Packers Find New Leader in Perry

When the Packers drafted linebacker Nick Perry in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, the team had very high expectations. But often he seemed to vanish in to the background. Whether he was sidelined with an injury or saddled with a bad case of not living up to the hype, Perry has spent a lot of his first four years in Green Bay an afterthought. There were times last season where he looked out-muscled, out-paced, and a little out of shape.

What a difference a year makes.

I thought we were in for a load of garbage from Perry last week when he started off the game with a boneheaded unsportsmanlike penalty for that stupid throat slashing gesture. I mean, really, this is a well known thing not to do. Was he going to let petty emotions rule the day and neutralize his effectiveness on the field?

Luckily, he redeemed himself several times over through the course of the game. The offense may have fizzled in the second half and the secondary may have seemed lost at the same time. But Nick Perry made up for it and more. He made Clay Matthew’s absence less noticeable. He stepped up because that was what needed to happen. He was able to brush off the penalty. At the end of the day, his play on the field helped set the tone for an aggressive defense.

With Matthews up, Perry picked up the slack and rose to the occasion.

This past Sunday Perry made his presence known. With seven tackles (six solo), two sacks and two tackles for losses, he played aggressively on every play. He added to the pass rush along side Mike Daniels and made Detroit’s Matt Stafford run for his life on more than one occasion.

And when he knocked a pass out of the air, he resembled a nimble volleyball player blocking a spike at the net. His timing was impeccable, and Perry was hitting the peak of his leap just in time to bat the ball out of the air.

This was a different Perry than we have seen in the past. His anticipation of the play unfolding telegraphed into an aggressive punch from the defense, stifling the play before it could unfold and push into the red zone.

Perhaps this is the season where he finally meets the expectations that were set out in 2012. The Packers have long sought a formidable linebacking corps. The Packers thought they had it in AJ Hawk. While he was a solid leader on the field and in the locker room, his performance in games never quite lived up to the first round hype that he created when he was drafted. While he wasn’t a slouch by any stretch of the imagination, Hawk never seemed to find the aggressive fire that so many had counted on.

And for the longest time, it felt like Perry was settling into that good but not great category as well.  Four years in and he’d yet to make a true name for himself on the field.

Maybe it was the relatively healthy offseason for him. Typically he has limped into the regular season nursing one nagging injury or another. But this year he hit the ground running as healthy as he’s been in years and perhaps with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Often in the shadow of the likes of Matthews and the grand old man Julius Peppers, Perry managed to step up while Matthews was forced to watch from the sideline and Peppers’ play is hit or miss.

This past Sunday Nick Perry played like the first round draft choice we hoped he would be. Fast, strong, unrelenting. That said, he acknowledges there is yet still room for improvement. After the game, he said the following, “I’m off to a great start, but I’m humble about where I’m at and where I need to go. Right now the main focus is getting better, improving for the next week and playing my best ball yet.”

That means not letting things slide after a good game or two. It means taking advantage of the bye week to be rested in healthy. It means not shrinking back into the shadows when Clay Matthews returns to play and not allowing him to pick up the slack. It means building on that productivity and aiming higher into the October stretch of games that the Packers have at home. It means facing long standing rivals–the Bears and Cowboys–and playing an integral role in dismantling their offensives before they even have time to get off the ground.

This is a Show Me the Money year for Nick Perry. Last year he signed a one year deal worth just north of $5 Million. That’s a lot of money for someone who was declared a bust by the pundits. At the end of the season he will be a free agent. So this is a make or break year for him. If he continues to produce like he did this week with a high level of consistency, Ted Thompson may want to keep him around. But if he shrinks back into the woodwork like has in so many other seasons, I highly doubt Thompson will waste that much in cap money come 2017.

Nick Perry is off to a very strong start this season. Time will tell if he is a new and improved Perry that will be the impact player that the Packers had always hoped for or if he slides into the mediocrity that he has unfortunately let dominate the first few years of his pro career.



