The Green Bay Packers finished the 2018 season 6-9-1, and there were numerous reasons for that result. Loads of injuries sapped the team of key players on both sides of the football; the coaching staff’s decision-making was often questionable; Aaron Rodgers’ injury seemed to derail him from his normal caliber of play.
All of those issues can be illustrated at least in some form by looking at the team’s total snap counts for the season. Interestingly, the Packers did run more offensive plays than their opponents, but it was a difference of only ten snaps on the season.
The injury issues are most clearly evident when looking at the snap breakdowns at the wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, and cornerback groups. No defensive lineman or corner played more than 72% of the team’s total defensive snaps, while the team had just two receivers over 50%.
Here’s a breakdown of all of the offensive and defensive snaps on the year, with a little extra analysis of some of the top special teamers.
OFFENSE (1075 total plays)
Aaron Rodgers 1013 (94.2%), DeShone Kizer 62 (5.8%)
Kizer saw game action in just three contests this year, though he was active for each game. Those came in week one (a catastrophic outing in relief of Aaron Rodgers for about a quarter), week 14 (one kneel-down against the Falcons) and week 17 after Rodgers’ concussion. He finished the year with 20 completions on 42 attempts for 187 yards, no touchdowns, and two picks.
Otherwise, Rodgers was healthy enough to play the remainder of the season, though he did not play up to his normal standards. His 7.4 yards per attempt was a bit higher than it was the past few years, but is still well off the 8.4 number he averaged from 2009 to 2014.
Jamaal Williams 523, Aaron Jones 376, Ty Montgomery 150, FB Danny Vitale 19, Kapri Bibbs 17
Although Williams led the runners in snaps, Jones was the team’s leader in carries (133) and yards (728), and he averaged 5.5 yards per carry for a second straight season. In addition, after a disappointing season as a receiver a year ago, Jones picked that part of his game up in 2018 with 26 catches for 206 yards, just one reception and four yards fewer than Williams. That all came in 12 games, as Jones missed the first two contests on suspension and the final two games with a knee injury.
Of course, one common complaint among Packers fans was Mike McCarthy not giving Jones enough snaps or carries when he was on the field. Even when Jones did return from suspension, it took the head coach several games to truly commit to him as a featured back.
Williams, for his part, had 121 carries for 464 yards, and like Jones his average of 3.8 was almost identical to that of his rookie year.
Prior to his trade at midseason, Montgomery had done most of his damate as a receiver, picking up 170 yards on 15 catches compared to just 105 yards on 26 rushing attempts. Vitale and Bibbs were late-season additions.
Davante Adams 954, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 692, Randall Cobb 466, Equanimeous St. Brown 358, Geronimo Allison 241, Jake Kumerow 136, J’Mon Moore 74, Allen Lazard 1
Trevor Davis: 0 offensive snaps, 31 special teams snaps
Aside from missing the final game of the season, Adams was the Packers’ lone constant threat on offense, nearly breaking team records by putting up 111 catches for 1,386 yards. He also set a career-high in catch rate with receptions on 65.7% of his official targets and his 13 touchdowns made this his third straight season with double-digits.
Allison should have been the #2 on the outside this year, and when he played he was very effective with 20 catches for 303 yards. That pace actually would have put him at about 970 yards over a full season, but he only played five games before being shut down for the year. That in turn led to MVS — and later St. Brown — taking on a much larger role in the offense than planned in year one .MVS’ 38 catches for 581 yards were the most for a Packers rookie since James Jones went 47-676 in 2007. Meanwhile, St. Brown led the team in yards per catch at 15.6 with 328 yards on 21 receptions. Moore, the first receiver drafted by the Packers in 2018, never really cracked the lineup.
In the final year of his contract, Cobb had another disappointing and injury-marred season. He appeared to be rejuvenated in week one when he took a pass over the middle 75 yards for the game-winning touchdown over the Bears, but outside of that one play he had just 37 catches for 308 yards, a miserable 8.3 yards per catch. It’s tough to see him coming back next year unless he takes a very cheap deal.
Davis returned from injured reserve for a pair of games, but never suited up on offense before going back to IR.
Jimmy Graham 795, Lance Kendricks 315, Marcedes Lewis 191, Robert Tonyan 67
For all the hype about Graham’s signing in the offseason, he did exceed his numbers from 2017 in Seattle, at least in receptions (55) and yards (636). However, he was never a consistent threat in the red zone, where he was supposed to be a dominant presence, and he scored just twice all year.
Kendricks was the Packers’ de facto fullback for much of the year, lining up largely as an H-back and move tight end and catching 19 passes. Lewis was inexplicably an afterthought, even given Graham’s and Kendricks’ issues as in-line blockers, while Tonyan never got much of a chance to build on his one big touchdown against the Seahawks.
