An old face could be a new face in the Green Bay Packers’ secondary, with the Jacksonville Jaguars releasing former Packers cornerback Davon House on Monday.
The Packers should waste no time in pouncing.
Would the 27-year-old House be the answer a Packers secondary that ranked 26th in opponent passer rating, 25th in opponent completion percentage and 31st in yards allowed per passing attempt? No. But he would be an answer.
After starting only 14 games in four seasons with the Packers, House jumped to Jacksonville with a four-year, $24.5 million contract in free agency. He rewarded the Jaguars instantly. His 23 passes defensed ranked third in the NFL and he grabbed four interceptions. Those numbers essentially beat his four-year totals of two interceptions and 25 passes defensed with the Packers. But it was a different story in 2016. Even on a miserable Jaguars team, House started only four games. He didn’t get his hands on a single pass.
What happened? The Jaguars replaced defensive coordinator Bob Babich with Todd Wash following the 2015 season. Wash’s schematic changes eliminated what House did best — press-man coverage. That and the addition of first-round pick Jalen Ramsey rendered House a forgotten man.
For Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson, bringing back House should be a no-brainer.
At this point, the only thing certain about the Packers’ cornerback corps is the uncertainty. Can Damarious Randall, the first-round pick in 2015, stay healthy and be as good as he was at times as a rookie? Or is he as bad as he played for most of 2016? It’s the same set of questions for Quinten Rollins, the second-round pick in 2015. Will free-agent Micah Hyde return? Just where is LaDarius Gunter’s ceiling? Can Demetri Goodson rebound from last year’s knee injury to become a factor? Is there any hope for the kiddie corps of Josh Hawkins, Herb Waters and Makinton Dorleant?
Not that Thompson cares about what I think, but the offseason has to be about quantity at cornerback. Quality seems unrealistic, not with the top free-agent corners — Houston’s A.J. Bouye, Buffalo’s Stephon Gilmore, New England’s Logan Ryan — figuring to get in excess of $12 million per season.
So go add House. Then tap into a loaded cornerback class by using early- and mid-round draft choices to get two or three more. As NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock put it: “I had some coaches telling me the other night, we’re going to get a guy in the fifth round that would typically go in the second or third.” Get as many bodies in here as possible and let them compete. As former outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene liked to say, “steel sharpens steel.” Last year’s cornerback corps was as sharp as a marble.
Maybe Randall and Rollins will prove to be excellent starters. But that can’t be the expectation. There’s strength in numbers. Last year’s pass-defense numbers were miserable. Anything less than a dramatic improvement will mean next season will end in the same fashion as this season.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.