Yesterday I analyzed the Green Bay Packers’ defensive linemen, prefacing it with some observations about the 3-4 defense.
To reiterate, in the three-linemen and four-linebacker scheme, the linebackers are supposed to dart through the gaps created by the down linemen to get to the quarterback. The outside linebackers are pass-rushers primarily, while the inside ones have to be run stoppers, pass defenders, and sometimes blitzers. Green Bay, however, has not used its inside linebackers as pass rushers nearly as much as many other 3-4 teams do.
Green Bay’s Current Linebacker Group
Includes size, age and where the player was drafted.
ILB Jake Ryan: 240, 6’4”, 25, Rd. 4
ILB Blake Martinez: 237, 6’2”, 23, Rd. 4
ILB Joe Thomas: 227, 6’1”, 25, undrafted
ILB Jordan Tripp: 234, 6’3”, 25, Rd. 5
OLB Clay Matthews: 255, 6’3”, 30, Rd. 1
OLB Nick Perry: 265, 6’3”, 26, Rd. 1
OLB Kyler Fackrell: 245, 5’5”, 25, Rd. 3
OLB Jayrone Elliott: 265, 6’3”, 25, undrafted
Assessments and Questions
It’s a fascinating group and full of questions. Is Matthews on the downside of his career? Can Jordan Tripp win a starter’s job? Will Fackrell take a step up after a promising rookie year?
Among the ILBs, three players are about equal in trying to win the two starting spots. Rookie Martinez, despite some injuries, had decent across-the-board stats: 69 tackles, one sack, one INT, and four passes defended.
Joe Thomas, considered the best pass defender, had 70 tackles, one INT and five passes defended.
Jake Ryan had 82 tackles, but his entire impact was as a run-stopper.
There were hardly any forced fumbles in the entire linebacker group. The departed Julius Peppers had two and Fackrell had one – pathetic.
Nick Perry led the outside linebacker group with 52 tackles, 11 sacks four passes defended and one INT. That’s why the Packers paid him.
Pro Football Focus called Matthews one of the biggest underachievers of 2016, which we all knew.
Jayrone Elliott all but disappeared from the radar, but the Packers re-signed him anyway.
Rookie Fackrell had 18 tackles, two sacks, one pass defended and one forced fumble. The Packers are really counting on him to become a regular contributor at outside linebacker and soon.
Jordan Tripp, signed in December, on his fourth team in three years, made no impact with the Dolphins, Jaguars or Seahawks. However, I find his athleticism intriguing and the Packers must too because they did re-sign him this past week.
When’s the last time Green Bay put a really good inside linebacker on the field? It was 2011, when Desmond Bishop put up 115 tackles and five sacks in 13 games, but injuries derailed his career.
Is Nick Perry the new Clay Matthews?
Why can’t the Packers produce a high-volume tackler among their linebackers?