Comparing Saints to Packers transition to 3-4 (1 Viewer)

Whodat GT

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I've had on my mind for the past days the idea to compare the Packers transition to the 3-4 in 2009, with what the Saints are trying to do, in order to have a better idea of what the team will be going through this year (what better time than to lay it out on a workday right?).

The Packers had enormous success during the first year of transitioning under Dom Capers (who is a 3-4 belichick guy if I'm not mistaken), going from a 6-10 record to a 11-5 record, while they fielded the n°2 ranked defense, specializing in turnovers and takeaways.

I would like to have a better idea of the concerns the packers's fans had going in to the 2009 season, but at the time, from what I've read, there were some who didn't think they had the players to pull it off, be it D-line or LBers:

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Packers Switch to 3-4 Defense

What did the Packers do then, during that free agency period and through the draft, to address the D? Well in typical Packers fashion, they did almost nothing, but they scored a couple of home runs in the draft with B.J Raji and Clay Mathews. Those two pieces, along with a dynamic secondary led by Charles Woodson (who shined during those first two years), were enough to push them over the top, even if they had some holdover pieces that were average, or simply couldn't get it done (Kampman, Hawk, Poppinga...). Bear in mind, that I'm no Packers expert, and this is my outsiders view, so if some of you have a better grasp of the Packers, your thoughts are more than welcome.

So right now I have these to compare: The Packers had a great player in Woodson, a great player who developped fully next year in Tramon Williams, a serviceable saftey group (Bigby and Collins), a solid Middle Lber in Nick Barnett, and two stud rookies: Raji and Mathews.

What do we have?

For starters, you could say that Vacarro was drafted to play the Woodson role, since he is a versatile safety that can play the slot as well as perform CB duties.

What about shoring up the D-line? Well it depends on who can fill the Raji role, a dynamic attacking two-gap force. Can Jenkins do it? Can Bunkley? It would be great if one of them could fit the bill, but as of now we have to assume that the position will be manned by a rotation.

Finally, the pass rush: can Butler, Johnson, Galette, and/or Wilson breakout? Mathews impact as a pass rusher during his first season was big: he played in 12 games, and had 10 sacks 45 QB pressures, 7 pass defended, 1 FF and 3 interceptions. And he did this without major help on the other side, he was the team sack leader and the runner up was Cullen Jenkins with 4.5 sacks. However, 10 sacks a year by one player doesn't explain why the D went from worst to first. Simply put, they thrived by producing turnovers, as they recorded 30 interceptions (9 by Woodson), and at the end, they recorded a +24 in takeaway/giveaway differential (for those counting, the Saints D that year had a +11 differential).

Finally, I'll leave you with this: The Packers success was short-lived, they played great for two years, and now they seem to have the same problem the Saints had with 3G: the other teams are figuring them out, and they are specially vulnerable to the run... but they are a contending team, and they have a D that can get it done... and their transition went well enough for them to win a Super Bowl, with a couple of key acquisitions (mainly through the draft), and an aggressive style of D. Does this mean then, that the Saints would rather need the secondary, not the front 7, to step it up, in order to be successful this year and the years to come? What other differences between the two teams can help us analyze what the Saints need to do to be a contender again?
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/extra-points/2009/packers-switch-3-4-defense
 
good breakdown - i know less about the Packers D than you, but your frist year of 3G (& Dom Capers) thing is something to chew on
yes new Ds have a slight advantage against most offenses
part of it is scheme, but I know a HUGE one for the saints in '09 was energy - they flew all over the field and were just like a pack of hungry dogs attacking everything -- they were never able to get that energy level back after the superbowl

also consider that defenses on high scoring treams are on the field a LOT - and they're called on mostly in the 2nd half when the other teams are flinging the ball around trying to play catch-up -- i think they just get gassed duging the game
 
I'm going to do an article shortly but if u want to know what made the difference it wasn't really Clay Matthews and you touched on it when u pointed out that he had only 10 sacks.

It was this -----------> Defensive ranking Rushing (YPG): 1st that led to the turnaround.

