Grading the Pack - Adrian Amos & Preston Smith

Andy Herman grades every single snap from 2018 and hands out grades for Adrian Amos and Preston Smith.

As many of you know, one of my pet projects and major articles throughout the year is my “Grading the Pack” series. In this series I go through and grade every player on every play, throughout the course of the entire season. It’s a grueling and taxing process but one that thankfully gives me a ton of insight into each of the players and their true level of performance on the field.

Going into this offseason, I knew there were going to be some high priority free agents that the Packers were going to sign and I was excited to go through the same process with these new additions to the Packers’ roster.

Today I give you round one of those grades as I’ve gone through every snap from 2018 for both Adrian Amos and Preston Smith to help give you a better understanding of how each player graded out last year, and to see how they graded out against the Packers’ roster from that past two seasons as well.

Adrian Amos

Let’s start by taking a look at Adrian Amos. First and foremost, here were the game by game grades for 2018:

Week 1: +0.3
Week 2: +0.5
Week 3: +0.35
Week 4: +0.2
Week 6: -2.15
Week 7: +0.7
Week 8: +0.85
Week 9: +1.95
Week 10: +0.6
Week 11: +0.5
Week 12: -0.2
Week 13: +0.15
Week 14: -0.05
Week 15: +0.35
Week 16: +0.55
Week 17: +1.25
Wild Card: +0.15

Total: +6.0

Those were the scores, but here’s the true breakdown and what I really learned about Adrian Amos from his film last season.

Amos is insanely, insanely, insanely consistent. He takes pure angles to the football, has the same consistent demeanor play in and play out, and he know where he’s supposed to be on the field at all times. In Bill Belichick terms… he does his job.

There isn’t a ton of flash, style, or sexiness to Amos’ game, but compared to the inconsistencies of the Jermaine Whiteheads, HaHa Clinton Dix’s, and Kentrell Brice’s, over the past few seasons, this is going to be a major upgrade for the Packers.

Even though there’s not always a ton of flash, it’s not that you won’t see it from time to time. He came up with a big interception in the playoff game against the Eagles, made a great play ranging to the sideline to break up a pass against the Bills and will also come up and level ball carriers from time to time when he’s in a position to do so.

But it’s not always about the splash play for Amos. While HaHa Clinton-Dix would come up with a spectacular play here or there, he was also a major liability because he didn’t always make the necessary plays on the back end of the defense when he was called upon. Amos’ formula for success is to make sure he’s doing the basics correct first, and then if he’s in a position to go make a play he will go and do so – it’s how the safety position was designed to be played.

But there is a cost to this as well. Amos has only 3 interceptions in 56 career starts and 60 career games. He’s forced only 3 fumbles, and recovered only 3 as well. He has 2 sacks, only 2 quarterback hits, and only 13 tackles for loss in that same time period as well. In a league where turnovers and playmaking is king, Amos hasn’t shown the ability to make a major impact in games to this point in his career.

Knowing how my grades work, (giving much higher point values to impact plays) if you would have told me that Amos severely lacked in impact plays and had a few big missed tackles that lead to touchdowns against Miami and a touchdown allowed in the playoff game against Dallas Goedert & Philly; I would have told you that you were probably looking at a -5 to -10 grade for Amos.

Simply put, it’s really hard for a safety to make up bad plays if he’s not making big plays on his own. But Amos was truly just that good. To really get a feel for the way Amos plays a game you really have to watch him down in and down out. If you take his game away against Miami he was about as close to flawless throughout the season as you can get. He simply didn’t allow big plays, always filled the right gap, took good angles, wrapped up on tackles, and was always where he was supposed to be. It was truly a pleasure to watch.

That’s why it’s been so hard and shocking for me to understand the hate and angst from Bears’ fans at Amos’ game. I understand that when a player is signed (like HaHa Clinton-Dix) that a fan base is always going to have an elevated value of that player. But to be so quick to talk poorly about Amos on the way out when he was so good a season ago is just really strange.

The reason I think this is, is two-fold:

  1. If you didn’t watch closely to Amos it would be really easy to miss the impact he made on a game. Mike Daniels is a bit this way as well. Daniels and Amos both played really good football in 2018 only to see it go mostly unnoticed by most fans.
  2. I think Bears’ fans were remembering the most recent game against Philadelphia in the playoffs and may be seeing that play against Goedert in their heads where he was beat one-on-one. The truth is Amos got beat by a really good tight end in man-to-man coverage in which Goedert ran a perfect route and Wentz threw a perfect pass. Most safeties aren’t coming close to making a play on that ball.

