2018 Green Bay Packers Season Review – Every Player at Every Position

January 12, 2019

Quarterbacks

 

    It was a good summer for Aaron Rodgers – he had apparently fully recovered from his 2017 shoulder injury, was #10 on the NFL’s 100 Top Players List and finally had signed a record breaking 4-year contract extension…making him the highest paid player in the history of the NFL. Therefore, it was all-systems-go for Rodgers entering the 2018 season. And yet sometimes it can take just a few minutes for the best laid plans to go awry…Rodgers went down with a serious looking knee injury in the first half of the season opener against the Bears and while he was able to come back and play the rest of the season (before going out in the season finale with a concussion), it’s impossible to know what impact that injury had on his year. Certainly Rodgers’ 2018 season divided opinions, but it was clear to see that his productivity and decisiveness was not what it had been previously. He was able to make some fantastic plays and yet appeared to not see easy check-down throws which would have kept crucial drive alive.

 

    Even the numbers tell a mixed story. He threw just 2 interceptions all season long - an incredible feat of looking after the football, which included an NFL all-time record of 402 consecutive passes without an interception. And yet he completed just 62.3% (372 of 597) of his passes – the second worst of his career as a starter. Rodgers passed for 4,442 yards – the second highest total of his career – and yet threw only 25 touchdowns, 4.2% which was the worst of his career as a starter. Even the three main organisations that rank passers appeared to have mixed views:

 

  • NFL Passer Rating – 97.6 – 13th in the league & the 4th worst of Rodgers’ career

  • ESPN QBR – 56.8 – 16th in the league & worst of Rodgers’ career

  • Pro Football Focus – 89.9 – 6thin the league

 

    Finishing off the stats, Rodgers started all 16 games, playing in 1,012 offensive snaps (94.2% of the team’s total). He was sacked 49 times, fumbled 6 times and was responsible for 6 accepted penalties (4 intentional grounding and 2 delay of games). In addition to his passing numbers, he rushed 42 times for 269 yards and 2 touchdowns (both against the Jets) and a two-point conversion (also against the Jets). Rogers had 3 400-yard passing games (week 5, week 6, week 16) and a 300-yard passing day (week 11) and led the Packers to 3 game winning drives (week 5, week 6, week 16). He finished the season being named to the Pro Bowl.

 

    Rodgers continues to move his way up the Packers all-time record books…here is a flavour of some of the positions on the Packers all-time lists that Rodgers now holds:

  • Seasons Played – 14 – equal 4th in franchise history

  • Games Played – 165 – equal 12th in franchise history

  • Career Passing Attempts – 5,492 – 2nd in franchise history (behind Favre)

  • Career Passing Completions – 3,960 – 2nd in franchise history (behind Favre)

  • Career Completion Percentage – 64.82% - 1st in franchise history

  • Career Touchdown Passes – 338 – 2nd in franchise history (behind Favre)

  • Career Passing Yards – 42,944 – 2nd in franchise history (behind Favre)

  • Career Average Gain Per Pass Attempt – 7.82 – 2nd in franchise history (behind Starr)

  • Career Interception Percentage – 1.46% - 1st in franchise history

  • Passing Attempts in a Single Season – 597 in 2018 – 5th highest in franchise history

  • Passing Completions in a Single Season – 372 in 2018 – equals 2nd highest in franchise history

  • Passing Yards in a Single Season – 4,442 in 2018 – 3rd highest in franchise history

  • 3,000 Yards Passing in a Single Season – 9 times – 2nd most in franchise history 

  • 4,000 Yards Passing in a Single Season – 7 times –1st in franchise history

  • 300+ Yards Passing in a Single Game – 56 – 1st in franchise history

  • Passing Completions in a Single Game – 37 in 2018 v Jets- 2nd highest in franchise history

    After starting for the Cleveland Browns in his rookie 2017 season, DeShone Kizer was picked up by the Packers in a March trade that saw CB/S Damarious Randall sent in the opposite direction. Kizer spent most of camp and the pre-season in close competition with Brett Hundley, before last year’s back-up Hundley was traded to the Seattle Seahawks (for a 2019 6th-round draft pick) prior to the final game of the pre-season…leaving Kizer as the primary back-up to Aaron Rodgers. In the regular season, Kizer was quickly called into action when Rodgers went down in week 1 (against the Bears). Kizer saw just over a quarter’s worth of action in that game but then wasn’t called on again in anger until the season finale when he again stepped in for the injured Rodgers. In total, Kizer was in on 3 games (the other was simply a snap in the victory formation), playing 62 offensive snaps (5.8% of the team’s total) - completing 47.6% of his passes (20 of 42) for 187 yards, with 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions and rushing 5 times for 39 yards. His passer rating was a lowly 40.5 and he had a 27.1 ESPN QBR. Kizer will go into 2019 as the chief back-up at QB, but it wouldn’t be a surprise for him to see competition in camp – perhaps through a mid-late round draftee.

 

    The Packers signed undrafted free agent Tim Boyle in May. Boyle was expected to provide competition but probably not expected to make the roster - so his play in pre-season was a pleasant surprise…so much so, that it enabled the Packers to trade Brett Hundley to the Seattle Seahawks for a 6thround draft choice. Having made the final 53-man roster as the third quarterback, it wasn’t likely that Boyle would see much regular season action and so it proved. He was on the gameday active roster for just a single game – week 2, against the Vikings, the week following Rodgers’ knee injury – without playing. We can expect to see Boyle back in training camp in 2019, competing for a roster sport again.

 

Last year’s third-string QB Joe Callahan was waived at the end of April.

 

Running Backs

 

    After missing the first two games of the season through suspension, Aaron Jones had a fine, sometimes spectacular, second season. Injury (knee/mcl sprain) meant he also missed the final two games of the year, but in the 12 games (with 8 starts) that he did play, Jones rushed for 728 yards at 5.5 yards per carry (with 8 touchdowns). Surely, he would have broken the 1,000-yard mark had he been allowed more than just the 11.1 carries per game he was given (he played on 376 offensive snaps, 35.0% of the team’s total). He had a single 100-yard rushing day – 145 yards against Miami in week 10. For the season, Jones also caught 26 passes for 206 yards and a further score. He was responsible for 2 penalties (both false starts). With his speed, quickness and cutting ability, Jones could be the featured back of the future – the big question is if his body can stand up to a constant 15-20 carries per game.

