I’ve spent the last 3.5 years wondering who in a leadership position was forcing the issue by putting Brady Poppinga on the field. I thought it was Bob Sanders until I read something about Winston Moss liking Poppinga. Then Sanders left and Moss has been pushed somewhat into the background. I figured Dom Capers would notice Poppinga’s underwhelming performance right away and perhaps just cut him. Apparently not (or perhaps Capers doesn’t want to say anything?) That essentially leaves McCarthy and Ted Thompson. But after reading these comments by McCarthy today from Tom Silverstein’s jsonline.com article, I think we’ve found the culprit:
“Everybody was excited about where Clay was when the injury occurred,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He was lining up with the starters at that particular point, but Brady Poppinga has taken full advantage of his opportunities. I can’t say enough about him. From a preparation standpoint, he’s taken every snap in training camp, hasn’t missed a practice, and it shows up on the field.
“He’s very comfortable in the new scheme, he’s done an excellent job, particularly in the run defense of taking two defenders time and time again. He’s been around the ball a lot and part of the takeaway production that we’ve had on defense. I think Brady’s having a heck of a camp.”
Look, I understand how this evolved considering Poppinga was the left OLB back-up and the 2 guys slated to play right OLB have both been injured. It’s not totally illogical. But what bothers me here on a very basic level is that once again Brady Poppinga has been elevated to a starter role when he is actually one of the weaker LBs on the roster. People talk about our depth at LB and I agree, we have depth. But then why would someone who is a proven weak-link get the starting nod. Why Bishop wouldn’t get a chance to see if he can play OLB (Hawk got to move from OLB to MLB last year, Chillar from OLB to ILB this year), or why wouldn’t they experiment with a more capable Chillar at OLB – which was his original position. What I’m saying is that it’s time to move on. Poppinga may prove yet to be OK in the 3-4, maybe it will suit him, but he’s not capable of being a game-changer. And he’s been given so many opportunities and failed that it’s simply time to let some of these other talented guys get on the field.
The bottom line is that McCarthy, by anointing Poppinga starter, is not putting the best guys on the field who give us the best chance to win. That is his job and he’s not doing it. For him to have such effusive praise for a guy who has had one good game in 4 years, it’s simply unfair to the other players. For someone I believe has reasonably sound judgment on many other football decisions, I’m surprised to learn that McCarthy is likely the one behind this inane pro-Poppinga movement.
UPDATE: Yesterday on Homer’s show on ESPN radio Milwaukee, he was interviewing the Wisconsin State Journal’s Jason Wilde. Homer was campaigning for Bishop to get on the field more/possibly start and Wilde, shockingly, wasn’t biting. Wilde went on to say that Bishop didn’t stand out really this year and made one good play last year and 2 horrible plays. I respect Wilde most of the time, but I was shocked to hear someone who usually has a sound take be so far off. Wilde clearly is drinking the coaches’ water on this one – and he’s wrong. We’ll all have one of those “how could we let that guy go?” moments when Bishop is snatched up by some other smart NFL team and dominates.