By Matt Bove
Once Desmond Bishop was helped off the field and carted into the locker everybody involved with the Green Bay Packers feared the worst. Those fears came to reality Saturday night when Mike McCarthy announced that Bishop would be getting surgery on his hamstring and that his season was in jeopardy. D.J. Smith is a very capable replacement, but loosing Bishop is a big blow to the Packers defense.
Bishop was one of the few players on the defense last year who had a very good season. Bishop led the team with 115 tackles and was 2nd on the team with 5 sacks. Bishop was one of the few sure tacklers on the team and always seemed to fly to the ball. Smith should be fine in that area because he is an excellent tackler. Smith, like Bishop, always seems to be around the ball. He is only 5-foot-11and 239- pounds, but that is not a detriment to him in terms of tackling. In the three games that Smith replaced Bishop last season he recorded 8 tackles against the Giants, 10 against the Raiders, and 9 against the Chiefs.
Where Smith's size is an issue is in blitzing, as he was not an effective blitzer. He usually got sucked to the outside and away from the play. Bishop is a very underrated blitzer and with the Packers needing every ounce of pass rush they can get loosing him hurts. However, if the Packers can get pass rush from rookies Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy that can help mitigate the loss of Bishop. If Perry can be another threat opposite of Clay Matthews and record about 7 sacks, with Worthy getting some push up the middle, the Packers can replace Bishop's blitzing.
The Packers will certainly miss Bishop, but they can win a Super Bowl without him. The inside linebacker position in a 3-4 defense is not a premium position. If the defensive line can take up more blockers, like they are supposed to, life is a lot easier for the inside linebackers. Bishop was one of the best young players on the defense who had a great shot at making the Pro Bowl this season. However, if young players like Smith, Perry, and Worthy step up the Packers can fill his void.