Packers XLV

Signings Provide Strong Glimpse at Pack's 2011 Defensive Corps

Posted March 4th, 2011 @ 09:03pm

The Packers' deadline-beating signings of A.J. Hawk and Charlie Peprah shows they are committed to rewarding their players who perform well and that they have a strong, young nucleus on defense, with key pieces signed long-term.

It also means the end of the green and gold line for veterans like Cullen Jenkins, Nick Barnett and Atari Bigby. Brady Poppinga might be next.

Let's start with the defensive line. It begins with B.J. Raji who took a major step forward in his second season and, health permitting, will be a fixture on the line for years to come. Ryan Pickett is signed through 2013 and played well enough to ensure he will return.

Jenkins is an unrestricted free agent--beyond frustrated that the Packers let him twist in the wind while they did new deals with youngsters like Tramon Williams and Desmond Bishop. He was the Pack's second best pass rusher but has had a hard time staying healthy over the past few years and Thompson will let another team pay him big bucks, probably a 4-3 defense.

Thompson believes that between Mike Neal, C.J. Wilson, Howard Green and Jarius Wynn, along with the possible return of Johnny Jolly, that he can get by without Jenkins. He might even grab a d-lineman in the draft.

At linebacker, the Pack was decimated by injuries, losing inside guys Barnett and Chillar and outside guys Brad Jones and Poppinga to season-ending injuries. We all know that Bishop stepped in and was an instant upgrade over Barnett and won the job. Barnett's Super Bowl-week tweeting will help earn him his one way ticket out of town. In Hawk, Bishop and Chillar the Pack has plenty of money invested in inside linebackers.

Outside linebacker is not quite as settled. There are a lot of bodies returning: Jones, Poppinga, Walden and Zombo. But not an impact pass rusher opposite the Pack's rising star, Clay Matthews. With Jenkins' expected departure, the Pack is sure to consider an outside linebacker early in the draft, if a blue chip one is available.

At corner, the Pack is very solid three deep with Woodson, Williams and Shields. Expect them to add another in the draft, since Woodson could see a move to safety in the next year or two. They're set at safety, with Collins, Burnett, Peprah, Smith and Levine. That's a position I expect them to ignore in April.

One of the league's top defenses has its nucleus signed for the long-term. That's just one item on Thompson's to do list this offseason. Tweaking the offense and special teams are also priorities--ones we'll explore next week.

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Comments (24):

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on January 19th, 2012 at 11:57am

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on January 21st, 2012 at 09:07am

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on January 21st, 2012 at 12:02pm

THose were some Good Games. I liked that Cam Newton came out of the gates to be on fire with his 422 yards. Tom Brady is Terrific with 517 yards and the Colts NEED Peyton Manning. This is where you diginify and vatidale paying a Man 20's of millions of dollars. Some of my division winners I predict will include the Eagles and still the Browns. I know that latter seems like a Far stretch but I can feel that the Browns will surprise people and make Good things happen. I like Colt McCoy as their leader.

on July 31st, 2012 at 11:07pm

Dear HeadCheese, Have you considered what your plans are regarding the Dynamic Dozen for next season? Clearly we have to celebrate our league leading 13 NFL championships and yet, the dig on the Viqueens for 12 men on the field is so hard to give up. Maybe some suggestions from the Cheesewealth will aid your cause....GoPack!

on March 4th, 2011 at 05:57pm

Hey Scheny, I was waiting for someone to being this up. I'm open to suggestions. For now, I'm leaning toward a "Baker's Dozen" theme representing the Pack's 13 world titles and the 13th anniversary of the Vikings' 98 season: 15 wins, Gary Anderson misses, Denny takes a knee, OT loss in NFC title game

on March 7th, 2011 at 01:38pm

Here's Dennis' thoughts on the Dirty Dozen: You start calling it the "Filthy 13" to represent all the filth that goes on with the Vikings. I.e. Favre dong pics, whizinator, love boat, AP speeding tickets, Childress' voice, full length spaghetti dinner.

on March 7th, 2011 at 08:22pm

Davy....I like the theme of the 'Bakers Dozen". 13 NFL championships....and a reference to #12 with his #1 Super Bowl Title. Maybe a reference to #4 's 9 retirements. Play with the Bakers Dozen theme... GO Pack Go !!!

on March 7th, 2011 at 10:24pm

Davey, I love the "Bakers Dozen". There is something so satisfying in the ability to pat ourselves on the back and kick the Viqueens simultaneously. Very creative thinking on your part I might add. GoPack!

on March 8th, 2011 at 07:23am

I too heartily approve of the Baker's dozen theme since that is my last name. I think it is really cool that the unlucky # 13 equals a Baker's dozen. Dave, have fun with this, I look forward to seeing what you come up with. And as always, Go Pack!

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