Through six games, the Packers defense has improved overall, but has been up and down. Easily the biggest down, was the past Monday night. One constant, is below average play from Kentrell Brice. At this point, six games into the season, its apparent that he is not a starting quality safety. He is a liability, and a big one. On Monday night, he was torched deep by Marques Goodwin in the first quarter. While Goodwin is fast and a tough ask for a safety to cover, Brice’s sole responsibility was deep. Martinez had the intermediate middle and Matthews had the out. Packers Talk’s Brandon Carwille, noted the play in watching the all-22.
Zone blitz goes awry when one of the two high safeties gives up all leverage. I stood up for KB this offseason but this is unacceptable. Does he really expect Martinez to carry Goodwin 20 yards in coverage? pic.twitter.com/ETKqP4fHnP
— Brandon Carwile (@PackerScribe) October 17, 2018
That play, was the tip of the iceberg, and Brice has nothing to show he is anything but a core special teamer and adequate backup. It’s clear someone else needs to be given an opportunity. The most obvious choice is Josh Jones. As a freak athlete, its astonishing that he hasn’t been given that chance. How can he be worse? But its obvious behind the scenes its been determined that he cant the trusted to carry out his assignments properly. I wrote an article after Dom Capers was fired, about a play that illustrates, he can be worse than Brice . On the play, which was a 30-yard touchdown to Greg Olsen vs Carolina, Jones (most likely), blows his coverage, by not understanding the rules for their coverage call of Cover One Man. If he carries out his assignment, the play is an incompletion at worst and a sack/int at best. He doesn’t even need to carry it out well. He just needs know the assignment and not let a guy run free. Cover One Man is one of the most basic coverages in the book, and if he cant carry that out, its impossible to trust him especially in high leveraged third down with exotic blitzes.
Jermaine Whitehead and Raven Greene are the other two safeties on the roster. Whitehead, isn’t fit for a role of traditional safety. His role is more that of Micah Hyde/Charles Woodson, which is a roaming nickel/slot DB in sub packages. Raven Greene is an undrafted rookie from James Madison. His last real game action (special teams excluded) was against the likes of Elon, Richmond and Maine. Those are not exactly football powerhouses.
There is however one other player, who has played some safety at the NFL level on the roster, and that is Tramon Williams. He played safety during the last month of his tenure in Cleveland. The sample size isn’t great, but he performed competently. And he also embraced it, discussing how as a safety he can be more involved in every play and make plays on the ball. “I like to see the ball and at this point in my career at the safety position, you would definitely be able to see the ball. I like picks,” Williams said after his first game at the position.
With the addition of Bashaud Breeland, the Packers, when healthy have five starting quality cornerbacks. That is arguably five more than they had last year at this time (after King was injured). By moving Williams to safety, you are getting your best players on the field. Defensively thus far, the strength of the team is cornerback. An important part of football, is getting your best players on the field some how, some way. And those five corners, are all better player overall than Brice
Brice is not good. And he is not going to improve. in 2014, the Packers were 5-3 and just got rolled by the Saints 44-23. It was then, the Packers moved Clay Matthews to inside linebacker, which defensively turned around the teams fortunes; They only and they only lost one game the rest of the regular season and had only one game giving up more than 21 points. It was also after the bye. With the bye week upon us in 2018, now is the time to do make this move. It can’t hurt.Originally from Glidden Wisconsin, Jason Straetz is a lifelong Packers\' fan, who has lived in Maine for over 30 years. He is a writer for packerstalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @jsnstz