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Offline MintBaconDrivel  
#1 Posted : Wednesday, March 26, 2014 5:08:42 AM(UTC)
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Jason Wilde wrote:
ORLANDO, Fla. — B.J. Raji is getting his wish: He will return to nose tackle in the Green Bay Packers' defense, putting him back at the position where he had his greatest production.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy, speaking during a luncheon interview with Wisconsin reporters covering the annual NFL Meetings, confirmed Tuesday that Raji will be back in the middle of the Packers' defensive line after not lining up on the center the past two seasons.

Raji, who was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, re-signed with the team on a one-year, $4 million deal which could be worth up to $6.5 million with incentives,

After a breakout season in 2010, when he had 6.5 regular-season sacks, another sack in the playoffs and an unforgettable pick-six interception in the NFC Championship Game victory at Chicago that sent the Packers to Super Bowl XLV, Raji hasn't had a sack in 35 regular-season games, dating back to Nov. 24, 2011 against the Detroit Lions. Last season, he was credited with 36 tackles (14 solo, 22 assisted) and did not have a sack, forced/recovered fumble or pass deflection. He was credited with three QB hits and 10 hurries by Pro Football Focus.

But McCarthy acknowledged that Raji spent most of the past two seasons at the three- and five-technique spots on the line, which lessened his impact.

"We played B.J. a lot as a 3. My conversation with B.J. is that I want to keep him over center, keep him in the A gap more and tailor things more to his specific skill set and cut him loose," McCarthy said Tuesday. "I think B.J. will do a good job. If you look at the package B.J. was used in the past, I think we can do a lot less of that, if any, and keep him over the center where he's closer to the football and can be a more impactful player."

Late last season, Raji put on a happy face despite being in a contract year and swore to reporters that he wasn't complaining about his non-playmaking role.

"Quite frankly, people that understand the game know what time it is. Everything else doesn't matter," Raji said then. "I'm older now and I understand that part of being a good teammate is understanding what is required of you. I don't label myself as a two-down defensive lineman; I'm just a two-down defensive lineman for us this year."

Asked if Raji ever expressed unhappiness with his role to him, McCarthy said the two talked in Raji's postseason exit interview and again during the re-signing process.

"He felt he did what he was asked to do," McCarthy said. "I've had a number of conversations with B.J. He's a young man we drafted, we brought him into our program. He's had success. (In recent years) he's been asked to do things a little differently and I think it's a process we need to get him back over center."
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Offline wpr  
#2 Posted : Wednesday, March 26, 2014 5:17:02 AM(UTC)
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Good to know. He sure couldn't have been less impactful if he laid down on the LOS.
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Offline play2win  
#3 Posted : Wednesday, March 26, 2014 5:18:33 AM(UTC)
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I love this. About time! Square pegs go in the square holes for a change. I don't know what the hell Dom was thinking with the way he had been used these past 3 years. Maybe this D comes back together this season. Raji just wants to play, and I am glad Mike is cutting him loose. I think we will see a much different player this year.
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nerdmann on 3/26/2014(UTC)
Offline nerdmann  
#4 Posted : Wednesday, March 26, 2014 5:21:29 AM(UTC)
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Which is to say, impactful. lol

Raji gets a shot. I'm glad Mike is taking these steps on D.
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Offline play2win  
#5 Posted : Wednesday, March 26, 2014 5:37:00 AM(UTC)
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Mike sure seems to be taking the reigns on D. I don't know if it is to deflect criticism of his friend Dom, or to light a fire under his ass. Clearly, Dom has been doing some things that just have not worked. Much of it had to do with a lack of pure talent at key positions. Moving Raji to NT is the smart move, and should have never been moved to the 3 or 5 tech, especially when they saw after trying it that it wasn't working, hindering his effectiveness.

I always thought he was not used correctly, and I hope that's the case, because he has been mostly ineffective for 3 years now... Inordinately high number of snaps 2010-2011, then out of position. We really needed another NT to rotate with him, and for whatever reason, they never did that with Pick, which I never understood. I do think we will see a new, better Raji this year.
Offline Wade  
#6 Posted : Wednesday, March 26, 2014 7:18:42 AM(UTC)
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Sorry, but at best this is management-speak.

At worst, this is delusional on McCarthy's part. Until Raji puts together an entire season of "more impactful", I'll believe it when I see it. "Pass rushing nose tackle" may be Raji's best role, but save for the second half of 2010, IMO he hasn't shown himself as more than a rotational-quality guy.

Mike, you and Ted can spin giving the guy a 4 million contract however you want. IMO the best that can be said of his performance under his first contract was that it was consistently inconsistent.

I'll believe it when I see it.

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Offline texaspackerbacker  
#7 Posted : Wednesday, March 26, 2014 7:53:02 AM(UTC)
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I have been one of Raji's biggest detractors in here, but I feel a little bit positive about this - I'm at least willing to wait and see before complaining more about him still being in Green Bay.

My suspicion regarding the "why" of using him at DE is that maybe Raji himself balked at playing NT in the past. Now he has been humbled, and hopefully will do a good job at NT. I could see him as kinda a Jay Ratliff type - a penetrator and occasional pass rusher from the NT position.
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Online yooperfan  
#8 Posted : Wednesday, March 26, 2014 7:54:50 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: play2win Go to Quoted Post
Mike sure seems to be taking the reigns on D. I don't know if it is to deflect criticism of his friend Dom, or to light a fire under his ass. Clearly, Dom has been doing some things that just have not worked. Much of it had to do with a lack of pure talent at key positions. Moving Raji to NT is the smart move, and should have never been moved to the 3 or 5 tech, especially when they saw after trying it that it wasn't working, hindering his effectiveness.

I always thought he was not used correctly, and I hope that's the case, because he has been mostly ineffective for 3 years now... Inordinately high number of snaps 2010-2011, then out of position. We really needed another NT to rotate with him, and for whatever reason, they never did that with Pick, which I never understood. I do think we will see a new, better Raji this year.


So what took McCarthy so long to make this change?
It appears from his comments that he recognized the misuse of Raji quite some time ago.

Offline steveishere  
#9 Posted : Wednesday, March 26, 2014 8:08:20 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: yooperfan Go to Quoted Post
So what took McCarthy so long to make this change?
It appears from his comments that he recognized the misuse of Raji quite some time ago.



He probably saw how bad Raji sucked at NT in 2011 and early 2012 and didn't see not having him there as "misuse"
Offline texaspackerbacker  
#10 Posted : Wednesday, March 26, 2014 8:24:38 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: steveishere Go to Quoted Post
He probably saw how bad Raji sucked at NT in 2011 and early 2012 and didn't see not having him there as "misuse"


True, but as I recall, when Raji played NT, we had Pickett at DE. Having them both playing at the same time was a recipe for crap. Now, with more mobile guys on each side of him, and maybe a different philosophy of use - having him penetrate more, there is some hope for having him not suck.

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