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Why Green Bay Will Bring More Pressure on QBs in 2018

Earlier, in thinking about how much of a priority an edge rusher should be for the Green Bay Packers, I became bullish on Clay Matthews, who’s about to embark on his 10th season. I’m also optimistic about three other current edge rushers on the roster.

Nick Perry

Nick Perry might have created some false expectations when he recorded 11 sacks in 2016 and got rewarded with a $60 million, five-year deal. The Packers don’t need that kind of annual production.

Perry is still developing. He only started 16 games in his first four years, prior to the 11-sack eruption. Here’s how Perry’s 2017 season went: hand, foot, shoulder and ankle injuries throughout the season. Finally, he was put out of his misery by going on injured reserve just before the final game of the year.

Seven sacks isn’t bad at all when you consider that Perry only played on 51.5 percent of the defensive snaps. Even in his banner year he was out there less than 60 percent of the time. I think the Packers would be pleased to see Perry get from seven to nine sacks a year and I think he’ll deliver those goods as long as he’s relatively healthy. At age 27, he should be just entering his prime.

Kyler Fackrell

There are essentially two types of edge rushers: the mauler and the finesse guy. Fackrell relies on quickness and agility rather than on strength. After getting less than 16 percent of the defensive snaps as a rookie, Fackrell quietly jumped up to over 42 percent last year. He frequently subbed for Clay Matthews or Nick Perry and I didn’t see anything to be embarrassed about. He’s an adept tackler and pursues ball carriers well.

Five sacks in a backup role tells me he has a knack for eluding blockers and bringing down a QB once he gets penetration. Going back to his college days, he also had the ability to cause and recover fumbles – something he’s carried over to the pros. Fackrell has shown an ability to make some big plays. He might never become a starter, but he fills in rather well and I think he’ll be on the roster for the next several years.

Vince Biegel

Without having the luxury to watch Wisconsin Badgers games on TV, I’ll take fans’ words for it that this is an intense guy – one of those perpetual motion machines. Come to think of it, Clay used to play like that. Where did that spin move go?

We learned little from a rookie season mostly spent recuperating from foot surgery. Biegel got only 121 snaps on the year. As a fourth-round pick, however, he should have an excellent chance to become a starter within two or three years – about when an opening might present itself.

Edge Rusher Needs

Brian Gutekunst has made little effort to acquire an edge rusher by trade or free agency. That suggests that he feels, and I’m slowly starting to come around, that the Packer have four solid OLBs, all of whom have some ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks.

In 2017, Green Bay registered 37 sacks, ranking 17th. A year before that, they ranked sixth in the league with 40. Though these numbers don’t suggest there’s a reason to panic, we all watched the good passers in the league pick the defense apart last year. The difference this year could be defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. He has a solid record of finding ways to bring pressure to the quarterback.

There’s another reason for cautious optimism. The Packers finally got some help last year from the defensive line: after a sackless rookie season, Kenny Clark busted out with 4.5 sacks in 2017. Plus, free agent signee Muhammad Wilkerson, recorded 44 sacks, 6.3 per season, in seven years as a defensive end for the Jets. I wish the Packers had signed him for more than a year. If he impresses he’s likely to go elsewhere, as did tight end Jared Cook a year ago.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. MJ April 11, 2018

    There’s no way Perry is still developing. He’s been playing and training at pro-level intensity for how many seasons now? He was drafted in 2012. He has evenstarted well paid contract. Maybe his body cannot take that kind

    1. MJ April 11, 2018

      Effin buggy interface!!

      1. PF4L April 11, 2018

        Yea, Perry’s been in the league 6 years, the majority of that spent on the injury list. People can try to sugar coat it all they want and call him developing or whatever, i call him overpaid.

        I wrote a bunch of stuff, ya know, checks and balances to Rob’s article. But it got kinda gloomy so i nixed it. He sounds hopeful, i’m not here to crush anyone’s dreams.

  2. PF4L April 11, 2018

    Keep the faith Rob.

  3. Dennis Dervetski April 11, 2018

    Matthews, Perry, Beigel, Baluga, and Cobb will NOT make a full season I believe. This is based on past seasons entirety. Not in the cards fans.

