Davon House can blame a scheme change for his problems in Jacksonville – a theory the lazy media seems more than willing to accept – but a study of the tape tells a different story. Green Bay’s kinda new cornerback wasn’t asked to play much differently in 2016; he simply didn’t play as well as he did the year before.
Here’s what House told the team’s mouthpiece web site about what went wrong:
“It was frustrating, but there was nothing I could do about it. The coaches played a lot more zone. As you know, I’m a bump-and-run corner. Press man-to-man, that’s what I do. When you’re playing press man, they’re going to try someone, and my first year in Jacksonville they wanted to try me and I made them pay for it.”
I watched all of House’s 162 snaps from last season and compared it to about 100 snaps from the year before. And while it’s true he played more press man-to-man in 2015, the change wasn’t nearly as dramatic as he wants you to believe. The biggest difference between the two seasons was House himself.
Take a look at the two videos below. In the first from 2015, House covers Carolina wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery like a blanket and forces an incomplete pass. In the second from 2016, he gets turned around by San Diego wide receiver Travis Benjamin and gives up an easy completion. It’s not about scheme; it’s all about execution. And I saw this over and over. For whatever reason, House just didn’t cover as well last season.
And it wasn’t just short passes. House was more susceptible to deep balls as well. In the first video from 2015, he stayed stride for stride with speedy Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton of the Colts and made an already very difficult throw impossible. In the second video from 2016, he allowed that Benjamin guy to get a step on him and score a long touchdown. Again, these plays had absolutely nothing to do with scheme.
To be fair, House wasn’t awful prior to getting benched in week 4 against the New Orleans Saints. He was also a bit unlucky. It seemed as if he was giving up completions even when he had decent to good coverage. It just might’ve been one of those seasons. The Packers certainly hope so. But anyone who believes playing more press man to man coverage will be some sort of a panacea is probably going to be disappointed.
Here’s what I wrote about House when he left Green Bay three years ago to sign a $26 million deal with the Jags:
“General manager Ted Thompson was smart not to match Jacksonville’s ridiculous contract. House has proven over the past four seasons to be a solid backup who lacks the quickness and the fluidity to be a quality starter.”
That’s exactly how I feel today. Regardless of scheme, there are too many holes in House’s game to ever expect him to be a quality starting corner. Heck, he wasn’t even that in his career year (2015). So while the Packers will certainly be deeper at the position in 2017, it’s still going to come down to Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins. The two youngsters must play better or else it’s going to be another long season on defense.