Most of the offseason chatter about Packers starters getting benched has centered on A.J. Hawk being replaced by D.J. Smith. That very well might happen, but what about other starters that could find themselves on the bench once the season starts?
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Walden totaled just three sacks, 14 QB hits and 22 QB hurries in 15 starts. From week 12 through the playoff loss, Walden had zero sacks, four hits and six hurries (he also got arrested). His (-20.5) overall rating by PFF was the worst among 3-4 OLBs by almost 10 points.
Packers fans don’t need fancy stats and analytics to know that Walden was bad. If he was simply average, and provided at least a little pressure on the QB down the stretch, who knows how last season might have ended? Rookie Nick Perry likely will take over here.
Jarius Wynn/C.J. Wilson
These two combined to start six games, so it’s a stretch to call them starters. Howard Green also started five times, so we’ll consider Wynn/Wilson/Green a sort of three-headed monster that started most games somewhere on the defensive line. With Green gone, there’s only two heads of the monster left, and I’m not sure that either head will start this season.
Wilson seems like a good athlete, which gives me some hope that he could eventually turn into a serviceable player. A permanent starter? The jury is out.
The Packers need more defensive lineman that cause chaos. It’s a common misconception that the only role of a 3-4 defensive lineman is to “occupy blockers.” That’s true to a point, but the lineman needs to do something that actually occupies the blocker. Simply being a large body with a pulse that walks upright isn’t enough.
Jerel Worthy caused chaos at Michigan St. He occupied blockers, and he also beat the hell out of the blockers he occupied. If he can do that in the NFL, he’ll be starting over Wilson and Wynn in no time.
Thanks to Chad Clifton’s injury, Newhouse started 13 games at left tackle. He’s got the inside track to begin as the starter this season unless Derek Sherrod recovers from his leg injury and plays out of his mind in training camp. I don’t see Newhouse losing his spot.
Do we really consider Driver a starter? He “started” 14 games in 2011, but was obviously under Jordy Nelson (nine starts) on the depth chart. With Driver, we shouldn’t be asking if he will remain a starter. We should be asking how far down the depth chart he will fall.
Peprah started after Nick Collins got hurt, so I don’t really consider him a “starter.” In my dream world, Jerron McMillian will take over for Peprah on day one, but that’s probably wishful thinking.
That’s about all I can think of. As bad as the defense was, it feels like there should be more starters in danger of losing their spot.
Before the 2010 season, Mike McCarthy and the Packers coaching staff talked about improving from within. There will be some new (young) faces on defense in 2012, but there’s going have to be a lot of improving from within, too.——————
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .