2014 Packers Training Camp Battles: Safety
Hey everybody, training camp starts tomorrow. And of course we’ve saved the best for last in our Green Bay Packers positional battle previews. Or is it the worst for last?
Who cares! We’re wrapping it up with the safety position.
In 2013, the Green Bay Packers had the worst group of safeties in the entire NFL. We’re not just saying that. This stat proves it: they were the only safeties in the entire league not to have a single interception.
And hey, while we’re piling on, those assholes couldn’t cover anyone deep and they couldn’t tackle either. Basically, the Packers would have gotten the same production if they had replaced their safeties with two wooden posts. In fact, the two posts probably would have been better. Eventually, an opposing player would have run into one of them and knocked himself out.
Let’s not just blame the players though. Let’s also blame the jerkoff who completely misjudged the talent at this position. We’re looking at you Big Ted.
Mistake No. 1: drafting Jerron McMillian. This guy was so bad that he didn’t even make it through two full NFL seasons after being a fourth-round pick. The Packers cut him during the 2013 campaign and then no other team even bothered to pick him up until this offseason.
Mistake No. 2: thinking M.D. Jennings was an NFL-caliber starter. Jesus Christ, I wouldn’t even know where to begin on this one. This is a good summary — Jennings was set to be a restricted free agent this offseason. The Packers ended up renouncing his rights.
Mistake No. 3: handing Morgan Burnett a big-money contract extension prior to the 2013 season. Nothing like paying a guy a big chunk of money before he’s earned such a payday. After collecting his fat new contract, all Burnett did was turn in his worst season as a pro.
We’re going to stop rehashing that crap though. Frankly, it’s infuriating to think about and this is a new year.
So just what’s going on here? On the surface, it looks like a three-way battle for two starting spots and then some guys who will struggle to make the roster.
Of those three turds mentioned above, only Burnett remains. So here’s a look at who’s competing to fix the Packers’ situation at safety.
Burnett knows he had a crap season last year. He can’t help but know because everyone keeps asking him about it. He registered 96 tackles and a bunch of zeros. No picks, no forced fumbles, no sacks. Basically, he proved that an NFL starter can indeed go an entire season without making any sort of impact play at all. So good work on that, Morgan. The Packers expected Burnett to continue to improve on his play from 2012 when they signed him to that deal. That year, he had 123 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 picks and 2 forced fumbles. Had he improved on those numbers, he would have received Pro Bowl consideration.
What are we getting at here? While we’re making the assumption that the Packers erred in signing Burnett to a long-term deal, it is entirely possible that he’ll bounce back this year. Maybe he’ll return to his 2012 form, which is good enough. Hell, maybe he’ll even realize the potential the Packers supposedly saw in him.
Hidee hidee hidee hi. Don’t you think the Packers should play that part of Minnie the Moocher every time Hyde makes a play at Lambeau? The answer is yes. Yes they should. Hyde made plenty of plays as a rookie, when he was playing cornerback. And hell, he still may end up playing cornerback, but the Packers have been experimenting with Hyde at safety this offseason. In fact, it appears he’ll enter camp on top of the depth chart at safety with Burnett.
Here’s the thing about Hyde. Unless he has some sort of sophomore slump, you have to get him on the field. He makes plays and the Packers have a dearth of guys like that on defense. They’ve said as much throughout the offseason. Mike McCarthy says he wants Hyde to be a three-down player. Well, he’s not going to be that at cornerback, where the Packers top two guys are set.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
So the top safety in the draft falls into your lap at pick No. 21. You pick him and your biggest hole has just been filled. Except, not really. Unlike other teams, the Packers current regime doesn’t hand starting jobs to rookies. Not even ones picked in the first round. True to form, Clinton-Dix will enter training camp behind Burnett and Hyde. But come on! You don’t draft a guy in the first round and then sit him on the bench.
Well, if you’re the Packers, sometimes you do. Look no further than: Matthews, Clay. It wasn’t until the fourth game of his rookie season that the Packers inserted him into the starting lineup.
You probably think you’ve got this one figured out. We’re obviously going to go with Hyde and Clinton-Dix due to our perceived hatred of Burnett.
We’re going to go with Burnett and Hyde. Hyde is an easy choice. Right now, he’s the best player of the three.
Burnett isn’t so easy, but he’s getting the nod anyway for a couple reasons. First, McCarthy — in all instances that we can remember — will choose the veteran over the youngster unless the youngster outperforms the veteran by a mile. Second, they gave this guy a shitload of money. They’ve got to see if he can bounce back from last year’s debacle.
That’s not to suggest McCarthy is going to make the decision based on money, but they saw something in Burnett to give him that money. You almost have to see if that something is still there.
But here’s another bold prediction for you. Clinton-Dix will start taking snaps away from Burnett by week 4. At the end of the season, he’ll be starting alongside Hyde.
Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.