Six Packers Whose Play May Regress in 2020

 

The NFL is a very competitive league and the performance of most players varies from season to season. Successful players find a way to be consistent and establish themselves as reliable contributors to their teams over time.

The Green Bay Packers feature several players who may see their performances slip in 2020. It could be due to several factors including age, injuries or simply not being able to match a career-best season.

Keep in mind the players on this list might regress but won’t necessarily do so. The possible reasons for their regression are analyzed when the players appear on the list.

Feel free to comment about whether you feel these players will slip significantly next season or continue to be productive or to mention any players you feel should be added to this list.

6. K Mason Crosby

Crosby had a career year in 2019, making 22-of-24 field goals and missing just one of 41 extra point attempts. Prior to this season, his most accurate campaign was 2013 when he was successful on 89.2 percent of his kicks. His typical accuracy on field goals is between 80 and 85 percent while last year he hit on 91.7 percent.

While Crosby is unlikely to have a big drop in performance next season, he is unlikely to match his outstanding accuracy of 2019.

The former Colorado kicker will also be 36 by opening day and while he hasn’t shown any signs of physical decline in his leg strength or accuracy, it remains a real possibility at his age.

5. and 4. OLBs Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith

The math is simple on these two: both Preston and Za’Darius Smith enjoyed career seasons in 2019 after signing with the Packers as free agents. While I do not expect them to disappear or suffer a significant decline, it is unlikely they match their outstanding statistical totals of the past season.

Prior to 2019, Preston Smith never had more than eight sacks in a season. He finished his first season in Green Bay with 12 which was triple his 2018 total of four.

Za’Darius never had more than 8.5 sacks in his previous four NFL seasons before recording 13.5 with the Pack last season.

Expect more strong seasons from the Smith Brothers, but don’t be surprised if their sack totals don’t meet their 2019 numbers.

3. CB Tramon Williams

Williams is presently an unrestricted free agent and may decide to retire or sign elsewhere in 2020. He had a productive 2019 campaign as the Packers nickel defensive back, playing in 73 percent of the Packers defensive plays.

Williams will turn 37 in March. That is ancient for an NFL defensive back. He has the intelligence and savvy to remain an effective player in 2020 if he chooses to return, but it is also possible that Williams loses some more speed or reflexes and struggles more in 2020 or is surpassed by a younger player on the team’s depth chart and sees the field less often.

2. OT Bryan Bulaga

Like Williams, Bulaga will be an unrestricted free agent in March unless the Packers sign him to a new deal. The dilemma facing GM Brian Gutekunst is determining whether Bulaga can continue to match his past production.

The Iowa alum will be 31 before the start of next season and he has spent the past decade blocking NFL defenders. That’s a lot of punishment on anybody’s body.

Nagging injuries have already hampered Bulaga, although he started all 16 regular-season games for the Packers in 2019. When he’s healthy, he’s a very good right tackle.

Will Bulaga stay healthy enough to contribute at the same level next season? Is he worth the money he may receive as a free agent on the open market?

The Packers have traditionally not re-signed offensive linemen when they reached 30 and their contracts expired. Established starters like T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton have been allowed to walk in free agency and the decisions turned out to be right because their bodies did break down after leaving Green Bay.

The Packers face this decision on Bulaga now without a long-term replacement available right now on their roster.

1. QB Aaron Rodgers

We all know Rodgers is not playing at the same level he was in his MVP seasons of 2011 and 2014, but in 2019, he was still one of the top quarterbacks in the game despite a pedestrian receiving corps outside of Davante Adams and the need to learn a new offense.

Rodgers will be 37 before the 2020 season ends and that means a further physical decline is possible for the future Hall of Famer. He may struggle to escape oncoming rushers more than he has in the past or may have more trouble staying healthy or throwing deep balls accurately downfield.

It is also possible Rodgers improves his performance next season as he enters his second year in Matt LaFleur’s system and (hopefully) has more talented receivers to throw to.

We will see what the 2020 season brings for the Packers franchise quarterback, but his age and recent performance qualifies him for this list.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (29)

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Gman1976's picture

March 02, 2020 at 02:43 pm

Wow. That’s a positive article.

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albert999's picture

March 02, 2020 at 02:58 pm

Right.....wow

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2020 at 08:40 pm

Wasn't meant to be negative, just look at realistic possibilities. I'd love nothing more than to be wrong about all of these players.

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albert999's picture

March 02, 2020 at 02:59 pm

Or not!

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Lphill's picture

March 02, 2020 at 03:31 pm

I think the Smiths won’t miss a beat and be a top tandem of pass rushers in the NFL , I think Crosby will be fine and Rodgers too , people age differently and health issues many times are heredity.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 02, 2020 at 05:42 pm

Do not expect Bulaga nor Tramon to be re-signed.

