Biggest Challenge for the Green Bay Packers in '09? Transitions to the 3-4
As everyone already knows, the Packers are changing to a new defensive scheme for the upcoming NFL season.
The only problem coming into the offseason, was the lack of personnel needed to sufficiently undertake this task. Most of those issues were solved during the NFL draft in April, with the picks of B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews.
By drafting Raji out of Boston College, the team now has a prototypical DT that will excel in this new scheme, as well as leave some depth at the line.
The team badly needed that depth after trading Corey Williams to the Browns, and letting Colin Cole go to the Seahawks.
Now with the addition of Raji, the Packers have Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly as their DT, letting Raji float around the line to play end or tackle.
The priority of the 3-4 is to stop the run, to help the Line backers get pressure on the quarterback. With the depth on the defensive line, the team can do that.
So with that fixed, you have to have good enough linebackers to get the pressure needed.
Here are my thoughts on how they will line up:
Clay Matthews: He will win the starting spot over Brady Poppinga, playing opposite of Aaron Kampman.
A.J. Hawk: Look for him to play next to Nick Barnett in the middle.
Nick Barnett: Hopefully he will be able to recover from that injury with ease, they desperately need Barnett to stay healthy throughout the season.
Aaron Kampman: The biggest question is how he takes to standing up and rushing the quarterback. With the addition of Kevin Greene to the Linebackers coach spot, this should be easy for Kampman to figure out.
While some Packer fans think they need that running game to flourish in order to succeed, I agree in some ways.
The Packers would be better off with a Ryan Grant from '07, than the one we saw last year. Though he still gained over 1200 yards, he only had two rushes of over 20 yards last season.
Brandon Jackson should get a lot more rushes this year taking some of the load off of Grant, which should allow for more production from the running game in the upcoming season.
The offense is good to go in most ways, the glaring hole is how the players will take to the new defense.
I believe it all hinges on Nick Barnett.
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