 

    Fellow 2017 draftee, Jamaal Williams, followed his solid rookie season with, well, a solid second season. Williams appears to be one of those backs who is at least passable in every aspect of his job – namely running, blocking and receiving – and plays with an admirable level of toughness and consistency. Unfortunately, he appears to lack the speed and quickness that the league’s outstanding players at his position possess. In 2018, Williams appeared in all 16 games (8 starts), playing on 522 offensive snaps (48.6% of the team’s total). He carried the ball 121 times for 464 yards (3.8 average) and 3 touchdowns, whilst catching 27 passes (41 targets) for 210 yards. He also ran in one two-point conversion. Later in the season, due to the Packers having issues on kick-off returns, Williams was called into action in that discipline – returning 4 kicks for 95 yards (23.8 average). He was responsible for 2 penalties (both on special teams).

 

    Ty Montgomery entered the season as the Packers “jack of all trades” man – part running back, part receiver, part kick returner. And his stats in the 7 games (no starts) that he played for the Packers in 2018 reflect that – 26 rushes for 105 yards (4.0 average) with 1 touchdown, 15 receptions for 170 yards and 10 kick-off returns for 210 yards (21.0 average). He was in on 150 snaps (14.0% of the team’s offensive total) and was responsible for no accepted penalties (1 declined). Montgomery fumbled twice, losing one – the one that led to his departure from Green Bay. His decision to run the ball out of the end zone late in the tight game against the Rams and the subsequent fumble (followed by media interviews) saw his position on the Packers roster as almost untenable. Certainly, for Brian Gutekunst enough was enough and Montgomery was traded on draft deadline day to the Baltimore Ravens for a 2020 7thround draft pick…the lowest draft pick compensation available. 

 

    Tra Carson was signed to the Packers Practice Squad in early October and then promoted to the active 53-man roster at the end of the month, playing only on special teams (45 snaps) in 4 outings (0 starts) before being placed on injured reserve with a rib injury in early December.

 

    Kapri Bibbs was claimed off waivers from the Washington Redskins with 2 games remaining in the regular season. He appeared in both of those games for the Packers (0 starts) but only saw offensive action in the season finale against the Lions – playing on 17 offensive snaps (1.6% of the team’s season total). In that game, Bibbs had 1 carry for 2 yards and caught 3 passes (5 targets) for 13 yards. Bibbs is under contract for the 2019 season, so we can expect to see him compete for the third running back spot in camp.

 

    Lavon Coleman was signed to the Packers Practice Squad in late October (he was previously signed and released by the Houston Texans). Coleman was then promoted to the active 53-man roster in late December, playing in just 1 game (0 start) but only saw action on special teams. 

 

    Darius Jackson was signed by the Packers (having been released by the Cowboys on final cutdown day) just prior to the start of the regular season. He was played in just games (being inactive for 2 others), playing special teams only (20 snaps), before being released in early October.

 

    Despite a good pre-season, Joel Bouagnon didn’t make the 53-man roster (being released on the final cutdown day) but was signed to the Packers Practice Squad just before the season started. He was released in early October without ever being promoted to the active roster.

 

    Last year’s rookie Devante Mays was placed on injured reserve on final cutdown day and released shortly afterwards on an injury settlement.

 

    Waived by the Packers on final cutdown day were LeShun Daniels Jr. and Bronson Hill – both had been signed during the pre-season.

 

Akeem Judd retired during the pre-season – he had been signed just 2 weeks earlier.

 

Full Backs

 

    Danny Vitale was signed to the Packers Practice Squad in late October and then promoted to the 53-man active roster about 5 weeks later. He played in the last 5 games of the season (0 starts) appearing in just 19 offensive snaps (1.8% of team’s season total). He had 1 catch (2 targets) for 2 yards. If the Packers decide to carry a fullback on their 2019 roster, then he has a chance of making the roster.

 

    Listed as both a fullback and a tight end, Malcolm Johnson was signed to the Packers Practice Squad in late November and remained there until the end of the season. The Packers have signed him to a 2019 “Futures Contract”, which means that he’ll be around to compete in camp later in the year.

 

    Having played in 12 games combined for the Packers in 2016 and 2017, Joe Kerridge probably entered 2018 with some hopes of making the 53-man roster. However, the decision between Brian Gutekunst and Mike McCarthy not to need a fullback put paid to Kerridge’s hopes and he was released by the Packers on final cutdown day. Kerridge was then signed to the Packers Practice Squad just before the season started. He was released in late October without being promoted to the 2018 active roster.

 

Surprisingly waived by the Packers on final cutdown day was Aaron Ripkowski.

 

Wide Receivers

 

    Davante Adams entered the 2018 season at #45 on the NFL’s 100 Top Players list and was probably just the final barrier (a 1,000-yard season) away from breaking into the league’s elite list at wide receiver. This he duly achieved, by gaining 1,386 yards (475 YAC) on 111 receptions (169 targets), with a 12.5-yard average and 13 touchdowns – becoming just the 13th1,000-yard receiver in Packers history. Adams’ 111 catches were just a single reception short of the Packers all-time single-season mark (held by Sterling Sharpe) – which he surely would have broken had he been able to play in the season finale…he missed out due to injury, spending week 17 on the inactive list. Adams played and started in 15 games, appearing in 953 offensive snaps (88.7% of the team’s total). He also scored on a two-point conversion and 5 100-yard receiving games (including a high of 166 yards against the Seahawks in week 11). Adams now has 348 career catches for 4,197 yards – marks which are 12thand 16threspectively in franchise annals. He was named to the Pro Bowl at season’s end. The Packers signed Adams to what is looking like a very team friendly contract extension late in 2017 – he will count $10.9m against the Packers cap in 2019.

