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Green Bay Packers 2013 Report Card Grades: Defense

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Green Bay Packers 2013 Report Card Grades: Defense

We continue our 2013 report card grades with the Green Bay Packers defense.

Please be understanding that this is an inexact science at best with players who haven't received major chunks of playing time.

The grading scale is as follows: A=Pro Bowl caliber, B=Solid NFL starter, C=Average NFL player, D=Below average player, F=Fringe NFL player.

Defensive Line

B.J. Raji (D-): There's the built-in excuse that Raji is not supposed to be the type of guy that makes a lot of tackles or sacks, because the Packers play a two-gapping style of defense. But even taking that into account, Raji underachieved in almost every sense of the word in 2013. Not only should fans expect Raji to produce more, the team is right to expect more as well. The coaches can talk all they want that Raji held his own plugging holes, and sometimes he did, but far from a regular basis, far too often being pushed backwards. Raji's snaps were reduced in 2013 compared to previous seasons, but he made 17 tackles on the year, a career-low, even fewer than his rookie season when he only played in 14 games and started only one. He also didn't have a single sack but did have 10 quarterback hurries, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Raji's performance against the Bears in Green Bay stands out as a lone bright spot amid a sea of less than stellar play, but even that wasn't enough to lead the Packers to victory against a backup quarterback.

Ryan Pickett (C+): Ryan Pickett is what he is. He never was a well-rounded player who could rush the passer in addition to playing the run, but he never was expected to either. In 2013, he continued to stuff the run, maintain his gap and kept blockers off the inside linebackers, but a nagging injury and age combined to impact Pickett's mobility. His lateral agility and ability to run down ball carriers to the sideline or from behind lagged behind prior seasons. He made 19 tackles in 2013 compared to 51 in 2012.

Johnny Jolly (C-): For as nice a story Jolly provided in coming back from suspension, drug addiction and a stint in prison, his play on the field could probably be described as serviceable. He's a fighter and the type who isn't going to back down from anyone, but his run defense was about the only thing he did passably well. Jolly came up with just one sack and only had one hit on a quarterback all year long, per ProFootballFocus.com. One of the best things he did before suspension was bat down passes at the line of scrimmage, knocking down 10 in 2009. That number was down to just one in 2013. His future is in doubt after being placed on injured reserve with a neck injury late in the season.

Mike Daniels (B+): For the first time since Cullen Jenkins departed in free agency, the Packers found a defensive lineman that could put pressure on the quarterback. Daniels came up with 6.5 sacks and 26 quarterback hurries in 2013 per ProFootballFocus.com, among the league leaders among linemen playing in a 3-4 defensive system. Despite being primarily an interior rusher on passing downs, Daniels also played the run remarkably well, because he's able to get penetration into opposing backfields. One of the few things holding Daniels back is a play-time percentage of only about 50. It wouldn't be a stretch to say his impact could be even greater in seasons to come.

Datone Jones (C): By no means did Jones live up to his first-round billing in just one season in Green Bay, but as far as his pass rush went, he applied decent pressure in limited playing time. In just 263 snaps, Jones took part in five quarterback sacks (including half sacks) and 10 quarterback hurries, according to ProFootballFocus.com. He also blocked an extra point. Jones clearly has a way to go before the team trusts him as an end in their base 3-4, but considering his impact as a rusher, it's rather surprising he didn't take away more snaps from Neal, Raji and Boyd on third-and-long situations. An early season ankle injury, which was not insignificant, put Jones behind the eight ball the first few games and probably delayed some of his development.

Josh Boyd (C-): Despite not playing at all the first six games of the season, Boyd's playing time and impact grew as injuries accumulated and the season wore on. While participating in just a handful of snaps his first few appearances, his playing time spiked to being on the field for 32 downs in the win at Dallas. Boyd is obviously raw and not yet a factor as a pass rusher, but he largely held his ground against the run, especially considering the expectations as a late-round rookie.

C.J. Wilson (D): For a guy that had 27 career sacks in college, it's disappointing that he can't apply even a modicum of pressure in the NFL. But if judging Wilson solely as a run-stuffing defensive end, he's average to even slightly above average, especially for someone without the girth of a Raji or Pickett. Wilson does well to maintain his gap, disengage and track down ball carriers when given the chance.