Kelly Hodgson is a writer for and you can listen to her as a Co-Host of Out of the Pocket. You can also follow Kelly on Twitter at @ceallaigh_k


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11 thoughts on “Packers Find New Leader in Perry

  1. maybe Perrys contract is coming up for renewal ?
    He is playing good football, But the Packers stank the second half.
    The way they played the second half, I’ll take Minnesota to beat them in Green Bay. All Minnesota or any team is to pick on #23 Demarious Randall & the secondary.

    1. Perry was in a contract year last year too.
      Shields will likely be back when GB plays MN, so I doubt that happens.

  2. Where were you last year when Randall made the game saving play in the San Diego game. He also came up big in several other games last year.I hope you eat your words by December when we play Minnesota Christmas Eve. It’s week three so if your not a Packers fan and in it for the long haul then don’t hurt yourself falling off the bandwagon. Go root for Minnesota better yet Da Bears. GO PACK GO!!!

  3. Perry has strung together 3 good games now, 5 if you go back to last year. The game against Trent Williams in the playoffs was pro-bowl material. Perry has proven he can set the edge against the run since his rookie year, now he is flashing some serious pass rush ability, more than just his standard bull rush. Keeping my fingers crossed that he stays healthy.

    Hawk was never more than a slightly above average MLB, as evidenced by his takeaways and tackles for a loss. He was a drag down tackler that intimidated no one, and always a liability in pass coverage. If he was kept clean from OL, he was smart and instinctive enough to find the RB and generally be in the right place, but that’s about all he brought. TT admitted they held onto him a season or 2 too long. Nick Perry has loads of ability and has flashed athleticism and strength that Hawk could not even dream of, just held back by injury or mentally. I think a better comparison to Perry is already on the roster- Dat-one Jones. Dat-one flashed the first 2 games of the season like he has in years past, but is already hurt again and his injuries seem to slow him all year long. Hope he can get back on the field and back to being productive but his track record says otherwise.

  4. I do not consider Sheilds a good player, I’m talking about a Josh Norman, Sherman caliber player. Randall maybe give him 2-3-4 yrs & maybe he’ll span out, but for now the teams are going to pick on him. you’ll see, all of the secondary just doesn’t have it. I am a Packer fan, I was born a Packer fan, I was a kid @ the ice bowl. I LOVE my PACKERS.

    1. The Packers play an entirely different defense when Shields isn’t on the field. With Shields they play much more man to man, without him they play mostly zone. If you’re a Packers fan then you know Capers Zone Defense seldom slows down opposing offenses much less stop them.

      The secondary is a piece of work in progress but I’d also venture to say had the Packers had even 2 of the injured starters or important role players who were out (Matthews, Shields, Burnett, Jones, Pennel, Guion) that’s 4 or 5 starters or about half the defense depending on the defense being played.

  5. Be honest about it. The Lions were completing to many passes on 3rd & short. look @ the stats- how many yds did the Lions get for passing.

  6. I Know about the 5 injured. I believe the Packers play Dallas .
    I have allot of kin in Tx. Last yr the Pack beat them. I want the PACK to beat them this yr. Dallas is 3-0. You know where i’m coming from. I’ve got allot of Packer Auto. photos on my wall. my Pajamas are GB Packer.I’ll never turn my back on my PACK !!!!!

    1. For someone who claims to be a Packer fan, you sure as hell don’t know what you’re talking about!

      1. I have my opinions, Packers will NOT make it to the Super Bowl this year.Pull your head out!!

    2. Ummmm…Dallas is 2-1 Roger. Glad you’re a Packers Fan but sharing about what P.J.’s you wear is a little too much information. If you know about the Packers injuries then you know having players the caliber of Matthews, Shields, Guion, and Burnett is GOING to effect the defense. I mean common, that’s a starter on every level of the defense PLUS two important role players.

      As for Perry I’m glad he’s healthy this year. I mean it was one thing after another with him the first few years but when healthy he’s a beast. He sets the edge better than any other LB on the Packers, and his pass rush skills are helping his teammates get sacks if he doesn’t sack the QB himself. I’d like to see Thompson get him signed before the end of the season, I don’t want him anywhere near Free Agency. It only takes one team out there with entirely too much money to lure him away, like the Bears. UGH!!!

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