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  1. #1
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    Pickett gives up glory in new scheme

    Pickett gives up glory in new scheme
    In 3-4, his job is to occupy blockers, not make plays
    By Rob Demovsky
    September 1, 2009

    Last season, Ryan Pickett’s job description was simple — stuff running backs for as little gain as possible.

    He did just that, finishing fifth on the Green Bay Packers — and second among the team’s defensive linemen — in tackles with 81 despite rarely playing on passing downs.

    The switch to the 3-4 defense forced Pickett to move to from defensive tackle to nose tackle, a position foreign to him during his entire football life. Despite playing the equivalent of about five quarters of football in the first three preseason games combined, the ninth-year veteran hasn’t recorded a tackle. His name doesn’t appear anywhere on the preseason stat sheet.

    Nevertheless, the Packers’ coaches aren’t sounding the alarm bells.

    A couple of factors go into Pickett’s relative anonymity so far:

    ♦ He hasn’t played as many snaps as expected because the Packers have used so much of their nickel package, in which an extra defensive back subs in for Pickett.

    ♦ He’s still adjusting to the new defense, in which his responsibilities are completely different.

    In most calls, he’s responsible for clogging the “A” gaps — the spaces between the center and the guards — and taking on the center in order to keep the interior linemen off of the linebackers. In other words, he’s there to occupy blockers and take up space so that other guys can make plays. In other, less frequent calls, he has the freedom to fire off the snap and attack the ball carrier.

    That said, Pickett hasn’t immediately turned into Pittsburgh’s Casey Hampton or New England’s Vince Wilfork, two of the preeminent 3-4 nose tackles in the NFL. But the 29-year-old is slowly beginning to embrace his new role, even if it’s one that’s likely to take him out of a play-making position.

    “There ain’t going to be much busting up the field and making plays for me in this defense,” Pickett said. “There’s a couple of calls they give us, but for the most part, that’s it. It’s different — a lot different than what I’m used to — but I think I’m adjusting to it and getting the hang of it.”

    But does he like it?

    “Part of you misses just getting to blow off the ball,” Pickett said. “Sometimes we get a couple of calls where we do, and you’re just excited to get them. So you look forward to those calls.”

    They won’t happen very often. The main job of a 3-4 nose is to occupy double teams, eat up blockers and let the free-flowing linebackers make the plays and get the glory. Pickett, one of the underrated team players in the Packers’ locker room, says he doesn’t have a big problem with that.

    However, learning the new techniques this defense requires has been a significant adjustment. To help, he and defensive line coach Mike Trgovac have spent hours together watching film, mostly of the Steelers, who run practically the same version of the 3-4 as the Packers have installed this season.

    “This is something new, so I’m just trying to look at guys who have been successful doing it and look at the stuff they do, the little stuff,” Pickett said. “Mostly we watched Pittsburgh, because they run our exact defense, so we watched Casey Hampton, and we watched some New England. Both of those guys have been successful playing the nose, so we get a little technique from them, watching them play certain blocks.”

    It’s been an educational process for Pickett, who said he never has played in a 3-4 defense at any level. Trgovac said the 6-foot-2, 340-pound Pickett is well suited to play the nose tackle even though he never has done so previously.

    “I think he can be really good at this if he commits himself to it and believes in it,” Trgovac said. “I think he could be really good at it.”

    That would seem to suggest Pickett hasn’t committed to it, but Trgovac said he hasn’t had to do much to convince Pickett this will be a good defense for him. He cited Pickett’s willingness to sit in the film room and study tapes as an indication Pickett has bought in. Earlier this summer, Pickett was struggling with what Trgovac called “a shade technique,” and together they watched film of other 3-4 nose tackles playing that technique. Since then, Pickett has played that technique perfectly, according to his coach.

    “He’s made some really good plays,” Trgovac said. “In the first game, he got off the ball nicely. There’s been some times when he’s been jetting in there. A lot of times what happens is he gets going and rolling in there and if he’s in one of his jet techniques and the ball cuts back and he’s so high on that, that’s his job. If the guard doesn’t block him down, that’s his job to get the ball turned back, and he’s done a nice job of that. He’s been deep in the backfield at times. But on a lot of the blocks that he’s in there for, he will be the guy that’s absorbing the double team and using up the linemen.”

    That’s not exactly a position of glory. For a guy who’s entering the final year of his contract, that could be a problem. The Packers haven’t begun any contract talks with Pickett’s agent, and if they choose not to re-sign him — which is possible considering they drafted B.J. Raji in the first round to be their nose tackle of the future — other teams might perceive Pickett to be less valuable because he won’t have gaudy stats.

    But Pickett’s not looking at it that way. He believes that if he excels in this role, he’ll be attractive to teams regardless of whether they play a 4-3 or a 3-4.

    “I don’t think it matters, I really don’t,” Pickett said. “If I play this good, it will be fine for me. I’ve been playing the other way my whole career. I think it’s going to do nothing but help.”


  2. #2
    rams#1 Guest

    Re: Pickett gives up glory in new scheme

    GOOD! i was getting tired of seeing him bite us in the ass every sunday. lol another move that we screwed up.

  3. #3
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    Re: Pickett gives up glory in new scheme

    i know he didnt play 3-4 nose for us, but wasnt he playing NT in a 4-3
    i kow its not exactly the same but its a similar kind of idea isnt it? eat up blockers so others can make plays

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