Which Packers Defensive Players Took the Biggest Step Backward in 2011?

Sam Shields - Green Bay Packers defensive back

Shields just one of many who had down years...

Man, this blog has turned into a depressing place this week. Scroll through the titles of the last couple of posts and you’ll see words like “regression” and “loss” mixed with phrases like “it’s over” and “fart in the wind.”

It’s probably best to make sure you don’t have any sharp objects nearby while reading.

This post is no exception. After coming up big in 2010, several Packers on defense took a step backwards. Who regressed the most?

Tramon Williams
After Williams got the best of Calvin Johnson on Thanksgiving, I thought the Tramon of 2010 was back. It looked like he was healthy and ready to blanket the other team’s No. 1 receiver as the Packers headed down the home stretch.

It didn’t happen.

Instead of taking the next step and establishing himself as a legit No. 1 CB in the NFL, Williams started giving up big play after big play. In addition to struggling in coverage, Williams was a tackling liability (his tackling was especially pathetic in the Christmas game against the Bears). He capped his lackluster season by allowing seven catches in eight attempts for 125 yards in the playoff loss to the Giants.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Williams was watching him constantly line up 10 yards off the receiver he was matched against, even on plays ¬†when the offense needed five yards or fewer for a first down. Maybe Williams’ shoulder never healed after the Saints game. Maybe he did the best he could with the Packers bad pass rush. Maybe he missed Nick Collins.

Either way, Williams regressed in 2011.

A.J. Hawk
Mike McCarthy spent a good part of his season-ending news conference talking about how bad his team’s tackling was this season. He could’ve saved everyone some time and showed film of Hawk bouncing off ball carriers or getting dragged for three extra yards after initial contact on play after play.

Hawk signed a 5-year, $34 million contract in the offseason and did very little to justify the Packers’ investment. After averaging almost seven tackles per game in 2010, Hawk only managed 5.5 in 2011. He was also a major liability in pass coverage.