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decision to part ways with popular veteran wide
mars 26, 2018 @ 8:00 - 5:00
If you don’t think your defense is good enough to win a Super Bowl – and the Green Bay Packers obviously knew that theirs hasn’t been over the past few years – then you have to make changes. And those changes have to go deeper than simply replacing the defensive coordinator.
Simple, right? And yet, if there were those who thought merely firing defensive coordinator Dom Capers after nine seasons and replacing him with ex Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine would be sufficient, new general manager Brian Gutekunst wasn’t part of that crowd.
That’s why the Packers traded 2015 first round pick Damarious Randall to the Cleveland Browns earlier this month – even though their depth chart at cornerback was already quite thin.
That’s why they made little effort to re sign veteran safety Morgan Burnett – even though he’s taking 102 games of experience with him to Pittsburgh, where he figures to be a lead by example locker room glue guy for the Steelers, just as he was in Green Bay.
That’s why they didn’t make a qualifying offer to inside linebacker Joe Thomas – even though he played 924 defensive snaps over the past two seasons and had been their primary dime linebacker in 2016 before signing with the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday.
That’s why Gutekunst has added a pair of savvy veteran players – ex New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and once and again Packers cornerback Tramon Williams – to the defensive mix, with the added bonus that both players spent time in Pettine’s system and can assist with the transition.
And that’s why more personnel changes are in the offing, including presumably more veteran pick ups in advance of next month’s NFL Draft.
“You try to stay as disciplined as you can https://www.packersgbstore.com/demetri-goodson-jersey-c-30.html, looking for the opportunity to improve your football team and being prepared to act if those opportunities present themselves,” Gutekunst said earlier this month when asked about his free agent approach.
While Gutekunst’s decision to part ways with popular veteran wide receiver Jordy Nelson drew far more attention – and for some fans, angst – none of the villagers have been at the Lambeau Field gates with pitchforks over the departures of Burnett, Randall and Thomas. With head coach Mike McCarthy already having set the lofty goal of his defense being better than the Aaron Rodgers led offense, the need for change was obvious.
The Packers defense finished last season 26th in scoring defense 24.0 per game , 22nd in yards allowed 348.9 , 17th against the run 112.1 , 23rd against the pass 236.8 , 28th in third down defense allowing a 42.8 percent conversion rate and 31st in red zone defense allowing a 65.2 percent touchdown rate .
“We need to increase all levels of our defense. We have to get better,” Gutekunst said at the annual NFL scouting combine last month in Indianapolis. “There’s no doubt about it.”
To that end, Gutekunst traveled to pro days at Florida State Tuesday , Georgia Wednesday and Ohio State Thursday as he mulls what to do with the No. 14 overall pick and the Packers’ 11 other selections in the April 26 28 draft. He’ll take a break from his scouting odyssey to attend the annual NFL Meetings at the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes along with McCarthy and team president/CEO Mark Murphy before returning to draft preparations.
The last time the Packers changed coordinators on defense, firing Bob Sanders and hiring Capers following the 2008 season, then general manager Ted Thompson added two crucial components for Capers’ scheme with a pair of first round picks Nose tackle B.J. Raji No. 9 overall and pass rushing outside linebacker Clay Matthews No. 26 overall .
While Gutekunst will likely build upon Thompson’s defensive draft emphasis – Thompson’s last six top draft picks Brett Hundley Jersey, including cornerback Kevin King at the top of the second round last year, were dedicated to defensive players – he said he won’t have to be as specific in his search as Thompson was in the 2009 draft. While there are clear needs – outside linebacker and cornerback – he doesn’t have to commit to a certain type of player because of a scheme change.
“Back then, we were going from a 4 3 to a 3 4 https://www.packersgbstore.com/kyler-fackrell-jersey-c-28.html, and quite frankly https://www.packersgbstore.com/reggie-gilbert-jersey-c-29.html, at that time, there wasn’t as much sub packaging back then as there is now ,” said Gutekunst. “Now, the way Pettine may use percentages and different packages on the field, that may change a little bit. But the pieces, I don’t know if they’re changing as significantly as they did back in 2009.”