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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
    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
      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


      Related Topics


      • RamDez
        'Big Grease' slides into role of leader
        by RamDez
        By Kathleen Nelson
        Sunday, Oct. 08 2006
        Last winter, defensive tackle Ryan Pickett might have expected to be playing
        Sunday in Green Bay. He didn't expect to be playing for the Packers.
        After five seasons with the Rams, Pickett's career was on the upswing. He had
        made steady progress under the tough love of defensive line coach Bill Kollar
        after being selected in the first round of the 2001 draft. He led the NFL's
        interior lineman in tackles last season with 115, and the Rams had begun
        negotiations on a new contract. But the Rams' interest waned March 7 when they
        signed tackle La'Roi Glover.
        "That did make the decision for us as far as where we prioritized signing
        another free-agent tackle," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "Ryan did a nice
        job, was real open to possibly coming back. The business is that way."
        Pickett acknowledged he was upset that the Rams stopped negotiating but moved
        to other options.
        "I thought I would end my career in St. Louis," he said. "I really loved it
        there, the people there. I had all my friends there. When they backed out, I
        was like, 'Man. I've been playing all these years and they backed out.'"
        Pickett drew interest from the Bengals, Packers and Bills, where he would have
        been reunited with the boisterous Kollar. But after meeting with Packers coach
        Mike McCarthy and position coach Robert Nunn, he decided Green Bay was a good
        fit and canceled his visit to Cincinnati.
        "The Packers wanted to let me play -- so I wouldn't be a nose guard all the
        time and taking on the double team," Pickett said. "I could go with Kollar
        again, but I thought it was time for something different. I thank God I had
        Kollar my first couple years to run me in the dirt and yell. I know what it's
        like. It's built in me now to go to the ball."
        The atmosphere and expectations in Green Bay versus St. Louis, Pickett said,
        are "like night and day. My coach now, you can't get him to yell or cuss or
        anything. It's a big difference. I'm playing basically the left side. However
        the offense lines up dictates where I line up.
        "I'm kind of like the leader. Man, the whole D-line is young. I'm like the
        oldest interior lineman. I have to watch what I say and do around them, and
        they follow what I do."
        Pickett and his family settled in quickly. He reported that his wife, Jennifer,
        bought a couple of cheeseheads right away and that fans recognize him at
        restaurants. He also has made himself at home on the field, with 15 tackles.
        "We're very happy with Ryan," McCarthy said. "He's our most consistent player
        up front. He's done a very nice job. He's come around and fit in our scheme.
        He's done...
        -10-07-2006, 01:43 AM
      • RamWraith
        Pickett Proves Stout in the Middle
        by RamWraith
        Saturday, November 5, 2005

        By Nick Wagoner
        Senior Writer

        By the time Ryan Pickett was in middle school, he was already bigger than the rest of the kids. Because of his considerable size – he weighed 300 pounds in high school – and his eerie resemblance to his father Rubin, everyone called him “Big Grease.”

        Rubin was the original Big Grease, given to him by his brother-in-law apparently because he was a smooth operator. As Ryan grew older and larger, though, he eventually claimed the name of Big Grease.

        “I’m pretty smooth, but I just look like my old man,” Pickett said. “If you ever see him, you’d be like wow. I’ll look just like him in about 27 years.”

        Now, Ryan maintains that nickname and Rubin is just Grease, minus the Big. The evolution of Pickett’s nicknames might seem minute in the big picture, but in reality Pickett has had a couple of monikers that let you get a read on how he went from the youngest member of the Pickett clan to the stout, run stuffing defensive tackle of the St. Louis Rams.

        Toughening Up

        Growing up as the youngest in a family with two brothers and a sister can be tough on any child and Pickett was no exception. Almost every day, his brothers, Rubin Jr. and Booker would pound on him, telling him it would only make him tougher.

        But it wasn’t the older men in his family that gave Pickett the most problems. His sister Suphia was the biggest culprit.

        “She was the main one,” Pickett said. “She was the ringleader. My older brother made my middle brother and me fight all the time and wrestle. They would just beat me up. They tried to make me tough and that’s what they did.”

        Little did Pickett’s siblings know that they were preparing him for a career in the NFL. When Pickett was young he quickly fell in love with football, unfortunately his size prevented him from participating as much as he would have liked. He played pee wee ball until he was about 8, but he grew too big to make weight to play with kids his age.

