At 6’4 and 325 pounds, Johnny Jolly looked and played like a 3-4 defensive end
Johnny Jolly hasn’t played a game for the Packers since January 2010, but his absence on the D-line is still being felt. That’s because GM Ted Thompson hasn’t drafted or signed a legitimate 3-4 end in the past three offseasons. To be fair, he did draft Lawrence Guy in 2011 and he did sign Phillip Merling as a free agent last spring, but both players were long shots to stick on the 53-man roster, and ultimately neither did.
The average starting 3-4 defensive end in 2011 stood 6’3 1/4 and weighed 319 pounds. I’m familiar with the numbers because I wrote about this very subject back then (for some reason, it took most of the local media another two years to even address the issue). The current ends on the Packers average 6’2 and 304.
An end in a 3-4 defense has two main responsibilities – stuff the run and disrupt passing lanes. That’s what Aaron Smith did for a dozen years in Pittsburgh; it’s what Haloti Ngata has done for seven years in Baltimore; it’s what Jolly did in Green Bay in ’09; and it’s what none of the current ends are capable of doing.
B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett have the bulk to stop the run, but neither has the length nor the leaping ability to disrupt passing lanes. Mike Neal has the length and the athleticism needed to bat down the occasional pass, but he can’t hold up versus the run. Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels are ill-equipped to do either.
The closest thing the current defense has to a legitimate 3-4 end is C.J. Wilson, who stands 6’3 and weighs about 300 pounds. But even he’s a bit undersized, and to be perfectly honest, he’s not very talented.
The current roster is filled with defensive linemen built to play in a 4-3, but forced to line up in a 3-4. It isn’t working. It’s time for Thompson to finally address the problem. Jolly isn’t walking through the door. And you want to know what’s really sad? If he did, he’d immediately be the best defensive end on the team.
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