Transitions into the 2009 Season
The Pittsburg Steelers are the Super Bowl champions and the 2008 -2009 professional football season is over (except for the all-star game). It was a thrilling Super Bowl as the Steelers edged out the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 27 – 23 in one of the most entertaining championships ever. But Cheeseheads prefer watching the Green and Gold in Super Bowls so now we look forward to the new year.
There are glimmering rays of hope for the faithful. The performance of quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 2008 was a huge plus. The quarterback position is by far the most critical in the NFL and Rodgers demonstrated he has the talent to effectively lead the Packers for many years to come. Also refreshing was the admission by Coach Mike McCarthy that the job wasn’t getting done defensively. He cleaned house with the defensive coaching staff and made a commitment to convert to the 3 linemen 4 linebacker scheme next year. The new defensive coaching talent McCarthy has hired is impressive.
The most recent coaching acquisitions are former Steelers great Kevin Greene who will coach the outside linebackers, and Darren Perry, also a former Steelers defensive back and assistant coach. Newly appointed Packer Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers held that same position in Pittsburg in the early 1990s. I get a sense that the Packers are gearing their coaching staff and philosophy on running the 3 – 4 patterned after the Pittsburg Steelers’ defense. The NFL is a copy-cat league and the Steelers’ defense has been first class for decades… a nice pattern for the Packers to adopt.
It’s Ted Thompson’s time now to load up the Packers with talented football players for the 2009 season. Free agency players surely need to be considered and, of course, the collegiate draft will be the primary focus. Thompson needs to abandon his thinking on drafting the best player available this year. He needs to concentrate on a defensive player… an immediate impact player and somebody without a history of injury. The Packers have real needs on the defensive line and line backing corps and there are some great players in the collegiate draft pool that could provide help.
When the Packers’ turn comes at # 9 in the first round of the draft there will be a very good player available. Thompson better not even be slightly tempted to think about a wide receiver or quarterback which may be on the Packers’ board as the best player available at that time. One of the three premiere offensive tackles MIGHT be a viable option if they should be available, but please, please TT, take a defensive player… either a linebacker or a lineman.
The collegiate combines will reveal more about the talent levels in the weeks to come, but look for the Packers to do the right thing in the draft by investing in the defense this off-season. Lombardi said it best years ago… “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.” The Steelers have proven that true again this year and let’s hope TT sees it that way too.