    1. r.duke April 17, 2018

      Clean up in aisle five, bring a GM along to wipe away stains up with trades, cuts and Grade A- drafts for the next couple of years…

  4. Howard April 11, 2018

    The Packers need to address an edge rusher(s) with speed. At this time it appears in the draft. Depending on a rookie at the first of the year (min.) is concerning.

    I still believe the heart of a pass rush comes from strong pressure up the middle. At a minimum at least two of the lineman need to force the opponent to look at double teams. Pushing the pocket back into the QB in addition to making a QB nervous, allows a speed edge rusher(s) to get to a QB by pushing the set point deeper.

    In 2010 the Packers had approximately 40% of their 47 sacks come from the DL. The only other year since 2010 that the Packers hit 40 % was 2014. The team had 41 sacks that year. The last three years the team has averaged approximately 34, 28, and 31% of sacks from the D-line. From 2011 through 2013 the D-line averaged approximately 20, 24, and 25% of the sacks. Some of the time you have to factor guys like Perry, Datone, and Peppers were part time D- lineman. Those 3 were not D-lineman or edge rushers all the time and that has been considered in the totals.

    Clark came on last year, Daniels can pressure the passer when turned loose, who knows what the team has with Wilkerson, Adams, and Lowery. I think the team should add one more big guy who can push the pocket. The biggest plus for the D line is Pettine is going to let the big guys go after the QB. Pettine will not run as much two gap, read and react. Pettine is going for the most part try to put the opponents offense on the defense by attacking gaps and jamming receivers. That may mean some runs break out, but for the most part you have to get after the QB, and make receivers fight to hit the target point of their route to win in the NFL.

    I still think the team needs probably two more edge rushers. Matthews may be gone after this year and the bottom tier of the OLBs needs to improve, and you could easily make the case more than the bottom tier of OLBs needs to improve or stay healthy.

    1. Kato April 12, 2018

      I remember Howard Green providing some push up the middle for that 2010 team. Where have those low key high reward signings been?

  5. cz April 11, 2018

    He is right… The best way to stop tge tall pocket passers like Brady and Manning … and Roeth too…was push up the middle with arms in the air. Worked most of the time. Anything else is an easy the middle throw

  6. Cheese April 11, 2018

    “Perry is still developing.”

    LOL, this will be Perry’s seven season in the NFL. His “develop time” is longer than most players careers. Thank the front office for all those conversion projects.

    “If he (Wilkerson) impresses he’s likely to go elsewhere, as did tight end Jared Cook a year ago.”

    Cook didn’t leave because he impressed and the Packers were outbid for him. He left because the Packers pretty much told Cook to fuck off while signing the parasite Martellus Bennett instead. Arguably one of the worst free agency signings in franchise history. BRILLIANT!

    1. Ferris April 12, 2018

      Yes, if Cook was retained, maybe no Graham signing and maybe no Jordy cut, and maybe more money could have been available for say Fuller from the Bears, they could have made a real offer, etc. etc. etc.
      Bad decisions snowball into damage control. No real Packers fan wanted Bennett, people hoped he played well but he was always an idiot, malcontent ass-hat. “He was what we thought he was!” Channeling Dennis Green there.

      1. PF4L April 12, 2018

        I think Ted wanted to square Jared Cook and his agents ass by signing Bennett, therefore saying F U.

        Instant gratification yes. Long term ramifications…disaster.

  7. Kato April 12, 2018

    For what the packers signed Perry for, they should be hoping for more than 9 sacks per year and playing in more than 50% of snaps in a year. But what do I know.

  8. PF4L April 12, 2018

    Lol….if 11 sacks is described as a “sacks eruption”, what do you call other players who get 15-20 sacks? An “eruption explosion of sacks extraordinaire”.

    Didn’t Julio Peppers have 11 sacks last season, isn’t he like 40 or something? For something like 3 or 4 million?

    Yea Nick, keep up the good work, don’t change a thing. Keep hitting that yearly lottery.

    I love this place :)