Green Bay Packers Need More From De’Vondre Campbell

De'Vondre Campbell

With their 27-24 overtime victory over the New England Patriots, the Green Bay Packers are now 3-1. Sitting at 3-1 should make Packers fans very happy. Especially knowing how the Packers have performed so far this season. To say the play of the Packers has been uneven would be an understatement. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense have yet to fully click. It appears the reigning NFL MVP is still getting comfortable without playing without star wide receiver Davante Adams. The Packers defense has also had its struggles. One key member of that defense has especially struggled. If the Green Bay Packers defense is going to be the leader of this team, Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell needs to play better.

De’Vondre Campbell Needs to Step Up For Green Bay Packers

When general manager Brian Gutekunst signed De’Vondre Campbell during last season’s training camp, it wasn’t known what Campbell would bring to the Green Bay Packers defense. Many thought Campbell would bring much-needed experience to the Packers linebacker group. It was thought that he would battle Oren Burks and Ty Summers to start opposite of starter Krys Barnes. But Campbell blew past those expectations and became the unsung leader of the Packers defense.

Looking back, the very idea that Burks or Summers would beat out De’Vondre Campbell for a starting spot seems laughable. Not only did Campbell beat out the two younger linebackers, but he usurped Barnes as the Packers top linebacker. Campbell not only became the defensive signal caller, but he became a weapon at inside linebacker for the 2021 Packers defense.

Campbell had a career season in first-year defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s defense. He finished 2021 with 146 total tackles (102 of them solo), two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, two sacks, and two interceptions. His play helped him earn first-team All-Pro honors. It also helped him earn a new big-money contract.

With a stellar season under his belt and a new contract, much is expected from Campbell this season. In 2021, Campbell not only was a playmaker against the run but also defended the pass just as well. But so far in the Packers first four games, Campbell hasn’t looked like he did in 2021.

Campbell’s Early Struggles

By no means should Barry and head coach Matt LaFleur panic over how De’Vondre Campbell has played so far in 2022. Still, Campbell’s early struggles should draw some attention. Especially with how well he performed in 2021.

One area that Campbell has struggled with so far in 2022 is tackling. As Matt Schneidman of The Athletic recently pointed out, Campbell has missed six tackles so far in 2022. That is surprising, knowing that he missed only four tackles in 17 games last season.

Those tackling struggles were on display in the Packers win over the Patriots on Sunday. Campbell missed on several tackles against Patriots running backs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. Those missed tackles helped Harris and Stevenson to combine for 152 yards rushing on 32 carries.

Not all of the Patriots rushing success can be blamed on Campbell. The Packers defensive line has struggled in the past couple of games also. Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, and Jarran Reed need to do a better job keeping blockers off of Campbell.

Since being in the league, Campbell has gained a reputation as a solid pass defender. Being 6’3″ and having a long wing span, Campbell has the ability to jam opposing tight ends at the line of scrimmage. He also has the speed to keep up with opposing receivers as well. But this season, Campbell looks a step or two behind opposing receivers and hasn’t been able to lock up receivers at the line of scrimmage.

If the Packers defense is going to be as elite as many believed they would be heading into the season, they need Campbell to get out of his early season funk. If not, they will not only struggle against the run but also have issues covering the opposing team’s tight ends.

Still, Time and Potential to Turn Things Around

It would be surprising if De’Vondre Campbell can’t turn things around. Not only does he have the ability, which he showcased in 2021, but the players around him should shore him up to make more plays.

Last season, Campbell had a career season playing next to Barnes, Burks, and even at times Summers. This season, Campbell is playing next to Quay Walker, one of the Packers first-round picks from this past draft. Walker is still learning the NFL game. But he has the athletic ability to be a dominating force as an inside linebacker. If he reaches his potential, which will take some time, it should shore up Campbell to make plays.

Along with Walker, the Packers defensive line has the ability to be one of the best defensive lines the Packers haven’t had in a long time. Clark is a standout, while Lowry and Reed are both capable defensive linemen. That doesn’t even include Devonte Wyatt, a talented defensive tackle the Packers drafted in the first round.

Campbell not only has a good group around him, but he has the talent to once again thrive in the Packers defense. However, if Campbell’s early season struggles continue, the Packers defense will struggle along with him. Barry and LaFleur are banking on Campbell turning things around and playing as he did in 2021.