 

    It is quite possible that we have seen Randall Cobb in Green and Gold for the last time. If so, 2018 brought to an end of the more productive careers in recent Packers history and Cobb surely leaves the team with the best wishes of the all Packers fans. Who can forget his 108-yard kick-off return for a touchdown on his Packers debut? Or his stunning 4th-down 48-yard touchdown catch against the Bears in 2013 with 38 seconds remaining that gave the Packers the division title? Or his 75-yard catch and run to beat the Bears in game 1 this past season? Cobb is now an unrestricted free agent who it seems likely will move on. His 2018 season was blighted by injuries (pectoral strain and then hamstring strain) – he ended up playing in 9 games, with 6 starts, appearing in 466 offensive snaps (43.4% of the team’s total). Cobb caught 38 38 passes (61 targets) for 383 yards (233 YAC) with a 10.1-yard average and 2 touchdowns. He lost 1 fumble on offense and had 1 100-yard game (142 yards against the Bears in week 1). Cobb also saw action returning punts – he had 7 punt returns for 46 yards, with 6 fair catches and a 6.6-yard average (with 1 muffed return which he recovered). Cobb now has 470 career receptions for 5,524 receiving yards – he is 6thon the Packers all-time receptions list and 11thon the Packers all-time receiving yards list. He caught 37 touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers. Cobb counted $12.5m against the Packers 2018 salary cap.

 

    As the outside receiver opposite Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison was making great strides in his third NFL season, before being injured and ended up being placed on injured reserve in early November (with a groin injury). Allison started the first 4 games of the season before being injured for the first time – he then came back to play sparingly again in week 8 off the bench…his last outing of the season. In his 5 games (4 starts), Allison played on 241 offensive snaps (22.4% of team’s total), he was targeted with passes 30 times, coming up with 20 receptions for 303 yards (106 YAC) and 2 touchdowns. He was responsible for just a single penalty (offensive holding) and fumbles once. Allison also came up with a huge play in the week 2 game against the Vikings, blocking a punt that was recovered for a touchdown by Josh Jackson. Allison and Aaron Rodgers were just developing a great understanding prior to the receiver’s injury. Allison is now a restricted free agent – I would expect the Packers to make him a qualifying offer prior to the free agency period starting.

 

    Heading into the draft, the Packers knew that they needed help at wide receiver (particularly after releasing veteran Jordy Nelson) and on paper they got it – selecting J’Mon Moore (fourth round), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (fifth round) and Equanimeous St. Brown (sixth round). For now, and their immediate future at least, the three of them will be closely linked and their progress and output compared to each other. 

 

    Without doubt, Marquez Valdes-Scantling progressed further and made a quicker impact than that of his two rookie colleagues. Playing in all 16 games (691 snaps, 64.3% of team’s offensive total), MVS made 10 starts and notched a couple of 100-yard receiving days – 103 against the 49ers (week 6) and 101 against the Patriots (week 9). He ended a promising rookie season with 38 catches (73 targets) for 581 yards, with a 15.3-yard average and 2 touchdowns. 209 of his receiving yards were made after the catch (YAC). MVS also rushed twice on end around plays for 29 yards (including a 21-yard-long) and had a single kick-off return for 21 yards when pressed into return action. Valdes-Scantling is a super athlete with better than 4.4 speed and great size (6-4) and certainly showed enough in his first season to provide encouragement for next year.

 

    Unfortunately, the same can’t really be said for the highest of the wide receiver draft picks, J’Mon Moore. Moore struggled in camp and pre-season and by the start of the regular season had dropped way down the depth chart. He was on the gameday inactive list for the first 3 weeks, and only really hit the active roster at that point due to injuries to Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison. Moore ended up seeing action in 12 games (0 starts) but nearly all of that was on special teams – playing on just 74 offensive snaps (6.9% of the team’s total). He caught just 2 passes (3 targets) for 15 yards (^ YAC) and returned 4 kick-offs for 102 yards at a 25.5-yard average. Moore also lost a fumble on one of those kick-offs but did recover a punt return muff by Tramon Williams. Moore is a good athlete with the ability to get open from defenders but unless he can show it in camp and the 2019 pre-season it’s not a given that he’ll make it to his second season.

 

    Somewhere between Valdes-Scantling and Moore, sits Equanimeous St. Brown. Staring slowly, EQ came through to play in 12 games, with 7 starts, appearing in 358 offensive snaps (33.3% of the team’s total). He had 21 catches (36 targets) for 328 yards (with 120 YAC), with a 15.6-yard average but no scores. He also carried one time for 5 yards and was responsible for a single (accepted) illegal block penalty. With great size and catching range, EQ looks like one of those receivers that will just get gradually better the more he plays. He certainly has an opportunity for the future.

 

    A fan favourite, Jake Kumerow suffered a hamstring injury during an outstanding pre-season (he was the Packers 2018 “Mr. August”) and was placed on injured reserve immediately following the final cutdown day. This allowed the Packers to bring him back during the season, which they duly did. Kumerow was activated in early December. He played in the last 5 games of the season, starting 2, appearing in 136 snaps (12.7% of team’s offensive total) – catching 8 passes (11 targets) for 103 yards (23 YAC) at a 12.9-yard average with a single, 49-yard, touchdown. It’s quite possible, prior to his pre-season injury, that Kumerow was moving ahead of the three aforementioned drafted rookies on the depth chart. He has good hands and a quick burst, without great speed, and there’s no doubt that Kumerow (who is now an exclusive rights free agent) will be in the thick of competition for a 2019 roster spot.

