It was pretty clear to me when things turned around defensively for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. When Dom Capers decided to move back into his more traditional 3 man fronts the Packers were able to slow the Jets down. After allowing 21 points on the first 3 drives and giving everyone in Green Bay a heart attack Capers went back to old reliable and it worked. The question now is whether or not to abandon the 4-3 concepts that the team installed this offseason or to continue and try work out the kinks.
The biggest problem that I have had with the with the 4-3 principles are the secrecy associated with them. The Packers never unveiled their “quad” defense until the Seahawks game and for the first 5 quarters of the season it was abysmal. They didn’t practice it in front of the fans in training camp. They didn’t run it in the preseason. I honestly don’t even know when they installed it.
Because of this secrecy, I am unable to tell if the 4-3 scheme doesn’t work because we don’t have the proper personnel or the 4-3 scheme doesn’t work because no one is comfortable with it. I do know that the first 2 games of the season is not probably the time to just whip something out and see if it works. I saw a lot of Clay Matthews playing off the line of scrimmage which I didn’t love. I saw Letroy Guion being mauled all over the field, which was also less than ideal. I love the way that the personnel would have fit in a 4-3 under scheme right up until we lost BJ Raji and decided to replace him with the Vikings’ really bad 4-3 NT.
The whole thing is very irritating because it was a good idea. Implementing “40” front concepts would have been a nice addition to the defense. The injury to Raji and the lack of preparation has made it a problem. In the first two games, the 4-3 defense has been used as the “fastball”. The Packers played quite a bit of it against the Seahawks and it was part of the blame for the disastrous start against the Jets.
Going forward I’d like the “quad” look to be the curveball. It appears that Julius Peppers is good enough in space to play linebacker. It’s time to actually line up Peppers and Matthews across from each other. Both players crowed about being able to play across from the best player in their respective careers and that isn’t happening with Peppers in a 3 point stance and Clay Matthews standing 4 yards away from the line of scrimmage. I was very excited about the addition of the elephant position and the idea of a 4-3, but right now it’s time to go with what the Packers defenders know and what they can do well. Let the talent additions of Jamari Lattimore, HaHa Clinton-Dix and Julius Peppers make them a better defense than last year, not scheme.