Campbell signed with the Packers in June, but it was only then that his eyes began to widen to see the possibilities. Green Bay has a defense that is not only tailored for the linebacker position, but also highlights Campbell’s strengths.
“When I received the playbook, it was a big change from what I was used to. Campbell stated that my role is very different. Campbell said, “I am actually being ‘the man.
“That’s something I knew I could do. I played in the same scheme as I was raised.”
Campbell was one of the NFL’s most popular offseason signings through seven games. The 28-year old is Green Bay’s all-down linebacker and currently ranks fifth in NFL tackles (67), with two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two other touchdowns.
Both of the forced fumbles occurred during Sunday’s win over Washington (24-10), the first of which played a crucial role in the defense’s massive fourth-and-goal stand at the end.
Campbell’s Pro Bowl-caliber play and impeccable track record of endurance (he has played in 72 consecutive regular season games) have left everyone, from Head Coach Matt LaFleur up to the reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, scratching their heads about how this guy was available when General manager Brian Gutekunst signed Campbell.
Although the answer may be complex, one misconception is that Campbell didn’t have any options. Campbell had many options, but he remained patient in a bearish market and waited until the right time.
The Packers refused to give up and offered Campbell a bonus: a chance to see LaFleur again. They had a close friendship before their time together in Atlanta. Campbell began his career there in 2016, while LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach.
Campbell stated that Campbell’s final decision to move to the United States was based on his desire to be part of a winning team. There were other offers, but I wanted to be part of a winning team and show my talents.
“That was my final decision, in addition to the prior relationship with Coach LaFleur. After all the details were boiled down, it was a simple decision.
Spread offenses have had a detrimental effect on linebackers. In recent years, more defenses prefer a box safety to a second linebacker when passing downs are involved.
The Packers also went in that direction with Morgan Burnett Adrian Amos, Raven Greene and Raven Greene playing as both a traditional inside linebacker and a safety in sub-packages.
LaFleur’s hire of Joe Barry to be the defensive coordinator this offseason marked a return back to Green Bay linebacker norms. The “Penny,” team defense only has one inside linebacker. However, the Packers have been using a traditional nickel defense less often under Barry.
Campbell’s football intelligence, tackling, and sideline-tosideline speed all played a part in this. Campbell still has a chance to set a new career record for tackles, even if the NFL doesn’t add another regular-season game.
“His approach and his attitude are the best things about him. Rodgers of Campbell said Tuesday that he was a very steady, consistent man. “As he has made plays, it gives you the chance to have greater leadership responsibility and more opportunities for speaking up. He’s been a great leader and I think the guys have appreciated his response.”
Campbell has been a very active player in football, playing more than 9,000 defensive plays since he was drafted from Minnesota as a fourth-rounder. However, he is often more of a role-player than a playmaker.
Campbell was, for instance, drafted in 2016 behind Deion Jones and hybrid safety Keanu Naal. Before their careers were slowed due to injuries, those two made it to the PFWA All-Rookie Team in 2016 and the Pro Bowl in 2017.
Campbell found his niche, and he enjoyed a stellar season with the Falcons in 2019, where he recorded 129 tackles and two interceptions. He also had two sacks. He was able to sign a one-year contract in free agency with Arizona Cardinals where he complemented Jordan Hicks, an established linebacker.
Since Blake Martinez’s departure as an undrafted free agent after 2019, the Packers have been searching for stability at the inside linebacker position. Green Bay relied on Amos’ versatility, a rotation that included undrafted rookie Krys Bartons, Christian Kirksey , Ty Summers, and Kamal Martin a year ago.
Campbell stated that he has always been “the Robin to someday another’s Batman in everyone else’s scheme.” Campbell spoke to packers.com this month. “I have always felt like I was a good player. Now I get the chance to show my talent. “I just want to thank the Packers for giving this opportunity to me.”
Campbell, who is coming off a third game with 10+ tackles this season, now leads Green Bay’s defense to a showdown against his former Arizona team Thursday night. Campbell will take on the role of defense communicator against the Cardinals, as Barry was unable to make the trip due a positive COVID testing.
Green Bay’s defensive backs coach/passing games coordinator Jerry Gray will call plays, with Kirk Olivadotti, inside linebackers coach, relaying them to Campbell.
Former No. 1 pick Kyler Murray is leading Arizona. Arizona, led by former No. 1 pick Kyler. Murray has completed 73.5% this season’s passes for 2,002 yards with 17 touchdowns. Murray’s passer rating is higher than that of Russell Wilson, who was injured.
Campbell stated, “You’re dealing with a winner.” Campbell said, “He is a winner at heart. You can see it in his play. He is a great football player and super competitive. We are sure to face a challenge this Thursday.