Understandably, the position of wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers has drawn a lot of attention in recent months.
Another big issue, perhaps even bigger than the receiver’s, is the edge rusher’s lack of experienced depth, which has already proven to be a problem in just two games.
Luckily, the Packers have one of the best edge-rushing duos in the NFL in Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. Among all edge rushers over the two weeks, Smith ranks third in PFF’s pass rush productivity metric, while Gary ranks 12th.
However, the edge rusher position is heavily rotated—or at least it’s supposed to be. Last year, for example, Gary and Smith both fielded less than 70% of the Packers’ defensive snaps, which is relatively normal.
But earlier this season, Gary was on the field for 83% of defensive snaps and Smith for 87% — an unsustainable pace for both. Luckily for both players, defense was only on the field for a total of 41 snaps against Chicago.
The question marks surrounding edge rusher depth aren’t new to the Packers. In 2021, with neither Smith nor Gary on the field, the rotary players’ batting games were absent. Because of this, the Packers felt the need to sign Whitney Mercilus, who had some success prior to his bicep injury.
The only significant addition to the edge rusher room this offseason was Kingsley Enagbare, who was drafted in the fifth round. Enagbare flashed preseason, but relying heavily on a rookie pick in the fifth round carries obvious risks.
Enagbare, along with Jonathan Garvin who was one of them Andy Hermans The bottom-rated defenders of 2021 were third and fourth options at Edge Rusher to start the season, with Tipa Galeai playing exclusively on special teams. Enagabre has 14 defensive snaps in two games, while Garvin has 15, and neither has recorded a pressure per PFF ($$) – although it’s not like they’ve had a ton of opportunities either.
If there’s one position the Packers will build on during the season, which they’ve often done under GM Brian Gutekunst, Edge Rusher most likely ranks high on that list.
As I mentioned in the beginning, the current percentage of snaps that Gary and Smith play is not sustained across a full 17-game season. Eventually, Garvin and Enagbare will need to take on bigger roles, but it remains unknown what sort of lasting impact they can have.