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2009 Season Offensive Player Grades

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2009 Season Offensive Player Grades

The defense, specialist and coaching grades to follow tomorrow.

Look forward to your reactions.


Aaron Rodgers: A-

Rodgers became one of the leagues best quarterbacks throughout the course of the season and did a great job attacking his major flaw – holding on to the ball too long. Next season should cement Rodgers as an elite NFL quarterback.

Matt Flynn: C

Flynn looked worlds better when he saw the field this season than he did last year in his one appearance. Of course, coming in for mop-up duty is much different than coming in down big and needing to drive the team to a score…

Running Back:

Ryan Grant: B

Ended the season with several big runs and definitely showed the same explosion through the hole he displayed in ’07. Did an adequate job in the passing game but still needs work in that area

Brandon Jackson: B+

An absolute beast in pass protection, Jackson not only improved in that area, he became a true threat in the screen game. Needs more opportunities.

Ahman Green: C

Green was brought in for his veteran leadership and he supplied it. Obviously not the elite back he was under Mike Sherman, but a pro’s pro who gets the job done.

Deshawn Wynn:  D

The coaching staff raved about his ability all offseason and throughout training camp. It never appeared on the field in 2009 before the second year back was put on I.R.


Korey Hall: C

Bit by the injury bug all year, Hall was an exceptional lead blocker when he did see the field.

John Kuhn: C

A versatile player that McCarthy uses in numerous ways, his pass catching ablility offsets his less-than-stellar blocking

Quinn Johnson: C-

Johnson, inactive the first part of the season, had one or two blocks a game that showed you why the Packers drafted him. His inability to grasp the system early was a big disappointment.

Wide Receiver:

Greg Jennings: B

Jennings caught fire down the stretch, and most fans will remember his two sensational catches in the Wildcard playoff game. But that doesn’t wash away his slow start and the horrible drops he had almost all season long

Donald Driver: B -

The inverse of Jennings, started the season on fire and faded greatly down the stretch. Uncharacteristically fumbled the ball in a couple key spots and had his own problem with dropped balls

James Jones: C +

Again, had his fare share of drops (sense a theme here?) but also made some great catches and improved his blocking in the running game.

Jordy Nelson: C

The Sophmore Slump was definitely in effect for young Nelson from the very first game where he had more drops (2) than he did all season in ’08 (1). Was miscast as a returner in the punt and kickoff games.

Brett Swain: I

Showed great promise in camp and started the season as a monster on special teams

Patrick Williams: I

I got nothin’. Neither did he.

Tight End:

Donald Lee: D

Dropped almost identical touchdown passes. Offers nothing after the catch and his blocking slipped.

Jermichael Finley: B+

The key to making the offense go, Finely was a revelation after a slow start to the season, mostly due to the offense’s protection problems. Along with Rodgers, set to take the next step next season into Elite status.

Spencer Havner: B –

A genuine surprise in his uncanny ability to find the endzone, Havner was a great lunchpail-type player who did everything he was asked to do just a bit better than you thought he would.


Chad Clifton: B –

As good as ever in pass protection (for the most part) Clifton was a liability in the run game and needs to be hidden in the screen game. Set to be a free agent, would no doubt be welcome back at a Packer-friendly rate. Can not be counted on for a full season.

Mark Tauscher:  B

Savior of the offense. That’s all. Also set to be a free agent, I would be shocked if he’s not back. Nowhere near as lockdown as he was earlier in his career, Tauscher gets by on veteran savy and his excellent use of leverage. Teammates voted him their Union representative.

T.J. Lang: C+

The kid has got the goods. Needs to get stronger, and needs to work on his balance, but Lang should be a starter sooner rather than later

Alan Barbre: D –

Almost ruined the entire season single-handedly before Mark Tauscher was signed. Had no punch against quicker defensive ends and gave up the edge in pass protection faster than Chris Johnson runs 10 yards. The only reason he doesn’t get an ‘F” is because he was at least effective in the run game.

Breno Giacomini: F

An absolute waste of a roster spot. Looked terrible in preseason. The fact that Barbre was playing as poorly as he was and Giacomini was still never active for a game tells you all you need to know.


Daryn Colledge: C –

After a mostly superb 2008, Colledge reverted back to his incredibly inconsistent ways in 2009, though he did improve slightly over the course of the last month. One of the many players in limbo due to the CBA mess, I think the Packers let him walk if he becomes a free agent, but would sign him back if he finds no takers, much like Mike Montgomery last offseason.

