An apology is in order for Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Tyler Lancaster. If you follow the Packers here, you know Lancaster’s roster spot has been called into question. He has been referred to as “just a guy” here. But it has become obvious, Lancaster isn’t the weak link of the Packers defensive line. That title goes to another Packer. A player making a lot more money than Lancaster. Dean Lowry has been a major disappointment for the Green Bay Packers.
Poor Play and High Salary Makes Dean Lowry a Target To Leave Green Bay Packers
In 2018, Dean Lowry had a career season. That season, Lowry registered three sacks and a combined 44 tackles, five of them for a loss. That all came with being a backup to starting defensive tackle/end Mike Daniels.
His production that season earned him a hefty pay raise. Not only did Dean Lowry earn a pay raise, but it also earned him a starting spot. With Lowry displaying upside in 2018, it allowed the Packers to part ways with Daniels. The cutting of Daniels allowed Lowry to take over as one of the starters next to standout nose tackle Kenny Clark.
Unfortunately for the Packers, Lowry hasn’t played up to what he did in 2018. His played dropped in 2019 and has dipped even further in 2020. The play of the Packers interior defensive line has been a major reason why they have struggled against the run. Lowry and his lackluster play has been a big reason why the Packers defense has struggled so badly.
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has done some positive things for the Packers roster. However, signing Dean Lowry to a big money contract extension isn’t one of them.
After signing his new contract, Lowry’s numbers dropped in several key categories. He did see a bump in combined tackles, going from 44 to 47. However, if you take in that he went from a part time player in 2018 to a starter in 2019, those three tackles increase doesn’t look overly impressive. He also saw his tackles for a loss go from five to just two. He also didn’t register a sack, even with playing next to Clark who is constantly doubled teamed.
So far this season, Clark has just one sack. That sack came when he went unblocked and had a clear path to the quarterback. His pass rush hasn’t been the most disappointing part of his play. His inability to shed blockers against the run have led to huge gains by opposing teams run game.
Lowry’s poor play was highlighted in the Packers overtime loss against the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday. Yes, the Colts have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Even with factoring that in, Lowry constantly failed to show penetration. This all coming with Lowry facing one on one opportunities.
Lowry hasn’t played up to his contract and as of now, he is a detriment to the Packers defense.
Being Outplayed by Backups
While Lancaster will never be an All-Pro type of player, he is outplaying Dean Lowry. It can be argued that the Packers defensive line is better off with Lancaster playing in front of Lowry.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has failed miserably to adjust his defense when it comes to stopping the run. Pettine deserves every criticism that is written about the Packers defensive failures. Still, Pettine isn’t being helped out by players like Lowry, who are failing to get the job done.
Fellow interior defensive lineman Kingsley Keke showed some promises earlier in the season. His playing time has seemed to diminish as of late, which is curious. With Lowry struggling so badly, the Packers defense would seem better off playing Keke over Lowry. The Packers know what they have in Lowry, or in this case don’t have. It might be time to see what Keke can do with more playing time.
Keke and Lancaster aren’t the only options Pettine and the Packers defense have in regards to Lowry. Rashan Gary has the size and the ability to line up inside. Lining up Gary more inside would allow the Packers to get all of their best rushers on the field. Gary has lined up with Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith at times this season and it has had some success. Lowry isn’t near the player Gary is, so giving Gary more playing time inside might bolster the flailing Packers defensive line. Even giving journeyman Billy Winn more time over Lowry might help out the Packers defense.
Lowry’s Money Better off Spent Somewhere Else
Gutekunst and the Packers have several key current Packers that will be free agents next season. The Packers locked up starting left tackle David Bakhtiari and Clark this season to new contacts. But they still have to make decisions on starting center Corey Linsley and starting running back Aaron Jones. Both are in the last year of their contracts.
Not only will Gutekunst need money to sign one or both of them, but they also need to improve key positions on the Packers roster. Inside linebacker, wide receiver, kickoff and punt returner, as well as defensive line are in dire need of help. Money will be needed and there is one place they can get some money.
Cutting ties with Dean Lowry seems like a pretty obvious way to replenish their bank account. At this point, it seems that just restructuring Lowry’s deal wouldn’t be enough. Not only would it not be enough, there really isn’t a reason to do so.
From all indications, Gutekunst misjudged what they had in Lowry. Sticking with him, even at a lower contract, won’t make the Packers defense any better. The Packers need to get better at defensive line. Sticking with Lowry isn’t going to achieve that.
Dean Lowry hasn’t made the Packers run defense worse singlehandedly. But his lackluster play has been a key contributor. If Gutekunst is serious about improving the Packers defense, he needs to get better players on the defensive line. Keeping Lowry won’t get that done.
Embed from Getty Images