Why Didn’t Damarious Randall Play Safety in Green Bay?
Mike McCarthy spoke this week, and one of the things he touched on was Damarious Randall.
He said the Packers more or less had it wrong on their 2015 first-round pick and that the Packers were playing Damarious Randall out of position:
“We were going to play him in more of a safety/nickel type role. I think that’s his natural position. I think we all recognize that. Him playing as much corner for us was the best thing for our defense at the time, with Morgan (Burnett) and Ha Ha (Clinton-Dix) and really utilizing the players the best way we can. Obviously, we’ve had issues outside with corners staying healthy the last two years, and that’s a product of him playing out there. And he played it well when he was healthy, when he stays in the game.”
Randall was a safety in college, but played more of a hybrid safety and nickel corner role for Arizona State. He wasn't a true thirty-five yards deep cover safety. The Packers for whatever reason thought he fit better in their defense as a corner, which is why he played there from day one.
You can see the line of thinking that they're following here. They've got Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, their 2014 first-round pick. They've also got two other talented safeties in Morgan Burnett and Micah Hyde. With three safeties, the Packers take the talented defensive back Randall and decide to play him at corner – something he did in college.
Whose fault is it that Damarious Randall never played safety?
If cornerback is not Randall’s natural position, whose fault is it for making this call? Head coach Mike McCarthy, or then-defensive coordinator Dom Capers?
I don't think this is McCarthy’s fault. He's only got so much control over how defensive players are utilized. I think it's telling that as soon as Dom Capers is out the door the Packers wanted to do something different with Damarious Randall from a personal standpoint. (Not trading him to Cleveland, as I consider that to be an entirely different decision.)
It is kind of a Dom Capers problem here. Say what you will about the relative merits of letting Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde leave, it seems pretty clear that neither up of those guys were used to their full extent in Green Bay. Now, it seems like Randall may not have been either.
That falls on the defensive coordinator.
If the Packers are trying to build the team and get the most out of their players, it doesn't matter if you're a first-round pick, an undrafted free agent, or somewhere in between. It's up to the coaches to get the most out of those players that they can. Capers seems like he was not capable of doing that, at least as far as his players in the secondary.
This post is an adapted transcript of the most recent episode of Blue 58, a Packers podcast from The Power Sweep. Listen to the full episode below, and don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, CastBox and more to stay on top of the best in Packers news and analysis.