Josh Sitton: B +

Should be an anchor on the offensive line for years to come, Sitton was the one constant in a sea of instability all year. His pass pro sets really improved from his limited work last year and I documented how much he helped improve the whole screen game. Was a solid contributor in the run game as well. Say it with me – the Packers best offensive lineman.

Evan Dietrich-Smith: C -

Saw spot duty a few times, both at guard and at center, and more than held his own. Interesting prospect that could surprise in camp if he focuses during the offseason program. Not as far away from Wells as people think…


Scott Wells: B –

Took over the starting position after Spitz’ injury and immediately looked better than the guy he lost the job to in August. All told, coming out of camp, the Packers got just about every call they needed to make on the offensive line wrong. Wells did a great job sorting out protections all year long, the highlight being his work in the Pittsburgh game. Also handled some of the mammoth nose tackles he faced with relative ease.

Jason Spitz: C –

Won the starting center job in camp and then proceeded to play shockingly soft and tentatively out of the gate. Never really seemed to take control of the line before getting injured. While McCarthy put a brave face on it in his season-ending press conference, Spitz’ back injury is a real concern and something to monitor this offseason.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (41) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Andyman's picture

I really liked how with all the offensive line problems, we rarely heard Sitton's name at all. You aren't off-base in saying he should be a great guard for years to come. At least we got 1 piece in place...

hollycrat's picture

I don't disagree with many of your assessments, though I thought a C- was a bit generous for Colledge. Good point about Spitz's back -- he's also an RFA this year, so his recovery speed is yet another factor in the Packers' decision to re-sign him.

hyperRevue's picture

I agree pretty much across the board.

When you break down the o-line like that, it gives me hope for the future. Wells, Sitton and Lang should make a real solid right side in 2010.

Ken's picture

Interesting points on the interior O-Line.

Couple thoughts:

1.) Is there any chance Driver is relegated to No. 3 and Jimmy Jones steps up?

2.) Dietrich-Smith at LG? Would be nice to have a mauler type and Wells deserves the Center role. Guys respond to him.

RockinRodgers's picture

I think upgrading at back-up RB and back up TE would be a luxury. The line should be the main focus. It could hold the key to how good we are next year. This offense has a chance to be the best in the NFL. If they fix the line.

hyperRevue's picture

I like Havner as the back-up TE. He really showed some promise in just his first year transitioning from linebacker. Given another off-season and training camp, I like his chances to contribute more regularly. Donald Lee needs to be shown the door.

mossdog427's picture

I would argue that green deserves a little better grade but otherwise seems to be dead on.

bleedsgreen's picture

Yeah, dude missed a bunch of class, but damn if he didn't ace all the tests, and especially the final. Jermichael deserves an A-.

PackRat's picture

Largely agree but:

1) How do you give an OL that gave up not only the most sacks in the regular season (50) but also the most in the post-season (5) 5 "B's" and 3 "C's" with only one D and F--unless grade inflation is present, AVERAGE is a "C".

2) Did we really carry 3 Cs at fullback all year long instead of holding on to Sutton or Meridith?

3) Bring back Ahman- He came in at a time when grit was needed and really plugged the gap.

4) DeShawn or Lumpkin in 2010?

wgbeethree's picture

Seems to me like the linemen must have been graded on a curve. How anybody other than Sitton got higher than a C seems awefully generous to me. Nobody else IMO played to the a level were there doesn't need to be an improvement. Giving Clifton and Tauscher Bs you got to be kidding me right? Their play was borderline exceptable at best but nowhere close to above average. They were both OK in pass blocking, poor in run blocking (never been their specialty so I expect much more) and Clifton was a penalty waiting to happen. I understand their backups were TERRIBLE and they really were upgrades and much better than the alternatives but them getting Bs is like giving a kid who couldn't stay in the lines and colored the trees blue a B in art class because ''at least he didn't eat the crayons'' like the kid next to him.

I'd lower the grades on Clifton to a C- and Wells and Tauscher to C+s.

Brian Carriveau's picture

Fantastic analysis.

AdamInEngland's picture

Hopefully Johnson steps up his game this off-season and then Hall becomes expendable. And Aaron, you can't be serious about letting Colledge go, who will do the Colledge experience???

packeraaron's picture

I hear what people are saying regarding the offensive line. Yes, they gave up a ton of sacks. There is a ton that goes into that. A big component is the offensive line, but there are factors like Rodgers holding onto the ball, the protection calls, etc - Like I say above - Barbre was the biggest culprit and was graded accordingly. But if you go back and watch, say, Wells or Clifton for a whole game, JUST them, I guarantee you will see C's and B's. For many reasons, they were less than cohesive early on this season.

seekr's picture

Would bump Barbre to an F as well. You're right about "single-handedly ruining the season."

foundindaho's picture

I agree with them all pretty much but just have a (I'm sure stupid) question - is part of Korey's grade because he was hurt a lot, or was it just for his play?

