From the FanPosts -Joel
What made the Packers’ championship season in 2010 even more notable was the adversity the team faced due to injuries. Green Bay finished the year with 15 players on injured reserve, and eight of them had started at least one game on the season. Six starters from the opening-day depth chart sustained season-ending injuries in the first seven games.
Because of those injuries, the roster depth that Thompson had built during his tenure came to the fore. Rookies such as T Bryan Bulaga, a first-round draft pick in 2010, and CB Sam Shields and LB Frank Zombo, both non-drafted free agents in ’10, were called upon to step into prominent roles. A pair of fourth-year players, LB Desmond Bishop and S Charlie Peprah, moved into the starting lineup and became key cogs on defense after contributing primarily on special teams earlier in their careers. RB James Starks, a sixth-round pick in 2010 who was limited to just three games during the regular season because of an injury, led the NFL with 315 rushing yards in the postseason, third most in league annals by a rookie RB in the playoffs.
The Packers’ Super Bowl XLV team was a direct reflection of the philosophy that Thompson has held true to throughout his Green Bay tenure, one that should put the franchise in good position to contend for championships on an annual basis.
But what more is there about this philosophy? Is there more to it?
To use an example, take the case of Desmond Bishop.
After starting middle linebacker Nick Barnett went down with a season-ending wrist injury in Week 4 of the 2010 season, Bishop was quickly named Barnett's replacement and exceeded expectations. He started the remaining 12 games and finished the season with 103 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumble and 1 interception, which was returned for a touchdown.He also recovered a crucial fumble in Super Bowl XLV, after Clay Matthews knocked the ball lose from Rashard Mendenhall, in which was a key play in the Packers' 31-25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In fact, ProFootball Focus writes that Bishop holds "the best individual game by an inside / middle linebacker over the past five years ... in his very first start of the Packers’ 2010 Super Bowl season."
The Packers have a long history of fielding young players, late round picks and long-time backups and having success. Part and parcel with this is trust your scouting and not be afraid to play young players.
When Dorsey let Jon Asamoah, Geoff Schwartz, Branden Albert, Brandon Flowers and Tyson Jackson all leave the team, he left gaping holes behind them in terms of production. Few, if any, of the players behind each of those players has played many, if any, NFL snaps. For those that did, they were not exactly awe inspiring. It appears as though Dorsey will trust his scouting and let young players such as Ron Parker, Marcus Cooper, Rishaw Johnson, and Phillip Gaines make a stamp on this team next season.
The Pass Rush
The Chiefs fielded a deadly pass rush for part of the season but then fell off dramatically later on. They were unable to generate pressure on Peyton Manning and only limited pressure on Philip Rivers. The corners were unable to adequately press and the safeties down the field would not allow for much error for those corners.
In those two seconds after the snap, you want your defense to jam the receiver and generate pressure. With the receivers getting free release, the pass rush would instantly crumble because of the easy short completions. Getting lankier corners like Parker, Cooper and Gaines will allow the Chiefs to get their hands on more balls down the middle and jam the smaller receivers that burned the Chiefs periodically (Keenan Allen, TY Hilton ...).
Once I saw the coaching staff move Flowers to the slot last season, it dawned on me that they really didn't like him on the outside. Although they respected his skills and abilities, they have a philosophy that is trending in the NFL today, for good reason.
The investment in Dee Ford also signals a clear motive to not only improve the pass rush depth but to have a continual line of pass rushers. With the return of Dontari Poe, a stronger Allen Bailey and Mike Catapano and more veteran pass rusher in Vance Walker, the Chiefs are poised for the first time in many years to have quality depth in the pass rush department, particularly in the interior. Perhaps the pass rush is the priority after all?
As NFL.com's Bucky Brooks points out, any many others, a good pass rush makes a good secondary and defense:
When I played for the Oakland Raiders in the late 1990s, defensive coordinator Willie Shaw told us that the pass rush is far more important than the coverage in the NFL. He believed disrupting the timing and rhythm of the quarterback was paramount to playing good defense. Shaw said pass rushers had a greater impact on defensive production than defensive backs, which is why he told me that elite defenses must be built from front to back in order to compete in an increasingly pass-centric league.
When one looks at the Seahawks dominance in the Super Bowl, one must not forget that the pass rush was so dominant that it far eclipsed the impact of the secondary as a whole. Manning was pressured from all angles and was unable to pass it to open receivers down field.
John Dorsey and Bob Sutton want to bring a dominant pass rush to this league and they are doing it by drafting pass rushers, developing pass rushers, extending (hopefully) Houston and getting lankier corners. The vision and courage to execute is there, the results are all we need to see.