One thing we know about Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy is that he rarely changes things up during the season. Maybe he’ll move Clay Matthews to inside linebacker out of necessity, but it usually takes an injury to get anyone else out of McCarthy’s starting lineup. It will likely take something of that nature to get safety Kentrell Brice out of it this year.
We’ve noted Brice’s underwhelming play. He was the culprit on the Vikings’ second-half 75-yard touchdown two weeks ago. On the play, corner Davon House got beat by Stefan Diggs. Brice was supposed to be providing help over the top. He didn’t.
It appeared to be the same thing against Washington. Paul Richardson Jr. beat Jaire Alexander. No help — 46-yard touchdown.
And then, the thing we love the most. Something Ha Ha Clinton-Dix talked about after last season. No accountability.
“We [were] in Cover 4. I was doing what was asked of me to do,” Brice said. “Anything else you can ask the coach.”
Passing the buck. Fantastic.
Well, someone did ask the coach. The coach stood by his guy.
“No, I’m all for Kentrell,” Green Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I think in the big picture of things you’ve got to look at his whole body of work. I really like the way he’s taken his opportunity and what he’s done with it throughout the spring and the summer. Had a fast start there.
“I mean, we had some tough moments in the game. If you look at the defense, it was a tale of two halves and some of the things, part of it is a little bit the new system and going through the tweaks of that. But nah, K.B. will bounce back and I think our defense as a whole, the performance in the second half is exactly what you’re looking for. They gave us a lot of opportunities and so we’ll grow from this experience.”
It’s great how Fat Mike mentions spring and summer there. It’s now football season where you actually have to play, uh… football. Kentrell Brice and Fat Mike might still be on summer vacation.
Let’s just throw some things out here. For what it’s worth, Brice has an overall 53.4 rating from PFF. That makes him the 68th best safety in the league based on their criteria.
What’s the problem? Coverage, of course.
Brice actually gets an above-average grade in pass rush (73.7) and a decent grade in run defense (63.7), but he’s horrible in coverage (53.4). Thing is, he’s been in coverage for 129 of his 204 total snaps. That’s one more than Clinton-Dix, who has an overall grade of 83.7, good for seventh overall. Clinton-Dix also already has two picks on the season.
Brice was good in week 1 against Chicago. Nine tackles and a sack. He’s been exposed against good quarterbacks the past two weeks. Alex Smith and Kirk Cousins are not Mitchell Trubisky. Not only has he gotten burned on big plays twice in the past two weeks, his tackles keep going down. Nine, six and four.
So tell me the value of Brice to this struggling defense right now.
It should also be noted that, despite supposedly being 100 percent healthy, the Packers made safety Josh Jones inactive for the game. They must not think much of that guy at all a year after taking him in the second round. Not only are the Packers starting Brice, they’re giving another undrafted free agent snaps in Jermaine Whitehead.
So we’ve got this situation. Is there a solution?
Yes, and let’s just say it. There are two potential solutions, neither of which we think the Packers would ever seriously consider.
In Seattle, Earl Thomas is actively skipping practice in an effort to force a trade. The problem with this is the Cowboys have already offered the Seahawks a second-round pick. The Packers would probably have to give up one of their 2019 first-round picks for Thomas. Then they’d have to pay the guy.
Thomas is at 93.0 with PFF, the highest-graded safety in the league. He’s 29, a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All Pro. Dude already has three picks this year.
Might be worth a mid-or-late first-round pick?
But look, it didn’t happen with Khalil Mack, so I doubt it’s going to happen here. Thomas won’t be as expensive as Mack, but there will be a substantial cost.
The second, obvious and cheaper option is just sign Eric Reid already. Reid has, like former teammate Colin Kaepernick, been blackballed by the league.
This guy is 26. He’s a former first-round pick. He was a Pro Bowler in 2013. And yes, I know he may not be a popular guy with some of the yokels in Green Bay, but I’d like to win a Super Bowl this year.
If you would, then Kentrell Brice isn’t your guy.