3 major X-Factors for the Green Bay Packers defense in 2021

Kevin King, Packers
Packers Coverage

The Green Bay Packers have been carried for the better part of the decade by their offense. Their defense has had a few good stretches but they have not put it together as consistently as they have on offense.

Mike Pettine was the defensive coordinator for the previous three seasons, but the team decided to go in a different direction for 2021. Joe Barry is taking over as the defensive coordinator after spending last season as linebacker coach under Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator, Brandon Staley. Staley moved on to become head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, so Barry left as well.

Barry will have some pieces to work with as the Packers look to get over the hump in Matt LaFleur’s third season as head coach. The team has gone 13-3 in both seasons, losing the NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field both times as well.

If the defense can turn things around in 2021, they may be able to get over the hump this season. Here are three x-factors for the Packers’ defense heading into 2021.

CB Kevin King

The Packers re-signed Kevin King, but his time with the organization could be limited. King was burned twice in the NFC Title game, which helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers advance to the Super Bowl.

The team used their first-round draft pick on Eric Stokes out of Georgia and fifth-round pick on Shemar Jean-Charles out of Appalachian State to bolster a secondary that has failed to find a complement to star corner Jaire Alexander.

King stepping up and allowing the rookies to come along slowly would be huge for the Packers’ defense. With four years of NFL experience, he is the longest-tenured player at the position and will be relied upon by the team to help the youngsters along.

EDGE Rashan Gary

Last season, the Packers totaled 41 sacks, which was 10th best in the NFL. It was a total team effort, as Za’Darius Smith led the way with 12.5 and seven other players had multiple sacks on the season. Finding a consistent pass rusher opposite of Smith would be good for the defense, and Rashan Gary could be that guy.

Gary was second on the team with 5.0 sacks last season and showed improvements in his second season from his first. A third-year jump is certainly possible as Gary is beginning to hone and sharpen his immense physical tools with better technique.

Green Bay’s defense would get to another level if they can find another consistent pass rusher. Smith and Gary were the only two players to average more than one QB pressure per game last season and Gary pushing toward Smith’s number would be a great boon for the squad.

LB De’Vondre Campbell

The Green Bay Packers made a shrewd free agent move when they signed De’Vondre Campbell away from the Arizona Cardinals. The Packers will be Campbell’s third team in three years, but he is a solid player.

He will bring a veteran presence and some depth to the position after losing Blake Martinez last offseason and failing to truly replace him. Campbell had 99 total tackles last season, seven of which went for a loss. While he has his struggles in pass protection, the Packers are getting someone that is a good tackler in the middle of the field and can get after the quarterback a little bit.

Campbell could slot right into a starting role in the middle of the Packers’ defense to help replace Christian Kirksey, who departed in free agency and signed with the Houston Texans.