The Good, Bad & Ugly from Green Bay Packers First 12 Games

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With the Green Bay Packers on their bye week, let’s rewind and take a look back at the first 12 games of their season by going through the good, the bad, and the ugly from what we’ve seen so far.

Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) reacts after making a playlist during rather fourth quarter of their game Monday, September 20, 2021 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions 35-17.
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The Good for the Green Bay Packers

First, I’ll start by saying that at 9-3, there has certainly been a lot of good. So much good that there is no way that I’ll be able to go through it all. But I tried to make sure that I identified many of the major reasons behind Green Bay’s early-season success.

The Defense

Week 1 was rough, but from that point on this Joe Barry defense has continued to improve each week and over the last month, they were able to put together not only impressive performances but some downright dominant ones as well. This includes a stretch against Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes, and Russell Wilson where Green Bay held those QBs to just 601 total passing yards with one touchdown and four interceptions.

Through 12 games, Green Bay ranks fifth in points per game allowed, seventh in yards per game given up, and by Football Outsiders weighted DVOA, an efficiency metric, the Packers rank 11th. It’s a real credit to Barry and his defense when so many players like Dean Lowry, De’Vondre Campbell, Chandon Sullivan, and others are all having some of their better seasons of football–it’s not a coincidence.

Rashan Gary

In terms of a player’s development, the third NFL season can be when we see the biggest leap–which has been the case for Rashan Gary. Despite missing a game, Gary still ranks seventh among edge rushers in total pressures, according to PFF ($$), and he ranks fourth in quarterback hits. He’s also been quite good against the run.

Gary has become the player that opposing offenses have to worry about and as the year has gone on, we’ve seen him draw more and more attention–but that doesn’t mean teams are slowing him down.

Kenny Clark

Pretty much since the start of the season, Kenny Clark has been a one-man wrecking crew from the interior. There are a number of highlight plays where he just bullies his way into the backfield.

Clark’s 47 pressures are tied for the second-most among all interior defensive linemen and he’s also recorded three sacks. When Clarks is playing at this level, the entire Green Bay defense benefits. The double-teams that he draws helps to create for his teammates and pressure up the middle is one of the best and quickest ways to blow up a play.

Adam Stenavich

The Green Bay Packers are down three of their five preferred starters along the offensive line and have had numerous configurations this season in an attempt to overcome injuries. But regardless of who is starting and where, this offensive line has held its own through it all.

By ESPN’s run-block and pass-block win rate metrics, the Packers offensive line ranks seventh in both categories. While they certainly aren’t as dominant as they were a season ago and need to be accounted for in the game plan, for the most part, the run game has been effective enough and Aaron Rodgers has had the time in the pocket that he’s needed.

Of course, the players deserve the bulk of the credit, but being able to overcome injuries and constant shuffling is also a reflection of coaching.

Playmakers on offense

This offense isn’t firing on all cylinders like it was a season ago, but Green Bay’s big three — Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Aaron Jones — have all been playing at high levels. After watching Rodgers and Adams for all these years, it can be easy to gloss over what they do as normal–because for these two it is. However, their normal is still elite.

And as good as those two are, as I often say, this offense is at its best when Aaron Jones is getting 20-plus touches a game, whether that be on the ground or through the air. Jones’ mere presence and versatility can really open up the passing game.

There are certainly other players who have and will make big plays, but this Green Bay Packers offense is all about the play of these three.

Corey Bojorquez

We have a punter, folks.

Corey Bojorquez can do it all, blasting 60-yard punts, pinning returners along the sidelines, or using his touch to pin the opponent inside their own 20-yard line. Through 12 games, Bojorquez ranks eighth in average and second in net average.

Turnovers

The Green Bay Packers rank fourth in turnover margin, a credit to this defense for generating takeaways, but also to Rodgers, who is very good at not giving the ball away. The Packers’ 19 total takeaways ranks eighth, and during the Matt LaFleur era, Green Bay is 28-0 when they win the turnover battle.

Brian Gutekunst

In what has been a difficult year off the field for the Green Bay Packers, Brian Gutekunst has handled it well. Despite Rodgers’ unhappiness earlier this year and the uncertainty surrounding his future, he does seem genuinely happy in Green Bay right now.

Gutey has also made a number of key additions, including De’Vondre Campbell, Corey Bojorquez, Randall Cobb — okay, maybe Cobb was more so because of Rodgers — Rasul Douglas, and Whitney Mercilus. His most recent draft is already paying dividends as well, with Eric Stokes, Royce Newman, and Josh Myers all starting right away, along with Amari Rodgers, Shemar Jean-Charles, and Kylin Hill all contributing on special teams.

Time of Possession

The Green Bay Packers offense has dominated the time of possession this season. On average they hold the ball for 32:29, which is the second-most in the NFL. Leaning on the run game, their third-down success, and generating turnovers on defense are all key contributors to their ability to control the clock.

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