It has been pretty quiet in Titletown this past week as Coach Mike McCarthy weighs his options before hiring a new Defensive Coordinator and support staff. According to reports, Gregg Williams is the leading candidate but others are being considered, some of which are apparently still with teams in the playoffs and thus cannot be interviewed until after their season ends. We may have to wait a bit to hear who the selection is. A good decision here is critical for McCarthy’s career and the Packers’ future.
The Packer defense was such a mess last year that some are thinking the Packers just might hire defensive coaches who can re-tool their program into installing and teaching a 3 (linemen) 4 (linebackers) scheme rather than the traditional 4 – 3 that the Packers have employed forever. Current Packer player personnel may or may not transition well into a change to a 3- 4 scheme and so it gets really interesting. Add to the equation that McCarthy and General Manager Ted Thompson probably do not have the luxury of a two-to-three year turnaround for the new defense to play competitively so the coaching decisions weigh large.
In the meantime, of the four play-off games played this past weekend only the victory posted by the Pittsburgh Steelers was predicted by your humble scribe. With that inglorious track record, here goes the Packer Partisan out on a limb for next week and the Super Bowl. How about the Arizona Cardinals and the Baltimore Ravens prevailing next week and then the Ravens taking home the Lombardi trophy this year? Did I just predict the Cardinals in the Super bowl??
On another front… the Packers’ abysmal 2008 record rewards them with the 9th player chosen in the 2009 collegiate draft to be held in April. Undergraduates have a few days yet to declare eligibility and then the combines are next to sort out the talent. All indications are that the areas where the Packers desperately need help… defensive and offensive linemen… are stacked with talent.
There are three mammoth road-grader type offensive linemen; Michael Oher of Ole Miss, Andre Smith of Alabama, and Eugene Monroe of Virginia. All three are good enough to be taken in the first ten picks. Any of these big, bad dudes would be an instant upgrade to our lackluster current group.
The Packer defensive line probably needs a shot of talent even more than their offensive counterparts though, and there are some studs out there. Defensive ends Brian Orakpo (Texas) and Michael Johnson (Georgia Tech) are instant-improvement pass rushers. Another possibility is Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry. Curry is by far the best linebacker in the draft and may be the most talented player in the entire draft. Because the linebacker position isn’t considered as important as some positions like quarterback or left tackle, he just may still be available at # 9.
The critical decision on selecting the right Defensive Coordinator looms large… stay tuned.