Here’s what we know about Damarious Randall.
He had become a locker room cancer in Green Bay. The Packers actually considered cutting him after an early-season meltdown last year. The Packers couldn’t afford to cut him because their secondary was that bad in 2017. Randall happened to be the best part of an awful unit, which is like saying that pig with the bow on it is the cutest pig. Randall quit on the Packers late in the season, sitting out the last two games with what was considered a minor knee injury. The Packers, specifically coach Mike McCarthy, handled Randall like a ham-fisted buffoon. There was exactly zero accountability. The Packers traded Randall to Cleveland after the season. After doing so, they admitted that they were playing Randall out of position at cornerback. That he was actually better suited to be a free safety, the position he played in college. The Browns almost immediately said Randall would be playing free safety.
He has played free safety and he is probably playing his best football, at least since his rookie year.
Randall has 34 tackles and two interceptions so far this season. The most picks he ever had with the Packers in a season was four. That happened last season. So, through six games, he’s well on his way to surpassing that mark. He’s also well on his way to surpassing his career high in tackles. That mark was 53 in 2015.
Meanwhile, the Packers are toiling away with Kentrell Brice and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at safety.
Brice has been particularly awful. He consistently gets beat deep. Brice is like a highlight reel waiting to happen… for the other team. PFF has him graded at 54.1 through six games, which makes him the 74th best safety in the league.
Meanwhile, PFF has Clinton-Dix graded at 87.7, despite his nagging inclination to consistently miss tackles.
Let’s remember this beauty.
Kenny Golladay about turned Ha Ha Clinton-Dix into Chris Conte. pic.twitter.com/4My9ejJ2y8
Jermaine Whitehead has played well enough as the Packers third safety, but all three of these guys are essentially the same player. None of them are a true free safety. A free safety should have some coverage skills.
Brice will never be confused with a cornerback. Neither will Clinton-Dix or Whitehead.
As the Browns have proven, Randall is a free safety and one that can cover.
Obviously, after what transpired last season, the Packers couldn’t keep Randall around. However, the situation never should have gotten to that point. Clinton-Dix talked about the lack of accountability on defense after the season. Well, who should be holding guys accountable? Here’s a list.
- Mike McCarthy
- Dom Capers
- Joe Whitt
Basically, we can surmise that none of the three were properly doing their job as it pertains to accountability.
The funny (not funny) thing is, the Packers completely boned it the previous year on another free safety. They did that when they let Micah Hyde sign with Buffalo. Like Randall, the Packers insisted on using Hyde at cornerback. Hyde played pretty well there, but everyone not the Packers always knew he would be better at safety.
The Bills made Hyde a free safety. In his first season there he put up 82 tackles, five interceptions and made the Pro Bowl.
Ironically, PFF has Randall and Hyde graded equally so far this season at 76.7. That puts them in a tie for the No. 16 safety in the league.
The question now for the Packers is do they have other options? Someone who might actually be able to serve as a free safety and not constantly get burned deep? The answer is yes, but it’s unclear if they have the foresight to utilize them.
The Packers should have their full complement of cornerbacks available after the bye. Their top three are Tramon Williams, Kevin King and Jaire Alexander. The next two guys are Josh Jackson and Bashaud Breeland. Both of those guys are legit NFL cover men, but you’re not going to play five cornerbacks at once.
Unless one of them plays free safety…
The move seems obvious. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has raved about Breeland, who was signed after the season began. Jackson has shown he deserves opportunities as well.
The thing is, the move is probably too obvious for Mike McCarthy.
McCarthy has consistently stuck with underperforming and mediocre starters throughout his tenure. Remember when he refused to put Desmond Bishop in the starting lineup even though the rest of the world knew he was the Packers best inside linebacker?
Guys just don’t get benched when they play for McCarthy. Unless you’re Randall, of course. But even then, only for one half of football. If you make McCarthy’s starting lineup at the beginning of the season, the only way you’re going anywhere is if you get injured.
But hey, maybe the Buffoon will surprise us yet.