumb down the defense and use more personnel to get more players in position to make plays. Signing Julius Peppers and drafting a safety in the first round should help as well.
I have to admit though, I am skeptical. I just think the NFL has passed Dom Capers by and no kind of micromanaging is going to fix the problem. Signing Peppers to play outside linebacker is a stretch at his age, not saying he can’t have an impact, but its a stretch to think he’s a game changer.
The addition of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and the moving of Micah Hyde to safety means both of last year’s starters will likely be gone. I think Morgan Burnett is one of those guys that once he got the money he shut it down. He was never worth it anyway, the Packers got burned on that one and I don’t think he even makes the team.
The Packers probably overpaid for Sam Shields as well, but I think they had no alternative and I do think Shields will continue to play hard. He had to scratch and claw for everything until now so why stop just because you got paid? He could even end up being worth every penny.
The one area the Packers did not address was inside linebacker. I just wonder if these new personnel groups might mean some 4-3 defense at times. The Packers feel they are deep on the defensive line and might be looking to find ways to get them on the field. If not, confidence can’t be too high in A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones to man the job. Both of those guys would be hard pressed to start on another team, Jones would probably be hard pressed to make another team.
We’ll only get bits and pieces until September rolls around. In the meantime all we can do is hope nobody gets hurt. The Packers’ playoff and Super Bowl hopes rest on McCarthy’s promise.