 

    Having been injured for most of the pre-season, it surprised many that Trevor Davis made the final 53-man roster. He wasn’t able to play in week 1 (a gameday inactive) and was then placed on injured reserve – staying there until he was for the week 11 game against the Seahawks. It was hoped that he would be able to provide a spark to the mediocre (at best) Packers return game, but Davis only played in 2 games (0 starts) before again going down injured (with a hamstring injury) and ending up back on the injured reserve list in early December. In the two games that he was able to play he returned 1 kick-off for 20 yards and 4 punts (plus 1 fair catch) for 44 yards – he did not see a single snap on offense. Both Davis and the Packers will be hoping that he is fully fit for 2019 and able to bring his talent to the table – it isn’t a foregone conclusion by any stretch of the imagination however that he will make the 2019 roster…there were rumours that Green Bay tried to shop him for trade prior to the deadline but there were no takers.

 

Allen Lazard was signed by the Packers to the 53-man roster (off the Jacksonville Jaguars Practice Squad) with 2 games remaining in the regular season. Played only in the season finale – after being on the inactive list in week 16 - and was in on just 1 offensive snap…catching 1 pass for 7 yards. 

 

Teo Redding was signed to the Packers Practice Squad in mid-Novemberand remained there until the end of the regular season. He was then signed by the Packers to a 2019 “Futures Contract” so we can expect to see him competing in training camp later in the year.

 

    2017 fifth-round draftee DeAngelo Yancey was waived by the Packers on final cutdown day (having spent the 2017 season on their Practice Squad). He was signed to the 2018 Practice Squad in early October but was released again after less than two weeks without being promoted to the active roster. 

 

    Keon Hatcher was signed to the Packers Practice Squad in early October and remained there until November when he was signed by the Oakland Raiders to their 53-man roster (he therefore never saw any game action for the Packers).

Waived by the Packers on final cutdown day were Kyle Lewisand Adonis Jennings.

Michael Clark, who saw action late in 2017, retired during training camp.

Colby Pearsonwas waived during training camp

 

Tight Ends

 

    The Packers had great hopes that Jimmy Graham was going to be the next receiving superstar in Green Bay when they signed him as an unrestricted free agent in March – a contract worth $30m over 3 years. He entered the season as the #89 player on the NFL’s 100 Top Players list, but never lived up to that billing. In all fairness, Graham’s season wasn’t quite as bad as some critics would have you believe and wasn’t always put in the best position – being asked to block in-line far more than he should have been. However, there can be no question – Graham’s season didn’t live up to expectations…and a broken thumb later in the year didn’t help. He played in 16 games, with 12 starts, appearing in 795 offensive snaps (74.0% of team’s total), making 55 catches (89 targets) for 636 yards, 11.6-yard average and 2 touchdowns. The 2 scores were an added disappointment, as Graham was expected to be a huge red zone threat. He had a single 100-yard receiving game (against the 49ers in week 6). Graham carries a big $12.7m salary cap number in 2019 and is due a big roster bonus ($5m) in March – the Packers could choose to move on in 2019 without Graham but would have to make that decision before the roster bonus is due.

 

Most catches by a Packers TE in a single season:

61 – Jermichael Finley, 2012

58 – Richard Rogers, 2015

56 – Paul Coffman, 1979

55 – Paul Coffman, 1981

55 – Jermichael Finley, 2009

55 – Jermichael Finley, 2011

55 – Jimmy Graham, 2018

55 – Jackie Harris, 1992

 

    No.2 tight end Lance Kendricks played in 16 games with 3 starts but caught only 19 passes (25 targets) for 170 yards (112 YAC) and 1 touchdown. The 25 targets in 16 games shows that he wasn’t utilised much in the passing game and was probably over-used as an in-line blocker. As an unrestricted free agent, it’s difficult to believe that Kendricks will back in 2019.

 

    Signed as an unrestricted free agent in May, Marcedes Lewis is the best blocker of the Packers TE’s and yet seemed to be sadly underutilised in this department. He appeared in all 16 games (0 starts) but played on just 190 of the team’s offensive snaps (17.7% of the team’s total). Lewis caught just 3 passes (on 4 targets) for 39 yards (31 YAC), whilst being responsible for 2 penalties (both false starts). It certainly felt like better utilisation of Lewis as a blocker in both the running and passing games would have helped the 2018 Packers. As an unrestricted free agent, it appears unlikely Lewis will be back in 2019.

 

    Seemingly the odd-man out on the TE depth chart, Robert Tonyan was one of the surprises of the pre-season and made the final 53-man roster as the Packers opted to keep 4 TE’s. Tonyan was the typical “Mr. August” – whether he can translate that into regular season success remains to be see after his quiet rookie season. Despite playing in all 16 games (1 start), Tonyan only played on 67 offensive snaps (6.2% of the team’s total) and he didn’t catch his first pass until week 10 (against Seattle) albeit an outstanding 54-yard touchdown reception of a Rodgers’ pass. Tonyan then caught only 3 more passes for the rest of the season – ending the year with 4 catches (on 6 targets) for 77 yards (10 YAC) and that single touchdown. He predominantly saw action on special teams (191 snaps) and was responsible for 2 penalties (1 holding, 1 roughing the kicker). Tonyan is now an exclusive rights free agent who the Packers will undoubtedly re-sign…they will be hoping that he can turn some of the potential in production in 2019 as one of top 3 TE’s on the roster.

 

    Ethan Wolf was signed to the Packers Practice Squad in late October. He was placed on the Practice Squad-Injured list in mid-December- the nature of his injury wasn’t disclosed. 

 

    Evan Baylis was signed to the Packers Practice Squad just prior to the final regular season game of the season. After the regular season was over, he was signed to a 2019 “Futures Contract” meaning that we can expect to see him in camp later in the year.

Waived by the Packers on final cutdown day were Emanuel Byrd,Ryan Smithand Kevin Rader.

 

Centers

 

    Corey Linsley had a good year as the only center on the Packers roster – ending it being named as an alternate to the NFC Pro Bowl squad. Not only did Linsley play and start all 16 regular season games, but incredibly he played in every single offensive snap for the Packers this season (1,074). Equally as incredible, having played on all those snaps, he had 0 accepted penalties (and just a single off-setting penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct). On ESPN’s “Pass Blocking Win Rate” measure he finished 9thamongst all NFL centers. Linsley will count $8.2m against the salary cap in 2019.