If Chicago was glad to be rid of Amos, fine, but Green Bay will be more than happy to have him on their roster. To put things into comparison, here were my grades on the Packer safeties over the past two seasons:

2017

Morgan Burnett +4.4 (includes hybrid LB scores)
Jermaine Whitehead -0.35
Marwin Evans -1.55
Josh Jones -4.30 (includes hybrid LB scores)
Kentrell Brice -5.10
HaHa Clinton-Dix -9.40

2018

Tramon Williams +1.25 (includes CB scores)
Ibraheim Campbell +0.65
Raven Green +0.00
Jermaine Whitehead -2.65
Josh Jones -2.85
Eddie Pleasant -3.65
HaHa Clinton-Dix -5.95
Kentrell Brice -6.20

Adrian Amos would have easily been the top rated safety in either of the past two seasons with his play in 2018. He also would have been the 4th highest rated overall defender for me in my grades last year:

Kenny Clark +13.10
Jaire Alexander +7.00
Mike Daniels +6.85
Adrian Amos +6.00

Overall if you’re looking for Amos to come in and be the sparkplug playmaker with 8 interceptions and an All-Pro type season… he’s not your guy. But if you’re looking for a really solid safety who would pair perfectly with a player like Darnell Savage, who is going to make the right play, be in the right spot, and not give up huge plays… Amos is 100% your guy. In comparison to the safety play that Green Bay’s seen over the past couple seasons, Amos will likely look like an All-Pro until the eyes adjust to seeing what safety play is really supposed to look like.

Green Bay got a really nice addition in Adrian Amos and Packer fans should be pumped about his addition to the secondary.

Preston Smith

Next, let’s take a look at the game by game scores for Preston Smith:

Week 1: -0.2
Week 2: +0.3
Week 3: -0.1
Week 5: +0.45
Week 6: +0.35
Week 7: +0.80
Week 8: +0.55
Week 9: -0.65
Week 10: +0.70
Week 11: +1.45
Week 12: +0.45
Week 13: -0.45
Week 14: -0.15
Week 15: -0.35
Week 16: +0.30
Week 17: -0.85

Total: +2.60

On the surface, this may not look like a super impressive grade. When you compare it to, say, Kyler Fackrell who scored a +3.15 from last season, it may feel even worse. Green Bay paid Preston Smith like a premier pass rusher, giving him a 4-year - $52 million dollar deal with $16 million guaranteed at signing. Even if Green Bay gets out early they still pay him $27.5 million over two seasons at least.

So was Preston Smith worth the big contract? Let me breakdown what I learned about Preston Smith. At the end of week 12 Smith had a grade of +4.10 and had he kept that pace up he would have finished with a grade of about +5.95 which would have been a really solid grade, almost identical to what Adrian Amos received.

To put this a bit more into perspective, the Redskins were 6-3 going into week 11 and in prime position to make a playoff run when Alex Smith injured his leg and everything came apart for the Redskins. By the end of week 12 the Redskins had already fallen to 6-5 and they were set to go into Philadelphia in week 13.

The Reskins started Mark Sanchez and the Eagles took care of business 28-13 to put the Eagles down to 6-6 and things continued to derail from there as they finished the season 1-6 in their last 7 games. The team was never the same and just about everyone on offense and defense wasn’t playing at the same level.

Preston Smith finished with a -1.50 grade over those last five games and graded in the negative in four of the five games. It’s not to make excuses, Smith finished the season poorly and he was graded appropriately for it, but context does help matters a bit. Playing against Jason Peters and Taylor Lewan did no favors either!

Prior to the last few games, Smith wasn’t that different from Adrian Amos at all. He was remarkably consistent but somewhat allergic to the big splash plays. He did have a beautiful one-handed interception against the Texans to try and get them back in the game, but more often than not he had trouble putting together signature plays or signature games.

But by no means was he a bad player, in fact he was really solid in almost all facets. He set the edge really well, he was able to drop back into coverage with some fluidity, and he was more than serviceable on the edge as a pass rusher.

