It's over. The long, agonizing, roller-coaster ride that was the 2009 season has come to a close for the Green Bay Packers. I could rant and rave about how terrible the pass defense was and how (of course) Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson should be fired/shot, but that's just not the case. Well, the pass defense was absolutely horrifying but that's not the point.
Instead, I offer up this list. Here are a handful of Packers that we've seen a little bit too much. Or, if you'd rather, a list of players we've seen enough of - enough to move on to another option. Without further ado, let's jump right into that defensive secondary.
Atari Bigby - A while back I made an Atari Bigby/Darren Sharper comparison. Obviously Bigby isn't the ball hawk that Sharper was but rather than playing for interceptions he plays for the world rocking hit. It may be a stretch but the main point is that Bigby is not good in coverage and aside from his big hits he can't tackle. At least Sharper would force some turnovers to help the defense, Bigby just makes mistakes.
Yes, he had four interceptions this year, but three of those turnovers came in garbage time of blowouts over Seattle and Arizona at the end of the season. He forced no fumbles and his atrocious tackling was on display against the Cardinals in that playoff track meet. Struggling in the postseason is one sure way to draw the ire of the fans.
There is a good chance that the Packers draft a player to compete with Bigby, mostly because they are not deep at the safety spots. That said, the defensive staff seems content with him as their starter for some reason. He's been a starting safety for three seasons now and he has yet to show much improvement. Bigby is a liability in coverage and a poor tackler, he's run his course in the green and gold.
Chad Clifton - Oh yea, I'm going there. Clifton will be entering his 11th season in 2010-11 and he'll be 34 in June. He's old and it was pretty clear to anyone that watched him this year that he has lost a step. Mark Tauscher might have been a stabilizing force for the offensive line this season but the two tackles are not getting any younger.
It wouldn't be surprising if Clifton has more surgery in the offseason, but you really have to wonder how much more his body can take. He has trouble staying healthy, as was evidenced in sunday's playoff game, and will almost assuredly miss some time next season.
Tackle is a position the Packers must get younger at and soon. The in-house options, T.J. Lang and Allen Barbre, are not overly appealing so look for Ted Thompson and Company to add some bodies through the draft. Let's just hope they get someone that can actually help now.
Aaron Kampman - This is no knock on Kampman, but his time with the Packers needs to be over. Coming into the year it was clear that he was not a good fit for the 3-4 scheme and that showed. Not until after his season-ending knee injury did the pass rush really take off and it allowed for the emergence of seventh round pick Brad Jones.
Jones is a linebacker and fits what the Packers are doing, he even finished the season with more sacks than Kampman. While there have been some rumblings that the team re-sign the pending free agent, it would be an incredibly foolish decision to make. As long as Kampman stays out of the NFC North Packer fans will wish him the best.
Jarrett Bush - Coaches will say Bush was put in a tough position, he's a special teams player who was forced into more pass coverage than he's used to. But when it comes down to it he's a professional football player who doesn't play his position well. Unlike fellow corner Tramon Williams, he hasn't shown flashes of being a great or even good player.
Corner depth is also a position of some concern for Green Bay going into next season and Bush is a replaceable member of the defensive secondary. Brandon Underwood will be going into his second year and the Packers seem to like him so he'll likely be back. Williams has shown some flashes so he'll be back.
But Bush has long been one of the most frustrating players on the Packers defense. It's time to close the book on him.
Donald Lee - Dropped passes have become a huge problem for Lee, who has lost a ton of playing time to budding star Jermichael Finley, and his play has regressed since 2007 when he caught 48 passes for 575 yards. What he'll be best remembered for this year will be the dropped touchdowns, most notably against the Vikings and Cardinals.
Lee has been a bridge while Finley has developed over last year and this year and now that he has become one of the most dangerous players on the field the team can move on without Lee. I would hope for the front office to draft a good receiving tight end to fill that role for 2010. Someone like Garrett Graham from Wisconsin might be a good fit.
A.J. Hawk - This won't happen, but the honeymoon is over for the former fifth overall pick. What Hawk brings to the table is remarkably similar to what fellow linebacker Brandon Chillar brings. Both are above-average tacklers, struggle in pass coverage and don't make a lot of big plays.
But A.J. Hawk is a fifth overall pick and, aside from a very good rookie year, has not been an impact player. Too many missed tackles in big situations has caused many to question Hawk this year, but don't expect management to make a change just yet.
What happens with Hawk will depend on two major factors; first, how good is Desmond Bishop? If Green Bay thinks he can be a be an impact player or at least as good as Hawk than he needs to get a chance to play and soon. The second aspect is who they are able to add through the draft. While you don't want to see the Packers get younger necessarily, you do want to see them get better.
So there you have it, a handful of players that I, for one, have had enough of. While I realistically don't expect all of these players to not be a part of the Packers in 2010-11, these are spots that changes will have to happen, sooner than later.