One thing that was evident this season for the Green Bay Packers was the underwhelming performance of Joe Barry and his defense. At the beginning of the 2022 year, this unit was expected to be the backbone of the team, rather it ended up being a liability of most the season. There were quite a few injuries to major contributors such as Eric Stokes and De’Vondre Campbell. Additionally, Matt LeFleur made an extremely questionable decision by bringing back Joe Barry for 2023. Will we see an improvement in 2023 or the exact same defense we saw in 2022? Time will tell, but let’s look how each defensive position performed in 2022:
Coming into the season, Green Bay focused on getting their all-pro defesnsive tackle, Kenny Clark, some help beside him. The Packers went out and signed veteran Jarran Reed and used a first round pick on Georgia stud Devonte Wyatt. On paper this should have been one of the best position groups in the NFL. However, that was not the case. Kenny Clark played his usual self. But, Green Bay did not get much production from Dean Lowry or Jarran Reed. On top of that, TJ Salton and Devonte Wyatt were used in minimal roles, which was a horrible decision on Joe Barry’s part. I do not see a scenario where Lowry and Reed are back next season, which makes the defensive tackle position another need in the 2023 NFL Draft. If Joe Barry learns how to utilize this position and find ways to get Slaton and Wyatt more involved, this group could still be one of the best in the NFL going into next season.
Overall Grade: C
Linebackers and EDGE
Green Bay got a much needed upgrade in last year’s draft with the addition of Quay Walker and Kingsley Enagbare. The linebacker group already had Rashan Gary and De’Vondre Campbell leading the pack, as well as Preston Smith. The unfortunate part of the season was that this group was hit with significant injuries. Campbell missed over a month with a knee injury and Gary suffered a torn ACL. On top of that, we did see maturity issues with Quay Walker, resulting in being ejected two times. One positive note, however, was Engabare’s ascension as a legit starter on the defense. I really do not think this core played awful this season. In fact I do think that they were the best performing group on the defense. There is some good young talent in Walker and Enagbare and the Packers have something to look forward to in the future. I expect this group to hopefully stay healthy next season and lead the defense to a much better overall performance.
Overall Grade: B-
To put things bluntly, this was easily Green Bay’s worst performing unit on the defense. The safeties, Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos, make up a large part in this grade. The argument can be made as well that Rasul Douglas can be put in this conversation too as he underwhelmingly performed after a nice contract extension this offseason. The hard part to watch was that one point, Savage was benched towards the end of the season in favor of Rudy Ford, which proved to be a very good decision. Along with Ford, Jaire Alexander was again the leader of the secondary. I had absolutely no problem with Alexander making his case to play man coverage on the likes of Justin Jefferson because he has earned the reputation and respect to do so. As stated above, Eric Stokes’ season was cut short to injury, but we also saw a sophomore slump with him. This group will need to be heavily addressed in the NFL Draft. I would honestly say that Green Bay may have to potentially draft two day one starting safeties. In all, I would expect some big changes in this unit in 2023.
Overall Grade: D+
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