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McCarthy looking for more versatile defense

Feb. 21, 2014
 
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy speaks to reporters at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Friday morning.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy speaks to reporters at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Friday morning. / Video screen grab

The Green Bay Packers’ never-ending wave of injuries in 2013 resulted in a number of contingency plans not normally intended for regular-season play.

A lack of defensive creativity was a byproduct of that.

Many of the team's creative plans had to be tossed aside last season because of a lack of personnel, coach Mike McCarthy said Friday.

Instead of being able to go as multiple and varied with a first-round pick like Datone Jones, the Packers rotated fewer personnel and the league’s 25th-ranked defense became more predictable.

“We have a lot of creativity in our defense and a lot of scheme, but the reality is we didn’t get to a lot of it this past year,” McCarthy said. “We’re taking too much home with us after we’re playing games. At the end of the day, coaches are responsible for building a plan for players to be in a position to be successful and we have to make sure that we are emptying our guns each and every week. That will be a focus of ours on defense.

“By doing that, I think we can do a better job of giving players more than one role; utilizing more players in the flow.”

Jones was expected to make an instant impact coming out of a similar defense at UCLA and five years of collegiate experience. Instead, he injured his ankle at the start of training camp and fell behind early.

It is McCarthy’s expectation that Jones will make a second-year leap similar to the one 2012 fourth-round pick Mike Daniels made in a 6˝-sack sophomore season.

That doesn’t mean he expects the line to look like Jones, however. Although McCarthy confirmed he’s looking for more athleticism in his defense, he challenged the NFL Network report suggesting the organization was moving toward a smaller defensive line.

“I’ve never been part of a conversation that you want your d-linemen to be smaller,” McCarthy said. “If anything, you always want to get bigger, stronger and faster and things like that. We’re definitely not going to be smaller.”

Either way, the defensive line will change next season. The team’s 1,000-pound starting base defense of Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji and Johnny Jolly are all free agents with NFL Network reporting the organization is moving on from both Pickett and Raji.

The chicken-and-egg battle of whether the Packers' woes can be traced to defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ 3-4 scheme or a lack of playmakers has been long debated. What’s clear in McCarthy’s mind is players need to be better positioned to make an impact.

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