Jaire Alexander’s Injury Puts Pressure on the Green Bay Packers’ Young Guns and Veterans Alike

The Green Bay Packers are in a tough spot after losing their star cornerback, Jaire Alexander, to an injury. Though he is expected to be back for the playoffs, the team’s depth at corner has been tested.

The jaire alexander stats is a story about the Green Bay Packers’ Jaire Alexander’s injury. It puts pressure on the team to perform well, but also puts pressure on veterans like Clay Matthews and Aaron Rodgers who have been performing poorly.

Jaire Alexander, a standout cornerback for the Green Bay Packers, has been injured. That’s all we know. It’s unclear how serious his injury is or how long he’ll be out of the game. Whether he’s gone for a week or months, the Green Bay defense will be left with a significant vacuum to fill and a slew of guys who will have to step up.

Alexander is one of the league’s best cornerbacks, despite being underappreciated, and he’s the rock of a Green Bay defense that has struggled at times under first-year defensive coordinator Joe Barry. The Packers’ first goal will be to get Alexander well and back on the field, but they are famously cautious in this respect.

It’s a fair assumption that the star corner will be late. As a consequence, the defensive line in Green Bay will be shuffled, but the Super Bowl expectations will stay the same.

Eric Stokes, the Packers’ rookie cornerback, has to perform like he’s been in the league for years.

Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander intercepts the football against the San Francisco 49ers

Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander intercepts the football against the San Francisco 49ers During a game against the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers #23 Jaire Alexander intercepts a pass. | Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

If you’ve been following the Packers in 2021 at all, you’re familiar with Eric Stokes. There’s a reason he’s listed here, however, for the uninformed. He’s not just an important component of Green Bay’s defensive strategy going forward, but he’s also been pushed into the limelight recently.

Stokes was Green Bay’s first-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft (No. 29 overall out of Georgia), and the Packers selected him because of his size, speed, and overall potential. He had a 4.2-second 40-yard sprint at the combine, and although he isn’t renowned for being a big ballhawk, he did have four interceptions in his last season with the Bulldogs.

The Packers were happy to let Stokes’ growth take its time throughout the preseason and the first two games of the season. He didn’t get much playing time at initially, since he was behind Alexander and Kevin King on the depth chart, but King’s injury pushed him into the starting lineup in Green Bay’s last-second victory against the San Francisco 49ers. In a victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers this past weekend, the rookie also began.

Stokes’ two starts have yielded a variety of outcomes. On the one side, he did have his first career game-winning interception against the Steelers. He’s also produced a few great plays just by being in the way of opposing receivers with his long arms and quickness. Over the last several weeks, he’s been praised for his “sticky” coverage, something the Packers must be pleased about.

Stokes, on the other hand, has had his share of ups and downs as a rookie. Stokes would have been burned for two touchdowns in Green Bay’s 27-17 victory this past weekend if Ben Roethlisberger was even half the quarterback he ever was. At times, the rookie cornerback has been a little too handsy, which has resulted in numerous pass interference penalties.

Given that Stokes has only played a few games in the NFL, the early results on him are promising. If you’re a Packers fan, there’s cause to be hopeful.

But, with Alexander on the bench, is he ready to be the team’s No. 1 cover corner?

Being a No. 1 cornerback in the NFL is difficult enough, but that will almost certainly be King’s job, particularly since he is coming off an injury and has already been spotty at best this season.

Stokes will have to play above his experience level for the Packers.

Green Bay’s secondary has to pick up their game.

Kevin King and Adrian Amos of the Green Bay Packers talk at a practice in October of 2021

Kevin King and Adrian Amos of the Green Bay Packers talk at a practice in October of 2021 The Green Bay Packers’ Adrian Amos #31 and Kevin King #20 work out at Ray Nitschke Field during training camp on June 9, 2021. | Getty Images/Stacy Revere

Outside of Stokes, the Packers are fortunate in that their secondary is really seasoned.

