Packers LB Isaiah McDuffie shines vs. run during first NFL start

The first NFL start of Green Bay Packers linebacker Isaiah McDuffie featured 15 encouraging snaps, especially against the run.

The Packers’ second-year linebacker played in the base defense next to Quay Walker – filling in for the injured De’Vondre Campbell – and looked quite comfortable taking on blocks, filling gaps and taking down the ball-carrier.

Pro Football Focus charted McDuffie with 10 run-defense snaps. He made three tackles, and all three were considered to be “stops,” or tackles constituting a defeat for the offense.

Here are all three:

This is a smooth, clean rep. McDuffie beats the block attempt of the right guard at the second level, using his hands to shed the block, and then stuffs former Packers running back Jamaal Williams with a perfect form tackle after a 1-yard gain. Good discipline and tracking here. McDuffie came off the block to stay in his run fit and made the play in the open field. If he doesn’t make this tackle, Williams would have been one-on-one with Darnell Savage at the second level. That probably ends only one way.

Here, McDuffie stays disciplined in his run fit, works off a block by the tight end and stuffs Williams again after a short gain. Kenny Clark’s penetration helped slow the runner, but McDuffie was in the right place and was physical at the point of attack.

McDuffie showed his impressive athleticism on this one. Look at the quick recognition and explosive lateral agility. He diagnosed the stretch run immediately, got downhill in a few steps, slipped past the blocker (who was too late coming off the combo block because of McDuffie’s quickness) and once again made another terrific stop after just one yard. This is great stuff. If McDuffie had been late getting to his spot, Williams would have had a big hole to get into the second level and likely would have ripped of an explosive gain.

Overall, Williams gained a grand total of four yards on these three runs, largely because McDuffie made the right play each time.

Among linebackers with at least 10 run defense snaps in Week 9, McDuffie led all players in run stop percentage, per PFF.

McDuffie also rushed the quarterback twice (without a pressure) and was on the field for three coverage snaps (without allowing a completion). He made an impact on special teams as well, creating a tackle on a kickoff return in the first half.

The Packers will eventually get back De’Vondre Campbell at some point, and Krys Barnes is clearly still a big part of the defense’s plans at linebacker, but McDuffie showed he belongs in Detroit. He also handled his business against the run in Buffalo during the second half the week before.

Considering all the Packers’ struggles against the run this season, it might make some sense to use McDuffie more down the stretch.

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Story originally appeared on Packers Wire