        “It was real frustrating,” Pickett said. “I think after I stopped playing football I got even bigger. I was just like a little, round kid with nothing to do.”

        His mother Mae refused to let Pickett play up in age, worried that he would get seriously hurt. In the meantime, Pickett became one of the biggest, most intimidating pitchers and catchers to grace Little League.

        But that time away from football was essentially torture for Pickett. He watched his brother playing and excelling on the gridiron and he wanted that for himself. Booker was so good he earned a spot on the Miami Hurricanes, one of the premiere college programs in the nation.

        Instead of football, the poundings from his siblings had to suffice as Pickett’s method of toughening up.

        “My older brothers beat me up when my mom wasn’t...
        -11-07-2005, 09:26 AM
      • RamWraith
        Pickett is off to best start
        by RamWraith
        By Bill Coats

        Examining a photo of the 1992 Stewart Middle School football team, Ryan Pickett's eyes brightened when he located the chubby youngster in the No. 53 jersey. "I've been playing ball since I was a little boy," Pickett mused, "and I just knew I could do it."

        By "do it," he meant be successful in the NFL. Pickett, a defensive tackle, is in his fifth season with the Rams. If the first two games are a true barometer, it could be his best. "If he can stay healthy, I think he's as good as any young tackle in the league," Rams defensive end Tyoka Jackson said.

        Pickett, 25, had a big year in 2002, when he collected 107 tackles, second on the team. But he suffered a high-ankle sprain early in the '03 season, and it became a nagging encumbrance. His tackle totals dipped to 74 that year and 81 last season.

        The ankle is strong again, a sore back that bothered him during training camp has cleared up, and the 6-foot-2, 330-pound Pickett has been pounding away. He has 16 tackles, second to linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa's team-leading 19 and 12 more than any other interior defender.

        "He had a good game against San Francisco, and he had a really good game Sunday" at Arizona, fellow lineman Damione Lewis said. "I'm really happy for him."

        Pickett directed considerable credit to the revamped linebackers corps, where veteran free agents Chris Claiborne and Dexter Coakley joined Tinoisamoa. "They're getting up quick, so we're not on double-teams as long, and that's enabled us to make more plays," Pickett explained.

        The effect has been dramatic: The Rams rank third in the 32-team league against the run; last season, they were No. 29.

        "A little rowdy"

        Several Ohio State coaches surrounded him and the speaker phone was engaged when an anxious Pickett, then 18, dialed up his parents from Columbus. "I told them, 'I'm going to Ohio State,'" Pickett recalled. "And there was just silence. They were like, 'Son, come home and let's talk about it.'"

        Ryan is the youngest of Rubin and Mae Pickett's four children. "They always considered me the baby," he said. As such, he was a favorite target for brothers Rubin Jr. and Booker, and sister Suphia. "Yeah, yeah, they used to dog him," Rubin Sr. said. "They were always on Ryan to get meaner, to get tougher. I think it worked."

        Lewis said Pickett's on-field temperament belies his otherwise laid-back demeanor. "He gets a little rowdy out there," Lewis said.

        Most of the family still lives about 25 miles north of Tampa in Zephyrhills, Fla., which Pickett described as "a little country town." Pickett prompted considerable municipal pride - the mayor organized...
        -09-25-2005, 04:43 AM
      • thermobee
        by thermobee
        Why do we let players like him? He is a great run stopper and guess what we need. We drafted him why not keep him? If the same thing happens with OJ I am seriously going to questions the Rams decisions.

        PS I know the FO was different at that time, but either way you think about it, it doesnt make sense.
        -02-23-2010, 07:44 PM
      • tomahawk247
        Pickett could come back after all
        by tomahawk247
        Of the teams interested in him, Cleveland has spent money on Kevin Shaffer and LeCharles Bentley, and they are supposed to be front runners to sign Ma'ake Kemoeatu. The Cardinals have just signed Kendrick Clancy, and they already have a few interior DL so i doubt Pickett will go there to be a backup.

        That leaves the Packers and Bills as far as i know, so it is possible Pickett returns. Obviously that does depend on how much they are willing to pay of course
        -03-11-2006, 11:05 AM