Jerel Worthy (Incomplete): Since coming of the PUP list mid-season, Worthy made appearances in three games, playing a total of 14 snaps on defense and a handful more on special teams. As a second-round draft choice, Worthy has yet to live up to expectations, but a torn ACL was no small obstacle in his development. To become a more complete player, there has to become more to his game than just quickness.

Outside Linebackers

Clay Matthews (B): Nearly impossible to judge in 2013, Matthews played moderately well before a broken thumb the fourth game of the season, and then played up and down in seven more games with a cast before breaking his thumb a second time. His quickness and motor are still unparalleled among 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL. Whenever he goes unblocked, he always makes the opposing team pay. And even when he doesn't get to the quarterback, such as he did in hurrying Tony Romo in the Packers' win at Dallas, he can still impact the outcome of a play (forcing a hurried throw into an interception). Matthews seemed to struggle holding the edge in the run game with his cast. Despite all his injury obstacles, he still managed to lead the team with 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2013.

Mike Neal (C): True, it's admirable that Neal was able to transition to outside linebacker after his first three seasons as a defensive lineman, dropping weight and playing in space. But for as far as Neal has come, the results were mixed at best. He was good when able to pin his ears back and get after the passer, coming up with five sacks and a team-high 37 quarterback hurries in 2013. He also had a strong anchor against the run. But when asked to play in space, either dropping into coverage or reading runners off-tackles, Neal just didn't have the agility to move laterally. The best development, however, may be that Neal played in all 16 games for the first time of his career and now enters free agency with momentum behind him.

Nick Perry (C): Unfortunately for Perry, a broken bone in his foot and an ankle injury to complicate matters really put a cramp in his development. With three sacks and two forced fumbles in the two games before his injury occurred, Perry looked to be coming on like gangbusters. After missing five games, Perry just wasn't at full strength the rest of the way, and his agility was severely impacted. His season ended on a sour note when Perry looked particularly bad jumping offsides on a field-goal attempt against the Steelers in Week 16 and pathetically trying to cover Bears running back Matt Forte in Week 17.

Andy Mulumba (D+): Mulumba's playing time increased late in the season out of necessity due to injuries at the position, and luckily for the Packers, his appeared to similarly be on the rise over time as well. In the early going, one of the few things Mulumba had going for him was his ability to set a stiff edge in the run game, but his pass rush got better late in the year. He even earned a game ball from the team after coming up with a sack and three tackles in the Week 17 division-clinching win over the Bears.

Nate Palmer (F): When injuries struck at mid-season, Palmer was actually thrust into the starting lineup for two games but made little to no impact. He played in six games but played so poorly that the Packers made him inactive for five of the team's final six games of the season. His performance on special teams was similarly nil. The biggest thing Palmer has going is his youth and that he can only improve.

Inside Linebackers

A.J. Hawk (C-): Thanks to what appeared to be a significant weight loss, Hawk was more productive in 2013 than he had been any time since the Super Bowl season. Unsurprisingly, his 118 tackles led the team, but he also had a career-high five sacks, his first interception since 2010 and his first forced fumble since 2007. His leadership and uncanny ability to stay healthy are always appreciated, but his overall athleticism compared to other NFL inside linebackers are still lacking. You have to wonder how much better he'd look next to a better running mate next to him.

Brad Jones (D+): Like Hawk, Jones may have notched a career-high 84 tackles and three sacks, but compared to his peers throughout the NFL, he's not up to snuff. In the early going, it actually appeared as if Jones could have a successful season based upon his play the first three weeks of the season. But then both hamstring and ankle injuries struck and Jones was never the same, always a step slow, which was particularly evident in pass coverage.

Jamari Lattimore (C-): Thrust into action after injuries to Jones, Rob Francois and Sam Barrington, Lattimore proved to be a capable backup, especially considering his inexperience. There were times when Lattimore looked like a playmaker coming up with two sacks and a forced fumble, but other times he was a victim of his own over-aggressiveness, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A knee injury late in the year limited his effectiveness. Lattimore is a respected leader among his teammates and a key special teams player.

