Packers Snap Counts: Ford high on Wisconsin News safety | Rare Techy
Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry has mentioned on a couple of occasions his belief that safety Darnell Savage would be a perfect fit at cornerback on defense. His reluctance to pull the trigger while on the move, he said, was because he needed more options to safely fill the void Savage would leave if he switched places.
Former first-round pick Johnathan Abram, who just so happens to be a safety, was announced last week by general manager Brian Gutekunst.
There were immediate thoughts about what this could mean for Green Bay’s defense and whether Barry would make a trade.
Barry made the move for most of the game against the Dallas Cowboys, but Savage was replaced by Rudy Ford.
Ford was signed by the Packers in August with the expectation that he would be a key to the special teams unit. Green Bay hit the nail on the head with that assumption, but what they didn’t see was what unraveled Sunday.
The former sixth-round pick out of Auburn in 2017 had just one game where he played meaningful snaps on defense this year, and that came back in Week 4 against the New England Patriots, where safety Adrian Amos started the game with a concussion. .
In fact, he had more field goals against the Cowboys on Sunday than he had in any of his first four seasons in the league.
Amos and Savage were both ready to go against the Cowboys and both played 100% of the snaps on defense. However, there was plenty of room for Ford, who completed 76% of the snaps and intercepted Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott twice.
Ford was the spark plug the Packers have been looking for on defense. It’s a unit loaded with plenty of talent, but after season-ending injuries to outside linebacker Rashan Gary and cornerback Eric Stokes in the same game, it was understandable the Packers might have felt a little depleted.
Not only did Ford prove his worth, but his interceptions came up huge for Green Bay. With Dallas leading 7-0 in the second quarter, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had just been sacked in his own territory. Three plays later on third-and-goal from the Packers’ 11-yard line, with Dallas looking to extend its lead, Ford read Prescott’s eyes and jumped to intercept his pass. Green Bay fumbled and scored on the ensuing drive. On Dallas’ next drive, Ford came back in the clutch with his second interception.
Barry’s decision, likely aligned with and aided by head coach Matt LaFleur, could not have worked out better for Green Bay. The real question now is whether the Packers will put together a similar scheme for Ford against the Tennessee Titans and what he has in store for an encore performance. After Sunday’s display, it would be nearly impossible for the Packers to consider anything other than restarting Ford at free safety.
According to Pro Football Focus, Ford received the highest defensive grade of any Packers player at 88.3 (High Quality/Elite). The next highest was defensive end Dean Lowry with a 71.9 grade.
Ford was hammered on special teams this year, and now has eased some of the concerns of the backfield with his performance in just one week.
Green Bay hopes it lasts, and a few quotes from and around the team indicate a belief that it will.
As Rodgers said, “We thought he was just here to play special teams. … We were wrong.”
Even Savage spoke glowingly of Ford after the win.
“Rudy’s such a quiet, humble soul,” Savage said, “he deserved it … we’re going to do everything we can to get that (excitement) out of him — to put a smile on his face.”
Other notes from Sunday’s current situation:
– Linebacker Isaiah McDuffie started for the injured De’Vondre Campbell and got his moment. McDuffie finished with a team-high 13 tackles, including eight solo. On Prescott’s first interception, which Ford read beautifully, McDuffie cut off tight end Dalton Schultz’s route, forcing Prescott to make a difficult throw. McDuffie played 82% of the snaps and consistently had tackles late in games.
– With Gary gone for the year, this rookie Kingsley Enagbare saw most of the snaps at Gary’s outside linebacker position. The South Carolina freshman played 62 of a possible 83 snaps on defense and finished with five total tackles and one quarterback hit. Green Bay needs Enagabre to play occasionally, which he did in the preseason and in back-to-back games against Washington and the New York Jets this year, when he made timely sacks. He won’t be Gary and can’t be expected to fill those shoes as a rookie, but Enagbare has shown flashes and that should be the expectation in his new and bigger role.
– Green Bay finally had a complete game where their top five offensive linemen played all 100% of the snaps. The Packers have had games this year where all five starters have played every snap (two other times), but never with David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Jon Runyan and Yosh Nijman lined up from left to right. On a short week — the Packers play Thursday — it’s worth keeping an eye to see how Bakhtiari and Jenkins hold up, as both have still popped up on injury reports in recent weeks.
— After leaving the game last week against the Detroit Lions with an injury and not returning, linebacker Aaron Jones showed no signs of being held back against the Cowboys. Jones played 70% of Green Bay’s snaps on offense, and frankly, it should have been more. Running back AJ Dillon needs his reps and touches, but Jones was in such a groove, ideally that number should have been close to 80%. Green Bay will need to lean on their star running back if they want to climb back into the playoffs.
– Wide receiver Allen Lazard played all but one snap against the Cowboys despite a fairly quiet outing. Lazard had a huge catch in overtime to put Packers kicker Mason Crosby within a field goal, and while rookie Christian Watson was the star of the show against Dallas, Lazard’s 63 of 64 snaps just shows how much Green Bay couldn’t do. only trusts Lazard, but needs him on the court as well.