After four weeks into 2022, the Packers still have more questions than answers when it comes to their trajectory. Back-to-back close victories against the Bucs and Patriots highlighted the highs and lows on both sides of the ball. On offense, it was somewhat expected that they would have growing pains, not so much on a star studded defense. Admittedly, they’ve played well for stretches of games, but to often the Packers defense is allowing teams to walk down the field in big moments. Three Packers defensive veterans need to find their footing if the unit is going to rise to the ranks of elite defenses this year.
It’s not that De’vondre Campbell has been particularly bad in any given game this season. In fact, he had a pretty good game against the Bucs Week 3. However, one of the unquestioned leaders of the defense is not playing the aggressive and assignment sure defense that the Packers became accustomed to in 2022. Whether that’s scheme or due to playing next to rookie Quay Walker is unknown. Campbell seems to be thinking more and trusting his instincts less so far this season.
As the Packers continue to figure themselves out on offense, the Packers defense needs lock down opponents, especially the run game. You could drive a car through the running lanes in the Packers defense are allowing. Last season, even when there were lanes, Campbell filled them. Not so much through four weeks. The Packers need Campbell to return to the athletic, instinctive linebacker he has been throughout his career if they want to begin to slow down opponent’s run game. A tough test awaits in London again the Giants and Saquan Barkley.
Unfortunately, Dean Lowry’s resurgence last season seems to be an aberration. The Packers were hoping that Lowry could continue to be a stalwart presence on the defensive line in 2022. The early results have had him frequently being washed out of plays, leaving gaping holes in the defense. Offenses have begun to target him as the weak link on the line, and he’s proving them right.
It is early in the season and Lowry can turn it around. He’s shown in the past that he is a capable run defender. Changes have to be made to his play and soon. Without rapid improvement from him, look for the Packers to start giving his snaps TJ Slaton and Jarran Reed to try and plug the hole.
Entering year four, Darnell Savage was expected to ascend to full-time starter and playmaker on the backend of the defense. So far, the later couldn’t be further from the true. While he has been on the field for nearly 100% of snaps so far this season, Savage has been mostly invisible. He’s been out of position multiple times, and has been the primary culprit in multiple coverage breakdowns.
In year two under defensive coordinator Joe Barry, he often looks lost and relies heavily on his speed to make up for not knowing where to be. One factor could be communication, as Savage spent most of the preseason nursing a hamstring injury. With Adrian Amos out with a concussion for an unknown amount of time, Savage is going to need to step up in a big way.
Jordan is a lifelong Packer fan who grew up in Idaho and now lives in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on twitter at @jordantwolf.