Letroy Guion Release Alters Look of Green Bay Packers D-Line

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 18: Letroy Guion #98 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after the Green Bay Packers win the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 18, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears 30-27. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

With  the release of defensive end Letroy Guion, the Green Bay Packers end one of their most inconsistent free agent endeavors in recent years. Guion has appeared in 44 games over the past three seasons after joining Green Bay in 2014. Guion joined the Packers in 2014 after spending his first six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He had been one of the most prominent members of Green Bay’s defensive line but didn’t produced much on the field. He recorded zero sacks over the past two seasons and never was a dominant force in any one phase of the game. Although Letroy Guion was a highly regarded teammate in the locker room, his behavior off the field was also cause for concern. With young players that lack red flags waiting in the wings, the Guion release gives Green Bay a fresh start along the defensive line.

Letroy Guion Release Alters Look of Green Bay Packers D-Line

After being dealt a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, Letroy Guion was arrested in June for driving while intoxicated. He was previously suspended in 2015 for the league’s substance abuse policy as well. The Green Bay Packers have long been an organization that tends to shy away from players with behavioral concerns. Guion had his final chance with the organization. Releasing him saves the team $1.6 million in cap space. After the news that third round draft pick Montravius Adams would be missing significant time after undergoing foot surgery, it is somewhat surprising timing for Guion’s release. Green Bay’s first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles previewed how the initial rotation will unfold along the defensive line.

First Look at Front Seven

Green Bay runs its defense primarily through the nickel or dime packages with two down linemen and two outside linebackers on the line of scrimmage. Mike Daniels remains a stalwart at one end position. 2016 first rounder Kenny Clark will be asked to take a big step forward in his second year. If his performance against the Eagles is any indication, Clark is making due on his promising talent. He finished the night with just one solo tackle but made an impact on almost each positive play by the first-team defense. Nick Perry claimed the lone sack of the night, but it was Clark that forced the initial pressure, pushing quarterback Carson Wentz right into the arms of Perry. If Clark can bring consistent pressure opposite Daniels while playing a healthy number of snaps, he could be the key to the Packers front seven.

Young players Dean Lowry, Christian Ringo, and Brian Price will compete for snaps with free agent acquisition Ricky Jean-Francois while Adams is out. Each player made an impact  in the first preseason game. The run defense looked especially solid, allowing just 47 yards over 19 carries for the Eagles. Perry and Matthews are both stalwarts against the run from the outside linebacker position. They will most likely lead the team in sacks but need pressure from the inside to create a consistent. An issue the Packers have had in recent years is a lack of pressure up the middle, forcing the edge rushers to cover more distance to bring down the quarterback. With a lack of depth on pass rush the outside, the ends must step up this year if Green Bay is going to improve upon last years pass rush.

Shift in Defensive Line

It will be interesting to watch how the base defense will unfold this upcoming season. Jean-Francois will probably have first crack at nose tackle, but Clark’s versatility allows him to play across the line. He played the nose during his time at UCLA but has lined up primarily at defensive end for the Packers. The Packers have been transitioning more towards speed and athleticism on defense. It will be interesting to see how they  line up against heavy formations. The Packers don’t have the beef of past days when B.J. Raji, Cullen Jenkins, and Ryan Pickett held the line.

In Green Bay defensive ends play tackle, outside linebackers play end, and safeties play inside near the line of scrimmage. 2017 will truly have the most versatile and athletic defense the Packers have fielded in years. The release of the veteran Guion confirms the new era along Green Bay’s defensive line.
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