Chandon Sullivan, who is in his fourth season with the Packers, has been the slot corner when they are at full strength. The Packers’ defensive backfield is led by veteran safety Adrian Amos, who is in his eighth season in the league, and Darnell Savage. Despite the fact that Savage is just in his third NFL season, he has the awareness and game speed of a seasoned veteran.

Alexander is by far the most talented of the group, and probably the Packers’ finest defender overall, but Amos has been the most consistent player on Green Bay’s defense since joining as a free agency from the Chicago Bears in 2019.

The Packers have a player in Savage who, on occasion, lives up to his moniker. He’s very agile, excels at filling the gap in the run game, and can be a ball hawk. As a pass defender, Sullivan may be hit-or-miss, but he has an interception in each of Green Bay’s past two seasons.

Consistency in the play-making area has been an issue for the aforementioned three amigos. That isn’t even getting into King’s problems this season. Since his epic breakdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2020 NFC Championship Game, he’s been on the slide.

In Green Bay’s Week 1 defeat to the New Orleans Saints, Savage had an interception, but it was negated by a questionable roughing-the-passer penalty. He doesn’t have any interceptions that matter. He also just has one pass breakup under his belt. Amos has been solid against the run but almost non-existent versus the pass. Sullivan is more of a “miss” than a “hit.”

The Packers have been routinely beaten deep this season, and with Alexander likely missing time, things may become much worse if the secondary as a whole doesn’t step up.

Rashan Gary is the X-factor.

Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Rashan Gary pumps up the crowd at Lambeau Field in October 2021

Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Rashan Gary pumps up the crowd at Lambeau Field in October 2021 Green Bay Packers #52 Rashan Gary reacts in the second half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field on October 3, 2021 | Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Although Green Bay’s secondary has been exposed at times, it does not imply that it is solely to blame.

A good pass rush makes a secondary’s job simpler. That’s the fundamentals of football.

Green Bay’s pass rush, on the other hand, has been hit or miss at best. Although the inside of the defensive line has been under siege at times, and there’s no denying that nose tackle Kenny Clark has been outstanding through four games, Green Bay’s defense has only totaled seven sacks.

That’s not going to suffice. With Alexander on the bench, it’s not going to be enough. The fact that Pro Bowl outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith may miss the remainder of the season due to a back ailment adds to the problem. In his first two seasons with the Packers, Smith has 26 sacks.

Fortunately, third-year outside linebacker Rashan Gary has the potential to solve Green Bay’s sack issue.

Gary was selected in the first round by Green Bay because of his pass-rushing potential, according to 247Sports. Gary was previously the No. 1 high school football prospect in America, according to 247Sports. He never lived up to his full potential as a Michigan Wolverine defensive end, but general manager Brian Gutekunst saw his 6-foot-5, 277-pound body coupled with his incredible agility and saw a stand-up pass rusher in a 3-4 defensive system.

Gary has taken his time learning the ins and outs of being an NFL outside linebacker, but he’s shown glimpses of his talent over the last two seasons, and he seems to be coming together in 2021.

He’s big and quick, and he’s almost mastered the head-on bull rush that makes offensive tackles sweat even while they’re sleeping.

He’s a capable run defender who’s improving at setting the edge, but Green Bay wants him to start closing on quarterbacks rather than simply getting pressure.

The good news is that Gary has 1.5 sacks and four quarterback hits in the last two games. He should also be credited with a “team sack” in Green Bay’s victory against the Detroit Lions, after leaping on Lions quarterback Jared Goff after a turnover. Gary was recorded with a tackle for loss and the defense was credited with a sack.

Green Bay’s secondary may benefit directly if Gary continues to put up good performances. If he can put it all together, he has superstar potential, and at the absolute least, he has the ability to force opposition quarterbacks into poor passes.

This should be enough to keep Green Bay’s secondary afloat until Alexander returns to full health.

Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.

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