Packers Look to Have Big Plans for Jake Ryan

The Green Bay Packers’ biggest need going into the 2015 NFL draft was inside linebacker.  The safety position was taken care of in 2014.  It was taken care of by a first round pick.  The Packers certainly didn’t do that in 2015.  The only selection made was 4th round pick Jake Ryan.

When Ryan was selected there were easy comparisons to make. Jake Ryan is white.  Jake Ryan wore #47.  Jake Ryan played in the Big Ten.  Jake Ryan is going to play inside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers.  Jake Ryan is the next AJ Hawk.

That’s fine, and honestly if he has AJ Hawk’s career that would be a pleasant outcome.  Hawk was a usable starter on a Super Bowl team and started 136 games.  If Jake Ryan starts 136 games we’re all going to be very, very impressed with hi as a 4th round pick.

Those comparisons, however convenient they may be, are lazy.  Ryan is a different type of player than Hawk.  I compared him more to Desmond Bishop coming out of college than I ever would have compared him to Hawk.  He’s an attacking player who makes plays, not the assignment-sure field general that Hawk was.

It would have even made sense if the Packers wanted to use Ryan in that way coming out of college.  Give him a short list of things to do and hope that he excels.  After watching the Patriots game I’m not so sure that’s the case.  The Packers are using Jake Ryan more like Clay Matthews than they ever used Hawk.

According to Pro Football Focus, Ryan played 45 snaps last Thursday.  I studied the film and noticed 8 seperate times that Ryan dropped down to rush from the edge.  That’s 18% of the time.  Far more than AJ Hawk was ever used that way.  In fact it looks a lot like the way that Matthews has been used since moving inside.  He also spent a lot of time blitzing from the inside.

It’s not that the Packers are using Ryan as Matthews’ backup. It’s not that Ryan is only going to get snaps if Matthews is injured.  It’s the manner that they use Ryan that makes me think they have big, big plans for him.

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Ross Uglem is a writer at PackersTalk.com. You can follow Ross on twitter at RossUglem

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12 thoughts on “Packers Look to Have Big Plans for Jake Ryan

  1. I’m sorry when did Matthews move inside? I remember the Packers change of philosophy in regards to Matthews and moving him around a lot, but in that moving around, he only played 28% of his snaps once initiated at ILB. That’s not moving inside, its a change in philosophy to make use of all his skills, make him more difficult to plan for and put him in position to make more impact plays, which he did. But it certainly wasn’t a move to ILB! As you said in the comparison of Hawk and Ryan, that’s just lazy! Not too mention wrong.
    They also did the same w/ Mulumba who got his sack rushing from ILB, not OLB. Another indication they play to move other pieces around, not just Matthews.

    1. Gotta agree w/Dan. Obviously Matthews moving inside was to help the run game defense but I read the same stat as Dan had, 28% of his snaps came at ILB. I like the idea of having a Mulumba, Matthews, Ryan, and anyone else that they can interchange at the LB positions, only makes them much harder to defend. If opposing offenses have more to worry about than WHERE Matthews is the whole defense is better.

      Capers defense is at it’s best when he can blitz effectively from the inside. In 2010 he had Bishop who had what 6 sacks? In the Wildcard Game against Philly the first defensive play was a sack by Bishop which set the tone early. Nothing could help out a rookie CB more than pressure. It will be interesting to see how things go once the regular season starts.

      1. more details on that 28%? Are we talking last season? All of last season, or only from the point they first used him inside to the end of the season?

        1. I believe it was based off from the time they first used him there after the bye until the end of the season Al.

        2. “he only played 28% of his snaps once initiated at ILB.”
          Seems pretty clear when I first brought it up.

  2. In case no one noticed it is all the LB’s that are moving around not just Ryan and Matthews, Barrington seems to be the only stationary ILB at the moment but the rest are rushing from the inside and outside and they are all dropping back in coverage so this is the new Capers defense with his linebackers it looks like!

    1. I agree Jeff. This is what Capers loves to do, but didn’t really have the right personnel un til the Packers brought Peppers in. Now he had more options, such as using CM3 from different spots and doing the same with other guys. My guess is Ryan has shown good blitzing ability in practice so they are going to give him some opportunities to do so.

  3. I always thought the Packers used Mathews wrong and that his speed and agility should have been in the middle. Stopping run, pass rushing but helping over the middle were none of our backers excelled at. Anyone can rush the passer from the outside.
    He is way to talented to be used as a one trick poney and once they moved him he proved it.

    1. While I don’t agree that anyone can rush from the outside, moving Matthews around makes use of all his skills. He’s a better run defender as a chase LB than as a set the edge OLB. He is really good in coverage, due to his HS and early college career playing safety. He can get better matchups moving him around.
      What they’re doing is basically what they did w/ Woodson during his Packer career. He played everywhere and it made it more difficult to plan for him. Same for Matthews now.

  4. I hope they let Lacy and Starks sit out and let the three other guys fighting for a job play. We know what Lacy and Starks can do why get them hurt.

  5. Bishop? God I hope not. Ryan is more Matthews then Bishop. Bishop gets way more love then he deserves. Yes Bishop made tackles, his 1.8 ave sacks a year and one interception in his the time in the Green Bay are also notable. No starting linebacker gave up more pass plays and explosive pass plays then Bishop did when starting. He was terrible against the pass.
    I watched Ryan play a lot of football for Michigan. I had him taken by the Packers in nearly every mock draft I did leading into the 2015 draft.
    Ryan gives Capers a flexibility at Linebacker that makes him perfect for the Capers defense.
    Yes he can play ILB but that is where he is the least experienced. I watched all the defensive snaps from the first preseason game more then I should admit.
    But Ryan to me showed a number of things, First as a OLB he knows how to convert speed into power, used leverage well, getting under the OT and moving him.
    He has range at ILB and shows the ability to anticipate a gap to get into the back field better then any of the ILB’s the team has had in some time.
    He at times also looks lost in the defense. But he will never take a play off and never make the same mistakes. He will also need to get better in coverage.
    I think TT got himself a damn good football player and I will enjoy watching him play at a position that needed his talents.

    1. You do understand Bishop started just 2 years in Green Bay? He played in 15 games started 12 in 2010 and played in 13 games and stated them all in 2011. He recorded 8 sacks in those 2 years not including playoffs. I was just using that particular play as an example and Capers defense being best when pressure comes from everywhere. The whole pass defense sucked in 2011, it wasn’t just Bishop. You don’t set a NFL record for passing yards allowed just because the middle LB couldn’t cover that well.

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