Woodson returned to Green Bay Tuesday to join the team for minicamp. He is prepared to help the defense return to their former glory and lead the Packers to the promise land once more. However, in order to do so Green Bay must improve one major statistic from last season: sacks. If the packers are unable to apply pressure to the opposing quarterback then even Woodson at his best is not going to be able to make a difference.
“You guys watch the games,” Woodson said. “You’re seeing the same things we do. You see quarterbacks sitting in the pocket, getting off their first read, getting to the second read and maybe getting to the third read. That’s hard. You can be a great cover guy but if you have to cover for five or six seconds during the course of the game, that’s hard on you in the defensive backfield. We look forward to shoring that up this season and being able to play the way we love to play.”
Woodson has been phenomenal the last three seasons and played a major part in the team’s success over that span, but it is imperative he personally raises the bar to lead the team by example. If the Legend himself is showing the younger guys that he feels he needs improvement, what kind of message do you think that will send them?
In his 15th season, Woodson will have to become more of a mentor than ever before if he wants to put at least one more ring on his finger before his time in the NFL is up. He will have to be a teacher on and off the field, hold meetings for the rookies and the veterans, and give 110 percent on every down throughout the season.
“It’s just about the preparation throughout the week and getting ready — knowing what teams are trying to do,” Woodson said. “Now, at this stage, it’s not so much about the receiver any more. It’s about formations. It’s about the offensive set. It’s about the personnel — who they have in the game, where they are on the field, their side of the 50, our side of the 50. It’s not as much about the receiver anymore as it is about the team we’re playing.”
Woodson was seen working in only nickel and dime packages during Tuesday’s practice but make no mistake about it, the Packers fully expect to use the 36-year-old all over the field on the defensive side of the ball. With pass rushers Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy joining the likes of Clay Matthews and other defensive threats, do not be surprised to see Woodson in a similar role he played in 2009 when he won Defensive Player of the Year.
“Charles’ role on our football team may change somewhere between 6-8% than what he’s played in the past. I don’t want to get too detailed schematically,” said head coach Mike McCarthy. “We’re not re-creating the wheel. I would define him as a playmaker in our defense. So it’s our responsibility to make sure he’s in a position to make plays.”
If Perry, Worthy, and Matthews can hold up their end and apply consistent pressure on the quarterback then Woodson may be able to have his best season yet. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers would like nothing more than to use Woodson as a chess piece and put him in a different position on every down, but the only way he can do that is if the other 10 players do their job.
There is a long ways to go before the start of the season but one thing is certain, if the Packers want to win another Super Bowl and hoist the Lombardi Trophy in front of the Lambeau faithful on another freezing February afternoon then they must improve now in the dog days of summer.