2018 is a season the Green Bay Packers would like to forget. This offseason is a chance to hire a new Head Coach, rebuild the ranks, and come into the 2019 season firing on all cylinders. But while the past season is one we’d all like to move on from it wasn’t without its heroes. The Green Bay Packers have plenty of under the radar stars that made the best of an otherwise down year and provide the team with important building blocks for the future. Defensive lineman Dean Lowry is one of these unsung heroes.
When new General Manager Brian Gutekunst took over the helm of the Green Bay Packers fans saw a dream come true: a GM willing to dive into free agency. Unlike his predecessor, the new GM vowed to look into all avenues of player acquisition and promised to be in every conversation. Gutekunst made splash moves almost immediately, signing tight end Jimmy Graham and defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.
New Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine coached Wilkerson in New York and it looked like an ideal singing: Pettine could get Wilkerson back to playing at a high level after a few disappointing seasons with the Jets and further enhance the Packers best defensive strength, the d-line. Pairing Wilkerson with Mike Daniels and emerging juggernaut Kenny Clark gave the 2018 Packers one of the most terrifying defensive lines in the NFL.
Unfortunately, this pantheon of starters wouldn’t last long. Wilkerson suffered an ankle injury against the Redskins and went on IR after Week 3. A foot injury cost Daniels the rest of his season after a Week 11 tilt with the Seahawks. Even the mighty Kenny Clark’s ascending third season was short after a Week 14 elbow injury during the Falcons game. Once the strength of Green Bay’s defense, the line was diminished.
Enter Dean Lowry.
Lowry ended 2017 on a positive note with a particularly exceptional performance against the Buccaneers, earning Week 13’s Defensive Player of the Week. Going into the 2018 season, Kenny Clark’s 2016 draft mate entered Week 1 as the fourth man up on the defensive line, but every injury thrust Lowry into a larger role. Playing in every game, Lowry started eight games and played 65.51% of defensive snaps, good for seventh for all Packers defenders and second only to Kenny Clark for defensive lineman.
Lowry turned these opportunities into the best year of his career, recording 31 solo tackles, three sacks, and three defended passes. His best play was a forced fumble and recovery against the Bears in Week 15. He finished the season as PFF’s 4th ranked Packers defender. When injuries crept up and attacked the Packers’ defensive line Lowry stepped up and made the most of the opportunities he was given. Dean Lowry proved the depth of the Green Bay Packers’ defensive line and was a bright spot in a year with too few silver linings.
As we enter the offseason the Green Bay Packers face many uncertainties. But with a possible resigning of Wilkerson, time for Daniels and Clark to heal, and Dean Lowry ready for whatever may happen, the defensive line has the strength and depth to dominate in 2019.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.