Cory's Corner: We Learned A Lot About This Dynamic Bunch

This high-energy crew will surprise you this year. This team just needs one more thing. 

Preseason football is put to bed. 

It’s hard to believe that three games are over already. 

What did we learn from the Packers this preseason? 

First and foremost, we learned that this defense is going to be really good. Now obviously, we knew that going in, but this defense has another gear. I loved seeing how many Packers defensive players surrounded the ball carrier, preventing a potential splash play. This defense is going to be the fastest, most athletic unit you’ve seen wear green and gold in a long time. And the key to it all, is an impressive defensive line that will be able to generate pressure without the blitz. 

Just think how creative that is going to make defensive coordinator Joe Barry? He can watch Rashan Gary chew up anyone that stands in his way as he makes a beeline to the quarterback. 

Secondly, we learned that Jordan Love has gotten better. How much? I still don’t know. And neither do you. He finally got a chance to play more which is something that he didn’t get to do because of COVID and injury and he showed that he can do some things. The game has slowed down for him.

This is Love’s third season as a pro. He never suited up as a rookie and he started one game and played significant snaps in another last year. The best thing about Love is that he is not the starting quarterback. Which means, he is going to continue to get better. I really like Love’s arm talent. He has been largely inaccurate, which has been a cause for concern among throngs of people. If he can shoehorn the ball into tight windows 20-30 yards downfield, he will figure out how to be accurate on 7-10 yard passes. 

Finally, we learned that the Packers may have to go out and get some veteran depth at outside linebacker. If Gary and/or Preston Smith have to miss any time, that defense is going to be a completely different animal. The 49ers released Dee Ford in July. I know that the 31-year-old has had chronic back issues, but he would play a situational role and would be a lethal trio with Gary and Smith. Then there’s A.J. Klein. The Wisconsin native and Kimberly High School standout that played pro ball at Carolina, New Orleans and Buffalo. The 31-year-old was released in March to save the Bills $5.2 million in cap money. 

Both of these would fill a role immediately and not just offer depth, but offer leadership. Ford played in eight postseason games, including Super Bowl LIV and Klein has played in 12 postseason games, including Super Bowl 50. 

This team is really close. I love that this team has an edge. This team isn’t going to wait to punch you in the mouth, because this team will do it first. This team was assembled to be physical and win games the old fashioned way. 

Everyone knows that the defense is going to be good, but these guys are going to prove it and then they are going to tell you about it. 

The only question mark will be depth because depth will determine how far this team goes. 
 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (27)

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stockholder's picture

August 27, 2022 at 07:12 am

This Defense has gotten better. Competition can do that. Don't worry about the depth. The starters got this. Clark got help. The ILB has been fixed. And the secondary is experienced. We now can take on any team in any direction.
We're stuck with LOVE. So why not hype him. Is he a diamond in the rough now? They're still a lot to process with him.
Warning: Love unwisely given, brings sorrow to the giver.
I don't think the packers need to go out and get anybody. Gutey does his best work picking up cast - offs.
Worry about the STs. Not the depth. The Special Teams have been the problem.

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

August 27, 2022 at 07:22 am

I would like to post this on a more "roster-prediction" article, but I'll be offline for a few days. Here’s PEO’s opening day roster—not who I think the Packers will keep, but who I personally would keep (plus some reasons):

QB 2: Rodgers, Love PS: Etling
RB 3: Jones, Dillon, Goodson, (Rodgers) PS: Taylor hopefully PUP: Hill
WR 8: Lazard, Watkins, Cobb, Doubs, Watson, Rodgers, Toure, Winfree
TE 4: Tonyan, Lewis, DeGuara, Davis
OL 10: Bakhtiari, Jenkins, Myers, Newman, Tom, Nijman, Runyan, Hanson, Rhyan, Jones
Total Offense: 27
DL 7: Clark, Reed, Lowry, Slaton, Wyatt, Heflin, Slayton
ILB 4: Campbell, Walker, McDuffie, Barnes
ED/OLB 4: Gary, Smith, Enagbare, Garvin
CB 5: Alexander, Stokes, Douglas, Nixon, Jean-Charles
S 3: Amos, Savage, Abernathy, (Douglas, Nixon, Jean-Charles) PS: Carpenter, Davis, Gaines
Total Defense: 23
ST 3: O’Donnell, Ahmed, Coco

