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Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Why this Defense could be very good!
1) A new defensive coordinator: Bob Slowik is more aggressive in nature than Ed Donatell and his defense is predicated on being proactive whereas Donatell was mainly reactive. Instead of staying put and making a read and then reacting to it I believe we will see a Packer team where the athleticism of the players will be on display. Players making plays on the move and forcing the issue instead of allowing the offense to always dictate what was going to happen.
2) Speed: this defense will be quicker and faster than the 2003 version. Which also goes with the new coordinators new schemes of coming after the offense and making the offense reactive to what the Packers are doing on defense
3) Better players: first off Nick Barnett will be a year away from being a rookie – Nail Diggs will be a year away from moving over from the strong side and Hannibal Navies will finally be in the same position for the 2nd year in a row. I expect extremely better play from the LB’s this season. Our DB’s will be extremely faster and quicker than last year. Also Bhawoh Jue will move over to safety which will make a load of difference. Also Al Harris will have a full year under him as well. And then you add the very versatile and good cover skills of Mark Roman to our DB unit and I believe we have the making of a solid back 7.
4) Better continuity along our front 4 – I see Kenny Peterson as key for our DL – If he comes through this Dl will be tremendously better. Peterson brings solid athleticism and speed to go with his wonderful power. He can spell Hunt on some downs and play opposite of KGB on other downs. Aaron Kampman has gained confidence that he can play with the big boys and it will show this season. The addition of Grady Jackson certainly helped ease the loss of Gilbert Brown. Some believe James Lee will jump up and become a starter but I have very little faith in him. I think we will see Donnell Washington make an impact. I also believe Larry Smith and Corey Williams will make some plays as well.
I actually see this defense in better shape than it was at the start of last season in terms of speed, quickness, development and athleticism. Last year this team had some good rankings in some major categories but blew it with those long plays on busted assignments and whatever reasons of not being mentally ready for the play. I have already expressed my thinking on this defense in the rankings as I have shown where they were better in 3 and outs than most teams ranked ahead of them. I have also shown great disdain for that total yards allowed used for ranking defenses as being bunk and useless. Last year this defense would be rolling along making solid good plays but then give up a long play::: Packers ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in several key passing and running categories, but they allowed a whopping 48 passing plays of 20 or more yards (tied for 26th) and eight plays of 40 or more yards (tied for 20th). And I believe most of this was due to concentration and worry. Players looked very worried about making the correct read and correct assignment instead of just flat out playing football. I believe the defense they were working under required too much thinking and fewer instincts. There has to be a medium of being assignment sure and playing with your skills and instincts. I believe under Bob Slowik we will see this. A stat I saw from one of the sites I frequent showed that if Green Bay had just given up 14% fewer big plays they would have won 12 games and would have defeated the Eagles in Green Bay instead of playing them in Philadelphia. 14% (just 8 plays is all) I believe under Slowik’s defense we might actually see an increase of some moderately big plays as our guys will over run some plays and we will see some break downs in coverage. But the critical downs I believe we will see those decrease. Those downs where the game is on the line I believe we will see a tighter defense with more athleticism involved instead of critical thinking and read and react. (IN OTHER WORDS TAKING IT TO THE OFFENSE INSTEAD OF ALLOWING THE OFFENSE TO SET THE TONE AND DICTATE WHAT WE DO ON DEFENSE)
Overall I see this defense coming together much more quickly than last years. Players tend to do better initially playing more instinctual and using their athleticism. As the season wears on I believe we see Slowik incorporate more of Donatell’s schemes that he likes in his system and we might see some of the good things used. Not everything about Donatell’s defense was bad or wrong. Last year I felt the defense would struggle early on and it had nothing to do with the opponent they were facing but more so execution and dedication to the system. I believe Bob Slowik will introduce his defense in waves and initially we might see some early busted plays as the players get use to differing ways to go on defense from what they have been use to from under Donatell. But as we get into the end of September I see this defense becoming one of the better defenses in the NFL. Of course injuries could ruin everything but hopefully we have the depth to overcome a few injuries like we almost did with a disastrous amount of injuries in 2002 I like Barnett and I think Diggs is vastly under appreciated. I think Navies is a good player staying healthy - I like Grady Jackson and Aaron Kampman. I like to see KGB come after the QB - I think Mark Roman is a very good player. I even think Darren Sharper is better than most around these parts give him credit for. I think Kenny Peterson will make an impact this season and he is a very talented player. Al Harris is savvy and better than average. We could see surprises in Jue and Washington and who knows how quickly Batman and Joey Thomas can come on and play. Rookies are known to start good in the NFL - Heck even the Packers have had rookies do good immediately (Nick Barnett) I think we have a good mixture of players on this defense who are much better than the ranking they got at the end of the season. Total yards stuff is bunk and full of stupidity in my thinking.
I certainly saw glimpses of the defense becoming very good last season and if under Bob Slowik we curtail those huge big plays and tone them down to moderate big plays I believe this defense could be very good.