The Green Bay Packers had a 13-4-0 record in the 2021 NFL season and earned the top seed in the NFC playoffs. While no team won more games during the regular season, there were some players on the Packers who had disappointing campaigns.
Here we look at five Packers who had the most disappointing seasons in 2021. The list is based on expectations and performance so obviously a backup player who doesn’t put up good statistics or doesn’t perform well will be less likely to make this list than a starting player who put up similar numbers.
In addition, injuries are not going to be the cause of a player making this list. So, David Bakhtiari isn’t on here although the Packers were hoping he would play more than just one half of one game all season. We are measuring the performance of the players in question here, not their availability.
Here is a look at five Packers who had disappointing 2021 seasons:
- Long Snappers Hunter Bradley and Steve Wirtel
Bradley started the season as the team’s long snapper although the coaching staff was already concerned about his lack of consistency. Bradley played the first eight games of the season for the Packers before being released because he continued to be inconsistent.
So, the Packers signed Steve Wirtel from the practice squad. Unfortunately, Wirtel’s performance was even less consistent than Bradley’s.
The poor play of the Packers long snappers hurt the team on their field goals, extra points and punts. Even an average job at this position would have made things better for the team this season.
- TE Robert Tonyan
Tonyan only played eight games before suffering a season-ending injury. In 2020, he had 52 catches for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns. This season, he caught only 18 passes for 204 yards and two scores.
Even if you pro-rate his statistics over 17 games, Tonyan was well off his pace from the previous season and his catch percentage dropped from 88.1 percent a year ago to 62.1 percent this season.
Part of the reason for the reduction in catches was because Tonyan and other Packers tight ends were asked to block more when both the team’s top two left tackles, Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins, were out of the lineup. Tonyan proved a willing blocker although it was far from his forte.
Tonyan’s numbers could bounce back up in 2022 if he’s healthy again (and if he returns to Green Bay) but his overall performance in 2021 was well off the pace he had the previous season.
- S Darnell Savage
In the second half of the 2020 season, safety Darnell Savage graded out as one of the best in the league at his position. The play of Savage and Adrian Amos was a big reason for the team’s six-game winning streak to close out 2020. The former Maryland star was making big plays both in the secondary and at the line of scrimmage.
But in 2021, Savage’s play fell off. Not only did he fail to take a step forward in his third NFL season, but he took a step back from his overall 2020 performance. Despite playing in two more games, Savage made two fewer interceptions, made 12 fewer tackles and broke up three fewer passes. His overall coverage was less consistent and he made fewer big plays.
The Packers hope Savage returns to his late 2020 form in 2022.
- DL Kingsley Keke
Keke showed flashes of pass rush ability in his first two NFL seasons and had four sacks in 15 games in 2020. The Packers were looking for the former Texas A&M star to take a step forward in his third campaign and give the team another interior defensive lineman besides Kenny Clark who could rush the passer.
Unfortunately, Keke never took that next step. He missed some time due to injuries but managed 2.5 sacks in 12 games before the Packers released him.
While no specifics were divulged, there was likely some off the field or attitude issues that led the Packers front office to release Keke rather than keep him. It is unusual for an NFL team to release a lineman with pass rushing potential. Unfortunately, Keke didn’t continue to develop and he is no longer with the Packers.
- K Mason Crosby
Crosby was coming off a strong 2020 season that saw him make all 16 of his field goal attempts. The Packers all-time leading scorer was dependable and came through for the team in the clutch.
Unfortunately, 2021 was a rough time for the former Colorado star. There were issues with his new holder and the two different long snappers the team employed, but Crosby himself struggled to make his kicks.
During the regular season, he missed nine field goal attempts and two extra points. Then, in the playoffs, he had an important field goal try blocked on the final play of the first half.
Crosby missed kicks he usually made. He missed four field goals between 30 and 39 yards and only made half of his kicks between 40 and 49 yards.
Crosby may not be back with the Packers next season. He’ll be 38 before the 2022 NFL season starts. He may retire or the Packers may ask him to take a pay cut if wants to return.
Either way, Crosby must do better than he did this season or he won’t win the kicking job in 2022.
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