Comments: Usually BG keeps the Offense and Defensive roster sizes equal—but I think this year we shouldn’t
I don’t keep 8 WRs because I have WR fever; I do it because I see us losing Watkins and Cobb as early as next year, and I believe Toure will be better than Rodgers or Winfree in a year. I also expect injuries at this position (Cobb, Watkins)
I only keep three safeties, because I think Douglas, Nixon, and Jean-Charles can all fill that role better than the other bottom-of-the-roster guys. Plus, we'd have several on the PS.
I keep 10 OL because I don’t trust Bakhtiari’s injury, and I believe Rhyan and Jones will be very good in two years. I’d be willing to cut Hanson if I think Jenkins might be the best backup to Myers (sliding others to his T/G slot if Myers went down). If I cut Hanson, I keep Patrick Taylor as a fourth RB.
I’d be looking at other team’s cuts for a great ST/OLB to replace Garvin… I also think Walker and Wyatt could serve as emergency EDGEs
Heflin and Slayton earned roster spots, and I don’t know that we’ll retain Lowry and Reed in a year.
Davis has disappointed, but he’s still probably the best #4 TE, unless another team’s cut replaces him.

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PackerBacker77's picture

August 27, 2022 at 08:09 am

No way in hell there keeping 8 WR

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

August 27, 2022 at 08:46 am

As I said, this is not my prediction of who THEY'RE going to keep, but rather who I would keep.

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PhantomII's picture

August 27, 2022 at 03:38 pm

Agree cut Hanson and add Taylor to 4th RB. ML is running 2-RB sets this year and Dillon-Taylor and A.Jones-Goodson(Hill) will be closer matches for ML scheme of rotational players.

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Cwoodson21's picture

August 27, 2022 at 04:11 pm

I like your reasoning on keeping extra IDL and WR depth. We need to plan for the future.

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stockholder's picture

August 27, 2022 at 05:45 pm

I wouldn't keep any IDL for depth. They're just not good enough. I say PS first. Even if Lowrey and Reed want to leave. You can re-draft or sign somebody better.

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stockholder's picture

August 27, 2022 at 05:49 pm

I say they keep Ento. Etling to PS.

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Since'61's picture

August 27, 2022 at 08:49 am

I will feel more confident about the offense once Jenkins, at least, is ready to play. The sooner Bak can play the better as well. The OL can hold this team back if they are not effective.

My other concern is our STs, again, and as usual for several seasons now. The preseason did nothing to increase my confidence in our STs specifically our return and coverage units. At the least they are costing us the field position battle. At worst they will cost us games. Hopefully the preseason performances will turn out to mean nothing and execution will be better once the games count. Hoping for the best but I'm preparing for the worst.

Our receiving corps won't be great but they should be good enough. they may get off to a slow start but I see them improving as the season goes on.

If the defense remains healthy they could be a dominant unit. I will wait to see how we get through the next 2 weeks before I make a prediction on the season.

Thanks, Since '61

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Rossonero's picture

August 27, 2022 at 10:07 am

I'm still worried about STs as well. If we go from 32nd ranked to 22nd ranked in STs, while it is an improvement, we'll still be in the bottom third of the league. I'm not expecting us to become a top 10 unit overnight, but STs could potentially put our defense in tough spots if opponents are consistently getting short fields on us.

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PhantomII's picture

August 27, 2022 at 03:52 pm

Our Special......ST unit will get infused with multiple Defensive and offense Starters....I would say 4-5 from either starting O or D side depending which phase we are fielding: kickoff, punt, return or hands situation in a tight game. Hopefully our better defense will allow us good field position, more defensive scores and more opportunities on offense to score points. Really looking forward to ML use of 2-RB sets for pass / run with a twitchy RB and Big bruiser type making the defense shade to 8 man box and exploit with our passing game or use it to spread them out and run it with Dillon after all. GPG

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LambeauPlain's picture

August 27, 2022 at 09:23 am

I haven't felt this excited about a Packers D since the start of the 1996 season.