The combination of Raji, Pricket,Jenkins,Johnny Jolly up front stopping the run is what made the defensive turn around work. Arguably we have more pass rushers than they had and arguably our front line is WAY better.

Cullen Jenkins gave them that inside pressure and im sure Jordan/Hicks can do the same.

I'm more excited about the prospects of having a suffocating run defense that leads to more 3rd n longs than I am to see who is going to be our top pass rusher.

The 3 down lineman in the 3-4 become more important because its only 3 instead of 4. You get a beastly front 3 and it becomes a #'s game 3 guys to tie up 5/6 blockers and someone will run free.
 
I'm going to do an article shortly but if u want to know what made the difference it wasn't really Clay Matthews and you touched on it when u pointed out that he had only 10 sacks.

It was this -----------> Defensive ranking Rushing (YPG): 1st that led to the turnaround.

The combination of Raji, Pricket,Jenkins,Johnny Jolly up front stopping the run is what made the defensive turn around work. Arguably we have more pass rushers than they had and arguably our front line is WAY better.

Cullen Jenkins gave them that inside pressure and im sure Jordan/Hicks can do the same.

I'm more excited about the prospects of having a suffocating run defense that leads to more 3rd n longs than I am to see who is going to be our top pass rusher.

The 3 down lineman in the 3-4 become more important because its only 3 instead of 4. You get a beastly front 3 and it becomes a #'s game 3 guys to tie up 5/6 blockers and someone will run free.

Don't know whether the statistics bear this out, but it seemed to me that a lot of the Saints' defensive woes occurred on first down, which is often a rushing down. There were a lot of long runs against that defense.
 
Thanks for the feedback. I don't know much in depth stuff about how the Packers work, that's why I thought it would be interesting to see the reaction on SR, but the main idea is the same: which are the players that will really help the Saints in there transition, which will become afterthoughts, etc..?
Can anyone shed light on Dom Capers main principles and scheme design?
 
I'm going to do an article shortly but if u want to know what made the difference it wasn't really Clay Matthews and you touched on it when u pointed out that he had only 10 sacks.

It was this -----------> Defensive ranking Rushing (YPG): 1st that led to the turnaround.

The combination of Raji, Pricket,Jenkins,Johnny Jolly up front stopping the run is what made the defensive turn around work. Arguably we have more pass rushers than they had and arguably our front line is WAY better.

Cullen Jenkins gave them that inside pressure and im sure Jordan/Hicks can do the same.

I'm more excited about the prospects of having a suffocating run defense that leads to more 3rd n longs than I am to see who is going to be our top pass rusher.

The 3 down lineman in the 3-4 become more important because its only 3 instead of 4. You get a beastly front 3 and it becomes a #'s game 3 guys to tie up 5/6 blockers and someone will run free.

I think that's definitely valid, and I think you said it before when we were discussing draft prospects, that the better plan would be to shore up the D-line with run stoppers. I would think that that goes against conventional wisdom, that you need good to great Lber play in the 3-4 to be successful, and the Packers can be an example of that.
 
I think that's definitely valid, and I think you said it before when we were discussing draft prospects, that the better plan would be to shore up the D-line with run stoppers. I would think that that goes against conventional wisdom, that you need good to great Lber play in the 3-4 to be successful, and the Packers can be an example of that.


Well the Packers defense started to struggle right after they lost Cullen Jenkins to the Eagles.

There was no one to bring inside pressure and collapse the pocket. If the QB can't step up then Matthews is bound to get there. I'll go out on a limb and probably say the next year thats what attributed to Matthews low sack #'s. He probably still maintained pressures and hurries but due to the fact that the inside pressure wasn't there QB's were afforded the opportunity to step up and and in most cases away from the grasp of matthews.


From everything I've read about the 3-4 you need at least 1 guy who can bring inside pressure otherwise you end up having to bring more guys. IF were are lucky we have 3 on the front line.

Jenkins comes from a 1 gap scheme and has a pretty good swim move.
Hicks/Tom Johnson should be able to provide adequate pressure from the 3 tech and Jordan coming off an 8 sack season is the closest thing we have to Jenkins as far as inside pressure. So that along with a new stout front line should provide the combo we need to stop the run as well as rush the passer.
 
