Are the Packers’ Injuries Heading Into Super Bowl XLV Overhyped?

Anybody that has watched a Green Bay Packers game over the last two months has heard about their “league leading” 16 players on injured reserve and how the team had to overcome the loss of eight starters.

First, the Packers did not lead the league in players on IR, the Lions did with 17.  Secondly, the Packers only lost six starters according to the NFL’s official game book for Week 1.

Third, obviously losing 16 players is a difficult hurdle to clear but you cannot quantify the impact of the lost players by the number of them, you need to look at the individual players lost to fully understand the impact.  Here are all 16 players that the Packers have listed on IR and a brief look at what that player’s loss meant to the team.

Nick Barnett (Starting Inside Linebacker): Nick Barnett was an impact middle linebacker when the Packers played a 4-3 defense.  Barnett logged 658 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 29 passes defensed, 9 interceptions, 2 fumbles forced and 7 fumbles recovered in 87 games over six seasons in the 4-3.  Clearly, he was an impact player in the 4-3 defense.  However, since switching to the 3-4 Barnett logged 129 tackles, 4 sacks, 8 passes defensed, 0 interceptions, 0 fumbles forced and 0 fumbles recovered in 20 games over two seasons.

Impact of Loss: It was no secret that Barnett was not an ideal fit in the 3-4 and it has been rumored all season that this would be Barnett’s last season in Green Bay.  Not only was Barnett’s loss overblown, but also it was even less of an impact since his replacement, Desmond Bishop, had a phenomenal year and was rewarded with a contract extension during the season.  Ultimately, the biggest impact Barnett made in 2010 was not even on the field, but in the media with his Twitter war with Aaron Rodgers.

Josh Bell (Backup Cornerback and Special Teamer): Bell joined the Packers in 2009 after Al Harris went on injured reserve.  He received very little playing time and only logged 5 tackles in 2009.  He did not play a down in 2010, as he was placed on IR in training camp.?

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