In 1995 the Packers broke out of 3 consecutive 9-7 seasons to finish 11-5...led by Fritz Schumer's Defense. Santana Dotson arrived in '96 to join The Minister, The Gravedigger, and Jones. The preseason buzz was the Packers had the best DL in football. They did not disappoint.

Last season the Defense showed it could help win games...culminating in a inspiring performance vs SF in the playoffs good enough to win the game. So now comes J. Reed plus rooks Walker, and Wyatt to join the front of Gary, Smith, Clark, Lowry, Slaton, and Campbell...with Alexander back defending the air with a productive DB group.

It has been a while, but Packer D is back on the menu!

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Rossonero's picture

August 27, 2022 at 10:01 am

100%. I'm pumped about this defense. Only concern is the depth at OLB. Wyatt didn't really show much so far, and I think he's going to take a little more time to develop than I'd originally hoped for as a 1st rounder.

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TarynsEyes's picture

August 27, 2022 at 09:35 am

"Secondly, we learned that Jordan Love has gotten better. How much? I still don’t know. And neither do you."

"He showed that he can do some things. The game has slowed down for him."

"The best thing about Love is that he is not the starting quarterback. Which means, he is going to continue to get better"

"I really like Love’s arm talent. He has been largely inaccurate"

"If he can shoehorn the ball into tight windows 20-30 yards downfield, he will figure out how to be accurate on 7-10 yard passes"

When you put the two paragraphs about Love through the bs strainer, the above is what is left, and what you get is a total contradiction about Love's performance and growth, or simply and honestly, the truth that many DON'T WANT IT TO BE.

This article would have been just fine being about the Defense, and the need to include the unfiltered hogwash about Love takes away from the Defensive rave it deserves for it's over all play this preseason, and the quantifiable expected performance and ranking predicted for it.

We don't need word salad of indoctrination into the MUST-love Love camp at the expense of, and demeaning of the Defensive Unit, but in all fairness, placing such dibble in the same writing about the SPT's Unit would be a better application of the Love Indoctrination as the SPT's Unit does nothing but make Love to look like what all the many want to believe he is and could be.

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Coldworld's picture

August 27, 2022 at 10:55 am

I understand that for you the future is always dark until the light blinds you. You could be right, but you could be wrong. Love was better than Rodgers in his second preseason and worse than Rodgers in his third. None of us know if similar growth will be forthcoming but we do now have no excuse for denying arm talent, an ability to read his progressions in most instances and he’s shown much more awareness in pocket. In saying that the jury remains out Corey is being honest. You just add hubris.

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TarynsEyes's picture

August 27, 2022 at 11:03 am

Wrong, I always see the light in the tunnel of life, I just don't allow it to be blindingly brilliant, so to have me deny that all isn't bright.

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Packerpasty's picture

August 27, 2022 at 09:01 pm

not me, I aint buying it on Love, I don't think he's very good at all and hasn't improved much, playing against second and third stringers he still makes big time mistakes and can't go through his progressions...I would rather they dump him and move on...

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LLCHESTY's picture

August 28, 2022 at 02:20 pm

"placing such dibble in the same writing about the SPT's Unit would be a better application of the Love Indoctrination as the SPT's Unit does nothing but make Love to look like what all the many want to believe he is and could be."

Speaking of word salad.

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Rossonero's picture

August 27, 2022 at 09:57 am

I'm mainly relieved that we escaped the pre-season and training camp without any major injuries to key players (knock on wood).

Yes, the defense can be special, although as you noted Corey, the lack of depth at OLB is concerning. Too bad Whitney Mercilus retired, I would've liked to see him back on a 1 year deal to chase a ring.

My only concern is with Devonte Wyatt. He's going to need more time to develop than I thought. I was thinking he'd be a plug 'n play starter, but it looks like he'll just be a rotational guy this year at best, and hopefully the game will slow down for him over time.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 27, 2022 at 01:40 pm

Right now it doesn't look like Wyatt can play at all. He is a liability against the run and the juice oozes out but not across the LOS very much. Still, he is a first rounder, so....

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Coldworld's picture

August 27, 2022 at 10:48 am

If we are talking signings of known players I’d put Kevin King at the top. He’d improve S and CB depth and knows the system.

