You might have heard that Green Bay Packers’ linebacker Nick Barnett quit Twitter this week, after what some might consider an online meltdown.
Barnett first stated his displeasure with the rotation at linebacker – one that on the inside includes himself, A.J. Hawk, Brandon Chillar and presumably, Desmond Bishop. This was the actual tweet, misspellings included – “Tough game!! Hard to get in The swing of things in a rotation.. Don’t know why we are even in a rottion t this point..”
Barnett went on to tell off fans who booed him for celebrating a tackle, saying “Oh yea for everyone that had something to say after I celebrated for making a takle for lost KISS MY ASS… I was trying to get the defense” … “I was trying to get defense fired up… And so what if I missed the takle before am I suppose to stay in a funk about it!?? Get a life”
Barnett would later apologize and say that his emotions got the best of him.
Understandable that Barnett was emotional and we think he did the right thing in apologizing and giving it a rest.
However, this meltdown put the spotlight back on something several of us have been thinking for some time – and that’s the fact Nick Barnett just isn’t playing that well. Before he was injured last season, Barnett was having the worst season of his career. So far this season, Barnett has been next to invisible.
Yes, I realize the Packers have played only two games this season, but we base our commentary on trends, and the current trend – one that goes back to the beginning of last season – is Nick Barnett hasn’t looked like an impact player in some time.
In two games this season, Barnett has totaled 6 tackles. The rest of his line is full of zeros.
In the nine games Barnett played in last year, he totaled 49 tackles. That’s a little bit more than 5 tackles per game.
These aren’t the numbers you want from your middle/inside linebacker, particularly one who is supposed to be the leader of your defense. Although it’s extremely doubtful, if Barnett doesn’t improve his current pace he’ll finish with 48 tackles this season.
Is it possible Barnett is playing tentatively because of the knee injury he suffered last season? Of course it is.
Rarely has a player come back from major reconstructive knee surgery and immediately returned to form. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady may prove to be the exception, but after having a great game in week one against the Buffalo Bills, Brady fell back to earth with a terrible performance in the Patriots loss at the New York Jets on Sunday.
Still, whether it’s because of injury or not, the fact of the matter remains Barnett just isn’t playing well. Maybe, it’s time for a change.
While Barnett was sitting out training camp, both Brandon Chillar and Desmond Bishop proved themselves to be playmakers. No, playing well in the preseason doesn’t an NFL starter make, but shouldn’t these guys at least get a chance?
Although, Chillar’s performance (similar to the defense’s as a whole) dropped off against Cincinnati, he was a monster in the week one win against the Bears. In that game, Chillar registered 8 tackles and a sack. Overall this season, Chillar has 10 tackles, and has proven time and again that he’s the Packers’ best linebacker in coverage.
Bishop, meanwhile, has been used sparingly by the Packers’ coaching staff, recording only 2 tackles in the first two games, but that only makes him slightly less visible than Barnett with a fraction of the playing time.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert mentioned that it’s in Barnett’s best interest to continue in the linebacker rotation he complained about the other day.
As for the linebacker rotation, Barnett should recognize that it’s in his best interest to keep the rotation going. While he was rehabilitating this summer, two other players — Brandon Chillar and Desmond Bishop – proved they were more than capable of playing his position.
It may be in the Packers best interest to put Barnett on the bench and get Chillar and Bishop on the field a little more often, maybe even in the starting lineup.