In a way I equated him to when Nick Perry was good and not injured. You could count on him to set the edge well, play hard, and get to the quarterback a handful of times throughout the season. He’s not prime Reggie White or Clay Matthews who can win games for you on their own but he’s not the player that teams are going to pick on either.

Here’s the thing that I like about Preston Smith. If Preston Smith doesn’t get one ounce better and is the exact same Preston Smith from 2018, Green Bay will have found themselves a really nice edge player that fits well within Mike Pettine’s scheme and will probably play two to three years being overpaid but Green Bay won’t have any regrets. He’ll be a solid piece on the defense for however long he’s here.

But at still only 26 years of age, Preston Smith shows flashes of being so much more. Put him in a defense that suits him perfectly, with a coach in Mike Smith who is known to get the most out of his players, and in a rotation where he doesn’t need to play a ton of snaps, and it’s not difficult to imagine Smith having a breakout in Green Bay.

And Smith has all the talent in the world to see that breakout season come true. As I mentioned we already know he can be solid in coverage and against the run, but if he can become just a tad bit more dynamic as a pure pass rusher – look out.

Smith already has shown that he can win with pure speed around the edge, with a strong arm under the pads, with a hump move, and with a hesitation move. His cupboard is far from bare when it comes to ways he can win against tackles. He also has the strength, size, and athleticism to help him win with his natural abilities. If he puts it all together, he has the ability to be an 8-12 sack player in this league. And if that comes to fruition, Green Bay will happily see this contract through and never have any concerns about it whatsoever.

If I were betting, my guess would be that Smith probably stays very similar to the player he was in Washington and Green Bay gets an upgrade at edge and a nice piece for Mike Pettine. He doesn’t become the player that you win with because he’s on the roster, but he’s not a player that loses you games either and there’s still a lot of value in those types of players out on the field.

For comparisons sake, here’s how the edge rushers graded out for me over the past two seasons:

2017

Clay Matthews +5.5
Chris Odom +0.50
Reggie Gilbert +0.05
Nick Perry -0.35
Vince Biegel -1.50
Ahmad Brooks -4.15
Kyler Fackrell -5.20

2018

Kyler Fackrell +3.15
Reggie Gilbert -7.10
Nick Perry -7.65
Clay Matthews -9.30

Smith would have been third on this list behind Matthews in 2017 and Fackrell in 2018. The takeaway here, though, should be that Green Bay’s going from two players significantly graded in the negative in Perry and Clay, to a player who graded out in the positive. From Clay to Preston is a +11.90 difference on its own.

The fact that Green Bay is able to replace Matthews, Perry, and Gilbert (-24.05 total) with Preston, Za’Darius and Rashan Gary should be an insane swing and change Green Bay’s fortunes in the front seven. And if Preston can truly meet his potential, then it will look all the better.

In the end, we should always remember that it’s insanely hard to find true stars in this league, and trying to find them in free agency is near impossible. Even if you do find them you are likely overpaying to the point where it may hurt your team in other aspects because there’s only so much money a team can spend.

Green Bay was wise to find two players who at age 26 are really good football players and still have the ability to get better. They are both clear and obvious upgrades from the players at their respective spots a season ago. Whether or not they live up to their contracts is one thing, but it’s near impossible to say that Green Bay didn’t significantly improve their roster by going from Nick Perry and Kentrell Brice, to Preston Smith and Adrian Amos.

How I Grade

  • Each player starts by getting a zero or neutral grade on a play. If they performed as expected on a play, their grade stays at zero.
  • For a slightly above or below average play, the player gets graded -0.1 or +0.1. The vast majority of grades on the vast majority of plays are graded -0.1, 0, or +0.1.
  • The highest and lowest grades on an individual play are +2.0 and -2.0 respectively. These would be large, game-changing plays.
  • I won’t grade a play negatively if I cannot tell which player was at fault.
  • Most of the time it’s impossible to tell the play, so I’m not grading on the execution of the play call as an NFL coach would.
  • The goal of this exercise is to grade every snap over the course of the season to get a long-term view of which performers are performing well and which are not meeting expectations. This is very similar to what Pro Football Focus tries to achieve. Is it perfect? No. But what you are getting is a consistent grader who is watching specifically Packer games and putting multiple hours into every week to breakdown film and assign grades.
  • Grades are for offense and defense only (including two point conversions). Special teams does not factor in.

