Normally, the spot-on Jason Wilde from the WSJ is all over important Packer issues, making astute observations, giving valuable insight. If you don’t go to madison.com to read his Packer articles, start going there now. He is one of the best.
But even Wilde misses it here in his article on the Packer linebacker situation. Both Wilde and Bedard strongly imply in their respective articles on this situation that perhaps it’s AJ Hawk who should be benched. Actually, Wilde doesn’t “imply” this – he states it (or explies it, new word) when he says “might the coaches consider a lineup of Chillar, Bishop and Brady Poppinga?”. That now makes it 3 quality, sensible Packer writers (Wilde, Bedard and Silverstein) who haven’t thought to suggest that it should be Poppinga who should be benched. I’m very surprised by this.
As I’ve been posting ad nauseam, there is a right-in-front-of-your-face-logical solution to this mess: start Chillar, Bishop and Hawk – perhaps moving Hawk back to his more natural position of weak-side and having Bishop man the middle. It was this sentence, when Wilde paraphrased from Winston Moss, that I was most concerned about:
“He (Moss) just wants to see more evidence before recommending any bold moves.”
How about 3 years of nothing from Poppinga? That enough? How about the fact that Bishop contributed more in Sunday’s game than Hawk or Poopinga (typo?) have in a single game in their entire careers? And, why not make “bold moves” at this point. There is virtually zero playoff chance, the defense has been bad most of the season and the sooner we know what Bishop can do on the field (though any sensible Packer fan already knows he can play), the better off we will be for the off-season (knowing who to acquire/draft) and the better off we’ll be heading into next year.
STEVE ADDS: I’m with Andy. Poppinga, as we’ve written here before, has the talent and enthusiasm to be a really good special teams player. Very few of the men who wear an NFL uniform jump on the pile at the end of a play with the eagerness and ferocity of Poppinga.
Bishop needs more time. Now is the time to give it to him. His season so far has been marked by big plays and missed assignments. That suggests to me that if he were to learn the scheme and get comfortable with his role, he could cut down on the missed assignments and make more big plays. Maybe I’m wrong. Let’s find out. He seems to have the instincts of a difference-maker.