The Green Bay Packers are going to need some pretty big seasons for their returning veterans to help improve on their disappointing 8-9 finish last season. While the offensive skill makers are all first and second year players with little-to-no NFL experience, the defensive side of the ball has many returning veterans. One of these is Preston Smith, the elder statesman now on the defense (at just 30 years old), who is looking to have a big year in 2023, continuing his trend of big production in years that end with an odd number.
Green Bay Packers Pass Rusher Preston Smith Has Thrived in Odd-Numbered Years
The Packers made Preston Smith one of their big three defensive free agent signings ahead of the 2019 season. Along with Za’Darius Smith and Adrian Amos, the hope was that the three would bring a boost to what was a below average defense. And did they ever!
For his part, Preston Smith had a career-high 12.0 sacks that season to go along with 23 quarterback hits and 11 tackles for loss. But then, in 2020, Smith saw his production drop to 4.0 sacks, 11 quarterback hits, and seven tackles for loss despite playing the same number of games. Then in 2021, his production went up again and tallied 9.0 sacks, 17 quarterback hits, and nine tackles for loss.
Do you see the pattern? It goes all the way back to his days with the Washington franchise and his rookie season in 2015. That year, Smith had 8.0 sacks. Then in 2016, his second year, his sack total dropped to 4.4. In 2017 it went back up to 8.0 before falling to 4.0 in 2018.
Years that end in even numbers have not been kind to Smith. Well, until last season. For as disappointing as the season was a whole, Smith’s production throughout the campaign was one of its brightest spots. Last year, Smith had 8.5 sacks, 20 quarterback hits, and nine tackles for loss while totaling a career-high 59 tackles.
Is the even-year curse broken? Well, we can certainly hope so, but remember: this year is an odd-numbered one. If Smith has the same “bounce back” type year he usually has after an even-numbered year, he could be in for a massive season in 2023.