Why Edge Rusher is Defense’s Biggest Weakness

The Packers defense has improved a bit off the season, and added long-term stability.

He made Jair Alexander the highest-paid defensive player in game history, and perhaps brought back perhaps the Packers’ biggest defense star after missing most of last season. They also re-signed with Douglas Messenger, who had had a year’s break to replace Alexander after he was snatched from the coaching staff in Arizona. Throw in a year in development for Eric Stokes and they have the best trio of corner players in the NFL.

In safety, they picked the fifth-year option for Darnell Savage and still had Adrian Amos (who has taken more than a free agent deal and has outpaced former teammate Eddie Jackson since arriving in Green Bay).

On the whole, the Packers might have the best minor in the NFL.

At the quarterback, Al Hazmoun was not satisfied with running with All Pro De’Vondre Campbell. They drafted the physics phenomenon Quay Walker with their first draft pick, giving firmness A pair of midfielders like they’ve never seen before. This will allow Joe Barry to publish schemes that he could only dream of in the past. Krys Barnes, a former player, is more than a third indoor player capable of providing depth and rotation of sub-packs.

The defensive line, which has always been this team’s weakness, was changed overnight. After signing with Garan Reed, the Packers captured Devonty White in the first round of the draft, giving Green Bay the most talent they’d had in a 3-man showdown in a long time. With the evolution of TJ Slaton and the constant presence of Dean Lowry to go one of the game’s most dominant nose ways in Kenny Clark, this defensive line feels like the kind of group that destroys opposing play plans on its own.

Which brings us to using the edge.

First, we have Rashan Gary, who is on the cusp of becoming a star and seems to have no roof over her. There is no denying that he is a crucial part of this defence.

On the flip side, the Preston Smith is a very good pusher with an underrated ability to maintain an edge. However, from season to season, his production was noticeably inconsistent during his career. He’s never had less than 8 sacks in an odd-numbered season (like 2021, when he had 9) and he’s never had more than 4.5 sacks in an even-numbered season. It’s strange. We are heading into an even number season. Perhaps this is just randomness, but as it enters its eighth season, there is definitely a precedent ingrained here.

After that, beams have… uh… question marks?

Whitney Mercellus retired after a promising short stint with the Packers that ended with injury. He’s back in the playoffs, but, frankly, that ended more tragically than his usual season.

Zadarius Smith, the oldest dog in this unit, missed most of the season with a back injury, then left for Minnesota.

The beams now lack depth on the rim and only have one bona fide bolt.

The defensive line, the linebacker, and the secondary are all stronger units in comparison.

Depth is concerning in position because – as with Gary and Smith, the Packer rotates very hard in this area due to the sub-beams. Last season, we had an intentional shift in this area – no offenders were involved in 64% of defensive shots last year. That’s a huge difference compared to 2020, when the Packers relied heavily on Zadarius and Preston Smith, who shared 84% and 79% of their defensive shots, respectively.

This kind of load weakened both players by the end of the season and is unsustainable. Joe Barry steered clear of that workload to keep the edge rush fresh, productive, and healthy.

After losing two major contributors to the Edge Rush group — and making no notable additions (yet) — Edge Rush currently stands as the weak point of this defense.