There was precious little for Packers fans to cheer about in 2018, but not everything was a complete dumpster fire. In the midst of the slow-rolling train wreck that was last season, several Packers players rose above the burning garbage around them and posted respectable, even very good seasons.
These are their stories, as told by the APC writing staff. Who was your unsung hero in 2018?
Paul Noonan - Kyler Fackrell
Mr. Sackrell was a walking joke of a disastrous draft pick in his first two seasons, often being conspicuously destroyed by offensive linemen on national TV. Fackrell was an older draft pick and didn’t have much projectability left in his slightly undersized frame. Instead, the switch flipped this season, and Fackrell showed surprising speed and athleticism while recording double-digit sacks. Far from embarrassing himself on national TV, this past season he looked like one of the few competent Packer defenders while on the field.
Fackrell isn’t a perfect player, but his speed and ability to generate pressure make him very useful, and given that he looked like a sure bust 365 days ago, the turnaround is remarkable.
Matub - Also Kyler Fackrell
I came late to the writing party and Paul already took my pick. He also made a much more eloquent argument than I could. So, instead, here’s a tweet I made as an apology to King Sackrell back in November.
I've talked a LOOOOOOOOOT of crap about Kyler Fackrell. A lot.— My name's Matt, but call me Matub (@CallMeMatub) November 11, 2018
But he's consistently been the best edge player this year and I'd like to apologize to him and his mom (who I know is on here and name searches him).
Jon Meerdink - Corey Linsley
The Packers’ offensive line was alternately awful and brilliant this season. From the highs of David Bakhtiari to the lows of whoever lined up at right guard, you could find something to either complain about or admire just about wherever you looked.
Smack in the middle of all that (literally and figuratively) was Corey Linsley. The fifth-year center was a steady-if-unspectacular fixture on the line this year, appearing in every snap of every game for the second consecutive season. In his unbroken run of 1,074 snaps this season, Linsley was never once flagged for a hold [braces for takes from the rest of the NFC North SB nation commenters] and only earned a single penalty, an unsportsmanlike conduct flag that was offset by another penalty.
In a year plagued by injuries and inconsistent play, that Linsley was at the very least present and not actively making the team worse is a big accomplishment.
Evan “Tex” Western - Dean Lowry
Lowry started 11 games in 2017, but when Muhammad Wilkerson signed a free-agent contract with the Packers last spring, the former Northwestern Wildcat was relegated to a backup and rotational role on the defensive line. However, just a month into the season, Wilkerson broke his ankle and forced Lowry into the starting lineup, and he put together a very solid season. Lowry recorded three sacks, a forced fumble, and three pass breakups, along with five hits on the quarterback. In addition, Lowry played every game, and he has now missed just a single contest (as a healthy scratch during his rookie year).
With the Packers’ three starters all ending the year on injured reserve, Lowry remained a consistent, solid presence on the line all season long, and he finished second to Kenny Clark among all Packers linemen in snaps. Without him, the Packers’ defense would have fallen apart even further in the final two months of the season. He probably will never become a Pro Bowl caliber player, but he can carve out a long, solid career as a third or fourth lineman on a team that runs a lot of two-man fronts like the Packers, who would be wise to re-sign him before he reaches free agency in March 2020.
Bob Fitch - J.K. Scott
Hear me out. Corey Linsley will get his due from our other writers and Kyler Fackrell rightly earned his “Sackrell” nickname in the APC Slack chat. Since the rest of the roster didn’t really provide anything in the way of heroes, much less unsung ones, I chose to talk about J.K. Scott.
A punter is best never heard from. As a direct inverse from the effectiveness of an offense, a punter is someone we don’t want to see. That being said, Scott punted an average amount of times and ended up with an average net yardage, an apt representation of an average offense. Unsung heroes aren’t always the ones that deliver the best performances every week; sometimes the hero you need is one nobody remembers. In one of the strangest and most memorable Packers seasons in recent memory, Scott delivered a completely unmemorable performance.
Shawn Wagner - Corey Linsley
I’m with Jon. Linsley started all 16 games for the second consecutive season, which is a feat in itself in today’s NFL, much less a Packers offensive line that consistently weathers the storm of injuries. Not only was he healthy, he was effective and didn’t cost the team penalty yardage. With the revolving door at right guard all season, Linsley was a stable interior presence and was a Pro Bowl alternate. Maybe next year he will earn a spot outright.