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sbransbottom's picture

March 03, 2020 at 02:44 pm

I definitely expect Bulaga to be back. And there is a solid chance Williams comes back on a smaller contract. We don't have a replacement for Bulaga right now. Yes we need to look for his replacement but I think he is our starter this year barring injury.

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2020 at 08:41 pm

Very possible. We shall see.

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2020 at 08:42 pm

I think the Smiths will be very good again next year. It will be tough to match the numbers they put up this year but I'd love to see them to it again.

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Hematite's picture

March 02, 2020 at 04:31 pm

After reading that article it's quite apparent that the Packers are going to suck in 2020.
Perhaps they'll bounce back in 2021.

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2020 at 08:42 pm

I don't think that will be the case. LOL.

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Wilment's picture

March 02, 2020 at 06:00 pm

Ok, deep breath boys and girls. One, this is an opinion piece, it didn't actually happen yet. Even if this is true, other guys will step up. So many Packers fans are blissfully unaware of the steaming pile this team was from the late sixties to the early nineties. For over twenty five years, this team has, with a few rare occasions, competed to make the playoffs, made the playoffs, won playoff games, and gone to three Super Bowls, winning two. The Packers will compete, Rodgers will step up in his second year in MLs system, the defense will improve, there will be more offensive weapons, and I think we are at the very least going back to the NFC title game. To quote a 1980s(when we really sucked) band, "Frankie say Relax!" GOPACKGO!!

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2020 at 08:44 pm

Well said Wilment. I didn't write this to cause panic, just to look at some players who were getting older or had career years. I remember the 80s well and we are far from where we were back then. Thanks for the comment.

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Wilment's picture

March 04, 2020 at 06:19 pm

Not a problem Gil. I know you didn't, its a topic that deserves discussion, especially since we are coming up to the draft and free agency. Some folks do freak a bit when they see stuff like this, hence Fan being short for Fanatic....have a great day.

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LeotisHarris's picture

March 02, 2020 at 06:18 pm

We're all day-to-day, man.

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2020 at 08:47 pm

Ain't that the truth!

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Jonathan Spader's picture

March 02, 2020 at 07:41 pm

Preston and Zadarius had career years due to the opportunities they had in the GB offense as starters. If KC has help on the DL the Smiths could be even more effective. If we see their #s decline it'll likely be due to injury. Both players had injury scares this past season that made me hold my breath.

Aaron Jones is an obvious candidate for this list that for whatever reason you leave off of it. He had a career year and was healthy for a lot of it. What are the odds he repeats 19 TDs in 2020 if we have more weapons on offense as many of you predict?

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Johnblood27's picture

March 02, 2020 at 08:50 pm

Add my liver to the list.

It has had a good run, but.nothing lasts forever.

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2020 at 08:49 pm

We shall see. I wasn't making a prediction, just pointing out the numbers. You're dead right about injuries. Thanks for commenting.

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PatrickGB's picture

March 02, 2020 at 09:03 pm

Perhaps you are right about a couple of those six examples. But as long as the team as a whole improves, I don’t much care.

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2020 at 08:49 pm

Or as Al Davis would say, just win baby! Thanks for commenting.

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Point-Packer's picture

March 02, 2020 at 10:41 pm

"Pedestrian" WR corps? Nah, "They just need to play" - Aaron Nagler

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2020 at 08:50 pm

I've got to see it first, but I'd love to see it. Thanks for commenting.

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Samson's picture

March 02, 2020 at 11:07 pm

Come on, Gil!
Truth is that all six may at least match season 2019 or even exceed 2019 in season 2020.

Were you being serious or just mess'in with our heads?

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2020 at 08:47 pm

I wasn't trying to get people upset with this article. I was just examining players who were getting older or had career best seasons and say they may not match those numbers next year. I'd love to be wrong. Look, for example, if the Smiths have 10 sacks each next year, that would be a strong season but wouldn't match this year's production. Thanks for commenting.

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HarlanHuckleby's picture

March 03, 2020 at 10:28 am

I’d like to see thoughts on young players that might take a step back. I can see Lazard and Savage having second year slumps- for Safety in particular it seems even the most guys often have a year of setbacks after showing flashes their rookie years,

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2020 at 08:51 pm

Always possible. I think Savage will take a step forward and I hope Lazard does. That's why they play the games. Always interesting and you never know. Thanks for commenting.

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ImaPayne's picture

March 03, 2020 at 12:03 pm

Tough decisions for sure. For all teams. Problem with the Belagas and Williams is they can still play, albeit not at a high level, so unless the replacement in on hand, your forced to use a draft pick where you might not want to. I see receiving needs, and linebacking for sure. That alone may take up three or four picks?

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2020 at 08:52 pm

ILB and WR are definite needs. OT also a need especially if Bulaga departs. Will be an interesting offseason. Thanks for commenting.

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