Green Bay Packers free safetyM.D. Jennings
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Well, week 17 is in the books for the Green Bay Packers; the final week of the regular season. It has been a rollercoaster ride.
As Citizen GM of the Green Bay Packers, I’ve had to make some tough decisions. I’ve also been able to reward some deserving men.
1. Sam Shields
2. James Jones
I took a hiatus for the holidays, but I am back – and the generous feeling has all but deserted me. With Sunday’s big come-from-behind win against the Chicago Bears, the Packers took an unlikely (albeit deserved) hop into the playoffs. It was a team effort, but some have been falling down on the job consistently.
That didn’t stop Sunday.
Now, to close a chapter on the 2013 regular season, I close a chapter on our secondary.
Dear M.D Jennings,
Here is the thing: I have tried really hard to hold on to hope for you.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Drew Davis gets past Green Bay Packers safety M.D. Jennings to score a touchdown.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Ted Thompson did what Ted Thompson does – found you in the undrafted free agent bin – and tested your skills. It was 2011, we were coming off of a huge Super Bowl victory and our defense was putting in work. In fact, it was the defense that kept us in the hunt … not Aaron Rodgers, not a potent offensive attack. When Thompson scoured and picked you up from Arkansas, we were trying to come up with a playmaker to fill a void that would be Charles Woodson-shaped. He was on the decline and making a transition from cornerback to safety, we knew we needed to groom another young safety to step in and lead opposite a young up-and-comer, Morgan Burnett.
You have been relatively healthy. In three years, you have been active for all but one game. You started 10 games last year, and all 16 this year. We really liked that about you. With all the injuries that the Packers have been facing the past couple of years, it was nice to have a stable presence in the secondary.
Sam Shields and Tramon Williams are playmakers, sure, but they struggle to stay on the field. Casey Hayward and Morgan Burnett are staple guys – coming on strong since last year – but have had nagging injuries, as well. You have managed to be a consistent, physical presence; though it is not often felt.
You have one shining moment: an interception returned 72-yards for a touchdown in 2012. That was your 15 minutes of fame.
But, you were also involved in a scandal. Instead of batting the ball down in the end zone that fateful Monday night in Seattle, you went for the seal. You “simultaneously possessed” the ball with one Golden Tate (though the whole world knows that you had sole possession), which will go down in infamy as the great “touchception.” While it did rid the NFL of the dreaded “replacement officials,” it broke the hearts of Packers faithful everywhere.
Seriously, I was devastated.
I don’t blame you entirely, but: WHEN IN DOUBT, PUNCH IT OUT.
Since then, your name hasn’t exactly been “household” … if you know what I mean.
This season, you started all 16 regular season games. You recorded 74 tackles, which is average. You (along with your safety friends) have failed to record a single interception. You have also failed to be much of a “safety net.”
I don’t know if you are aware, but the SAFETY is the last line of defense for a unit. More times than not, you are out of position to make any play on the ball. When you are in position, you take a terrible angle, are completely overmatched or tackle inefficiently. I’ve never seen anyone fall for as many head fakes and jukes as you have this year.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph
You can’t just throw your body into a full grown man with a head of steam and expect to make a tackle.
Tackling requires the use of your arms.
No matter, it has been trial and error. It just isn’t working out, anymore. We’ve given it a good run.
Sean Richardson is going to take your place in the lineup. He’s a work in progress, I’ll admit, but there is upside.
Enjoy the playoffs; I’m looking forward to addressing the safety needs in the 2014 draft!