Possible 3-4 line-ups, here we go

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I had originally written this post several weeks ago (early Jan). I suspected Kampman would be made into an OLB (in the mold of Mike Vrabel). Now that we know that this is apparently where he’ll play for sure (read here for more), check out some of the following line-up possibilities – I’ve taken into consideration free agent options here. Who do you think will start for our front 7 this year?

  • 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, James Farrior, Barnett, Chillar;
  • 3=Jolly, Pickett, Jenkins; 4 = Kampman, Ray Lewis, Barnett, Hawk
  • 3=Jolly, Pickett, Jenkins; 4 = Jason Taylor, Barnett, Karlos Dansby, Kampman
  • Pickett, BJ Raji (read here from Boston College), Jenkins; 4=Kampman, Barnett, Farrior, Suggs
  • 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4 = Kampman, draft pick like Ray Maualuga from USC (Pmenadue’s suggestion), Barnett, Chillar
  • 3=Jenkins, Pickett, Jolly; 4=Suggs, Dansby, Barnett, Kampman
  • 3=Jolly, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Chillar, Kampman, Barnett, Suggs
  • 3=Jolly, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, D Bishop, Barnett, Hawk
  • 3=Chris Canty, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Chillar, Dansby, Farrior, Barnett
  • 3=Chris Canty, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Chillar, Barnett, Bishop, Suggs
  • 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, Dansby, Barnett, Jason Taylor
  • 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, D Bishop, Barnett, Suggs
  • 3=Peppers, Pickett, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, Barnett, Hawk, Suggs
  • 3=Pickett, new huge fat guy through draft, Jenkins; 4=Kampman, Barnett, Mike Peterson, Suggs

Trade the guys who are left off, or just use them as back-ups. For those questioning the idea of putting Kampman at OLB, consider that Mike Vrabel, OLB for the NE Patriots is also 6’4″ in the 260s – and that Kampman filling gaps as a LB might be really helpful for stopping the run. (Though I’d even consider putting Kampman at ILB between two speedy players like Barnett and Chillar.) Anyway, we need better talent in this front 7 than we have presently, but we don’t need 7 new guys. We need 2-3 new guys to step in and I think there will be some decent options in free agency.

Imagine a defense that would have Aaron Kampman lining up as an OLB on the same side as Julius Peppers – only to have Terrell Suggs and Jenkins coming at you from the other side while Barnett and/or James Farrior or Ray Lewis or Bart Scott or Desmond Bishop or Karlos Dansby man the middle. Then, imagine a QB having less than a second to figure out where to throw the ball while Woodson and Collins are just waiting for an interception to run back. Throw in a few nasty hits by Atari Bigby (or a free agent safety like Leonhard, Dawkins or Atogwe) and blanket coverage by Al Harris and suddenly, we’re the Green Bay Steelers.

Anyway, I’m getting out of control here but my point is this: there are lots of ways to go as far as staffing this 3-4 and I am excited for it. In fact, I have decided to go on record here guaranteeing that the 2009 defense will be a top 12 defense.

UPDATE: Bad news for me. I just learned that James Farrior, a guy I thought would look great next to Nick Barnett in a 3-4 line-up, apparently signed a contract extension with Pittsburgh in August – a 5 year deal for a 34 year old player. That’s how good this guy is. Too bad.

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12 Responses to “Possible 3-4 line-ups, here we go”

  1. Aaron Says:

    If Peppers comes on board (he won’t, but if he did) he would play OLB, not DE. The whole reason he wants out of Carolina is to play OLB in a 3-4. The DE position is for guys like Jolly and Harrell.

  2. awhayes Says:

    Aaron – did not realize that. I had just looked at his listed weight (283) and I guess I assumed he’d be DE. He would be a bit small weight-wise for a DE in a 3-4, you’re right, but he’d also be pretty big for an OLB. (Though he’s athleticism would enable him to be just fine at OLB I’m sure).

  3. Daniel Says:

    Are you suggesting A.J. Hawk on the bench? Thal will be a big waste of his pick, if he can’t be a starter in this defense, that’s really bad.

  4. Ron La Canne Says:

    Wow! Poor AJ, I guess we must be trading him for a 5th or 6th?

    Actually, your exercise does point to the problem I’ve been harping about for months. The D Front 7 is crap. Many changes must be made. I heard that one of the know-nothing MJS reporters said Harrell would be a DE in Capers system. Harrell hasn’t played enough to be considered for anything. And don’t forget, Pickett’s slow recovery from his hammy and Jenkins coming off an injury that could impact his upper body strength permanently.