 

Austin Davis was waived by the Packers on final cutdown day. He was signed to the Packers Practice Squad the following day but was released in late September without being promoted to the active roster.

 

Also waived by the Packers on final cutdown day was Dillon Day.

 

Guards

 

    Starting LG Lane Taylor played in 15 games, starting 14 (missing 2 starts through injury) and appeared in 881 offensive snaps (82.0% of the team’s total). Taylor also slid to LT to cover for David Bakhtiari on the rare occasions that Bakhtiari was out of the game. He finished 8thoverall amongst all NFL guards in ESPN’s “Pass Blocking Win Rate” and was responsible for just 2 penalties (both holding). Throughout the season, Taylor played solidly, but wasn’t quite as dominant as perhaps he was in 2017. He will count $5.4m against the salary cap in 2019 (the tenth most expensive player on the team).

 

    Justin McCray started the season at RG for the first 3 games of the year before being injured and losing the spot to Byron Bell. He later came back in to start 2 more games at RG (weeks 14 and 17). In total, McCray played in 12 games, appearing in 480 offensive snaps (44.7% of the team’s total). He was responsible for 2 accepted penalties (1 holding, 1 false start). McCray did a decent job when in the game – but perhaps not quite as good as the Packers were hoping for. We can expect to see him back in 2019 competing for a spot but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a draftee or free agent come in and take the RG spot.

 

    Playing primarily as a back-up for the first three-quarters of the season, Lucas Patrick came through to start the final 4 games of the season (due to injuries) – 3 at RG and 1 at LG. Patrick appeared in 14 games and was in on 278 offensive snaps (25.9% of the team’s season total). He was responsible for just a single accepted penalty (a false start) and bizarrely was one of the league’s few (the only?) offensive linemen still playing on kick-off returns – he returned 2 kicks for 23 yards. Patrick is now an exclusive rights free agent, but we should expect the Packers to re-sign him and bring him back as a primary back-up in 2019.

 

    Byron Bell was signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Packers in May, probably as much for his ability to play multiple positions along the o-line as his prowess at any single position. His 1-year deal costing the Packers $1.6m which included a $500,000 signing bonus. He started the season backing up Justin McCray at RG, before McCray was hurt – at which point Bell stepped into the starting role. He started the next 9 games at that spot before injuring his knee and being placed on injured reserve in mid-December. Bell ended up playing in 12 games, starting 9, being in on 527 of the team’s offensive snaps (49.1% of the team’s total snaps) and giving up no accepted penalties (1 offsetting), but his performance probably didn’t match the cost of his contract. As Bell is now an unrestricted free agent again, it’s unlikely that he’ll be back with the Packers.

 

    Adam Pankey was on the Packers active roster for the whole of 2017 (playing in 1 game) but was waived on final cutdown day in 2018. He was then signed to the Green Bay Practice Squad the following day – he was activated to the 53-man active roster in early December. He played in just 1 game (0 starts) and appeared on just 1 offensive snap (in week 14, against Atlanta). Pankey is now an exclusive rights free agent – I would expect to see him back with the Packers in 2019 training camp competing again for a roster spot.

 

    Nico Siragusa was signed by the Packers to the 53-man active roster (off the Baltimore Ravens Practice Squad) in mid-December. He was on the roster for the final 3 games of the regular season but was a gameday inactive for each of them. It seems likely he’ll be back in camp in May.

 

    Selected by the Packers in the fifth round (138th overall), Cole Madison was expected to challenge for a roster spot at RG and RT. Unfortunately, undisclosed personal issues prevented that from happening and Madison never reported to the team – being placed on the reserve/did not report list in July. The Packers are hopeful that he’ll be able to compete for a roster spot in 2019.

 

    Able to play both OG and OT, Anthony Coyle was signed to the Packers Practice Squad in late September. He was placed on the Practice Squad-injured list in late November with an undisclosed injury. After the season was over, the Packers signed him to a 2019 “Futures Contract”. He should be in camp later in the year.

 

Waived by the Packers on final cutdown day was Kofi Amichia.

 

Ethan Cooper was waived during training camp – he had been signed off waivers (from the Giants) just a few weeks earlier.

 

Offensive Tackles

 

    David Bakhtiari entered the season as the #91 player on the NFL’s 100 Top Players list and lived up to that billing and more. Without doubt is one of the premier left tackles in the league – possibly the premier left tackle – as shown by his selection as 1stteam All-Pro by AP and PFF. Bizarrely, was named only as an alternate to the Pro Bowl…which is more of a slight on that game than it is on Bakhtiari. He started all 16 games and played on 1,031 offensive snaps (96.0% of the team’s total) and was responsible for just 5 penalties (including 1 off-setting) – 3 holding and 2 false starts. Finished 3rdoverall amongst all NFL tackles in ESPN’s “Pass Blocking Win Rate” and was ranked 1stby PFF in pass protection across all NFL tackles. Without question, Bakhtiari is one of the best and hardest working players on this team – he will count $14.2m against the cap in 2019.

 

Packers OL who have been AP 1st-Team All-Pro Selections (since 1960):

OG Fuzzy Thurston 1961

OC Jim Ringo 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963

OT Forrest Gregg, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967

OG Jerry Kramer, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1967

OG Gale Gillingham, 1969, 1970

OT David Bakhtiari, 2018

 

    Right Tackle Brian Bulaga started in 14 games (missing weeks 14 and 15 – on the inactive list) and continues as one of the premier pass blockers at his position. So much so, that ESPN had him ranked as the best OT in the league on their “Pass Blocking Win Rate” measurement. As has been the case in recent years Bulaga battled injuries for much of the year, but he is tough and was able to play 781 snaps (72.7% of the team’s offensive snap total) despite missing those 2 games. When healthy Bulaga helps provides the Packers with one of best 1-2 tackle combinations in the league, when combined with Bakhtiari. But staying healthy has been a big if. We should expect to see Bulaga back and doing his thing in 2019…but it’s also possible that the Packers may look to the 2019 Draft to pick up his eventual replacement. Bulaga will count $8.3m against the cap in 2019 and will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season.

