Starting nickel safety M.D. Jennings struggled in the opener against the 49ers
Anyone surprised that the Packers couldn’t stop quarterback Alex Smith and the 49ers’ offense either doesn’t read this blog or didn’t pay enough attention during the month of August. No team has more holes in its nickel and dime packages than Green Bay, and every one of them was exposed on Sunday afternoon.
Starting right cornerback (I still can’t believe I’m writing that) Jarrett Bush deserves no blame for what happened. He actually performed as well as could be expected – and that’s the problem. The career special teamer has no business playing – let alone starting – on defense. I thought it was a joke when Bush opened training camp atop the depth chart. Six weeks later, the only peope laughing are opposing quarterbacks.
I’m no expert, but it took me all of three practices to see that M.D. Jennings wasn’t ready to start in the sub-packages. And yet, there he was, lining up opposite Morgan Burnett in the nickel and dime. To the surprise of nobody (except the coaches), he was a liability. Jennings lacks experience, and he doesn’t have the physical skills to compensate. Jerron McMillian eventually replaced him, and the rookie from Maine figures to keep the job. Whether that translates to improved play at the position remains to be seen.
I’m not sure anything can be done to fix things at this late date, but coordinator Dom Capers needs to try something. I would start Sam Shields at right corner and insert McMillian and fellow rookie Casey Hayward in the dime. Will that help? I’m not sure, but it can’t hurt. Of course, what the defense really needs is a fierce pass rush. That means young players like defensive end Jerel Worthy and outside linebacker Nick Perry have to win more one on one battles than they did four days ago against San Francisco.