Corey Linsley 1075, David Bakhtiari 1032, Lane Taylor 881, Bryan Bulaga 782, Byron Bell 527, Justin McCray 481, Jason Spriggs 291, Lucas Patrick 279, Alex Light 26, Adam Pankey 1
For the second straight year, Linsley played every snap on offense for the Packers. His availability is his best trait, which is saying something considering he has also become one of the best centers in the NFL. Bakhtiari held up well for most of the year, dealing with a few nagging issues but mostly playing through them until the final 30 minutes of the season.
Taylor and Bulaga each had their own injury issues in 2018, missing two games apiece. Meanwhile, the Packers had quite the rotation at right guard, with McCray starting the season there, Bell taking over for him, then back to McCray and eventually Patrick late in the season. Light got just a few snaps in the final game with a couple of players out of the lineup.
DEFENSE (1064 total plays)
Kenny Clark 721, Dean Lowry 698, Mike Daniels 419, Tyler Lancaster 271, Montravius Adams 212, Muhammad Wilkerson 115, Fadol Brown 39, James Looney 19
Oh what could have been with this unit. With Wilkerson going to IR early and Daniels landing there shortly after midseason, Clark was the one stalwart on the line until even he went to injured reserve late in the season. That led to a hefty workload for Dean Lowry all season and eventually got Tyler Lancaster valuable snaps late in the year as the latter showed that he deserves to have the inside track on a roster spot for next year. Adams, the final third-round pick by Ted Thompson, might be gone next year. Looney, a seventh-round pick, started the year on the practice squad and had little opportunity to show his talents.
Clay Matthews 756, Kyler Fackrell 623, Reggie Gilbert 486, Nick Perry 301
Somehow, the Packers made it through all of 2018 by playing just four edge rushers; however, Perry likely played his way off the team due to injury and ineffectiveness. The sack numbers here are startling, too; Fackrell put up 10.5 to lead the team, while Matthews had just 3.5 sacks in more than a hundred more snaps. Meanwhile, Perry had 1.5 and Gilbert posted just 2.5 sacks. This group needs an infusion of talent right away.
Blake Martinez 1049, Antonio Morrison 299, Oren Burks 122, Korey Toomer 12, James Crawford 1
Martinez was once again an iron man, playing nearly every snap all season long. The team rotated a handful of safeties through at the Nitro linebacker spot, however, as Oren Burks’ shoulder injury kept him from making the impact that the team presumably hoped he would. Between Jermaine Whitehead, Josh Jones, and Eddie Pleasant, Mike Pettine continued the trend of using a safety there, though Morrison did provide some good, aggressive play against the run when he was in the lineup.
Hopefully Burks can come into 2019 healthy and with a better grasp of the defense so he can make a bigger impact in his second season.
Tramon Williams 1059, Kentrell Brice 646, Josh Jones 501, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 459, Jermaine Whitehead 221, Ibraheim Campbell 112, Eddie Pleasant 86, Raven Greene 43
After starting the season at cornerback, Williams moved to safety following the Packers’ trade of Clinton-Dix to Washington and missed just a few snaps all season long. His discipline and versatility made him an essential part of a secondary that struggled with injuries all year long. Brice probably played his way out of Green Bay in his third season, struggling mightily in coverage after a good performance in week one.
As mentioned above, Jones split time between safety and Nitro linebacker, showing that his best position still is in the box. Expect the Packers to add some talent here both in free agency and in the draft in 2019. Greene and Campbell both showed enough to bring them back for another go in training camp next season, however.
Jaire Alexander 760, Josh Jackson 718, Bashaud Breeland 329, Kevin King 304, Tony Brown 287, Davon House 29, Will Redmond 4
The Packers’ top draft pick, Alexander, showed why he was worthy of a top-20 selection much of the season, though he had some growing pains and injury issues as well. When fully healthy, he should have the ability to be a lock-down cornerback. Jackson was available all year long, playing 16 games, but he showed the issues in man coverage that kept teams away from him until the middle of round two. He just doesn’t yet have the feel for man coverage, and he’s too handsy, taking several penalties throughout the year.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS (471 total)
James Crawford 333 (70.7%), Antonio Morrison 266 (56.5%), Oren Burks 254 (53.9%), Kyler Fackrell 243 (51.6%), Reggie Gilbert 226 (48.0%)
Robert Tonyan 191 (40.6%), Josh Jackson 190 (40.3%), Tony Brown 178 (37.8%), Josh Jones 169 (35.9%)
The Packers got plenty of contributions from their reserves on special teams. Despite arguments that there was a revolving door of personnel on these units, that’s true only to an extent. The medium-sized bodies — linebackers and tight ends — were quite consistent throughout the season, while the team got regular contributions from a handful of defensive backs as gunners on coverage teams.
This is an even greater indictment of Ron Zook as special teams coordinator, as his units remained ineffective despite having much of their core intact throughout the 2018 campaign.