Rob Francois (Incomplete): It's too bad Francois was placed on injured reserve so early in the season with a torn Achilles. He could have been to use with so many other injuries at the position, as well as on special teams.

Sam Barrington (Incomplete): The same could be said about Barrington as Francois. His season was ended by a hamstring injury in Week 9.

Victor Aiyewa (Incomplete): Aiyewa played in six games late in the season after previously spending time on the practice squad. His contributions on special teams were not insignificant, making six tackles, an average of one per game that outpaced every other player on the team.

Cornerbacks

Sam Shields (B+): It's rather amazing that Shields was able to come up with a career-high 17 passes defensed in 2013, especially considering he missed two games at mid-season with a hamstring and toe injuries. He's Green Bay's best cover corner, although he occasionally gets beat for longer passes than he should. One might argue that if he's going be among the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL, he should come up with more than four turnovers he came up with in 2013. That being said, turnovers aren't the end-all, be-all.

Tramon Williams (B): From midseason on, Williams might have deserved an 'A.' Whether it actually took him that long to finally recover from a serious 2011 shoulder injury is debatable, but whatever the case, Williams played at a very high level, coming up with three interceptions, two forced fumbles and 2.5 sacks. And not to be overlooked was the way he filled in as a slot cornerback at mid-season when Hayward and Bush were injured. Williams gets a bad rap for being penalized for a high number of yards (only two NFL players with more per NFLPenalties.com) and it's unfair for him to expect him to pitch a shutout against opposing receivers, but he probably avoided a potential offseason paycut with stellar play this year.

Davon House (C-): There were no shortage of both ups and downs for House in 2013. On the positive side of the ledger, he had a career-high 10 passes defensed, increased his special teams value exponentially and managed not to have a single penalty on defense. But he also let several opportunities slip through his hands, both literally (dropping interceptions) and figuratively (getting a reduced role). When forced into action in the playoff loss to San Francisco, House did a decent job in pass coverage, but showed his tackling still left a lot to be desired.

Micah Hyde (B-): Hyde isn't being graded on a rookie curve. He deserves a 'B' level grade when you take into account his contributions on both defense and special teams. Sure, his dropped interception in the wildcard loss to the 49ers stings, but his physical brand of play at the slot cornerback position was a welcome addition in Green Bay. He's a better punt returner than kick returner, but he was for the most part sure-handed on all returns. His average of 12.3 yards ranked fifth in the NFL.

Casey Hayward (D+): Hayward missed the first six games of the season before coming back to play in three games on a part-time basis and re-aggravating his hamstring and placed on injured reserve. In just 88 snaps, Hayward did an adequate job, but didn't make the same type of impact plays he did as a rookie and the injury more than likely had something to do with it. When healthy, he should be expected to be the team's nickel cornerback with expectations that he should eventually be able to play on the perimeter too.

Jarrett Bush (B-): First of all, credit the coaches for putting Bush in a position to succeed by not hardly ever putting him out on the perimeter, but credit Bush for putting together perhaps the best all-around season of his career. He continues to be the best special teams player on the team, but for once, the positive plays he made on defense might have outweighed the negative ones. His performance in the comeback win against Atlanta, breaking up a pass intended for Tony Gonzalez and intercepting another were quite memorable.

James Nixon and Jumal Rolle (Incomplete): Nixon played all of two defensive snaps at mid-season before ending up on injured reserve with a knee injury. Rolle spent the last two games of the season on the 53-man roster but wasn't active for either game. Both will get a chance to compete for a job in the offseason.

Safeties

Morgan Burnett (D-): After signing a five-year, $26 million contract extension in the offseason, Burnett made 96 tackles, made zero interceptions, zero sacks, forced zero fumbles and defended just five passes. Compare that to 2011 when he made 107 tackles, one sack, grabbed three interceptions, forced two fumbles and deflected 11 passes. Burnett was fearless in coming up to fill running lanes and meeting runners head-on, but that might have been his only positive contribution in 2013. Even then, he missed too many tackles, and his lapses in coverage happened far too frequently. Like Hawk, perhaps a better running mate would make a difference.

