What do you do when your best blitzing linebacker is also your best cover linebacker?
It’s a big problem, because it means that you are sacrificing pass rush for coverage, or vice versa. It’s a problem the Packers encountered all season last year. So what is your first move in free agency?
You’ve got to find a cover linebacker, fast.
That’s what the Green Bay Packers have done, according to a tweet from Jarrett Bush this morning. Of course, such a process is a lot easier when said cover linebacker is as familiar to you as Brandon Chillar – the guy who was cut before training camp last year seems likely to be back with the Packers this year after tight ends perpetually exploited the cover skills of the Packers’ A.J. Hawk and other linebackers.
This move allows the Packers to make some easier decisions in obvious passing downs. For instance, the coaches can let Desmond Bishop, who has shown a great knack for blitzing, run wild into the backfield, or at the very least be a rushing threat. Last year, opposing offensive coordinators knew that between A.J. Hawk and Bishop, the Packers were more likely to use Bishop in coverage, despite the fact that Bishop is a much better blitzer than coverage guy.
Because Bishop is much better in coverage than Hawk, who isn’t as fast or as agile as his fellow inside linebacker. Additionally, this move should take some of the coverage burden off Clay Matthews and Erik Walden, who are built to rush the passer and not cover. By signing Chillar, the Packers are acknowledging that their linebacking corps didn’t get the job done in rushing the passer last season.
Oh, and if the Packers did want Chillar to rush the passer from time to time to catch the opponent off guard, I’m sure his speed and agility would be helpful, just take a look at this play from 2009.
A 2004 fourth-round pick by St. Louis, Chillar’s most productive season was his first in Green Bay, during the 2008 campaign, when he had nine passes defended and 59 solo tackles in 14 games. He played reserve roles in each of the next few seasons and played in only eight games during the Packers’ Super Bowl run in 2010-11.