 

    Jason Spriggs was again the team’s premier back-up at RT and started 2 games (weeks 14 and 15) when Brian Bulaga was injured. He also saw a fair amount of action in other games, when Bulaga was struggling with various ailments - in total, he saw action in 13 games (was inactive in weeks 6, 16 and 17) and was in on 291 snaps (27.1% of the team’s offensive total). Spriggs was responsible for a team offensive line high, 7 penalties (4 false starts and 3 holding). Spriggs probably played slightly better in 2018 than he had in previous years, but he has not yet become the player that the Packers hoped he would when he was drafted – he’ll be in a tough competition to make the 2019 roster.

 

    After surprisingly making the final 53-man roster, Alex Light was on the gameday inactive list for the first 12 games of the season before finally being active in week 14. Seeing little action in week 14 and 15, unfortunately Light was then suspended for week 16 (league’s substance abuse policy). In the last game of the season, against the Lions, he saw his only sustained action of the season – playing on 23 snaps. For the season he played in 3 games (0 starts) and was in on 26 snaps (2.4% of the team’s total).

 

    2016 fourth-round pick Kyle Murphy was expected to compete for a back-up position at OT, having seen spot duty in each of the previous seasons (starting 3 games in 2017). However, he was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury on the final roster cutdown day. Murphy remained on the injured reserve list until being released in late December (he was then signed to the Rams Practice Squad).

 

    The fantastically named Gerhard De Beer was signed to the Packers Practice Squad in late November and remained there until the season ended.  The Packers then signed De Beer to a 2019 “Futures Contract” ensuring that he should be in training camp to compete for a roster spot.

 

Kyle Meadows and Jacob Alsadek were waived during training camp. Both had been previously signed as undrafted free agents.

 

Defensive Ends

 

    Mike Daniels entered the season as the #93 player on the NFL’s 100 Top Players list and was playing at a high standard when he was injured and placed on injured reserve (foot) in early December. In the Packers scheme, he’s more likely to tie up blockers than rack up large numbers but don’t let the number fool you. This is one good defensive lineman. Daniels played in 10 games, with 9 starts, appearing on defensive 419 snaps (39.4% of team’s snaps) racking up 18 tackles (10 solos), 2.0 sacks, 5 QB hits, 1 tackle for a loss and 1 pass defensed. Daniels will count $10.7m against the cap in 2019 and will be unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season.

 

    Mo Wilkerson was signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Packers in March – his 1-year deal initially being worth $5m (including a base salary of $1.6m). Wilkerson came to Green Bay 3 years removed from his only Pro Bowl season (with the Jets), but it was hoped that he would bring a consistent pass rush and run stuffing skills from the DE spot. Unfortunately, his season was brought to a premature end after he suffered a major ankle injury in week 3 (against the Redskins), having played on just 115 defensive snaps (10.8% of the team’s season total). Wilkerson’s injury required surgery and he was placed on injured reserve in late September. In his 3 games (all starts), he played 115 snaps, had 5 tackles (2 solo, 3 assists) with no sacks or tackles for a loss. He was responsible for 1 penalty (roughing the passer). It is expected that Wilkerson will make a full recovery and be available for the 2019 season. He is now an unrestricted free agentand we should expect that the Packers will try to make a move to bring him back.

 

    After starting 11 games at DE last year, Dean Lowry had to take a back seat at the start of 2018 as Mo Wilkerson came in to beef up the line. But when Wilkerson, and then later Mike Daniels, went down injured, Lowry stepped up playing well and fully justifying his rating as the 4thdefensive lineman on this team. Lowry played in all 16 games, making 8 starts and was in on 697 defensive snaps (65.5% of the team’s total), notching up 44 tackles (31 solos). Putting in a solid pass rush, he came up with 3.0 sacks, 5 QB hits, 5 tackles for a loss and 3 passes defensed. Lowry also came up with 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. He gave up 4 penalties (all neutral zone infractions or offsides). We can expect Lowry to be back again in 2019 in a back-up role at DE.

 

    2018 Seventh-round draftee James Looney was released by the Packers on final cutdown day. He was then signed to the Packers Practice Squad just before the season started and later was promoted to 53-man active roster in late November. Looney played in the 3 games of the season (0 starts) and was in on 19 snaps (1.8% of team’s season total) – 17 of which came in the finale against Detroit. Expect to see him in camp in 2019.

 

    Fadol Brown was signed off waivers from the Oakland Raiders in early December. He played in 4 games (0 starts) for the Packers, appearing in 39 defensive snaps (3.7% of team’s total). Brown had 3 tackles (2 solos), a couple of QB hits and was responsible for 2 defensive penalties. There’s been nothing so far to show that he’ll be a factor in 2019.

 

    Eric Cotton was signed to the Packers Practice Squad in mid-December and remained there until the end of the season. The Packers then signed him to a 2019 “Futures Contract” – meaning that he’ll be in training camp to compete for a roster spot.

 

    Joey Mbu (signed as a street free agent during training camp), James Hearns (acquired on waivers from the Cowboys during training camp) and Conor Sheehy were waived on the final cutdown day. 

 

Nose Tackles

 

    Kenny Clark continues his progression towards being one of the best interior defensive linemen in game (ranked as the 6thbest interior lineman by PFF). Playing the nose in a 3-4, he’s not likely to put up the eye-catching numbers of some others in the NFL (playing 4-3 DT) but still his 2018 numbers were pretty impressive. Clark played and started in 13 games and was in on 720 defensive snaps (67.7% of the team’s total) before suffering a sprained elbow in week 14 – an injury which eventually saw him end up on injured reserve. It appears the injury will resolve its self with time…no surgery required. Clark notched up 55 tackles (36 solos), 6.0 sacks, 8 tackles for a loss, 9 QB hits, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries and 3 passes defensed. Clark’s season ended with him named as an alternate to the Pro Bowl and as the Packers nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Clark carries a very low $3.0m salary cap hit in 2019 and will be due his fifth-year option in 2020.

