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Saturday, November 27, 2004
Packer 'D'...a lot closer?
I think the Packers are a lot closer to having the type of defense that many people think they should have.
Since the return of Jackson, we've done a pretty good job of defending the run. Hopefully, next year the Generals, Washington and Lee, can contribute and strengthen the middle of the line even more.
We need a replacement for Cletidus Hunt and I believe we'll get one in the draft.
As far as the DE position, Kampman will be resigned. Corey Williams has played well as a rookie and should only be better next year. The Committee of Petersen--Truluck--Jenkins (yes, I know Jenkins has played a lot of DT this year but at 277 he's more of a DE) probably needs a better player in that group---perhaps a free agent, or perhaps somebody like Erasmus James.
Sherman views the linebackers as the strength of the unit, so I'd be expecting an effort to resign Navies. Although many Packer fan boards would like to see Barnett moved to the weakside, I have yet to hear that the Packers coaching staff is considering that. I wouldn't expect big changes at LB for next year, but it could happen.
Our secondary features four people who are under contract for next year and who will almost certainly return: Roman, Carroll, Thomas, and Harris---three starters and the nickel back. Hawthorne will almost certianly be gone.
If Jue continues to play as well as he has shown so far this year, he'll be offered a contract. Chris Johnson continues to rehab----I'm not really counting on him for anything, ever. If he ever contributes, great, but I just don't see how you can pencil him in as a backup corner.
Sharper, scheduled to make 8.5 million next year and clearly on the decline (as well as being a not real popular locker room guy) should be cut and the Packers could take the 3.5 million they'd save this year and attract a quality FA safety. They could also use the 2nd round pick they got for MM and acquire one of the better safeties in the draft.
So I'm looking at a defense next year that is minus Hunt and Sharper, but with bigger contributions on the line by Williams, Washington, and Lee. I'm looking at a substantially unchanged linebacking corps, especially the starters. I'm looking at a secondary that has three of the same starters as this year with some additions in the form of quality free agents and a high draft pick.
I would also point out that the Packers have held seven of ten opponents to 14 points or less this year, excepting a garbage time TD by Dallas. The three opponents who went over 14 this year were Indy (which is going lights out on offense this year and has racked up 40+ on numerous teams), perennial offensive power Minnesota and a Tennessee team which was the beneficiary of 6 turnovers.
So.....I see a young defense that will return largely intact next year with a few additions and more contributions from some of the youngsters. I wouldn't expect a dramatic overhaul. A new safety, a new DT, and some depth........I think that's what next year's defense is going to look like.