He didn't play a whole lot, granted, but seemed to show up and hustle when he could.

Yeah, I know, I have a very soft spot in my heart for that guy. If he is not a Packer next year I will be very sad.

hyperRevue's picture

God. It's only January 14th and I'm already googling "NFL Mock Draft."

abishopd's picture

B+ for Jackson, are you crazy? Sure his pass pro improved this season but he still offers nothing as a RB and he isnt even the best 3rd down back in the division. He gained 3 yds per carry even though most of his carries were draw plays on third down. This guy needs to go.

packeraaron's picture

abishop- you just made my argument for me. Yes, most of running plays were draw plays on 3rd down...when they were hopelessly out of range for a first down and McCarthy ran 'give up' plays. Go watch the Carolina game from '08 when he came in for an injured Grant. When given the opportunities, the guy can get it done.

Ruppert's picture

Really nice job, Aaron. I am in agreement almost entirely across the board. The only difference of opinion worth mentioning is TJ Lang. Remember, the coaches didn't get him any reps at OT throughout all of camp, yet arguably his best performances in games (MIN and AZ last week) were at Tackle. I'm not saying he's an A+ or anything like that, but I would probably have gotten him into the B-/B range. Plus, his home town is like 10 miles from where I lived when I lived in MI.
Perfect summary for Breno, and you may have been a little too kind to Donald Lee. As Finley got better this year, I think he started caring less and less and his performance showed that. He's entering the group of vets I love to hate (#51, #96, #24).

FITZCORE1252's picture


You don't want the people to get laced up at advantageous prices???

Doug In Sandpoint's picture

I thought that Green was one of the more interesting pick-ups this year. Of course I wish Tyrell Sutton was in his roster spot (I'm still peeved about this). Any thoughts on Green vs. Sutton?

FITZCORE1252's picture

Sutton is small like Sproles, unfortunately, he's about as fast as Raji.

Nagler, Y U B takin' that post down? Can we not post links here anymore, I'll vouch for that site... done business with 'em?


packeraaron's picture

Fitz - huh? What post? I didn't, and never do, take posts down unless they are of an offensive nature. Whachoo talkin' about Fitzy? ;)

nerdmann's picture

I don't see why you guys are all so harsh on Deshawn Wynn. Switch him to FB and you got two potential pro bowlers there, between him and Quinn. Yeah, the dude can't catch, but he's a beast in pass protection and can lead block like crazy.
Colledge was obtained when MM was still requesting "smaller, quicker" linemen. I think he's serviceable and will probably be better again next year. I think Jared Allen got inside his head this year. It effected his confidence.
Donald Lee has alot of speed and can run very well after the catch. He's had his share of drops though, and isn't a blocker. I definitely think Havner challenges for the #2 spot next year.
TJ Lang is the RT of the future. Now we need a LT. With a serviceable offensive line, this team goes all the way.
Especially if they get a HB with some speed, especially one who can catch the ball on screens.

bigfog's picture

Ted's really going to have to pull out all the stops this offseason. He's got two big problems areas - offensive line and the secondary. I'm eagerly awaiting your defensive grades Aaron.

bucky's picture

Not really sure how Jackson gets so much love, grading him above both Grant and Green. Justifying this season's grade with reference to a performance from last season? You gotta be kidding me.

Jackson gets a C at best. His pass catching skills are improved from last season, but all that means is that not every single pass bounces off his hands anymore. Grant is a better pass catcher than Jackson, and Green continues to best them both. Green is also a better runner than Jackson.

I'm also with those who wonder about the grades for the Oline. Tauscher was certainly an improvement over Barbre, and performed better than I expected, but you gotta be grading on a pretty generous curve to give him a B. And giving Clifton a B-? I'm not sure what justifies giving him anything better than a C-.

The rest of the grades seem just about right.

packeraaron's picture

bucky - You are completely wrong on Jackson. And how exactly am I supposed to justify someone saying he can't carry the load...than by referencing a game where he carried the load? I can't make McCarthy give him more carries.