As to OLBs, I’d wait till cut downs. I don’t think Ford plays meaningful snaps with his back and he’s purely a DPR at this point. Maybe in Late season but not before. Klein was a good back up in Buffalo. He’d need to take a big drop in pay for us to be in the market I think. I suspect he doesn’t want to because he’s still out there, He could be a good option if he did.

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NickPerry's picture

August 27, 2022 at 05:41 pm

Isn't AJ Klien an ILB?

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PackyCheese500's picture

August 27, 2022 at 08:12 pm

I don’t think signing King should be the Packers’ first priority. They have good CB depth with Nixon, SJC, and Savage (in the nickel). I think the Packers’ first priority has to be OLB depth, as Cory said. The Packers need Giuseppe who can consistently pressure the opposing QB when Gary and Smith aren’t on the field, and they don’t have that right now (see last 2 preseason games). However, Ford/Klein are not the guys. Dee is too injury prone, and Klein is an ILB. I think that the OLB the Packers need to sign is Jason Pierre Paul. He is old, but he has been able to consistently pressure the QB throughout his career. With a smaller workload (he has been a starter the past couple of years), the quality of his play would likely increase. He is the best depth option for the Packers. S depth is also a concern, but Abernathy has been encouraging. Also, a 3rd safety isn’t going to be playing as much as a 3rd OLB. If Amos or Savage were to suffer a serious injury, then I would consider trading for someone, such as Chuck Clark. Right now, though, OLB depth is the main priority

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jont's picture

August 27, 2022 at 11:00 am

My only real concern about this team is the O-line. I admit that of all my areas of non-expertise judging an offensive lineman is right up there, but they have not yet played well as a unit. I get it that the coaches are tying guys in different positions, evaluating, and experimenting, but we haven't seen a solid sequence-- a few good holes here and there, enough time for the QB some of the time-- but two critical pieces are still in non-contact drills and others are often playing in their second best postion.

I know there are good players there and that Stenovic did wonders last year, but the first series or two of 1s on 1s against KC did not inspire confidence.

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Starrbrite's picture

August 27, 2022 at 03:13 pm

Your article has me fired up Cory —gracias!!!

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NickPerry's picture

August 27, 2022 at 06:06 pm

"This defense is going to be the fastest, most athletic unit you’ve seen wear green and gold in a long time. And the key to it all, is an impressive defensive line that will be able to generate pressure without the blitz."

Just like I feel the O-Line will be the key to how well the offense performs, I think the D-Line will be what REALLY sets this defense apart. It's not just Kenny Clark out there anymore. Lining Jaron Reed up with Clark and Lowry or Clark and Wyatt, or even Clark and Slaton WITH Reed is going to unleash the beast who wears 97, especially when you have two ILBs who can run AND have the length and size Walker and Campbell do.

Joe Barry is an ILB coaching guru. EVERYWHERE the man has gone his ILB is an All-Pro. I also think Gute will take a hard look at the available OLB once cutdowns start. But I also think Quay Walker is going to be blitzing quite a bit. The beautiful thing about this defense is the pressure can come from ANYWHERE and they can do it with just 4 players. But I think Barry and the Packers are counting on Walker to get pressure from time to time.

As concerned I am with the offense laying an egg in week one like last season, I'm even more confident this defense will dominate Cousins and the Vikings. Especially with a brand new scheme for the Vikings offense.

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PackyCheese500's picture

August 27, 2022 at 08:20 pm

YES YES YES! I have been saying all along how the Packers need veteran depth at OLB. If you saw the last 2 preseason games, the Packers couldn’t put consistent pressure on the QB (and the backup Oline!) However, Ford/Klein are not the guys. Ford is too injury prone, and Klein is an ILB. Jason Pierre Paul would be the best option. Throughout his career, he’s been able to consistently pressure the QB. With a smaller workload as a backup OLB (he’s been a starter the last couple of years), the quality of his play will likely increase. Plus, when the Packers had a veteran presence at OLB last year (Whitney Mercilus) on the field, the overall play and performance of the defense was better (and Pierre Paul is better than Mercilus). Having Pierre Paul on the team would help in so many ways, and he’d be relatively cheap at this stage of his career. The Packers would probably afford him on a 1-year deal with the approx. 3m of cap space they have left.

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