Could the Packers’ defense be better if a player switches their position?
A central theme of this week for the Packers has been how to improve the defense. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry has said the team intends to play more aggressively with the secondary this week. The change came from a conversation between key defensive players and the Packers’ coaching staff. Cornerback Jaire Alexander is excited about the new game plan for the Packers’ contest against the New York Jets on Sunday. One Packers beat writer thinks the team could improve by switching up a key player’s position in the secondary.
ESPN staff writer Rob Demovsky wrote about a change that could help the ailing secondary. Demovsky thinks the cornerback Rasul Douglas should move to the outside instead of working the slot. Last season, Douglas played the slot after Alexander’s injury with great success, including five interceptions after being signed in October of the 2021 season. Now Eric Stokes and Alexander control the outside. Here’s what Demovsky thinks the Packers should do with Douglas.
To be sure, the Packers aren’t going to take Alexander, the former All-Pro, off the field if they don’t have to, but they might have to figure out how to get Douglas back outside…
It’s not as easy as simply moving Douglas back outside full time. He’s not going to take snaps away from Alexander, and Stokes doesn’t appear suited to play the slot. However, the Packers could play Alexander and Douglas outside in the base defense, then bring in Stokes as the third cornerback in nickel packages and move Alexander inside in those situations. It would be a reduced role for Stokes, who has played 100% of the defensive snaps this season.
This would be an exciting move for the Packers
Stokes has struggled this season at his position. The Packers need their key players on the secondary to play better this season. Pro Football Focus grades him as the Packers’ 19th-best defender this season. His run defense is in the 30s, and his coverage is in the low 60s. Stokes has given up 14 receptions on his 16 targets. He needs to be playing better if he wants that spot.
A change might be good for both Stoles and Douglas. Douglas has a similar score in his run defense but is much more effective in pass defense. He’s rated at 72.8 in pass coverage this season. He needs to work on his pass defense, though. Douglas has given up 13 receptions of his 17 targets. He was atrocious in defense against the Giants in Week 5.
It couldn’t hurt at this point to try Douglas more on the outside. If he can be even more efficient there than at the slot, significant progress for the Packers’ defense will have been made.