The Green Bay Packers needed to facelift their defense in 2019. They did so in the offseason with a few big signings. One of those was free agent pass rusher Preston Smith.
Everyone knows that Smith was drafted by the Washington Redskins out of Mississippi State. If you’ve watched him at all, you also know he’s streaky but can be dominant.
However, what else is there to know? There’s a reason the Packers signed him to a four-year, $52-million deal this offseason despite recording just four sacks in 2018.
Let’s take a deeper look with four things you should know about one of the newest Green Bay Packers, pass rusher Preston Smith.
Sacks in bunches
As mentioned before, Preston Smith is known for being incredibly streaky in his play. That sometimes leads to him having a stretch of games without recording a sack.
However, it works both ways. And when Preston Smith is on – he’s on.
Look at last season. He recorded just four sacks, but at one point in the year recorded a sack in three straight games (1.5 in one of them).
In 2017, Smith recorded a sack in each of the first four games – and a half sack in the fifth. Then he had a three-game stretch near the end of the season that saw him record 0.5 sacks, one sack and two sacks.
Back in his rookie season in 2015, Smith finished the season with at least one sack in three straight games. To be exact it was one sack, then three sacks – followed up with one more sack.
Smith can get extremely hot. When that happens he’s shown he can carry a pass rush for games at a time. That’s something that could coming in handy for the Green Bay Packers in 2019 and beyond.
Preston Smith isn’t exactly known for his active hands like J.J. Watt is. That being said, he’s got a good sense of when to get his hands up.
This doesn’t always lead to tipped passes, but it does cause the quarterback problems and helps the defense as a whole. Smith’s smart hands have resulted in 13 pass deflections and four interceptions in four seasons.
It’s also led to countless poor throws by the quarterback. Although those aren’t kept in the stat sheets, it’s something you notice often when watching him play. Smith effects the game, even when he’s not getting credit for it.
Preston Smith is best known for his pass rushing abilities. However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t bring more to the table. Smith sometimes gets lost in the sauce on plays, but when he’s on his game is adept at plugging up holes and stopping runs from breaking outside.
He’s racked up 13 tackles-for-loss in the last three seasons and 132 tackles total in that time. A lot of them have come on plays that show he can be a solid run stopper from the outside linebacker position.
Ways to Get to the Quarterback
Preston Smith has had some troubles getting to the quarterback at times, as shown by his droughts. That being said, when he’s in a groove he tends to show a mixed bag of moves.
Smith can get to the quarterback using his raw power, but has a nice spin move in his back pocket and has improved his hand and footwork over the last few seasons.
As of right now, Smith tends to stick to one move for far too long. It causes him to go into those droughts. When he breaks out a different move though, it’s incredible to see how smooth he can look – and tends to lead to a big play.
If the Green Bay Packers can continue to develop his skills, they could get a complete pass rusher who can cause headaches for a blocker.