That, however, has been somewhat lost in the blather surrounding the terrible performance of the Packers offensive line.
It should be noted, though, both Cullen Jenkins and Johnny Jolly had monster games.
Jenkins, who was injured for most of the 2008 season, recorded six tackles – three for a loss – against the Bears on Sunday. Jolly, who has never been a starter for the Packers, recorded eight tackles and made an athletic play to intercept Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on a screen pass.
Meanwhile, nose tackle Ryan Pickett did exactly what he was supposed to do – clog up the middle and occupy blockers.
Packers’ defensive line coach Mike Trgovac noted Jenkins’ and Jolly’s performances can be partially attributed to the fact the team played the nickel for much of the game.
Trgovac estimated that it was close to a 50-50 split as far as how often Jenkins and Jolly were turned loose compared to how often they were asked to occupy blockers. Because defensive coordinator Dom Capers played more than half the snaps in the nickel defense, Jenkins and Jolly perhaps had more playmaking opportunities than usual.
“This was a big nickel game for us,” Trgovac said. “Those guys were in shade alignments a lot, so they’ll have a chance to make more plays when they’re in those offset shade alignments as opposed to when they’re head up on a guy.”
Don’t expect the Packers’ defensive ends to be as disruptive moving forward. When the team plays their base defense, Jenkins and Jolly will be asked occupy blockers more than they will be asked to make plays. However, if they do that job correctly, it will free the Packers’ linebackers to make plays.
Jenkins, Jolly and Pickett should be getting a little more help this week when the Bengals come to town, as well, with first-round pick B.J. Raji coming back from an injury.
In other defensive news, it looks like starting safety Atari Bigby will be on the shelf for at least a couple weeks with a sprained knee. The Packers will start Aaron Rouse in his place.
Rouse had a tough offseason. He looked like he was going to be cut at the end of training camp. Instead, the Packers let veteran Anthony Smith go, who seemed to be giving Bigby a run for a his starting position.
If Rouse is a liability, Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy are the only ones to blame.
Speaking of the cuts, one of the Packers’ other inexplicable roster cuts – wide receiver Ruvell Martin – signed with the St. Louis Rams on Tuesday.
The Rams brought in three receivers for tryouts in addition to Martin, including former New York Giants’ Super Bowl hero David Tyree. Martin obviously outperformed them all, which isn’t much of a surprise to us.
So, congrats to Ruvell. The guy deserves a job in the NFL.
In Chicago Bears news, some people are starting to question Jay Cutler’s leadership abilities. Big surprise!
Everyone fell in love with the Bears when they traded for Cutler, but no one seemed to recall that the guy has never made the playoffs, his Denver Broncos team fell apart in the second half of last season, and his constant sniping with San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was often a bigger story than the actual games. In short, Cutler has never displayed any sort of maturity or leadership ability.
Tony Dungy, who used to employ Bears coach Lovie Smith, Mike Martz, a friend of Smith’s, and Jim Mora have all criticized Cutler in recent weeks (the last two after Sunday’s game).
“[Cutler] just doesn’t get it,” Martz said. “He doesn’t understand that he represents a great head coach and the rest of those players on that team … somebody needs to talk to him.”
If Cutler doesn’t grow up soon and become Chicago’s savior, like everyone seemed to think before the season, the wheels could fall off soon.
Finally, when does Packers linebacker Nick Barnett watch game film? All the time, apparently.
I wish all that film study would translate into some big plays on the field.