Top 30 Statistical Seasons in Green Bay Packers History

Jim Taylor (Ian Ward/Youtube)

The Packers have been around for 100 years and we’re celebrating the top 30 individual statistical seasons in franchise history (by 30 different individuals).

When creating this list we included just regular season stats without factoring in team record or any postseason stats. We also included just one season per player. Without doing so, the list would have been dominated by just a few names. In some ways, each player is competing against themselves, or at least their best selves, by just including one season per player — which was a fun exercise.

Analyzing stats between generations, when the game has changed so much, is particularly challenging. But we tried our best to quantify the stats from every player that made the list. We looked at the context of each era and valued each player’s stats against their peers.

However with many of the seasons that came before the modern era (roughly 1960) it’s not so simple to quantify. For example, just because a player led the league in certain statistical categories in the 1930s or 40s, in our eyes, it’s not necessarily more impressive than bigger statistical seasons put up by modern era Packers — even if they didn’t lead the league in any statistical categories. It’s a balance for sure.

Be assured, we spent hours debating the merits of each player’s best season; we didn’t haphazardly throw them in a seemingly random order.

Willie Davis deserves some specific mention, before anyone else, because he certainly would have been very high on this list. But because sacks, tackles and forced-fumbles weren’t reliably kept in his time, he can’t adequately be judged through this statistical lens.

He definitely would have come out favorably on this list though, make no mistake. He may have even been in the top-five. However the same goes for all defensive ends and defensive tackles that played before the mid-1980s. Linebackers from the past are also hampered in this regard.

Also, this list is categorically unfair to offensive lineman. Sure, you can look at pancake blocks and the rushing stats of the running backs behind them or the number of sacks allowed — but none of them are perfect representations of the individual. For this statistical list, we didn’t include any linemen, but Jerry Kramer, Buckets Goldenberg and Charley Brock at least deserve to be mentioned here. They, with their versatility, at least came close to making it.

Willie Davis, who we’ve already mentioned, headlines the list of players that could’ve been included, had better statistical records been kept. But the list goes on: Ray Nitschke, Dave Robinson, Johnny Blood, Verne Lewellen, Curly Lambeau, Henry Jordan, Dave Hanner, Bill Forester, Lee Roy Caffey and others would have had a chance to make it if their complete statistical records were available.

Nitschke (1962) and Robinson (1966) nearly made it, even with incomplete stats. The same goes for Blood (1931). But we felt that since the stats were incomplete, we’d be better off going with other players.

Modern Defensive Tackles like Gilbert Brown and B.J. Raji didn’t quite put up enough stats to be included, despite being fan-favorite players.

The same goes for players like William Henderson and John Kuhn who put up some impressive career numbers, but their position (modern fullback) just didn’t allow them to put up the necessary individual season numbers.

Some special teams players deserve mention, despite not being able to touch the ball enough to crack this top 30: Travis Williams, Donnie Anderson, Johnnie Gray, Steve Odom, Mason Crosby, Ryan Longwell and Chester Marcol all come to mind.

Our extensive “Honorable Mention” list, with the specific year that had them in consideration for this list, is as follows:

Passers: Arnie Herber, 1936 – Tobin Rote, 1956 – Lynn Dickey, 1983 – Don Majkowski, 1989 – Cecil Isbell, 1942 – Irv Comp, 1944, Bob Monett, 1938

Ball Carriers: Clarke Hinkle, 1937 – Johnny Blood, 1931 – Ryan Grant, 2009 – Eddie Lacy, 2014 – Elijah Pitts 1966 – Ted Fritsch, 1946 – Gerry Ellis, 1981 – Howie Ferguson, 1955

Pass Catchers: Donald Driver, 2006 – Greg Jennings, 2010 – Javon Walker, 2004 – Boyd Dowler, 1963, Max McGee, 1961 – Carroll Dale, 1968 – LaVern Dilweg, 1931 – James Jones, 2012 – Keith Jackson, 1996, Jermichael Finley, 2010 – Mark Chmura, 1995, Bubba Franks, 2001 – Ron Kramer, 1962

Defenders: Ray Nitschke, 1962 – Dave Robinson, 1966 – Ezra Johnson, 1983 – Vonnie Holliday, 1998 – John Anderson, 1983 – AJ Hawk, 2006, Fred Carr, 1975 – Bryce Paup, 1994 – Bob Jeter, 1967 – Tim Lewis, 1984 – Ken Ellis, 1972 – Tramon Williams, 2010 – Darren Sharper, 2000 – Bob Forte, 1947 – John Symank, 1957

As you can see, with a franchise this historic, this list could have been a hell of a lot longer. In fact, many of the players in the “Honorable Mention” are on another list we’ve done — the Top 100 Packers of All-Time.

If a player you would have thought for sure would be in the Packers Top 30 Statistical Seasons of All-Time, but you cannot find them on the list, they’re likely mentioned above.

This piece is definitely for hardcore fans of this team’s history and for big-time statheads — regardless of what brought you here, thanks for reading!

A “+” following a player’s specific statistic signifies that they led the NFL in that statistical category that year.

For some players, a second season was mentioned if it was close to their best all-time individual season.

Hope you enjoy the list!

30. Desmond Howard, 1996: 875 Punt Ret Yards+, 3 PR TDs+, 15.1 AVG+, Long 92+, 460 Kick Ret Yards, 20.9 AVG (16 games played).

The lone special teams player to make this all-time list is Desmond Howard. If postseason stats were included he’d probably be much higher. However, he made the return game a weapon for the Packers for one magical season.

29. Willie Buchanon, 1978: 9 INTs, 1 INT Return TD, 93 INT Return Yards, 1 Fumble Rec (16 games played)

A forgotten name in many circles, but a playmaker nonetheless. He was a bright spot in the “lean years” and his brightest year came in 1978.

28. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, 2002: 12 Sacks, 1 INT, 1 INT Return TD, 4 Forced-Fumbles, 1 Fumble Rec, 6 Passes Defended, 46 Tackles (15 games played); 2001 season was close

The second all-time sack leader in Packers history (OK, third if you accept that Willie Davis is No. 1) was a well-rounded pass rusher. These 15 games were undeniable. “KGB” was a fan-favorite because he was relentless.

27. Clay Matthews, 2010: 13.5 Sacks, 59 Tackles, 2 Forced-Fumbles, 1 INT, 1 INT Ret TD, 4 Passes Defended (15 games played)

He should have won Defensive Player of the Year in 2010, just the second season of his career. All of this was accomplished in just 15 games, too. He dominated and changed games week after week.

26. Edgar Bennett, 1995: 3 Rush TDs, 1067 Rush Yards, 3.4 YPA, 66.7 YPG, 61 Rec, 648 Rec Yards, 4 receiving TD’s, 10.6 YPR, 1715 YFS (16 games played)

Seeing Bennett’s name on this list is probably shocking to most, but 1715 yards from scrimmage (YFS) is nothing to scoff at. With 61 receptions as a runner, he was ahead of his time. He never was theman in Green Bay, but he sure played a like A man while splitting carries with Dorsey Levens.

25. Aaron Kampman, 2006: 15.5 Sacks, 3 Forced-Fumbles, 1 Fumble Rec, 89 Tackles (16 games played)

Kampman was a hard worker and an overachiever and it all came together for him in 2006. He shouldhave spent his whole career in Green Bay (his career dissolved in Jacksonville). Few players have ever put up such impressive sack numbers in Packers history — well, just keep reading.

24. Jordy Nelson, 2014: 13 Rec TDs, 1519 Rec Yards, 98 Rec, Long 80, 15.5 YPR, 94.9 YPG, 0 Fumbles (16 games played); 2011 season was close

He was Ted Thompson’s best ever 2nd Round Pick. Topping the 1500 yard mark as a receiver is worthy of remembrance, with that said, Nelson had many great seasons in Green Bay. This one just happened to be the one we felt was the best (and he’ll be remembered as an all-timer in the state of Wisconsin).

23. Robert Brooks, 1995: 13 Rec TDs, 1497 Rec Yards, 102 Rec, Long 99+, 14.7 YPR, 93.6 YPG, 4 Rush for 21 Yards, 0 Fumbles (16 games played)

This was Brooks’ lone dominant year as a Packer, but it was an all-time season. His stats this season helped Favre win his first AP MVP Award (or was it the other way around?) He was great at finding a way to get open and could make all the catches.

22. LeRoy Butler, 1996: 5 INTs, 149 INT Return Yards, 1 INT Return TD, 2 Fumble Rec, 6.5 Sacks, 87 tackles (16 games played); 1993 season was close

He could do it all… cover/tackle/blitz/intercept and boy could he leap. One of the most versatile players on this list. His combination of skills was rare; his statistics in 1996 were even rarer.

21. Herb Adderley, 1965: 6 INTs, 3 INT Ret TDs+, 175 Return Yards+, 3 Fumble Rec (14 games played); 1962 season was close

Three touchdowns on the defensive side of the ball is impressive, but the nine total takeaways are what lands him so high on this list. He was a star on a team of Hall of Famers — what else is there to say?

20. Antonio Freeman, 1998: 14 Rec TDs, 1424 Rec Yards+, 84 Rec, Long 84, 17 YPR, 94.9 YPG+, 0 Fumbles (15 games played)

Freeman’s 17 yards per reception were especially impressive in 1998; he could run every route on the field. Despite the fact he had a few great seasons, this was certainly his best (14 TDs in just 15 games… I mean, come on). “He did what?!” Al Michael’s asked. He made the top 20 statistical seasons in Packers history. That’s what.

19. Billy Howton, 1952: 13 Rec TDs, 1231 Rec Yards+, 53 Rec, Long 90+, 23.2 YPR, 102.6 YPG, 1 fumble (12 games played)

Look at these stats. He did all of that in just 12 games. He did this in 1952 when the ball wasn’t thrown nearly as much. Wow. Oh and did we mention this was his rookie season?

18. Willie Wood, 1962: 9 INTs+, 132 INT Return Yards, (14 games played); 1961 season was close

Wood was an elite talent and this was the best season of his Hall of Fame career. He consistently gave the ball back to the best offense in the world. Too bad we can’t know how many tackles he recorded in his career.

17. Nick Collins, 2008: 7 INTs, 3 INT Return TDs+, 295 INT Return Yards+, 1 Forced-Fumble, 72 Tackles, 15 Passes Defended (16 games); 2009 season was close

He had a Hall of Fame career growing that was cruelly cut short, but he’s remembered as making the biggest plays in the biggest games. It may be shocking to see Collins over the numerous legendary defensive backs on this list, but this season was indeed legendary. Man, he knew what to do when he got the ball in his hands.

16. Tony Canadeo, 1949: 4 Rush TDs, 1052 Rush Yards, 5.1 YPA, 87.7 YPG (12 games)

The first 1000-yard rushing season in Packers history. And done in just 12 games. But his 5.1 yards per carry in an era when everyone knew he was going to run is what got him so high on this all-time list. If only the Packers could have a player average 87.7 yards per game today… how things would be different.

The best of the best are found on the next page.

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We seek to bring more context to, and share interesting stores about, the history of the Green Bay Packers and the NFL as a whole. Clickbait be damned. "We" are Daniel and David Zillmer; hit the about or contact to learn more.

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