 

    Second year man Montravius Adams played better in 2018 than he did in 2017 but as yet, the 2017 third-round draftee has yet to demonstrate that he can be the dominant type player that the Packers had hoped he would be. Adams played in all 16 games, starting 1 and was in on 212 defensive snaps (19.9% of the team’s total). He had 20 tackles (11 solos), 1.5 sacks, 2 QB hits, 1 tackle for loss and 1 forced fumble. We can expect to see Adams back in 2019 providing reserve depth on the defensive line – but it could be a make or break year for him.

 

    Tyler Lancaster was released by Green Day on final cutdown day and signed to the Practice Squad the following day. He was activated from the Packers Practice Squad to the 53-man active roster in early October. As the defensive line suffered through injuries, Lancaster saw more action – playing in 12 games, with 5 starts, appearing in 271 defensive snaps (25.5% of the team’s total). He ended the year with 26 tackles (19 solo), 1 QB hit and 1 tackle for a loss. Lancaster probably exceeded expectations when he played and showed that he just might have a future on the Packers defensive line going forwards.

 

    Deon Simon was signed to the Packers Practice Squad in late September. He remained there until the end of the season. The Packers signed him to a 2019 “Futures Contract”, so he’ll be in camp to compete for a roster spot.

 

Filipo Mokofisi announced his retirement during training camp.

 

Outside Linebackers

 

    As he is now an unrestricted free agent, it’s possible that the season finale against the Lions was Clay Matthews’ last game as a Green Bay Packer. But I wouldn’t rule out him coming back to the Green and Gold if he’s prepared to play at a team friendly salary cap number (he counted $11.4m against the cap in 2018). He still has some tools, playing both outside and inside which are affective in the NFL. Any review of Matthews 2018 season will forever begin with mention of roughing the passer penalties that dogged him in the first 3 games – 1 justified (in week 1 against the Bears), the other 2 crossing the line towards farcical officiating. Matthews played and started all 16 games and played on 756 defensive snaps (71.1% of the team’s total) and while most often could be found on the end rushing the passer, he also dropped into coverage and on occasion played the odd down on the inside. Matthews came up with 43 tackles (29 solos), 3.5 sacks, 12 QB hits and a forced fumble. He now has 83.5 career sacks (The Packers leader since the stat became official in 1982). It will be interesting to see what the Packers decide to do with Clay in the coming months.

 

    Nick Perry again flattered to deceive and ended another season on injured reserve. He continues to be a disappointment, especially considering the salary dollars that have been pumped into him. In 2018, Perry played and started in 9 games and was in on 302 defensive snaps (28.4% of the team’s total) before suffering the season ending knee injury. He notched up 24 tackles (15 solos), with just 1.5 sacks, 3 QB hits, 2 tackles for a loss, 3 passes defensed and 1 forced fumble. Perry carries a big $14.4m salary cap number in 2019 and is due a big roster bonus ($4.8m) in March – the Packers could choose to move on in 2019 without Perry but would have to make that decision before the roster bonus is due.

 

    If anybody exceeded expectation on the 2018 Packers team, it was Kyler Fackrell. It was a surprise to nearly all observers that Fackrell made the final 53-man roster and for the first 3 games of the season, questions were still being asked as to what he brought to the team. Then in week 4 against Buffalo, Fackrell burst out 3 with sacks and his surprising season was underway. He went on to finish the year with 10.5 sacks (leading the team), which included another 3-sack day (against the Seahawks), 12 QB hits and 12 tackles for a loss. His sack total making him just the 12thplayer in franchise history to reach the 10-sack mark for a season. Fackrell played in all 16 games, starting the last 7 (in place of the injured Nick Perry) and appeared in 623 defensive snaps (58.6% of the team’s total) – notching up 42 tackles (29 solo). There is no doubt that Fackrell brings pass rushing skills to the table, but as much as anything he brings a 100% not stop motor – which means that he picks up several of his sacks and tackles for a loss on strung-out, second effort type plays. If 2018 is anything to by, he’ll be around for a few years.

 

    Reggie Gilbert came into the season as the no.3 OLB on the Packers roster but slipped behind Kyler Fackrell as the season progressed. Nonetheless, he did see action in all 16 games (0 starts), playing in 486 defensive snaps (45.7% of the team’s total), making 38 tackles (27 solo). Gilbert also flashed a little pass rushing ability, coming up with 2.5 sacks, 8 QB hits and 4 tackles for a loss as well as 2 passes defensed and a fumble recovery. He is now an exclusive rights free agent who we can expect will be re-signed by the Packers – however his future with the team is likely to depend upon where Matthews and Perry end up after the free agency period. 

 

    Kendall Donnerson was a seventh-round draft pick by the Packers this year. He was waived on final cutdown day and signed to the Packers Practice Squad the following day. Donnerson was promoted to the 53-man active roster in early December but didn’t see any game action (he was on the gameday inactive list for each game from week 14 to week 17). He is now an exclusive rights free agent who it is quite possible that the Packers will sign to a contract for 2019…at least to have him in camp to compete.

 

    Korey Toomer was signed just before the season started after being released by the 49ers. He played in 7 games (0 starts) for the Packers almost exclusively on special teams. Defensively, Toomer played on just 12 snaps (1.1% of the team’s season total), making 2 tackles (both solo). He was responsible for 1 penalty on special teams (holding). Toomer was waived in late November. 

 

    Greer Martini was waived by the Packers on final cutdown day and was signed to the Practice Squad just before the season started. He was released in early October without being promoted to the 53-man active roster.

 

    C.J. Johnson was placed on injured reserve in early August with a hamstring injury suffered in training camp. He and the Packers reached an injury settlement later in the month, making Johnson a free agent.

 

    Waived by the Packers on final cutdown day were Vince Biegel, Ahmad Thomas, Naashon Hughes and Chris Odom.

