Moving to the defensive side of the ball, the Green Bay Packers were heavily reliant on their secondary with how poorly their front seven performed. Ranking near the middle of the pack in total yards allowed and yards allowed per game, the struggles of their defense rest largely on their defensive line and linebackers.

Their best individual performance was only for 8.5 sacks (Preston Smith), and only Rashan Gary and Smith had more than 5 sacks on the year. As a team, Green Bay only recorded 34 sacks all year, which ultimately was the fifth-lowest total amongst all NFL teams.

Having lost Gary after their road loss to the Detroit Lions in late November was a big reason why their pass rush struggled, but there are a few pieces that should have stepped up in Gary’s absence but failed to do so.

Preston Smith

8.5 sacks, 59 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass defended

One of the few veteran players still carrying their weight, Smith recorded 8.5 sacks in his fourth-consecutive season of 16+ games for Green Bay. A model for health, Preston Smith outlasted fellow Smith brother Za’Darius, and he has continued to be an excellent signing for the Packers.

59 tackles mark a career-high mark for Smith, as he was more involved in stopping the run this year than previously. Having taken on the elder statesmen role for a younger group of players that really need to carry their own weight starting next season.

Quay Walker

1.5 sacks, 121 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 7 passes defended

Outside of his few puzzling lapses in composure, Georgia rookie LB Quay Walker put together a strong start to his NFL career. For the Packers, who desperately needed a young LB prospect to build around, Walker looked like a steal even as a first-round selection this past April.

Walker has a nose for the football, recording three games of 11+ tackles. Plus, when De’Vondre Campbell was forced to miss time, Walker stepped up and wore the green dot on his helmet, relaying plays to the rest of the defense. 

It does look like Green Bay has some sort of long-term solution at LB in Walker, a welcomed revelation for a position that has long been a glaring issue at the heart of the Packers’ defense.

Kenny Clark

4 sacks, 53 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery

While the work that Kenny Clark does frequently fails to stand out in the stat sheet, the 2022-23 NFL season was yet another strong year for the former UCLA defensive tackle. Helping anchor the defensive front, Clark carried out his role extremely well again this year, his seventh with Green Bay.

His total sacks (4) and total tackles (53) totals each were the third-highest ranks of his career, bested by his 2017-2019 run of superb football. While the team did draft Devonte Wyatt for some much-needed depth, it was Clark that remained at the top of his game.

Green Bay likely will look to get Wyatt even more snaps this upcoming season, something that can actually help keep Clark sharp and better rested. Even when he is taking on his usual snap count, Clark is just as dominant of a force as he has been in the past, something that doesn’t look like it is slowing down anytime soon.


Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23