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Green and Bold: Can Jayrone Elliott Make the Jump?

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Green and Bold: Can Jayrone Elliott Make the Jump?

The Green Bay Packers allowed linebacker Jayrone Elliott to reach free agency back in March for the first time in his career, but, thankfully for their pass-rushing corps, he decided to re-sign with the team after weighing his options. 

"Honestly, I wasn’t really ready to go and meet new guys," Elliott said after he returned to Green Bay on a one-year, $1.6 million deal, per Wes Hodkiewicz of "It was almost like we have unfinished business here in Green Bay. Just being here for three years and coming close twice, and reaching the NFC Championship. This is a special group of guys."

The Packers lost Julius Peppers and Datone Jones in free agency, so it came as a surprise to some that they didn't lock Elliott down before the free agency period began.

Elliott was a restricted free agent, so the team would have had to pay him the league minimum tender of $1.797 million before he hit the open market. As it turned out, they didn't come in much below that with the eventual one-year deal that would keep him in Green Bay, but at least they had a chance for the first time since they brought him in as an undrafted free agent to gauge his marketability.

According to ESPN's Rob Demovsky, Elliott had also received a multiyear offer, potentially from the Buffalo Bills or Pittsburgh Steelers, two other teams with whom he visited. 

But, in the end, it was team loyalty that kept Elliott around, as is the case for so many Packers. And now, the team will look for him to make a jump during this one-year prove-it deal and make contributions that go beyond special teams. 

Elliott led the team in tackles on special teams in 2016 and has been in the top three since 2014.

On defense, however, he hasn't yet made an impact that matches what he was able to do when he burst onto the scene in the preseason of his rookie year, leading the NFL with five sacks. But is that a function of his ability, or the opportunity given to him?

Elliott only played 310 snaps over the 2015 and 2016 seasons, but he still managed four sacks in that period, including three in 2015. That's one sack for every 77 snaps. He also had an interception in 2015.

For comparison's sake, using snap count numbers from Football Outsiders, we know that Julius Peppers' 7.5 sacks came over 821 snaps (every 109 snaps). Incidentally, Nick Perry averaged a sack every 56 snaps (11 sacks over 619 snaps), if it wasn't already obvious why the Packers made re-signing him a priority. 

Elliott has shown great potential in the limited amount of defensive snaps that have been made available to him. As his role expands in 2017, he will have an opportunity not only to step up into the void created by Peppers and Jones' departures, but to earn a longer-term deal for 2018 and beyond. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (18) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Worztik's picture

I am probably the only one that wanted him signed before he hit free agency. Call it a gut feeling or whatever but, I always had the notion that he'd be a special player AND a team guy! Now he proved he's all about being a Packer, so let's coach him up and let him tear up the division and the rest of the league... just sayin'!

Handsback's picture

When Peppers said it was up to Elliott to make good on his snaps now that he was leaving. That tells me that Jayrone was probably complaining about not getting on the field and Peppers may have felt that Elliott could be a difference maker in that position.
You might doubt it, but let me remind everyone that Bishop went through the same thing until injuries gave him the opportunity. Is Elliott as good as Bishop? I don't know, but this year he gets that chance to prove it. My personal opinion, which is worth warm spit, is that Elliott can be a star. He was a little weak when he first came out and lacked the proper foot work, yet he still showed flashes of being a special player. I also think there are coaches in Green Bay that feel the same way and have been waiting to get him positioned for a break-out season.
We shall see.....

Worztik's picture

Handsback... yes we shall!!! Let's hope we're both correct.

Duke Divine's picture

He's just gotta stay healthy and he will produce as the tape and numbers show.

Since '61's picture

Given the current depth and the OLB/Edge position group Elliott needs to step up. It's not a question of whether he can make the jump or not. If he doesn't play well consistently and make an impact on the pass rush our defense will be less effective. He is an integral part of the defense now. He either proves it this season or he's gone and we go through another season holding our breath when the defense takes the field. Thanks, Since '61

RCPackerFan's picture

I really like Elliott. I believe with more playing time he could have a break out year. The last few years he never really got a chance though with playing behind Peppers, Jones, Mathews, Perry and last year Fackrell.

Now that Peppers and Jones are gone, he should have more opportunities to get on the field. Which I think in turn he will provide us another really good pass rusher.

Razer's picture

It is the perfect time for Elliott to produce and claim his spot/snaps. I am still skeptical. If the coaching staff has been passing him over for snaps then there is a reason.

Let's hope that this is the year for health, knowledge and ability to come together. This is his window,

chugwater's picture

I agree with this. If Elliott were as talented as many suspect, I would assume he'd have been played much more.

He's had three years to put it together, but we still haven't seen consistent defensive play out of him. Or at very least the coaches haven't seen enough from him that would justify more playing time. That's a huge caution flag in my eyes.