M.D. Jennings (F): It's hard to play worse than Burnett, but if that can be accomplished, Jennings did it. A popular question among observers was 'Why did Jennings play so much?' That question can be answered in that A) he's a smart player and was frequently in the right position, and B) for a long time, there were no better options. But the fact of the matter is that Jennings is simply not an NFL-caliber player, not strong enough, quick enough, big enough and in sum, talented enough, to get the job done. Like Burnett, he didn't come up with a single interception or forced fumble and didn't so much as get his hands on a single pass. He might personify the saying, "Nice guys finish last."

Sean Richardson (D+): Since coming off the PUP list mid-season, Richardson took part in 156 regular-season snaps and at least looked less out of place than Jennings. He has the size and instincts to make tackles near the line of scrimmage in the run game, although his range and lack of experience are still a liability in coverage. Richardson has an opportunity in front of him for more playing time in the future, but it's up to him to improve and earn it.

Chris Banjo (D): At just 5-10, Banjo has his limitations in the secondary, but he was a spark plug on special teams. As an exclusive rights free agent, it can't hurt to sign Banjo once again for his special teams acumen alone, but he should have competition either through free agency, the draft or both.

Jerron McMillian (F): Seemingly incapable of playing deep off the football, McMillian was strictly a box safety. But in this age of passing in the NFL, McMillian was burned in coverage so often, he lost his job following Week 12. He also should've been a better special teams player but wasn't.

Special teams coming tomorrow.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (68) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackerFan's picture

I think that C- is a bit harsh for Hawk. He was a standout and bright spot on defense this year. I think at least a B- would be fair

Brian Carriveau's picture

He stood out in the three-sack Ravens game, I'll give you that. But for as many other games as he looked above average, there were just as many (if not more) in which he looked below average.

jeremy's picture

118 - that's a lot of tackles. 5 sacks and that interception was a really nice play. I think he was the only defensive player who stayed healthy. I'd agree with a B-.

Phatgzus's picture

At least 2 FFs (granted 1 on a play in which he grabbed a facemask) as well.

Brandon's picture

Anyone giving Hawk anything higher then a C clearly doesn't watch football. Keep going by stats though.

Morgan Mundane's picture

Brandon I think your correct and that's the crux of the problem with Dom Capers defense. He had way more individual tackles then anyone on the team. He was thee most outstanding person on the defense bar none. And I rate him only a C+.

Point Packer's picture

Hawk's grade was accurate.

C's picture

I'm as irritated as anybody by Raji's inconsistant nature, even for what Capers appears to be asking him to do, but a D- on your scale indicates he's oh so close to being out of the league as a 'fringe NFL player.' I'm indifferent at this point towards his retention, but somehow I doubt free-agency will view him as close to a fringe NFL player.

Brian Carriveau's picture

He played at a notch above a fringe NFL player in 2013. Doesn't mean he did in previous seasons and doesn't mean he will in future seasons, but I think it's fair to say he deserved a D- based on his play this season alone.

Bert's picture

I think the best (except 2010)we'll ever get out of Raji is a comp pick in 2015. Given he couldn't get motivated for a fat contract in FA tells me that giving him $$$ certainly won't motivate him.

Point Packer's picture

Raji was a fat blob of nothing this season. His grade was accurate. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't know what they are talking about.

ArodMoney's picture

Hawk just isn't a good run defender, plain and simple. I don't see how having a better running mate would change that.

Also no Casey Hayward write up?

ArodMoney's picture

Oops not sure how I didn't see that

TXCHEESE's picture

I think we need to remember with Rodgers out, the offense was extremely sporadic. These guys were getting beaten down throughout several games when the offense would go 3 or 4 and out over and over. Have to agree though Raji was a big disappointment, pun intended.

Fred's picture

It said Jolly didn't have a sack this year but he did.

Lou's picture

It would be great in the future to compare defensive player per position between the Packers and the 49ers - that is the gap that needs to be addressed by Ted Thompson. Excellent grading on both sides of the ball, hard to argue with any of the grades.

