First it was Brad Jones. Then it was Jamari Lattimore. Now, it’s Sam Barrington. Kind of.
Those are three guys the Green Bay Packers have started at inside linebacker next to A.J. Hawk this season. Barrington was a surprise starter in place of Lattimore the past two games. Lattimore, however, still played heavy snaps in both.
That would suggest the Packers don’t really like what either guy brings to the table.
On Thursday, coach Mike McCarthy was asked if he had settled on a full-timer at the position. No, he hasn’t.
“As far as the opportunities for the other guys, we’re still working those guys because I do want to stay the course of playing as many different combinations as we possibly can,” McCarthy said. “I just feel we’re a better defense when we play more players.”
This is where the argument about leaving a guy in so he can get in a groove comes in. We’re not talking about fat-ass defensive linemen here. These guys shouldn’t get tired after playing two snaps, so you want to get your inside backers in the flow of the game.
The only way they do that is if they’re in the game.
As you probably know by now, we prefer Lattimore. We’ll take his playmaking ability and live with the occasional lapse in judgment. Barrington is just a guy and the Packers already have one of those playing the position in Hawk.
On the season, Barrington has 13 tackles and an empty stat line after that. Lattimore has 36 tackles and an interception. He also has three more starts than Barrington.
For now, we’re just going to assume not to expect anything out of any of the Packers inside linebackers.
I definitely think that we need some new blood at ILB, and TT is going to take advantage of the draft this year to take care of this issue. At least two guys should be brought in, and both of them would ideally be within the first four rounds. This is the one big “hole” that we need to fill on the Run D.
Anyone who has been paying attention has known for 3 years that we have the weakest ILB tandem in the game. It is one of the greatest mysteries of all mankind as to why the Packers ignore improving this area. Someday (many years from now) there will be an ESPN 30 30 special that will delve into this unfathomable dilemma but until then we can only pull our hair out and wonder.
The only ILB group in the NFL as bad if not worse than the Pack is the bears and you can bet they will draft the best one available in the first round ahead of TT.
The Pack is married to the 3-4; however It sure would be nice to see a true 4-3 on run downs and get one of the weakest links (ILB) off the field. I would like to see Guion, Daniels, Pennel and Peppers as the front four in that order with Perry and Matthews as the OLB’s, with Perry on the same side as Peppers. Then you can rotate Hawk, Barrington and Lattimore in the middle.
It may help against the run and should protect Daniels from double teams allowing him to do what he does best penetrate into the backfield. Both Guion and Pennel can get a good push and hold up better against double teams freeing up Peppers and Matthews. It is only a dream. It is only a dream.
As stated previously, our defensive front 7 scares nobody and will inevitably result (again) in an early exit from the playoffs (assuming we get there).
There are very good LB prospects coming up in this year’s draft, however. We need to address it in the first two rounds.
We have one of the best pass-rushing front 7s in the NFL: Matthews, Peppers, Perry, Daniels, D. Jones improving, and Neal rotating in as well. Yeah, our run D sucks, but we have all of 4 D-linemen who are of decent size by NFL standards for the position; it’s not really surprising that they get pushed around, which in turn makes the LBs’ jobs much more difficult. Maybe they wouldn’t get pushed around so much in a 4-3, but then again maybe they still would, or maybe they’d lose some of that pass rushing ability in turn.
Check out Denzel Perryman (Miami U) and Eric Kendricks (UCLA), either man is an instant impact playmaker for us in the middle.
We miss Raji. It’s true. He trimmed down & was in a contract year.
We’re basically paying him 4 mill $ to stand around on the sidelines now…