Packers Talkback: Are tougher, meaner defensive players needed?

Jan. 31, 2014

Today's Packers Talkback addresses the Packers defense. Some don't believe there's enough toughness on that side of the ball. I have a different take, as you will see in my response.

Tom Jehn

When he was hired, one of Mike McCarthy's first statements was that he wanted the Packers to be "Pittsburgh physical", implying that his would be a hard nosed, physical football team. When I watch the top rated defenses play, it is obvious that they play with a lot more violence (to quote Mike Tomlin) than anyone on the Packers defense, especially on the back end.

My question is a little whacko but do you think that TT's personality and extreme introversion affect his player selection? Do you think that TT would ever draft a Ray Lewis, Ndamukong Suh, or Vontaze Burfect? I really doubt it and I don't buy the "Green Bay culture" bit. If you look at TT's first round choices these seem to be lower key, non-confrontational types. When you see them in interviews, you never see the Richard Sherman mentality, rather they're talking about their 401k or their mom or some outside pursuit. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe the Packers can bring a bunch of criminal misfits to Green Bay and survive but a few aggressive, fired up personalities could really make a difference on the level of intensity. Losing Kevin Greene won't help in this regard either.

There is a lot to be said for the head coach being an even keeled guy but the defense needs a few wild men (go look at some Ray Nitschke pics). When I see TT in an interview, I see this close to the vest, quiet guy who sometimes can't even look into the interviewer or the cameras eye. To what extent does his desire to avoid any confrontation affect his choices? I don't know if that is a legitimate angle for an investigative report but I would be very interested in some knowledgeable opinions on the subject.

This team needs some hard hitting, very fast, aggressive DB's and LB's, who are in the game to hit people and make their presence felt. I don't see TT drafting those type of guys.

My response

Do the Packers need more physical defensive players? I would say they need better players, period. If those players fall under your “physical” umbrella, then fine. But I think it’s too easy to look at a defense with talent deficiencies and immediately throw out the phrase: “They aren’t tough enough.”

I know it was a common refrain among fans and some media members that the Packers were simply too soft on defense. I happen to think the Packers simply weren’t good enough on defense.

Would Clay Matthews fall under your “mean, tough” umbrella in describing a player? All I can tell you about Matthews is that when healthy, he makes big plays, and that’s what I look for in defensive players. The Packers didn’t have enough playmakers this past season.

When the Packers won the Super Bowl three years ago, they had Matthews, Charles Woodson and Nick Collins as what I would consider bona fide playmakers. Linebacker Desmond Bishop could lay some lumber, but I don’t know that the 2010 Packers defense was made up of a bunch of wild men. They had three playmakers surrounded by enough other serviceable players to win a championship.

As for Thompson’s penchant to draft choirboys, I don’t buy that theory. He probably is less likely to draft a player with character issues than some other GMs, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What Thompson needs to do is draft some better defensive players, because he has missed on his fair share in the last three years.

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