 

Inside Linebackers

 

    Blake Martinez again led the Packers in tackles – notching up 144 stops (91 solos) including 10 tackles for a loss. Martinez was in on nearly every defensive play this past year, including staying in on passing downs, playing 1,049 defensive snaps (staring all 16 games) which represented 98.6% of the team’s total. This is a good reflection of his much-improved ability to play the pass, where he racked up 3 passes defensed, 5.0 sacks and 6 QB hits. Martinez is an all-out effort, blue collar type of linebacker who plays particularly tough against the run – if anything, he perhaps over-pursued too much in 2018, allowing too many cut-back lanes for runners. This probably held him back from being a Pro Bowl selection this past year.

 

    Antonio Morrison was picked up by the Packers in late August in a straight swap deal trade with the Indianapolis Colts (he started 15 games for the Colts in 2017). The Packers sent CB Lenzy Pipkins to the Colts in the deal. Morrison played in 16 games, starting 8, making 48 tackles (27 solo), 1.0 sack, 2 QB hits and 5 tackles for a loss. He did an excellent job for the Packers especially against the run. Morrison isn’t the greatest athlete but gets the best out of what he has. Expect to see him back in 2019.

 

    Following the season ending injury to Jake Ryan, 2018 third-round draftee Oren Burks was expected to step right in and be the starter at ILB. But he suffered a shoulder injury in the pre-season (rumoured to be a dislocation that occurred during a pre-game warm up) that slowed down the start to his rookie season. Burks was on the inactive list for the first two weeks of the season and then played in the remaining 14 games (4 starts), but most of it on special teams – where he played well. He was in on only 122 defensive snaps (11.5% of the team’s total) and made just 24 tackles (18 solos). The Burks will be looking for much more from Burks in 2019.

 

    James Crawford was signed by the Packers during pre-season. He played in 16 games (0 starts) but appeared almost exclusively on specials teams (where he was in on 333 snaps) – he played just a single snap on defense (against Buffalo in week 4). Crawford had 8 tackles (7 solo) on special teams and recovered a fumble on a kick-off return against the 49ers. Was responsible for a single special teams’ penalty (illegal formation). Can compete for a special teams’ spot again in 2019.

 

    Although likely to be in competition with Oren Burks, Jake Ryan was expected to be the starter at ILB alongside Blake Martinez. He had started 12 games there in 2017. However, Ryan’s 2018 season was over before it began when he suffered a torn ACL in training camp – an injury which saw him being placed on season ending injured reserve in August. He is now an unrestricted free agent…it is possible that he has played his last game for the Packers.

 

Brady Sheldon was signed to the Packers Practice Squad in early November and remained there until the season ended. The Packers signed him to a 2019 “Futures Contract”, bringing him back to compete for a roster spot in training camp.

 

Waived by the Packers on final cutdown day was Marcus Porter, a 2018 undrafted free agent.

Parris Bennett announced his retirement during training camp.

 

Cornerbacks

 

    Kevin King entered his second season as the no.1 corner on the Packers depth chart, but his 2018 season ended in similar fashion to his first – on injured reserve (this time with a hamstring injury). When King is fit and able to play he is in the top half of corners in the league. He lacks outstanding speed but is physical and can match-up one on one with most receivers. But staying fit may be the biggest challenge that he has. In 2018, King plated in just 6 games, starting all 6 (weeks 1-2, 5-6, 8-9) before going down for the year, appearing in 304 defensive snaps (28.6% of the team’s total). He ended the season with just 17 tackles (14 solo), 1 tackle for a loss, 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery. Both the interception (the first of his career) and the fumble recovery were crucial plays in the victory over the 49ers. He was responsible for 2 penalties and a lost muffed punt (perhaps unluckily in the defeat in Detroit)

 

    There is little doubt that first-round draft pick Jaire Alexander was the rookie star of the 2018 Packers. Alexander is a feisty, tough corner who brings it on every play and he demonstrated excellent athletic and coverage skills to go along with his attitude. He played in 13 games (inactive in weeks 5, 6 and 17), starting 11 and appearing in 760 defensive snaps (74.4% of the team’s total). Alexander had 66 tackles (61 solos), with 1 interceptions, 11 passes defensed, 2 fumble recoveries, 3 tackles for a loss, 1 QB hit and 0.5 sack. As feisty as he is, Alexander gave up just 2 defensive penalties (both pass interference). He also returned 4 punts (with 1 fair catch) for 25 yards, a 6.3-yard average. Alexander made it onto the PFF All-Rookie team – and that’s no surprise…the Packers will be hoping that he can continue his progress as one of the better corners in the league.

 

    Having drafted Alexander in the first round, the Packers came right back and took another corner in round 2. Josh Jackson had first round grades on many draft boards but slipped to round 2, probably because of his lack of experience (he started just 1 year in college) and because he lacks top notch speed. Both of these showed in his rookie season. Jackson played in all 16 games, starting 10 (often in dime/dollar defenses) and was in on 718 defensive snaps (67.5% of the team’s total), racking up 49 tackles (39 solos), including 1 tackle for a loss. He was challenged in pass coverage – coming up with 10 passes defensed but also being responsible for a defense leading 7 accepted penalties – 3 holding, 2 face masks, 1 illegal contact and 1 unnecessary roughness. The penalties reflected a tendency to grab receivers he was covering. Jackson also saw extensive action on specials teams which included recovering a blocked punt for a touchdown against the Vikings in week 2. He was also called into action on punt returns – with 2 returns for 0 yards, including a muffed punt which he recovered. All in all, it was a difficult year for Jackson, but we should expect to see a better version of him in 2019.

 

    Bashaud Breeland signed a 3 year, $24m deal with the Carolina Panthers back in March. Unfortunately for Breeland, the contract was nullified when he failed the physical due to an infected foot (an injury he suffered on vacation in the Dominican Republic). But the Panthers loss was eventually the Packers gain, when the team signed the free agent cornerback to a 1-year deal in late September (to a 2018 cap number just over $600,000). Breeland turned out to be an excellent pick-up for the Packers, demonstrating good skills in pass coverage and an ability to step up and play the run. He played in 7 games, with starts, appearing in 330