My humble 2 cents is this... Do what we did with GDub, but less blitzing and better pressure up front. If we can rattle or shut down a QB without much blitzing, all of our games would become much easier.

I know its a big if, but we did it once, we can do it twice.
 
good breakdown - i know less about the Packers D than you, but your frist year of 3G (& Dom Capers) thing is something to chew on
yes new Ds have a slight advantage against most offenses
part of it is scheme, but I know a HUGE one for the saints in '09 was energy - they flew all over the field and were just like a pack of hungry dogs attacking everything -- they were never able to get that energy level back after the superbowl


also consider that defenses on high scoring treams are on the field a LOT - and they're called on mostly in the 2nd half when the other teams are flinging the ball around trying to play catch-up -- i think they just get gassed duging the game

You hit the nail on the head. This is the most overlooked aspect of bringing in a new coach/scheme. Football players are just like the rest of us, we need motivation to be at our best. You touched on on a perfect example of this, when 3G swaggered into town with his brash style he rejuvenated our players and had them ready to run through a brick wall. After awhile though his message and philosophy grew stagnant and the players lost that edge. That coupled with the fact that the rest of the league figured us out led to what happened in San Fran. :jpshakehead:

Skip over the Spags debacle and enter the swag master, Rob Ryan. This is very similar to when 3G rode into town on a pale horse promising havoc, destruction, and glory. I think our players can't wait for the new leadership, energy, and message that RR will bring. IMHO Rob Ryan wasn't the most popular choice but he was the perfect choice. What other coach was out there with as much enthusiasm, passion, and a 3-4 scheme? We now have coaches on both sides of the ball with onions and brashness with SP and RR. I've got a feeling...
 
I believe with Butler (our Clay Matthews) and with the added beef in the middle to go along with Hicks moving to DE, we will see immediate improvement. Now, if you keep adding things up; Harper doing what he does best (playing in the box) move Jenkins to CB, playing press corner coverage, and by the way, Rob Ryan as DC, we will move to a middle of the pack defense=Super Bowl
 
Here's some more food for thought on the matter:

Packers Defense Not Built to Stop the Run | AllGreenBayPackers.Com

In this article, the author refers to last year's miserable performance against SF (which had Kaepernick running all over the place at will), and he asks what the Packers can do to stop the run. But he goes three years back and compares stats, as you'll see below:

<table border="1" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><th colspan="3">Green Bay Packers Defensive Production, 2009-2012</th> </tr> <tr> <td>Year</td> <td>Avg. Passing Yds./Game</td> <td>Avg. Rushing Yds./Game</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2009</td> <td>201.1 (5th)</td> <td>83.3 (1st)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2010</td> <td>194.2 (5th)</td> <td>114.9 (18th)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2011</td> <td>299.8 (32nd)</td> <td>111.8 (14th)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2012</td> <td>218.2 (11th)</td> <td>118.5 (17th)</td></tr></tbody></table>(copied from the article)

The constant during those first two years in the Capers system is a good pass defense (at least statistically), which could lead us to believe that their success was indeed to put an emphasis on stopping the pass.
Now, the guy that wrote this article concludes that the main problem is that the Packers seem to be trying to play catch-up in regards to their personnel decisions each year (they have secondary problems, so they make an emphasis on that during draft time, and vice versa). On top of that, he states that the team wasn't really good at stopping elite passing or rushing attacks (but who is?). As a result, they end up devaluating the other main component in fundamental defense (stopping the pass vs stopping the run). Add to that the problem that the read-option caused this year, and it would seem that the team does not play complementary defense.
 
I'm more excited about the prospects of having a suffocating run defense that leads to more 3rd n longs than I am to see who is going to be our top pass rusher.

THIS!

i think it starts with that.

adjustments in scheme, after base foundations have been established, is key as the season progresses and for FUTURE seasons.

our ability to adjust will make or break us on defense.

payton does an AMAZING job of adjusting on the fly. he adjusts each season, during season and between SERIES. he will notice a trend and adjust a single player's o-line assignment.

we had little adjustments under GW and seemingly NONE under Spags.
 

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