Packers DL/LB Snap Counts - 2021 Season Summary

 

 

WK 90 93 94 95 96 97 98
1   26 61 47 50 66  
2   11 60 32 56 84  
3   3 63 24 60 89  
4 5 15 63 50   83  
5   19 69 19 46 81  
6   11 75 41 43 82  
7   10 58 25 58 83  
8   10 49 25 15 90  
9 15 69 34 55   37  
10   20 69 10   80  
11   24 71 36 50 87  
12   8 47 10 52 84  
14   11 63 11 61 82  
15   36 76 36 64   26
16 6 35 76 50   88  
17   39 65 24   72 30
18   56 59 64   47 25
Ave 8.7 23.7 62.3 32.9 50.5 77.2 27
PFF 48.0 52.9 66.7 55.8 63.4 74.9 58.6

Regarding the Average Usage row near the bottom of the table, I am interested in how much the team used a player when that player actually played.  For example, as to Keke, I ignored the five games he missed.  Strictly speaking, he played 393 snaps out of a possible 1079, which is 36.4% of possible snaps.  However, I have listed him at 50.5% because that is how much he played when he was healthy enough to play at all.  That number is skewed a little low because he suffered a concussion mid-game in week 8 and played just 15% of the possible snaps in that game, but he almost certainly would have played more snaps but for the injury.  Similarly, Whitney Mercilus played 9.92% of possible snaps, but he played a lot of snaps when he was actually in games for the Packer, so 41.5% seems like a more useful number.  The average for the marginal players improved due to playing more than they would have in week 18 while some of the front-line players played less than they would have had the game meant something.

The PFF scores are what they are.  By all means, take them with a grain of salt.  The obvious PFF grade that stands out is the 77.1 grade for Tipa Gileai.  Preston Smith's grade was 80.8, but at no time was Mr. Galeai pushing Preston Smith for snaps.  One more caveat: I believe Mercilus' grade is for the entire year, and not for just his time with the Packers.  

90: Jack Heflin played sparingly in 4 games and was a healthy scratch for the other 13 games.  Apparently the Packers see enough potential in Heflin to protect him on the 53-man roster even though they did not play him very much.  Perhaps the same thing can be said for Vernon Scott and Jake Hanson.  In Heflin's case, Abdullah Anderson from the practice squad received more playing time, perhaps because Anderson had more NFL experience and was more game-ready.

93: TJ Slaton played in all 17 games.  He was up and down.  His best games were probably in week 5 and week 9.  His snap percentages increased towards the end of the year but I am not persuaded that it was due to improved play.

94: Dean Lowry had a good year: he was available and played pretty well usually (not always) when he did play.

95: Tyler Lancaster also provided availability.  He was decent if not exciting when he played.

96: Kingsley Keke sustained some concussions which has been an issue for him as he suffered one at the end of the 2020 season as well.  He was okay as a rookie, and played well in 2020 (at times, very well), but he regressed overall in 2021.  I loved this draft pick when it was made but I was hoping for more from him in 2021.  He will be back in 2022, though I am worried about his concussions and recent "illness" which has caused him to miss several games recently.  

97: Kenny Clark had a solid season.  I do not know why Pro Football Focus does not like him as much as I do.

98: Abdullah Anderson played in 7 games for a total of 116 snaps for Chicago and Minnesota in 2019 and 2020, and added 49 snaps for the Packers in 2021.  He has earned $767,000 in three years and been on 5 teams.  As noted, he has had the benefit of three training camps and some previous experience actually playing the NFL, which is probably why he got the nod over Jack Heflin.

The snap counts for the defensive line were pretty straight forward: Clark and Lowry were the mainstays with Keke, Lancaster and Slaton rotating in.

WK 9 40 42 44 47 50 51 52 53 54 55 59 91
1     11   18   76 60 44   29 90 61
2     4   19   44 77 23     100 81
3     36 29 19   14 73 29     100 81
4     60 15 32     63 43       60
5     28       34 70 30     88 73
6 28   31       21 80 72 28   100 13
7 14   12     43 24 71 60 21   100  
8     12     49 64 61 42 17   100 59
9     6     46 65 71 31     100 74
10     10     28 43 57 49     100 87
11   51 26       53   49     100 76
12   45 8       61 53   27   100 74
14   26 2       58 74 29     100 71
15   20 4       61 71 26     100 79
16   24 7       53 74 21     100 76
17   20 15       69 78 22     85 80
18   53 54       100 44 53 7     44
Ave   34.1 20.8 22 22 41.5 52.5 67.7 38.9 20   91.1 68.1
PFF   77.1 52.6 26.6 56 64.3 51.3 89.3 60 62.9   84.3 80.8

9: Jaylon Smith came, failed, and was released.