Stroh's picture

Well when your continually drafting in the top 10 cuz you suck every year its easier to get difference makers. That's why the draft in is inverse order... Gives the teams that suck the best chance to get better.

jack in jersey city's picture

stroh is right. you have to make a decision here:

do you want to be a team like the 49ers or the seahawks that have big peaks and valleys where you suck for 10+ years and then have a span of 3-4 years where you are going to be excellent. this type of team will have a lot of high round draft picks

or

would you rather be a team like the packers who basically for the last 20 years have always made the playoffs and always have a shot at the superbowl. this type of team will be constructed like the packers- a few superstars while the rest of the team is made up of lower round draft picks, UFA's, and FA's (haha, i know, i know- not in ted's case).

i would much rather have a "steady-as-she-goes" team like the packers

steven's picture

You said sheild should be a high paid safety.... lol

THEMichaelRose's picture

That's how badly they need safety help!

jeremy's picture

What, they have a highly paid safety?

Clayton's picture

Hes a cornerback.. not a safety

Cole's picture

It's suprising that we didn't give up 40 points a game with these grades. And I agree with all of them for the most part. Maybe it really isn't Capers fault. How Mike Daniels didn't get more playing time is baffling.

jeremy's picture

Especially considering the amount of 2-4 they played.

lebowski's picture

That is a buttload of Cs, Ds, and Fs. Ugh.

The TKstinator's picture

Not surprising. Ugh.

If the defense was average, there would have been a lot of C's. Makes sense to me.

Icebowler's picture

Our scouting department, especially on the defensive side, just hasn't been very good for a number of years now. Maybe we need to spend some bucks to lure away some proven defensive scouting talent from good defensive teams. I also think we should concentrate on the major college conferences again, rather than looking for needles in the haystack in places like Maine and Arkansas State.

Stroh's picture

Hate to have to find another Nick Collins from Bethune Cookman or Cullen Jenkins from Central Michigan. Those guys sucked too.

Oh and they don't scout by offense or Defense! Try to learn something so you don't make yourself look like a fool!

fish and crane's picture

I think all of us would be tickled pink with all C's... way too many D's and F's and incompletes... looks like my junior high report cards.

Zub's picture

Does anyone know how D. Bishop played for the Vikings this year? I have a feeling he would have had more impact plays than either Hawk or Jones at inside LB had he remained as a Packer

Evan's picture

I doubt it. He tore his ACL in week 5.

Idiot Fan's picture

He also did very little prior to that. At one point it wasn't even clear that he would be the starter.

larry valdes's picture

The only person who is responsible for the failure of the defense is mr ted Thompson since last year. We're in need of a safety and the draft came he didn't try to get a 6 or even a 7s on a safety and don't tell me that a least we should have signed afree agent same thing with lb mr tompson wasted bret last year no getting the help I hope that he doesn't do the same with Rodgers as a general manager you have to be aware of the wire .When the sea hawk cut db cox and you're playing the 49s you jump and sign him first I'm no saying this, after the game the moment that they cut him I told my cousin hey this guy could be a good help for the play off two days later the 49s sign him.

Jordan's picture

First of all, there was zero chance of Thompson signing Cox. The dude has a history. He was banned from stepping foot on his college campus. They wouldn't even let him do a pro day there. When you add that with the rape accusations......it was never going to happen in a million years.

I'm not a Ted Thompson apologist. I cried foul too when Thompson didn't draft a safety last year. He can't fill every hole every year. You could say he gambled and lost.....but realistically the Packers had chances to win vs 49ers. That game was ripe for the taking. And I believe 49ers were their toughest opponent standing in their way. The players he had on that team blew it against the 49 ers including Aaron Rodgers.

TommyG's picture

TT did a lot of "gambling" last year with this roster. Let us not forget the back-up QB fiasco.

Jordan's picture

Everybody gambles. Also, keep in mind that Thompson has a much smaller pool of players to acquire. They must meet the "Packer People" criteria.

Taking a dump in a woman's closet (davenport) does not compare with felony rape accusations. Purple drank will become legal in Colorado next year along with Marijuana (just kidding). What did Cox do to get banned from his own college campus? It couldn't have been good.

Teams like 49ers are desperate and have no "49er people litmus test". One of their star players missed significant time and is facing serious felony charges for off field behavior.

