Packers: Defense ready to change under Mike Pettine

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 18: Damarious Randall
GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 18: Damarious Randall /

With the arrival of new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, changes are coming for Green Bay Packers.

The first wave of change should be re-evaluating talent on the roster and how to best utilize that talent in the new system. And while he has inherited some nice pieces, now it’s up to Pettine to put the puzzle together.

Entering his fourth season Damarious Randall has shown flashes of the talent that made him the Packers’ first selection in 2015, but his play at cornerback has been inconsistent.

With the likelihood of safety Morgan Burnett moving on from the team in free agency (for age, recent injury history and monetary reasons) it is time to look at Randall moving back to the position he played in college.

The kid is a ball-hawk (10 interceptions in three seasons) and does a great job tracking deep throws. If you review footage of his interceptions you will see him go up and pull down several in such a manner.

Randall is much better with the field in front of him, playing centerfield. The move would compensate for his abysmal recovery speed and limit his exposure in man coverage, where he struggles.

This would also allow Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to play closer to the line of scrimmage where he can be his more physical and help in diagnosing offensive play calls.

A Jones of our own

Another player who could be in line for more snaps under Pettine’s system is Josh Jones.

With his speed, size and athleticism moving the hybrid S/LB to full-time middle linebacker makes sense. Pairing him with Blake Martinez, who is not an elite athlete but has a nose for the football and is a tackling machine, would likely bring out the playmaker the Packers envisioned when drafting him.

The developing Jones could blitz from the inside, a Pettine trait, play spy or drop into coverage. He would still be able to take on running backs and playing between the tackles could minimalize his biggest flaw, over pursuit, while maintaining his aggressive play.

Change is exciting and can be scary but I believe it’s worth the gamble here. These players are young enough and smart enough to take on new responsibilities in the transitioning defense.

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With three moves (Randall, Clinton-Dix and Jones) the defense gets younger, faster and more physical. And that’s before adding help through free agency and a hopefully dynamic draft class.