Sometimes it seems like the disrespect towards Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith is never going to end.
Over the last couple of years, Smith has consistently proven that he’s one of the top edge rushers in the National Football League. Yet, he was snubbed from the Pro Bowl initially in 2019 and continuously finds himself left out of elite pass rusher talks by the media.
Last week, Pro Football Focus left him off the top 10 pass rushers list. Just on Tuesday, the same PFF Twitter account asked who the best edge rusher in the NFL was. Only, Smith wasn’t on the graphic that was tweeted out.
Smith has been notorious for taking things like that personal and using it as motivation. Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith has taken notice. He had some interesting things to say about it last week during his press conference.
“Good. Whoever wrote that just keep doing that,” Coach Smith said. “Have them just keep doing that stuff. Maybe I’ll get a fake account and start doing it myself. Just make up some stuff on there.”
While Mike Smith gets a kick out of the tweets, it has to be pretty annoying for Za’Darius Smith to constantly feel left out of the conversation for top pass rushers.
I know that Za’Darius isn’t going to write an article about himself and how good he is. But you can bet your buns that I will.
So, here’s why Za’Darius Smith should be considered elite.
Since 2019, Smith has been double teamed 27.2% of the time. However, he still has a better pass rush win percentage (20.7%) than Khalil Mack (20.0%) – who is double-teamed over 10% less than Smith.
Smith has posted the fourth-most sacks over the span of the past two seasons in the NFL. That’s more than Cameron Jordan, Myles Garrett, Khalil Mack, Danielle Hunter and the Bosa brothers.
On top of that, Smith also has the second-most quarterback hits in the NFL over the last two years.
To me, the craziest part of these stats is that he’s doing it while being double-teamed at an insane rate. Only JJ Watt gets double-teamed more as an edge rusher.
So, do I believe Za’Darius Smith is elite? Yes. Should you believe that Za’Darius Smith is elite? That answer is also yes.
But if that’s what’s going to keep motivating Smith, then just keep sleeping on him.——————
Gunnar Davis is a lifelong Packers fan and a recent graduate of Simpson College, where he was a 3-year letterwinner on the offensive line and graduated with a degree in multimedia communications. You can follow him on Twitter at @Gunnar57Davis.