Point Packer's picture

Ted Thompson's off season performance is best summed up by the fact that he for some unbelievable reason didn't acquire a safety FA, other than Banjo, to compete for MD Jennings's job.

I still don't get it. Don't tell me Michael Huff would have not been outside our budget or worse than MD Jennings or hell, Burnett.

Idiot Fan's picture

MM often talks about the importance of seeing a player improve from year one to year two. I think coming into the year, they felt like they had a steady starter (Burnett) and a player who was ready to make a jump (McMillian). As it turned out, McMillian did not make a jump (unless you count backwards) and Burnett actually regressed. It looks silly now, but there was actually some reason to think we might be ok at safety this year.

jh9's picture

75% of the teams in the NFL this year played better defense than the Packers. I'd say as a whole the defensive unit graded out as a D. I really don't know how MM can defend that kind of performance. IMO that doesn't bode well for next year.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I like Neal, Perry, Mulumba, but when grading the players, objectivity must replace emotion.

Raji (D), Pickett (C+), Wilson (D), Jolly (C-) and Boyd (D)are hippos with no pass rush, but worse, they don't push the pocket either. Keep Pickett and Jolly at 2 yrs at 2.5 to 3.0 million per year. Need 3-down players to emerge: best candidates are Daniels and D. Jones. Does Raji like football?

Daniels improved over the year. His sacks initially were in the 3.5 to 4.2 second range - highlighting his great motor, but later his sacks and hurries came much faster. Rising player. His run defense improved too, but his grade is only a B+ if you are using him as a situational pass rusher. I like D. Jones, but he was invisible in most games. He will get better, but he really was a D player last year. Worthy was incomplete. Boyd as a hippo was a D. He might get better.

I love the potential of Perry & Neal, but they were C- and D+ players respectively. They will get better as will Mulumba. None of the ILBs can cover, and are either slow or lack change of direction. GB is a 3-4 with only one above average LB with the rest being C- or D+ players and an underwhelming D-line to boot. Given the front 7, defense is going to stink.

Agree with all of the grades for the CBs. They are all better than thought because they are handicapped by the lack of consistent pressure up front.

Safeties: agree with Richardson, all the rest should be a half grade higher. That being said, Burnett was a D, not a D-, Jennings was a D-, not an F, but they were bad.

Brian, are you going to do coaching? Everyone is talking about Capers, but easily the worst coaching job, even worse than Slocum or Capers, was DARREN PERRY, who allegedly coaches the safeties. A lot of the problems are miscommunication. Burnett has talent. McMillan had some talent. richardson has some talent. Jennings is an emergency back-up. Either TT drafted safeties who can't be coached, or Perry can't coach.

Idiot Fan's picture

I've often wondered about Perry. I don't know that we can say from the outside that Perry is or isn't a good coach, but the safety production outside of Nick Collins certainly implies that he's not doing his job. Although I would argue that Burnett was decent prior to this year.

Point Packer's picture

No, MD Jennings was an "F" and Burnett was a "D-". Apparently you were watching a different team. You, Thegreatreynoldo, are an idiot.

Phatgzus's picture

Good post, though I would give Perry a straight C, and would like to add that B. Jones is actually pretty damn good in coverage-the Pack were actually one of the best teams vs. TEs (and they faced some good ones) which is a pleasant departure from seasons past.

zub's picture

Speed, we need Speed

TommyG's picture

I think Al Davis once said this exact same thing. Skill, we need skill.

notbadphotography's picture

I said this 2 years ago, then again last year. The window of opportunity is getting smaller. The Green Bay Packers are not getting better as a team, they are getting worse. 4 embarrassing defeats to the same team. A losing record in the playoffs at home.
WAKE UP Green Bay. No more lame excuses by the coaching staff and management. Open your eyes and use your brains. The record is the record. They are who they are.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Brian, for the most part I agree with you.

I disagree with Hawk. IMO, he deserves a B- to B for his play. He made impact plays. He caused a fumble late in the year that he wasn't credited for as well... Is he a pro bowl player. No. But he still played well this season.