We will see this year. Time to fish or cut bait in 2017.

Spock's picture

Elliot himself admitted he was doing too much "free lancing" at times and has rededicated himself to his playbook and being in the right place at the right time this year. I can't find the exact article, but it was on several months ago. He has the talent.

RCPackerFan's picture

I don't remember reading that.

But if true, that is probably a contributing factor into why he didn't see the field as much.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Yup, Elliott admitted it. I read it too.

Allan Murphy's picture

Now you will see 10+ sacks a year we should have made more then one year contract it will cost the Packers later bet ........

Dzehren's picture

The sack master fits a need and the opportunity is wide open for a pass rush specialist- his upside at best is KJB 2003

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I think Michele wrote this in the most positive light imaginable for Elliott. First, I don't exclude the possibility that Elliott re-signed due to team loyalty, but I don't think it is necessarily so. No RFA tender ($1.79M) was offered, leading me to deduce that GB wanted to pay considerably less. RFA tenders aren't guaranteed. A $1.6M contract with $400K guaranteed is much better than accepting the low tender. An unknown source told Demovski that Elliott had been offered a 2 year deal, but that in itself is not really meaningful. How much? Was there any guaranteed money? Knowing that Peppers and Jones were leaving, Elliott had to figure that he'd be close to a lock to make the 53 man roster and earn the whole $1.6M if he stayed in GB. Probably was not so clear if he accepted an offer from Pitt or Buffalo.

I can't recreate Michele's stats for Peppers or Perry. The stats from Football Outsiders does indicate that Elliott had one sack in 136 defensive snaps in 2016 and 3 sacks in 174 snaps in 2015, which does equal 4 sacks in 310 snaps, or 1 sack/77.5 snaps. But FO lists Peppers with 7.5 sacks in 587 snaps, or 1/78.3 snaps. If one then manually adds the 48, 45 and 42 snaps Peppers played in the postseason, he played 722 snaps altogether. He had one sack in the playoffs, so 722/8.5 sacks = 1 sack/84.94 snaps. I have no idea where the 821 snaps comes from, or the 109 snaps per sack. FO also lists Perry with 606 snaps, so he had 11 sacks, or 1 sack/55.1 snaps. Adding in the playoffs, Perry had 708 snaps, added a sack to bring his total to 12, and thus had one sack/59 snaps.

One should also consider sacks plus hurries when measuring a player's ability to bring pressure. Unfortunately, Elliott has never been credited with enough pressures (the minimum is 5 using Sporting Charts) to find out how many Elliott had. I can't tell if he had 1 pressure or 4 in 2015 or 2016. Using FO regular season snap counts and pressures listed by Sporting charts, here are the sack plus hurries divided by snap counts for our OLBs in order for 2016:

17.75 - Perry (11 sacks, 17 hurries/606 snaps)
20.13 - Fackrell (2 sack, 6 hurries/161 snaps)
24.85 - CM3 (5 sacks, 15 hurries/497 snaps)
30.10 - Peppers (7.5 sacks, 12 hurries/587 snaps)
36.53 - Datone (1 sack, 14 hurries/548 snaps)
? - Elliott (if he had 4 hurries = 27.2)
? - Elliott (if he had 1 hurry = 68)

I'd note that Vic Beasley had 15.5 sacks in 671 snaps, or one sack every 43.29 snaps, and Vonn Miller had 13.5 sacks in 933 snaps, or 69.11. Elliott had 3 sacks in 174 snaps in 2015, or one every 58 snaps, but had his snaps reduced in 2016. There seems to be 2 possibilities: the defensive coaches are incompetent and they along with MM should be fired ASAP, or Elliott teed off every chance he got to get a sack, ignoring his run defense and other responsibilities in the process, leading the coaches to play him less.

If one adds hurries to Beasley's and Miller's stats, Beasley had one pressure ever 14.75 snaps (15.5 sacks, 30 pressures/671 snaps) and Miller one every 21.95 snaps (13.5 + 29/933 snaps). But they play run downs as well. They get double-teams pretty routinely. I don't think those apply to Elliott. Still, I have my fingers crossed that someone can be a reasonable complete OLB in addition to Perry and CM3, and someone can either play the run well and drop into coverage or be a pass rush specialist.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Elliott versus Fackrell versus Biegel...

...a very interesting camp battle for regular season snaps.

I see it being an airtight battle, with Fackrell claiming the largest role when the dust settles.

dschwalm's picture

It sure won't be Biegel.

Nononsense's picture

Elliott reminds me of Everson Griffen of the Vikings. He started his career with the Vikings playing on STs mostly, didn't start playing regular snaps at DE until his 3rd or 4th year and now is a 10+ sack a year guy for them.

Not sure why it took so long for him to get more playtime on defense but he finally did and the rest is history.

Grandfathered's picture

We need him clean and healthy

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