Packers defense picked as one of NFL’s most underperforming units in 2022
The defense of the Green Bay Packers was one of the NFL’s great disappointments of the 2022 season.
Many believed the group could be elite, given the returning stars at each level, the unit’s finish to the 2021 season, the additions made during the offseason and the sheer amount of resources poured into the defense over the last few years.
Instead, the Packers were nothing if not average. Joe Barry’s defense ranked 17th in yards allowed, 17th in points allowed and 28th in yards per play.
Not surprisingly, Cynthia Frelund of NFL.com picked the Packers defense as one of her most underperforming units of the 2022 season based on her analytic models.
So … I picked the Pack to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl based mainly on their defense, the presence of a back-to-back MVP QB (Aaron Rodgers) and Green Bay’s run game/offensive line. I was wrong. My models had all three levels of the defense ranked no lower than sixth in win share. I also forecasted some different usage from players such as safety Darnell Savage, who is better when given more coverage responsibilities. Again — I got this one very wrong. While we saw some intermittent increases in pressure rates and individual game grades for players, as well as parts of the defense ranking in the top half of the NFL at different points in 2022, and while Green Bay finished with a respectable-seeming yards-allowed ranking of 17th, the Packers were very inconsistent, with all three levels of the defense ending the season ranked no higher than 18th.
Losing Davante Adams required evolution on offense, and change takes time. The Packers banked on a top defense carrying the team through early expected struggles, but the defense had ups and downs all the same.
During a 1-7 stretch midseason, the Packers gave up 27 or more points five times.
The Packers’ season ended with the Detroit Lions converting a fourth down to close out a Week 18 win at Lambeau Field. The defense failing late in a must-win game provided a fitting end to a disappointing season.
As Frelund notes, the Packers had major issues at all three levels of the defense. The interior run defense wasn’t consistently good enough. The pass-rush faded after losing Rashan Gary, and Kenny Clark was inconsistent as a disruptor. The secondary improved down the stretch but was mostly disappointing, especially during the mid-season slump. Regression was a big factor; many veterans, including Clark, Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos didn’t play up to standards.
The other underperforming units from Frelund included the Raiders pass rush, the Broncos offense, the Rams offense and the Buccaneers run game.
16 Packers players who regressed most in 2022