Casey Hayward should have an Incomplete grade. The guy missed virtually the whole season. Can't grade him on that.

mike's picture

Raji deserved a f

TommyG's picture

This is a fairly balanced article. I feel that it highlights our few lone brightspots in an otherwise dismal defense. Shields, Williams, and Matthews(though limited) are certainly our stars on the D side of the game. I certainly think that Hawk played one of his best seasons as a pro as well, even though his grade does not show this. Then again, objectivity is a good thing. Yes, Hawk's season was a good one for him, but he isn't a 'B' grade ILB; I really wish he was. The safety position ranked exactly where I and others expected it to. That is tough position in today's game, and it will be a tough position to address in the off season. One might ask: Where is our next Charles Woodson?

Morgan Mundane's picture

I read a well written article assessing the packer D. The author used a rating system (must pay to access) on all players positions.
The author, to cut to the chase here, basically points out that most of TT's picks in the past two three years have been defense and those picks have not performed at all well.
He all but said Worthy and Perry are busts and several dbacks are as well and laid it on Ted T.
Picking the wrong people for the wrong position. Playing people in positions they aren't qualified to play nor have the strength, speed and agility to play.
Datone was given a pass (first season) and rated as a possible keeper. Daniels was rated highly as a disruptive play maker.
Other than that the D got a failing grade. While number wise they improved from the worst D in 2012 to the middle of the pack, its still under impressive trying to compete against the top tier teams in the playoff's.
That was the gist of the article, the Pack gets to the playoffs and comes against the elite teams and our D is seriously exposed for what it is.
Kind of like Michigan playing 5 patsie teams then all of a sudden take on some talented teams and the real weaknesses of the team are exposed. Then they look horrible in the bowl games going up against the best.

Lucky953's picture

Elite players make other players better obviously. This defense has one, CM3. These are hard players to find when you are consistently drafting near the bottom of the order. You are making calculated decisions with significant uncertainty. There are lots of first round underperformers every year, and there are always some undrafted guys who become pro bowlers. The NFL is vastly different than college football. It is a tough, tough, game to excel in. No one can argue that the Packers have not been particularly unlucky with injuries the past three years. Injuries to young players are, imo, devastating to their development. I think this defense needs an impact ILB with speed and an elite safety with range. With reasonable health and development of the young linemen, they could be a top 10 team. If you think firing Capers, TT, or MM suddenly brings a Super Bowl to titletown, think of the enormous learning curve that comes with a new administration. I'm keeping faith in what we have, maybe not the very best but pretty damn good.

Evan's picture

"Elite players make other players better obviously. "

Totally agree.

Just look at how pedestrian Aldon Smith became last year when Justin Smith went out. Great players make everyone around them better - and I believe the opposite is true as well. A bad player (say, for example, MD Jennings) who can't be trusted to do his job, drags the whole defense down.

"I think this defense needs an impact ILB with speed and an elite safety with range."

Agree as well. Upgrade S and ILB and this defense would do a 180, imo. I don't believe it's as far off as some seem to think. CBs are good. DL and OLB could use some depth and health.

Idiot Fan's picture

I'm pretty much in agreement with this too, though my only concern is that "confusion in the secondary" has been a theme of 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013. That suggests that coaching and/or scheme is at least some part of the problem.

Evan's picture

Yeah, I'm beyond sick of seeing a CB throw his hands up at a safety after a big play.

Tundraboy's picture

Agree. You can not play defense, especially against today's offenses without fast LB's and physical safety play. Our strongest units, overall talent wise are CB and D line, and even then on any given week someone was always hurt. Eventually it falls apart and we are totally exposed up the middle as we were. No other explanation for never getting 3rd down stops. We basically have one elite OLB , and only ONE! decent LB, and he is slow!! We have noone to cover the whole middle and length of the field. Noone we played as if there are no safeties, hope they realize this now

Bibbon Hazel's picture

Why is Mashed Potato Mike and Domfounded Capers so bad at using and utilizing talent available to them???? Why is the first round pick Datone Jones only on the field for 270 snaps???? Why is the best D-linemen on the team (according to eye test and stats) Mike Daniels only playing 50% of the snaps. Yet another reason I wouldn't be heartbroken if Capers was gone!! Use your team's talent that is made available to you and maximize it the way Billy B does in New England! Not in Green Bay, we'll just let it "develop" on the freakin bench!!

