Packers: Pressure rate stat highlights dominant pass rush in 2019

Green Bay Packers, Za'Darius Smith (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Za'Darius Smith (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Packers had no problem pressuring quarterbacks in 2019.

If it looked like the Green Bay Packers‘ defense often pressured opposing quarterbacks just moments after the ball had been snapped, it’s because they did.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Packers’ team pressure rate in 2.5 seconds or less last season was 24 percent, which tied with the Baltimore Ravens for the second-highest.

The Packers’ main focus last offseason was to strengthen their pass rush, and it paid off in a big way.

Smith Bros. and Kenny Clark dominant in Packers defense

Most of the Packers’ pass-rush success last season was due to three players: Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Kenny Clark. This trio combined for 31.5 sacks and 67 quarterback hits.

Preston Smith was dominant on the edge, Clark generating interior pressure, and Za’Darius Smith just about everywhere, depending on where he lined up on the field.

The Smith Bros’ combined 25.5 sacks were more than any other tandem across the NFL. And that’s not all. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, both Za’Darius Smith and Clark tied for third in the league for third down pressures.

There are concerns with the Packers’ run defense entering 2020, and it was an issue last season, but the pass rush took a huge step forward and is a strength of this defense. Green Bay consistently pressured quarterbacks and when the trio of the Smith Bros. and Clark were at their best, there wasn’t much opposing offensive lines could do. Just ask the Minnesota Vikings in the Week 16 game.

If Rashan Gary makes a second-year jump and the Packers can get more production from their other pass rushers on the team, this defense can level up again in 2020. While the trio of the Smith Bros. and Clark were dominant last season, imagine Gary also making a step up in his second year.

The run defense struggled in 2019, but Green Bay’s pass rush dominated. And that should continue this season.