Packers: Darnell Savage has been underwhelming in 2021

Green Bay Packers, Darnell Savage (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Darnell Savage (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Despite the Green Bay Packers‘ defense being good this year, there’s one player’s regression that’s stuck out like a sore thumb to me – and that guy is Darnell Savage.

Savage, in his third year with the Packers, just hasn’t been the same player in 2021 as he was during last season or even at the tail end of his rookie year. In studying some game film over the weekend, Savage often looks lost or out of place and will struggle during one-on-one matchups. He’s still handling his run defense duties well, but has experienced a steep drop off on the pass coverage side of things.

Savage’s stats throughout Week 8 are very telling as well. According to Pro Football Reference, Savage has allowed 14 catches on 20 targets – giving up 204 yards and a passer rating of 99.0. Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus has him with a low grade of 57.5 – which is ranked 63rd out of 86 eligible safeties.

This is a massive fall from grace and extremely disappointing given that Savage was one of my favorite players to watch last year. He was quick to the ball, made some big hits, had some lockdown moments, and played like he was a top-five safety – but that version of Savage seems to have disappeared so far for the 2021 campaign. For example, in 2020 Savage only allowed a 56.4% completion percentage and allowed a 67.3 passer rating.

Not only has Savage struggled in coverage, but he’s also missed some key tackles and is on track to set a career high in the dreaded category. Although Savage isn’t anywhere near close to being the worst safety in football, his play is off putting given what we’ve seen from him in the past.

To be clear here, I fully expect Savage to bounce back sometime this season. With Jaire Alexander and Kevin King on the shelf throughout the season, Savage’s role has changed on the defense and therefore has resulted in some slip-ups. To go with that, Savage and the Packers defense are still only eight weeks into playing to the fullest extent of Joe Barry’s defense – hence the reason Jaire Alexander was struggling early on in the year too.

If Savage is able to mold back into his 2020 self and the rest of the defense gets healthy, this team could be one of the strongest rosters that the Pack have had in recent memory.