The Green Bay Packers head into their Week 11 bye following a dramatic home win over the Carolina Panthers, thanks in part to a 2.0-sack performance from LB Preston Smith.
With his fourth multi-sack effort of the season, Smith reached 10.0 sacks on the season and helped himself to another win – this time over fellow teammate Za’Darius Smith.
Prior to the regular season, the Smith duo struck a deal outlining whoever reached double digit sacks first would be responsible for buying gifts for their teammates.
While asking Preston for gift details during the pair’s customary postgame joint interview, Za’Darius received an answer much to his surprise.
Za’Darius, who personally committed to buying the Packers’ outside linebacker group customized gold chains if he had won the wager, twice had to ask Preston for confirmation on his generous offering.
“The whole defense,” Preston verified. “They helped me get there.”
Super Smith Bros Making a Splash
This past offseason, Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst made a concerted effort to bolster his roster with impact free agents. Within the span of a couple days, Green Bay was home to four new additions on four-year deals including LBs Za’Darius (4yr/$66M) and Preston Smith (4yr/$52M), S Adrian Amos (4yr/$37M), and OL Billy Turner (4yr/$28M).
The offseason acquisitions at linebacker have been stalwarts up front for Green Bay, helping transform the defense into one of the league’s stingier units, allowing only 20.5 points per game. The Smith duo has also combined for 18.5 of Green Bay’s 25 team sacks to date – 74 percent to be exact.
Through the Packers’ first 10 games, Za’Darius (8.5) and Preston (10.0) have matched and surpassed their respective previous season-best sack totals. The former has pulled even with his 8.5-sack campaign with the Baltimore Ravens last year (eight starts). The latter Smith has already posted the first single-season double-digit sack performance of his career. His current 10.0 sack total tops his two previous high marks of 8.0 sacks with the Washington Redskins in 2015 and 2017.
QB1 Takes Notice
Following the win on Sunday, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers offered some thoughts on the team’s previous free agent strategy and showered praise on the free agent additions from this past March.
“I give all four of those guys a lot of credit,” Rodgers said. “They obviously got paid some money this offseason, and they’ve all made the most of those opportunities. You can’t plan for that, and that’s why I think in the past we’ve been hesitant to bring in free agents because you never know what kind of personality you’re going to get. But I do feel really good that we hit on all four of those guys.”
As noted by ESPN staff writer Rob Demovsky, Rodgers seemed to attribute Preston Smith’s success to his contagious, winning attitude.
“He’s a guy who really understands how special this is because he’s been on the other side of some of these squads over the years and he’s just really thankful,” Rodgers said of Preston. “He’s got kind of that attitude of gratitude every day where he’s just almost giddy about being a part of a team that has a chance to do something and is winning football games and is going to play meaningful games the rest of the season.”
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