Tundraboy's picture

Window is closing. No longer have the luxury of bringing them along slowly. Bad luck happens like this year's injury proves. So if they can PLAY, play them! What are your choices when you do not have depth and a ton of injuries? If their jobs depend on it you could bet they would. Daniels,Lattimore and especiallywith Richardson where everyone else at safety stunk. Just do not get it

Vince's picture

By your standards, Bill Belichick would've been fired 4 years ago after failing to win a Super Bowl since 2004. He sure is maximizing that talent over there.

Bibbon Hazel's picture

"By your standards" You are missing my point. My standards include actually using the talent on the team especially a first round pick and your best defensive lineman more than 50% of the time. Happens too often under Capers. Took an injury for Bishop to get on the field although he was better than Hawk and Barnett and the defense soared after. I should have been more specific with the Billy B comment as I was referring to Gronk and the Rizza, the Jizza, the ghost face killa Hernandez making an impact in week one of their rookie year. Chandler Jones making an impact from day one, Spikes and Mayo splashing from day one. Why is are some of the most talented players on the Packers squad on the bench rather than the field? Is it trust? Cant be, i mean who would trust MD Jennings anymore? Is it loyalty, most likely. Consistent availability mean more to this franchise's administration than athletic instinct. Well, that will have to change since nobody other than the safeties were available this year, and they were the most lost position group on the team!! Its a mess anyway you slice it. I understand Datone Jones was hurt for the first month, the lack of use beyond that and the lack of use with Daniels is baffling. Why? Thats all. Why?

Tundraboy's picture

Heard that this year's draft is not very deep with safety talent. Hope that is not true, Will have to check what it was the year they picked Collins. But if it is, TT really blew it. But we already know that dont we? Last year had several I think that contibuted right away, including Eric Reid? To look back now given the number of picks we had, it is absurd and pathetic to think they thought we were ok at Safety. Priority # 1 should have always been Safety after Collins went down, still must be

Brian Carriveau's picture

This year's safety class is probably not as good as last year's but it's not bad.

Evan's picture

Hey Brian - you keep saying last year's draft had a lot of good safetys. I know that was the conventional wisdom before the draft, but in hindsight (after a year of play) has that held true?

I know it's just year 1, but the early returns have been less than impressive.

Brian Carriveau's picture

As usual, I don't think you can judge a rookie class until a few years down the road. But I think there were some solid starters and contributors in Year 1, even if they weren't Pro Bowl types: Reid in San Francisco, Elam in Baltimore, Cyprien in Jacksonville, Matheiu in Arizona, Vaccaro in New Orleans, Lester in Carolina, along with quite a few more role players.

Tundraboy's picture

That's enough to regret

Evan's picture

I hear ya.

And it's not to say I don't think we should have taken one - I was shocked we didn't and really liked Cyprien.

In hindsight, safety was a much better need than we realized this time last year.

Would I trade Datone for Elam or Cyprien...maybe?

Would I trade Lacy for Matheiu? Of course not.

What would it have taken to move up for Reid or Voccaro? 49ers used their 3rd round pick to move from 31 to 18 for Reid. We could have beaten that deal, but it might have cost us Bahktiari.

I'm just rambling now. Here's hoping we address the hole early this year.

Tundraboy's picture

Things I would like to see next year.

No major injuries to anyone. (Well maybe 1 but definitely not AR!)

Two major impact players at Safety and LB

Raji at NT

An even better year from Daniels.

Shields ,Tramon and Hayward play every game year. Same for Cobb, Nelson, Boykin and Jones.

A KR with breakaway speed that is sure-handed

And now that the Bears rivalry should be up a notch. Why not play with 1920's throwbacks with Bears as well when we play them,at least one of the games.

Is that so much to ask for?

Evan's picture

I doubt they can afford both Raji and Shields.

Tundraboy's picture

Yeah a lot has to fall in place, Maybe if Raji takes a cut or is franchised! Have to keep Shields tho

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