Imagining change in Green Bay...
What would the personnel impact be in Green Bay if the Packers hire Mike Nolan as their defensive coordinator?
We don't know for sure that Nolan will be hired but he remains the likeliest choice. Nolan has extensive experience in the 3-4 scheme, which at some positions is not compatible with the 4-3. Even if Nolan keeps the 4-3 for 2009, you have to assume he'll employ more zone coverage and a different blitzing style than what the Packers used under Bob Sanders for the past three years.
The Packers built their secondary around the bump-and-run, man-to-man concept. Veteran cornerback Al Harris, for one, might not function as well if the Packers move toward more zone calls. And while Charles Woodson is an excellent cover man, would he be the same elite player in, say, a Cover 2 system?
If the Packers' next coordinator wants to mix in the 3-4, he'll have to decide quickly whether he has a two-gap nose tackle on the roster. Perhaps Ryan Pickett could handle that role.
The next step would be to re-establish physical parameters at defensive end. You can get away with 250-pound defensive ends in a 4-3. But in the 3-4, the defensive end has to be a more physical presence. Aaron Kampman and Cullen Jenkins could probably handle it.
Finally, do the Packers have four starting-caliber linebackers? If Nick Barnett returns from knee surgery in time for training camp, you could envision him matching up with A.J. Hawk inside. Brady Poppinga and Brandon Chillar could play on the outside.
I'm curious what you think. I've always found that people who follow the Packers know Xs and Os as well as anyone. (Shameless ego stroke, but I want your help). Should Green Bay change its scheme, either in the back end or up front? Do you think the Packers have the personnel for a 3-4?
Let me know what you think, either in the comments section below or in the mailbag. We'll revisit the topic whenever the Packers announce their new coordinator.