40: Tipa Gileai was not physically ready to play in the NFL last season, and may have more work to do in that regard.  Nevertheless, he battled Jonathan Garvin (#53) for time as the #3 OLB.  Gileai played 152 snaps in 2021.

42: Oren Burks played sparingly in 2021, though he played in every game.  His only significant playing time came when Barnes was out or on a snap count.

44: Ty Summers played in week three because Barnes left the game.  Summers played in week four because Campbell missed that week.  Otherwise, he played only on special teams.

47: Chauncey Rivers received some moderate playing time early in the season before going on the IR for the remainder of the year.

50: Whitney Mercilus provided a need lift to the defense when he was acquired.  He provided consistent pressure as a bull-rusher and decent run defense.  I suspect his PFF grade just for his time in Green Bay is higher than 64.3.

51: Krys Barnes was the unquestioned #2 ILB.  He needs to improve to retain that title.

52: Rashan Gary had an excellent year.

53: Jonathan Garvin played 395 snaps, up from 85 in 2020.  He is big at 6'4" and 257 pounds.  He was a good tackler and had 5 quarterback hits, all of which occurred during the first 7 games. 

54: LaDarius Hamilton was called up from the Practice Squad multiple times.  He ended up playing 64 snaps (5.9%). 

55: ZaDarius Smith played in week one and then was placed on the injured reserve for the remainder of the regular season.

59: DeVondre Campbell was the #1 ILB.  So that's how a good inside linebacker looks.

91: Preston Smith had a very good year.  He injured his oblique in week six after 8 snaps and missed week 7.

The outside linebacker situation also was straight forward.  Rashan Gary and Preston Smith played as many snaps as possible given that they need some breathers from time to time.  Every one else who played did so because someone had to.  I am hopeful that the return of ZaDarius Smith means that we see less of Garvin and Gileai in the playoffs.

The inside was also straight forward.  DeVondre Campbell played every snap he could.  The Packers played Barnes a good bit but mostly by default, as he was better than Ty Summers and Oren Burks.  That was a low bar.

As always, it is time to fess up.  Last March while looking at the salary cap, I suggested releasing Preston Smith and Dean Lowry.  Both ended up playing a lot of snaps and both had quality seasons.  In the case of Preston Smith, the Packers did get a salary cut and a restructure to save $7.25 million on the salary cap.  The Packers did not get a pay cut from Lowry, but the restructure saved almost $2.5 million.  I think writing "oops" is in order.

That being said, while one should never let the accounting be the sole determinant of football operations, I would note that the Packers needed the consent of both players to garner the cap savings they achieved while retaining their services.  Without having contact with the players in question, there is no way to know the terms to which a player will agree and those at which he will balk.

 

 

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Comments (22)

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Coldworld's picture

January 12, 2022 at 07:10 pm

Thank you TGR. I think you are right to point out the seeming discrepancy in Galeai’s rating. My understanding is that he actually got a decent rating in coverage and his rating in the last game was massively influenced by his recognition and coverage on the fake punt (even if he didn’t turn round). If he could just add some mass and strength he may be able to convert some of those speed rushes into hits. He needs to at least get into the 250s.

Abdullah seems to me to be pretty good against the run. That made him useful. Slaton is a work in progress, but I see potential. For a last day pick that’s not bad as a rookie. I don’t know what Heflin did wrong. I also remain unpersuaded by Lowry. He’s been better used this year, but we won’t get better against the run if he’s the default number 2.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 12, 2022 at 10:55 pm

Tipa played 152 snaps (14.09%). His lone sack was due to someone else flushing Baker Mayfield, who tripped and fell. Tipa was first to down him, but I don't know that he actually even beat his man. But a stat is a stat to me and to PFF. The edge guys do benefit from Clark flushing QBs with pressure up the middle. For most of the players other than Clark, it evens out. So, perhaps Tipa on some other occasion is the one who didn't get a sack even though he supplied the pressure to flush some QB into another Packer's arms for the sack.

I meant to add to Slaton's comment: I thought he supplied more pressure than I had anticipated but was less stout against double teams than I had hoped. Overall, the quickness he displayed is more important: he can get stronger, take coaching, and learn from Clark how to hold up against double teams.

