Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel caught up with former Packers defensive lineman Gilbert Brown on Tuesday. After Brown talked about his football camp and what it’s like coaching the Green Bay Chill, he shared some thoughts on B.J. Raji and the Packers defense.
Here’s Brown’s best quote on Raji:
“B.J. has all the tools to be great. I think he has the drive, he has whatever he needs. But he has to turn it up a notch I would say. Because if he gets out there, creates havoc and makes noise, it’s contagious. Everybody wants to be like that. B.J. has it. He’s the monster in the middle. He has to set the tone for the team.”
Create havoc. I love that phrase. That should be the No. 1 goal for Raji and all Packers defensive linemen.
I’ve gotten into some spirited discussions in the comments section of this blog about what the role of the Packers defensive line is in a 3-4. I say that there is no rule against a 3-4 lineman dominating opposing blockers, maybe even making a play every now and then. Others say it’s unfair to expect a 3-4 lineman to get the glory or pile up stats. A 3-4 lineman’s role is to tie up blockers.
When I hear the phrase “tie up blockers,” I shudder. I think of battling the offensive lineman to a draw. Draws are worthless. You need to win your battle with whomever is trying to block you. Period.
In today’s NFL — with its super QBs, talent-rich WRs, freakish TEs and an endless stream of fresh RBs — a draw is actually a win for the offense. If the Packers defensive line goes into the season with a tie-up-blockers mindset, this defense will show little, if any, improvement.
To be clear, I’m not saying every defensive linemen should be gunning for the QB, leaving their gaps, and trying to make the big play by themselves on every snap. That would be reckless.
But the Packers need to ditch the tie-up-blockers mindset. They need their linemen to create havoc. Creating havoc means winning your individual battle, not merely tying somebody up and settling for a draw.
Creating havoc is beating whomever is trying to block you. Don’t just hold the gap, occupy it like a conquering superpower would occupy a weaker and inferior country.
Disrupt a play. Strike first. Come off the ball with a purpose. That offensive lineman won’t be able to get to the second level and block Desmond Bishop if Raji blasts him off the ball and leaves him on the ground. That double team won’t be very effective if Jerel Worthy stands both blockers up and shoves them into the backfield.
Make the offense notice you and adjust for all the chaos you’re creating.
No, creating havoc doesn’t mean always making the tackle or getting the glory. But it means a lot more than just belly-bumping with a fat offensive lineman, then congratulating yourself for tying up blockers.
We do not know what each lineman’s specific assignment is on each play, but it needs to be more than just occupying blockers. Blockers are more occupied when they’re worried about the guy their trying to block kicking their ass.
If Dom Capers and the Packers coaching staff are still using the phrase “tying up blockers,” they need to ditch it. Instead, they should heed Brown’s words and encourage their defensive linemen to create as much havoc as humanly possible.