    That is why TT’s off-season is going to make or break the effort to improve the Packers now. This year could very easily slip into rebuild if the right personnel decisions aren’t made. Standing pat is not an option.

    The goal for FA – Get players in that are noticeably better than the players they replace.

    The goal for the Draft – Put aside best player available theory and draft best player for positon of need. If you stick with best player, TT will probably get two more WR’s.

  5. awhayes Says:

    Daniel, not necessarily. I was more just brainstorming ideas. I can say that I didn’t include him as much as some others in these fake line-ups mostly because presently, I’m not high on the guy. Who knows, maybe a 3-4 will be way more natural for him and he’ll dominate. I’d be open to that for sure – I do like that guy. But the fact is, last year he wasn’t good and in previous years, while he certainly wasn’t bad, he’s just never been great. I know he was a high draft pick, but I want guys who can play at a really high level regardless of where they were picked in the draft. If TT were to get aggressive with a couple free agent acquisitions (like picking up Terrell Suggs for example), I would rather have Suggs opposite Kampman at OLB than Hawk. (Though I’d be open to Hawk moving to an ILB if it were determined that he beat out the other competition at ILB.) I also think that considering how he played last year, I’m not sure Chillar shouldn’t get at least the opportunity to replace Hawk.

  6. Aaron Says:

    Hawk will be a beast as one of the MLBs in this defense. Just watch – complete revitalization.

  7. awhayes Says:

    I too hope Hawk will be good and wouldn’t be shocked if he is (I also think his injury last year may have slowed him down). But we need to be prepared for the possibility that he’s nothing special and that Poppinga will continue to suck etc – we need to bring in more competition at LB.

    Ron – I tend to agree with you – our front 7 needs improvement and our existing group is not adequate. I will say that moving to a 3-4 might result in better play from some of these existing guys – that’s possible. But I think there are some free agents and probably players in the draft too who will be upgrades over the guys we have now. I just hope tt will be willing to pick them up and MM will be willing to put them on the field.

    I sure hope we don’t draft more WRs, though I just read that we’ve spent a lot of time in particular, apparently, looking at this Cherry kid from Louisiana Lafayette or something like that. He does sound impressive – I just hope we can snatch him up in later rounds because I agree with you, we have other more pressing needs to address.

  8. Aaron Rogders Says:

    How would putting Hawk on the bench be a waste? That kind of mentality is what brings down a team. The BEST player should start, not the player that is paid the most or was drafted higher. I thought all last season they were starting Grant because he was being paid the most, because it wasn’t that he was playing any better then our other backs.

  9. Daniel Says:

    A-Rod, I totally agree with you, the best should play, but when I think about some future formations, I put the guy in most of them.

    A.J. Hawk is playing the way we expected? Absolutely not. But he isn’t terrible, and MAYBE he could play in a higher level with a new system.

  10. Greg Says:

    Where is Justin Harrell on this list? Just kidding.

  11. DreamPipe Says:

    andy and friends-

    your list makes me happy. except one thing, you don’t list Hawk in every starting lineup. The only way he doesn’t start is if we trade him. You know I like to defend our linebackers from the LB-hating packergeeks on this blog, but the one thing I haven’t yet mentioned in defense of Hawk, is that fans expectations of him are too high setting them up for disappointment. While I can’t think of a more disappointing season than this past one, I’d like to point out that Hawk has improved every year. He takes on any assignment, even when he’s asked to play another position. I’m excited to watch Hawk shine in this new defense playing his natural position, and being allowed to run around and make ball-hawking plays, while not being exposed and run over due to horrible D-line play. Hawk is a GOOD football player, he will never suck, and he may never reach Urlacher status, but in the right scheme with guys around him that do their jobs, he’s a pro-bowler. The coaches AND fans asked WAY too much of him this year (due to injuries and bad schemes).

  12. atheist4thecause Says:

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, but Peppers has been franchised. We could still potentially pick him up in a trade. Haynesworth is another option out of free agency, who seemed to be overlooked. Also, how could Harrell have been a bust? Hasn’t he been hurt all season? Let’s give him a chance when he’s healthy before we call him a bust. He can at least be a good back up for us. Another thing is Suggs isn’t available, either. The Ravens also franchised Suggs to my knowledge.

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