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Green Bay’s defense wasn’t entirely awful, plus other fun-to-know facts about 2016
By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
GREEN BAY, Wis. – One of America’s first great sportswriters, while using the nom de plume Mark Twain, once wrote, “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies and statistics.”
I tend to agree, although there are exceptions.
Here are five Packers-related stats from 2016 that are dead on:
** 1 – What player tied for second in the NFL for the most games with at least one-half sack?
Answer: Nick Perry.
While some are skeptical Perry will post another double-digit sack season – he had 11 in 2016 – this statistic suggests he will.
First of all, he’s in good company.
Minnesota’s unheralded Danielle Hunter led the NFL with 11 games of at least one-half sack. Perry was tied with Denver’s Von Miller, Miami’s Cameron Wake, Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan and Buffalo’s Lorenzo Alexander for second.
Any time you’re on the same list with Miller and Wake – and you’re talking pass rush – that’s a really good thing.
Second, Perry’s 10 games with at least one-half sack is an indication of consistency. Perry didn’t merely abuse a couple of overmatched left tackles for a few multi-sack games.
He got to the quarterback on a regular basis all season long.
Third, the Packers played from behind way too often. What that means for pass rushers such as Perry is this: Opponents could stick to the running game a lot more frequently against the Pack.
There weren’t many times when Perry could pin his ears back and cut loose knowing the opposing quarterback was forced to throw the football.
It’s time to give Perry some credit for a terrific season and an equally sunny outlook going forward (to the QB).
** 2 – What player is fourth in the NFL in sacks at his position since 2011?
Answer: Morgan Burnett.
That’s right. Burnett. Remember him?
He’s the player that often is overlooked and underrated until he’s out with an injury. Clearly, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix’s talent and iron man resume coupled with Micah Hyde’s growth helped mitigate the damage when Burnett was out.
Still, Burnett’s 7 ½ sacks – not to mention a ton of tackles – ranks him fourth among NFL safeties since 2011. He is tied with Minnesota’s Harrison Smith with 7 ½ sacks, behind only Roman Harper (NO/Car), T.J. Ward (Cle/Den) and Reshad Jones (Mia).
While fans are falling in love with rookie Josh Jones, which is understandable, it’s helpful to remind them of Burnett’s prowess.
** 3 – Five receivers had three multi-touchdown games last season. Who are they?
Answer: Odell Beckham, Jr. (NYG), Antonio Brown (Pitt) and Mike Evans (TB), along with the Packers’ Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams.
Nelson had 14 touchdown catches to lead the league, followed by Adams, Brown and Evans with 12 each. Nelson and Adams were the only teammates to notch at least 10 touchdown catches.
** 4 – How many fumbles did the Packers’ special teams coverage units force in 19 games (regular and postseason)?
That’s right. The coverage units did next to nothing to tilt the playing field in the Packers’ favor. The tackling was so-so and they gave up a handful of big plays.
The hunch was the special teams weren’t as good as kicker Mason Crosby made them look by making darn near every kick.
** 5 – Who tied Jeff Janis for the postseason team lead in special teams tackles with four?
Answer: Jordan Tripp.
Who? Jordan Tripp, No. 58, a fourth-year linebacker from Montana who is on the Packers’ current 90-man roster.
Tripp had four special teams’ tackles after coming to Green Bay from Seattle in December. It should remind fans that the Packers are constantly looking to improve the roster.
Hey, if nothing else, it’s a good bar room bet.
** Bonus stat I – Why do fans believe there is a great market out there for backup quarterback Brett Hundley?
Answer: Like them, at least in this case, I haven’t a clue.
Hundley completed 2 of 10 passes for 17 yards with an interception in his only action last year. Granted, he is a terrific athlete with a strong arm and all the intangibles.
I like him a lot, in fact, and believe he’ll only get better. But to suggest he could command a second- or third-round pick is silly at this stage of his career.
** Bonus stat II – How soon will fans realize that Davante Adams is a budding star?
Answer: They should know by now.
Adams has 163 catches in his first three NFL seasons. That is good for fourth place on the Packers’ all-time list in that time frame.
Who are the others? Sterling Sharpe leads with 212 followed by Greg Jennings with 178 and James Lofton at 171.
Now that’s some great company to keep, which is something Adams is used to given the quality of the Packers’ current receiving corps.