Packers Defense: B.J. Raji Must Succeed This Year
This offseason the Green Bay Packers waived good bye to defensive coordinator Bob Sanders (fired) and his 4-3 base defense and acquired the services of Dom Capers and his 3-4 defense. No doubt they have the right man to run a 3-4 defense as Capers is a very accomplished man in this style of play.
With that being said a coordinator can only do so much and he needs good players in key positions to pull off success in any given season.
The Packers were 26th in the league against the run last year and dropped down to 22nd for points given up in the league. These numbers were way down for just in 2007 they ranked 14th against the run and allowed the 6th fewest points given up in the league.
One area that continued it’s solid play was in the passing game as the Packers have been the 12th best team against the pass for both of the last two seasons. This area should stay solid again in 2009 as the Pack has all of it’s main contributors back in the secondary to succeed.
Where’s the Beef?
If this team is to improve on it’s poor numbers overall it is going to need a stout line up front to stop the run. This team will be greatly helped if Cullen Jenkins (brother of Chris Jenkins of the Jets) can stay healthy this year as he only played four games a season ago.
They will also need Aaron Kampman to pull off a solid transition from defensive end to linebacker.
But maybe the key player they will need the most is first round pick (9th overall) nose tackle B.J. Raji to be a force in the middle and clog up the inside running lanes. This position is vitally important in a 3-4 defense as you only have one interior lineman and he has to be very strong and stout to handle that position.
Raji is big enough to fill the part as he stands in at 6’1 and 323 pounds of man tackling flesh. If B.J. can be the strong interior player this team needs it will go a long way toward this team going back to the playoffs in 2009.
Unfortunately at this time the Packers are still in contract negotiations with Raji and I’m not sure if they will get a deal done in the next week or not. Many feel that this hold out is in part because of 10th pick overall in the first round Michael Crabtree has not signed and is wanting a hug payday.
With Crabtree’s agent demanding such a big contract (he wants 3rd pick overall money) it is effecting other players that were drafted right around him in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Reports out of Green Bay are that in the up coming days it is going to be some of the more crucial days in which to sign Raji in negotiations.
Rookies need all the camp they can get and if Raji continues to miss time in camp he will probably begin the season as a rotational player as opposed to a starter. This won’t kill the Packers chances to shut down the run but it won’t be as good as it could be.
It gets even worse for the Pack as they have found out recently that their 2007 first round pick Justin Harrell is continuing to have back problems and is on the injured list now. Harrell came out in the spring and told everyone his back was much better and would be ready to go in 2009.
It’s one thing to feel good in the spring but when you need to use that back to shred off 300 pound linemen everyday that back takes on a lot more pressure. It looks to me that this back problem might never be right and Justin will probably be a rotational player when he can find the field.
Fantasy Football Information for the Packers Defense
This defense is a backup at best in fantasy football for this season. Their are too many “if’s” on this defense that need to come together before they will be fantasy relevant. But if this defensive line should prove to deliver then this defense would be a good start against bad offenses throughout the season.
If you have to have this defense at your draft (Cheeseheads) then I would suggest drafting them at the end and waiting on them to prove themselves.
Fantasy Football Information Writer Sean E. Douglas: fantasy-info.com