The Green Bay Packers faced the New England Patriots on Sunday night football just days after being one of the biggest players at the NFL trade deadline. The Packers exiled running back Ty Montgomery for next to nothing after he cost the team a chance at victory against the then-undefeated Los Angeles Rams. In somewhat surprising fashion the Packers made an impactful move by sending fifth-year starting safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Washington Redskins for a fourth-round pick in next year’s draft. With no obvious solution to fill in for Clinton-Dix, the Packers got creative with their options at safety. After the 31-17 loss to the Patriots on Sunday, the Packers safety position could still be very up in the air moving forward.
Green Bay Packers Safety Position After Trade Deadline
It was revealed on the Friday before the game that the team would turn to veteran cornerback Tramon Williams to fill the hole left by Clinton-Dix. Williams has been lining up at corner for the Packers but had some experience playing free safety with the Cleveland Browns in 2016. With several young bodies to man the boundary, it made sense for someone with Williams’s experience and veteran savvy to man the middle of the defense. That is exactly where he lined up throughout the night against the Patriots. Playing the center fielder for Mike Pettine’s defense, Williams was able to read and react to what Tom Brady was orchestrating. The results were rarely in the Packers’ favor.
Williams was in the right position on many plays, best of which was a throwdown of running back James White on the goal line. He was rarely beat deep but didn’t show the physicality needed from a starting safety. Josh Gordon broke a would-be tackle for a long touchdown that effectively salted the game away. Although the veteran had an inconsistent night, the Packers really don’t have many other options on the roster right now.
Remainder of the Roster
Jermaine Whitehead, who was ejected Sunday night for slapping a defender, was cut on Tuesday. He was having a decent season as a role player but struggled when forced into a full-time role. Kentrell Brice has been very disappointing manning the other safety position even with Clinton-Dix in the lineup. Second-year pro Josh Jones was supposed to be the obvious replacement for Morgan Burnett at strong safety. He had only played four defensive snaps going into the game against the Patriots. He had a pretty decent showing after finally being added to the rotation but he’s still more of an in-the-box blitzer. Undrafted practice squad member Raven Green was brought up to the active roster and the Packers claimed the ultra-athletic Ibraheim Campbell off waivers. Green showed flashes in the pre-season and will be worth monitoring as the season progresses.
Hopefully, Pettine has some tricks up his sleeve that will get some production from this group. The safety position was already seen as a weak spot on this team before the Clinton-Dix trade. The defense has given up far too many deep plays over the top and hasn’t been able to stop the run. The cornerback position has been this team’s Achilles heel in the past, but that’s not the case this year. The safety position very well could be. With no player that looks adept against both the run and pass, it will be interesting to watch how the Packers cover up one of their most glaring weaknesses.
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