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dobber's picture

January 12, 2022 at 08:30 pm

"I suggested releasing Preston Smith and Dean Lowry. "

I find myself wondering if they can extend P and reduce his cap hit enough to make it comparable to his dead money if dealt or released. He's played pretty well for the most part...can't replace everyone. I think we talked briefly about this in another thread. Lowry--there are replacements. I think he's done with the Packers after the playoffs.

With the success and path the Packers had with Nijman, your comments about Heflin (who likely needs to add strength), Scott, and Hanson are more intriguing. I haven't been a believer in Hanson since he was drafted, but they liked him enough to bury a roster spot on him and make him their #3 (and maybe #4 when Jenkins was healthy) C. Is he the next Lucas Patrick?

Wow, PFF loved Tipa....

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 12, 2022 at 10:29 pm

To be clear, I was talking about releasing Lowry and Preston Smith in March of 2021, prior to this season. And while I did fess up, I thought I did a pretty good job of walking it back in the very next paragraph!

I thought about adding a line after each player's name speculating about whether they would be on the team in 2022. I decided not to do that. Time enough after the super bowl. Also, after I wrote about dealing with the 2022 cap a while ago, Cory and IIRC Gil wrote articles about AR. There were enough comments suggesting we fans should just enjoy the present that I decided not to publish a follow up article that is completely written and not to speculate in this article.

To everyone: Thanks for reading, and especially for taking the time to comment. I really like the interaction!

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dobber's picture

January 13, 2022 at 08:03 am

"I thought about adding a line after each player's name speculating about whether they would be on the team in 2022. I decided not to do that. "

I think you made the right call.

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PeteK's picture

January 13, 2022 at 09:12 am

The future of the OLB position is interesting and varied. Cut Zadarious-save 15 mill, cut Preston-save 13 mill, cut both and sign Mercillus. I would keep Preston.

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dobber's picture

January 13, 2022 at 09:34 am

Agreed. About all you can say with any certainty is that Gary will be out there in 2022 and there will be a bunch of low-money guys (Garvin, Tipa) in camp. Z is likely gone. After that, your guess is as good as mine...

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wildbill's picture

January 12, 2022 at 09:03 pm

I liked the Preston signing and have been happy to have him part of our Packer Family. Oddly he has alternating bad/ good seasons and makes me wonder after this good year what do we do with him going forward?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 12, 2022 at 10:54 pm

A release gains $12.5M in cap savings. That's because he is scheduled to earn $12.5M in cash (including workout bonus and game active bonus). GB could extend him, but can't really get as much cap savings. Adding a four year extension means his cap could be reduced to about $10.75M (and that's extreme in pushing cap out). that would be a $9M cap saving (instead of $12.5M for a release) for a player who will be 30 in 2022 and would be 34 in his last year of such an extension.

Normally teams can release players after two years, but for GB it might still be a pretty painful dead money loss just because they would be pushing a lot of prorations out. GB would probably have to/want to wait for 3 seasons before they could think about releasing Preston without pain.

TL/DR: it is risky to extend any 30 year old. OLBs start to lose it around what, 31?

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croatpackfan's picture

January 13, 2022 at 03:02 am

If you take in consideration how good was Julius Peppers in the mid 30ties, it is really very individual trait. Some players compensate loss of speed and quickness by experience so they are able to play much longer than average.

I do not know if there is any type of test or method for evaluation or judgement who can be that "long career" guy, but some of them (like Lewis, e. g.) obviously have something in themselves to be capable to play above average at higher age.

I'm not for extending or cutting/releasing Preston Smith, just want to point out that there may be a lot to take into the consideration how to proceed with any player over age of 30.

But, your data are very informative and gives me confirmation that PFF grading has lot of flaws. Their data are just one of the tool to assessment players and their value. I believe most of the flaws comes from not knowing play calling and possible special task given to the player, or players.

However, thank you TGR for your work, I hope it will continue for our pleasure and discussions.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 13, 2022 at 09:23 am

I actually meant to make that a question instead of a statement of my opinion. I meant Is it too risky to extend a 30-year old OLB until he is 34?

Julius Peppers is a rather special player. He could lose 10% of his physical gifts and still be right up there with the best players in the NFL. Another example is LT Whitworth who is still playing at an elite level at age 40.

It isn't just age. The player's work ethic becomes more important as they age. It is said that Preston came in overweight in 2020 as a partial explanation for his down year. IF true, that doesn't bode well for longevity.

