Packers Secondary: Questions and Answers About Woodson’s Return

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Charles Woodson
Packers DB Charles Woodson is close to returning.

It appears that Charles Woodson is close to returning to the Packers. That’s great news.

So, what are the Packers going to do with him?

As soon as Clay Matthews got hurt, you saw an immediate decline in the pass rush. There hasn’t been a major dropoff in pass coverage with Woodson injured. In fact, we’ve seen a few young players step up and emerge with Woodson out.

Getting Woodson back will be helpful, but it also will raise some questions about how the secondary will look. Here are a few of those questions:

  • Will Casey Hayward’s playing time get cut? It’s hard to put this kid on the bench. He covers well in the slot and makes plays on the ball when he’s in the area. Watching Woodson trying to cover a good slot receiver these days is not very fun. Woodson might be a better tackler than Hayward, but not by much.
  • Will Davon House’s playing time get cut? House plays with an attitude. He’s far from perfect, but he attacks whoever he’s trying to cover on the outside. Plus he’s big. Woodson can’t play on the outside any more so I don’t see him cutting into House’s opportunities. Maybe if Woodson plays inside, Hayward would get kicked to the outside, but that doesn’t seem realistic, either.
  • What about Sam Shields? Oh yeah, Shields. Remember him? He’s close to returning, too. He might cut into House’s playing time some, but I don’t think Shields’ return will impact Woodson much.
  • Couldn’t you just put Woodson back at safety? Makes sense to me. Have Jerron McMillian and/or M.D. Jennings done enough to make us forget about Woodson? I don’t think so. There has been some dropoff in toughness against the run with Woodson out. I think McMillian has the potential to be a sound tackling safety, but he’s not quite there yet. While Woodson doesn’t make any running backs shake in their boots, he’ll put his nose in there and try to take anyone down. Don’t forget about his knack for forcing fumbles, too.
  • How about getting all the young CBs on the field with Woodson? This works if you make Woodson the dime back. He can roam around on passing downs, blitz every now and then, cover the tight end or snipe errant passes as the center-fielder.
  • Would Woodson be fine with just being the dime back? Who knows. If he can’t hack it any more in every-down situations, he might not have a choice.
  • Enough with the questions, tell me what option is best and how this is all going to play out. I have no idea. If I had to guess, I’d guess that we’ll see Woodson in some combination of safety and dime back. The main thing I’m hoping for is Woodson getting some of his blitzing mojo back. I’m getting tired of seeing defensive backs crash into the middle of the line and get swallowed up.

It’s good to have options on the back end heading down the stretch. I’m sure Woodson will get every opportunity to establish himself again and pick up right where he left off. If he doesn’t hold up, McMillian, Jennings, Hayward and Shields are young, hungry and eager to continue proving they belong.

The main thing to worry about is an elephant-in-the-room situation with Woodson returning, not being effective, then getting angry when the younger guys get his playing time. I’m confident Mike McCarthy would know how to handle this situation and I’m mostly confident that Woodson would be good about it.

Let’s hope that never happens and Woodson comes back refreshed and re-energized.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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  • Chad Lundberg

    Face the facts everyone, father time is undefeated. I don’t know when Woodson will be done, but with all that’s happened to him on the field this season, I can’t imagine him finishing his contract with Green Bay, which runs till 2014. Especially if you consider how expensive it is to keep him.

    I just hope he gets another ring before he’s done. Any doubt left of him going into the HOF will be gone then.

  • Jim

    Safety. Not because of his tackling. You missed the real contribution. He ia a field General. His visualization of the offense is a great asset that the young safeties have not developed.
    The real issue isn’t Woodson. It’s Shields. Both House and Hayward have earned the right to be outside and slot (nickel). So what is Shields? Dime? At best.

    • Spiderpack

      Agreed. Field General. I’m sure Eli was stretching that Sunday afternoon thinking “Ahhhhh yyyeah…I got this, it aint nothin but Tramon & a bunch of rookies back there, & Morgan’s pretty much a rookie too, it’ll be just like last year. Plus I’ll have all day to throw.”

  • Jake

    Woodson = L.O.S. pitbull. Keep him close to the ball where he belongs! Just so happens that it’s exactly where we need him.

  • Mojo

    A couple of things; first as far as the CB blitzers not getting home, um .. that was happening before CWood got hurt and all of last year too for that matter.

    Second, we won’t need to worry for long what CWood combination in the secondary would work best because, I believe he is going to get re-injured again anyway. The last two times he injured came on fairly innocuous plays. I think there is something structurally wrong with his shoulder. I also worry he’s going to hurt the team by passing up contact, because he’s knows he needs to protect his shoulder. Hope I’m wrong on that, but he could end up doing more harm than good.

    • Adam Czech

      I know. That’s why I’m hoping some of that Woodson blitzing mojo returns. It’s been gone and I’m hoping not gone for good. Hoping…..

  • Wagszilla

    I’m sure Woodson will get his job back.
    McCarthy has an unspoken loyalty to vets.

    I think MD Jennings has been impressive at Safety as far as coverage goes but leaves something to be desired when it comes to physicality.

    Hopefully Capers is perceptive enough to see this and wise enough to only use Woodson in situations that play to his strengths, i.e.: run stoppage, occasional blitz.

  • steve cheez

    Can CWood play RB?

    • Adam Czech

      No. Right tackle, maybe. He’s got long arms.

      • Spiderpack

        Left tackle then move Newhouse to RG. Or better yet I think CW should play C since he’s so smart. Wait maybe he could be our #1 WR, yeah that’s it.

      • BradHTX

        But how is his pad level?

        • ScottS

          Does he have big eyes?

  • Brian

    I think Woodson will play a similar position he was playing pre injury. They will use his versitlilty to create matchup problems.
    Hayword and Woodson will be on the field together one way or another making plays.
    I could see some of the other younger defensive backs that filled in getting a bigger roll on special teams.

  • Brian

    I am not a coach but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.

  • James david Marsh

    Charles no longer has the speed necessary to play either CB or saftey. He should think about coaching the younger players and making sure that they understand that you cannot spent to much time studing game film.

  • Big T

    Can’t lose your job because of an injury. Woodson has to go out and show us why he is the starter. If his play falls off, then he loses his job. If he plays at a high level he keeps it. Simple…

  • FITZCORE1252

    Big T, tell that to Alex Smith.

    GBP 4 LIFE

  • Oppy

    Jerron McMillian is currently the dime back, I think there’s no question he loses that role to Woodson when he returns from injury.

    I believe Wood will be told he’s on a rep count. It will be a convenient excuse for the Packers to throw out there when they pick and choose what formations/down & distance they trot Charles onto the field.

    The reality is going to be that we have players at both S and DB that bring varied skill sets that may better fit a given situation than what Woodson currently brings to the table.

    I’ll say this- we don’t play dime too often, but Woodson would be a huge upgrade to McMillian in the dime- mostly due to Wood’s ability to function almost as a coverage LB on the field. With all of our younger (frankly, better) coverage CB’s still out there, you don’t have to worry about Wood being matched up with a big threat WR, and he can still roam the deep middle OR the LOS.

    I see him playing about 50% of the S snaps, and probably 10% or less as a CB.

  • Jeff

    With the continuing injury problem that seems to have no end in sight,we need every able body we can get. Woodson coming back is needed.No telling who goes down next.

  • http://www.packermaniacs.com Gary Hoffman

    We’ll written, a fun read and Packer Maniacs comments were awesome! I really like your site! Nice job. I will definitely check back for more updates!