Ron LC's picture

Overall, your analysis was the starting point for the Packers offensive needs this year. One could argue the grading of individual players forever. Being a more vocal critic of the O line I think your grades were generous.
I look at the O line this way:

1. Sitton would be ranked #1 performer and has great future potential.
2. Clifton, when healthy, is a solid pass blocker and not very good at run blocking. Probably why the runs were heavily to the right side of the O line. He's good to keep on board until the future LT is found. I think Lang with more experience might be the guy.
3. Tauscher. got better as he losened up and reacclimated to the game. He'd be nice to keep around for no other reason than work with the young guys. After his first two games he was playing at a very good level.
4. Much to my surprise Wells came off his serious back injury with no apparent complications. He turned into the QB of the O line. The #2 performer.
5. Colledge is easily replaced. I hope!
6. Spitz dosen't look like his back is a good bet to recover. Even without that, he was not a good center. Maybe guard, but I wouldn't bet on it.
7. Lang has demonstrated he will likely have a good future. I wouldn't discount the possibility he could replace Clifton.
8. The rest - Replace them now.
In the off-season the O line is/should be a high priority for the draft and FA. A couple of solid performers added here will set the Offense up for the future.
With the changes coming for the CBA, the draft is going to be deep at many positions. This should play into TT's strengths.

bucky's picture

We'll have to disagree about Jackson. I don't think he's even close to Grant (hell, not even the high-mileage Green), and would not be disappointed to see him replaced with someone who can do something besides pick up a blitz.

CSS's picture

Ron LC - What changes to the CBA? Mortenson, Shefter, et al. have all reproted that there will not be a rookie cap until at least 2012. I don't see more players declaring early. If anything, this draft does NOT look as deep as it once had the potential to be.

foundinidaho's picture

Obviously, my question was stupid...

Ron LC's picture

CSS, the uncapped year and changes to FA will offer huge earning potential to College players this year. How long will that last? A lock out in 2011 a posiblity only adds fuel to that fire.

greenbaypackerbob's picture

Agree with most, but AR an 'A-' ?? in my opinion a QB has to win at least one playoff game or win the Division to get an 'A' ... and when his time to shine came, he had opening INT (leading to 7 points) on first play and final 7 points leading to loss on last play (& after overthrowing open receiver in OT) ... got to get the 'W' somehow -- Rodgers has the 'A' season out there, we just haven't seen it all yet.
AR certainly had some 'A' (even A+) games but overall average (with wildcard counting more than two games), solid B or B+ IMO.
Sorry Aaron, no sacred cows... now the gloves come off (lol)

packeraaron's picture

packerbob - you just broke down one game. Rodgers played 17. The grade is for the entire body of work.

greenbaypackerbob's picture

Aaron -- First 8 games ending with Tampa, give Rodgers, B- or B (holding ball too long, etc.,), Last 8 games good A- (average the two = B or B+). Dallas, Ravens and Pitts solid 'A' games against heavy hitters. Last game with AZ obvious 'give me'.
Winning the division is a '17 game season' accomplishment. Or at minimum, win the first wildcard game (not lose with OT fumble) otherwise the primary goal of the 'entire season' is not met... e.g. winning a post season game.
Give you last word.

packeraaron's picture

gbpackerbob - winning the division is a team goal. The grade is for Rodgers' play at quarterback. Two completely different things.

andrew's picture

definitly agree wth the grades. but im not as far up into rodgers as everyone else. he needs to learn to win games late in the 4th favre would have hit jennings in the game against cards the wide receivers definitly having some issues readjusting away from favres passes to rodgers driver had drops as did all the others think its becuase they are used to the rocket arm rodgers doesnt put as much sting on the ball probly somethin that is hard to get used to but i think as long as barbre doesnt get on the field nd lang is healthy to fill in for clifton when he gets hurt we will have a good season

fish's picture

Green Bay and Rodgers first 2 years have some remarkably similar comparisons to the Colts and Payton Mannings first 3 years.

greenbaypackerbob's picture

fish sez "Green Bay and Rodgers first 2 years have some remarkably similar comparisons"...
Not sure what you are trying to take from that ... in actuality Manning and Favre's career look even more remarkably similar... so, when do you think "Peyton will be traded to the Jets?" (lol)
No one in Indy that foolish.

fish's picture

Lynn Dickey was on ESPN Homers show and stated that Peyton is a constant X's and O's study machine and could probably be the first QB and Offensive coach combination. I think Rodgers carries those same traits with his studying. I didn't compare Peyton with Favre because I don't care.

greenbaypackerbob's picture

Hopefully, Rodgers will be a Manning, Favre, Warner or Starr. That I do care about. But a little early for that... first goal is to win one post season game.

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