IDK. One would have to know Preston Smith personally. I wouldn't mind an extension, but I admit to being dubious about whether it is a good idea.

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Lphill's picture

January 12, 2022 at 09:32 pm

What it says about the D line is that there’s Clark then a bunch of guys , nothing more.

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stockholder's picture

January 13, 2022 at 07:16 am

#59 Campbell was the #1 ILB. Campbell proved my point. The Packers needed to fix this position for years. The heart and the soul of your defense is the ILB. I don't have to go back in time. It's obvious the group wasn't the same since Desmond Bishop left. And Burks; was Gutey's answer along with a revolving door of ILBs. Campbell can tackle. He 's not the athletic guy Gutey drafts. But; I think Gutey blundered into one of the best ILB in the league. Now will he keep him. Probably not.

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Coldworld's picture

January 13, 2022 at 08:48 am

Gute might have drafted Burks but he’s made sure he’s brought in enough other ILBs to keep him off the field on D nearly always. I wish he would replace him, but it’s clear he’s been a ST stalwart. At times his athleticism has served him well there. While I personally do not think he’s as good on ST as the team seems to, he’s an example of keeping a player for STs, something many have argued we should do.

Campbell didn’t test particularly well, notably in short area quickness, but he actually seems to have it from film with us and his prior team. Could just be good pro scouting and coaching familiarity. Players test on a bell curve athletically, some over perform, some under. Campbell plays in a way that seems to suggest he’s the latter.

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dobber's picture

January 13, 2022 at 09:29 am

Campbell is at the height of his physical ability, and I just don't blame him for trying to cash in 2021 for a big contract this off-season while he can get it. It's going to be hard for the Packers to make that work given the other contracts they'll need to shed and other players they need to pony up for, but if he wants to sign a Packers-friendly contract, I wouldn't argue.

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Leatherhead's picture

January 14, 2022 at 02:40 pm

We play 5 or 6 DBs and 4 edge/pass rushers on most plays. Math says "Not many ILBs on the field on most plays. I think that is part of the reason historically that we haven't spent resources on this spot. Nick Barnett in 2003 was the last first round inside backer. Hawk was drafted as an outside backer and moved inside. But the rest have been economy models.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Barnes continue that, along with some economy model FA. If Campbell thinks he's hit the motherlode, he's wrong. The franchise has shown they aren't going to throw large dollars at this position. Personally, I hope he takes a deal to play a couple of years here yet, but it'll be for less money than somebody else will offer.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 14, 2022 at 05:40 pm

Campbell plays every snap. A second ILB is out there about 62% of the time ( Campbell 91.57, Barnes 48.84, Burks 19.0, Summers 2.69, Jaylon Smith won't even count). Barnes is not very good. The guy behind Barnes should not be in the NFL. I agree that Campbell is not going to hit the motherlode in GB, but not because GB does not need ILBs. They just don't have the money to pay him.

ILB probably will be a complete wasteland in 2022 absent an investment in the draft, and probably even with one. We only play 2.19 OLBs per play, so that's not a night and day difference to the 1.62 ILBs per play, though it is significant.

Let's just say I don't agree that GB is stingy with the money and the draft picks for ILBs because there aren't very many ILBs on the field. They seem to think they can make their defense work despite being cheap in this area. How's that been working out for them?

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PeteK's picture

January 13, 2022 at 01:44 pm

Kirksey was a solid pickup. Also, Campbell had a similar stats in 2019 and signed a one year 6 mill contract. So signing him is a strong possibility. Gute, please keep blundering baby, BLA BLA BLA CHEESEBOIGER.

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stockholder's picture

January 13, 2022 at 10:05 am

Yep- another solid thought. Thinking wrong can kill any future.

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wildbill's picture

January 14, 2022 at 01:48 pm

I don’t normally watch the colts but thought Leonard also is an ILB.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 14, 2022 at 05:47 pm

Leonard is an off the ball LB in a 4-3 from what I can tell. He doesn't rush the passer much. He'd be a Will ILB in GB, I imagine. He was the 36th pick in the 2018 draft, a high pick.

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jont's picture

January 13, 2022 at 10:43 am

At LB Mercilus is the wild card for next year's roster. He flashed real speed in the short time he was out there and looked like a good back up to spell Rashan and Preston.

But he's over 30 so the odds are way against him. I doubt he'll be back, but maybe he could give one good year which would make LB less of a priority and allow draft picks to be used on other positions.

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