One player on the Green Bay Packers’ roster who has made significant growth this season is interior defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt, who typically played the 3-technique position in the nickel and 3-4 defensive end in the team’s base 3-4 defense. According to his pressures per pass snap rate, per Pro Football Focus, he is among the top-five defensive linemen — alongside the lines of Chris Jones, Aaron Donald, Quinnen Williams and Dexter Lawrence, all players with Pro Bowls under their belt.
Forgot to post these— AP (@Light_2610) January 12, 2024
End of the year DT chart (posting the others soon) pic.twitter.com/oJMR0Zc3ud
So it’s safe to say that Wyatt, a second-year first-round pick, knows about generation pressure on quarterbacks. After practice on Wednesday, the first walkthrough of the Packers’ week, he spoke on how that very same pressure that he creates can lead to turnovers against the San Francisco 49ers’ Brock Purdy.
According to Matt Schneidman of The Athletic, here’s what Wyatt had to say about San Francisco’s quarterback:
When defensive linemen get pressure on him, he’s always throwing off [his back foot] or it’s behind them or it’s overthrown or short... When you get pressure on him, it’s a guarantee we’ll get the turnover.
As Schneidman noted on Twitter/X, Purdy does lead the NFL in passer rating while pressured, but that doesn’t tell the full story. Purdy had a 113 passer rating during the regular season, the best mark of any qualifying quarterback during the 2023 regular season, but his lows come against a very specific type of team.
Against the Cleveland Browns, Purdy threw 27 passes for just 12 completions, 125 yards, one touchdown, one interceptions and a 55.3 passer rating. That was the worst game of his season until Week 16, when he played against the Baltimore Ravens. Versus the Ravens, he threw 32 passes for 18 completions, 255 yards, zero touchdowns, four interceptions and a 42.6 passer rating. In those two games combined, he also was sacked a total of five times.
Both the Browns and Ravens are some of the most blitz-happy teams in the NFL, recording 60 and 49 sacks, respectively, during the regular season. For perspective, the 49ers led the NFC in sacks with 48 in 2023.
So it might not look like it on the surface, but when Purdy performs poorly, it goes really poorly — typically due to pressure on the quarterback. Last week, the Packers were able to bring down Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott four times, on top of picking off two of his passes.
Now that Wyatt has said it, I’m sure it’s become bulletin board material for Purdy and San Francisco, but that won’t change what’s happening between the whistles on Saturday night in the Divisional Round matchup. At the end of the day, the Packers’ defense besting the 49ers’ offense will come down to — and was always going to come down to — how well the likes of Wyatt, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary and Kenny Clark will be able to get into the backfield.