At age 36, Tramon Williams – who took all 73 defensive snaps – is in a generation all his own on the Green Bay defense. From there we had (age, with snaps in parentheses):
27 – Kyler Fackrell (23)
26 – Adrian Amos (73), Preston Smith (72), Za’Darius Smith (67), and Fadol Brown (3) – Z turns 27 on Sunday
25 – Blake Martinez (73), and Dean Lowry (47)
24 – Kevin King (42), Tony Brown (27), Montravius Adams (22), and Tyler Lancaster (14)
23 – Kenny Clark (56), and Josh Jackson (3)
22 – Jaire Alexander (73), Darnell Savage (73), and Raven Greene (56)
21 – Rashan Gary (6)
Defenders who might soon be making their first defensive appearances of the year include: B. J. Goodson (age 26), Oren Burks (24), Ty Summers (23), Chandon Sullivan (23), Ka’dar Hollman (22), and Kingsley Keke (22).
Packers Soaring UP, Vikings Heading Down
For the sake of comparison, let’s pick out another team, the Minnie Vikings. Of their eleven projected defensive starters, only Danielle Hunter and Ben Gedeon (both 24) are younger than 27. Those who are 27 are Trae Waynes, Anthony Barr, and Erik Kendricks. From there we have: Shamar Stephens and Anthony Harris (28), Xavier Rhodes (29), Harrison Smith and Linval Joseph (30), and Everson Griffen (31). The window is starting to close on the team to the west.
Back on October 16, 2017, I did a post titled “Have the Vikings Over-invested in Their Defense?” They loaded up on good defenders in part due to having two first-round choices in 2012, three in 2013, and two again in 2014. I pointed out that they had so many highly-paid defensive stars they would run out of money to pay them all.
The Vikings have done well to keep most of that lineup intact, but they haven’t translated their investments into championships. Based on their ages, last year figured to be the peak for this team. They did finish fourth in total defense, but their 8-7-1 record didn’t even get them into the playoffs.
This is the last season Minnesota will be able to pay on some of these gaudy contracts. Like the great Seattle Seahawks defenses of a few years ago, Vikings defenders will start to be dispersed at the end of this season – due more to finances than age. It figures to be the last hurrah for a while for the team Green Bay will face in a week.
But let’s get back to the Packers. Almost every starting defender is in, or about to enter, his prime. It was re-assuring to see Brian Gutekunst’s big defensive acquisitions perform so well against the Bears. Equally encouraging, however, was to see some players with little acclaim or experience step in and play decently.
I’m particularly referring to Raven Greene, Tony Brown, and Darnell Savage. Three others, developing defensive linemen Dean Lowry, Montravius Adams, and Tyler Lancaster, also acquitted themselves well.
The Packers not only have quality starters, but they are fairly deep in backup defenders. Barring a succession of serious injuries, these youngsters – who are bound to only get better – should keep Green Bay in the thick of the playoffs hunt all season long.