__________________________

Andy is a graduate of UW-Oshkosh and owns & operates the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Andy has taken multiple courses in NFL scouting and appears weekly on 107.5 The Fan in Green Bay to breakdown film. This past season he was an analyst on Green Bay Nation on WFRV TV in Green Bay. Andy grew up in Green Bay and is a lifelong season ticket holder; follow him on Twitter at @sconniesports.

NFL Categories: 
9 points

Comments (15)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Jonathan Spader's picture

July 12, 2019 at 09:03 am

Thanks for all the hard work you put into your grading articles Andy. Can't wait to read the article on Zadarius Smith and how he grades out!

+ REPLY
7 points
7
0
Lare's picture

July 12, 2019 at 09:22 am

I know everybody is looking for splash plays and big stats, but I'll take players like Amos, Smith, Daniels and Martinez any day who just consistently do their jobs well without all the chest pumping and accolades that Matthews craved.

Turnovers are great but three & out gets you the ball back almost every time.

+ REPLY
6 points
7
1
Coldworld's picture

July 12, 2019 at 09:52 am

These types build the foundation on which flash plays can be made and Coordinators can scheme. We have missed that kind of player badly, particularly at Safety but also at at least one OLB position.

+ REPLY
7 points
8
1
PackfanNY's picture

July 12, 2019 at 01:27 pm

I would think that more “steady” play from the players you mentioned and an improved pass rush will lead to more turnovers. I like the speed Jaire and Savage bring and I expect they are the beneficiaries. Just a guess but that is the Gute/LaFleur/Pettine vision. I can’t wait to see how it plays out on the field.

+ REPLY
7 points
7
0
ILPackerBacker's picture

July 12, 2019 at 11:57 am

great article!
Really appreciate the effort this takes

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 12, 2019 at 01:07 pm

Excellent article. It is interesting that the author grouped these two players together in one article.

Amos has been a consistent player even before Eddie Jackson arrived, or Mack for that matter. I think the biggest difference GB gets from Amos is limiting gains. He will consistently get offensive players down a yard or two sooner than we are used to, turning what would have been 3rd and 5s into 3rd and 7s.

GB sucked at QB hits. Preston Smith's 21 QB hits in 2017 (8 sacks) and 16 QB hits in 2018, which would have been led all Packers in 2018 (but led to just 4 sacks, a low 25% rate) will really help. Smith has 59 QB hits in 4 seasons, and 24.5 sacks, so 41.5% of QB hits turn into sacks. That is about right for NFL players, 40% to 60% of QB hits are sacks.

CM3's career high was 25 QB hits and just 12 in 2018. Nick Perry's career high was 16 QB hits, and Perry had just two seasons in double-digit QB hits.

Preston is going to help quite a bit.

+ REPLY
6 points
6
0
jeremyjjbrown's picture

July 12, 2019 at 01:45 pm

"That’s why it’s been so hard and shocking for me to understand the hate and angst from Bears’ fans at Amos’ game."

Not really though. I work with a lot of Bears fans and there are only a handful of them that I think actually understand football. That fan base doesn't have the educated top end the way Packers and some other teams do. If I log into Windy City Grid Iron for a peak it is 98% noise. They don't have anything even sniffing the kind of analysis based content that Dusty and Andy put up here. It's just not even comparable at all.

+ REPLY
6 points
6
0
sbransbottom's picture

July 12, 2019 at 01:51 pm

This is my first time reading this series. That's a lot of work and I definitely appreciated it. I believe we have a few big time play makers on our defense but in order for them to make those splash plays, we need others to be consistent and hold down their positions. I definitely believe that's what Preston and Amos will do. They will give Rodgers that many more chances. I personally cannot wait till Amos makes some crushing hits for us because he is surely capable of it.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
sam1's picture

July 12, 2019 at 02:13 pm

Wonder what happens if they play worse than Matthews with all this hype? Just a speculation!

+ REPLY
-1 points
1
2
Samson's picture

July 12, 2019 at 03:45 pm

Not going to happen.

+ REPLY
2 points
3
1
Samson's picture

July 12, 2019 at 03:44 pm

Incredible analysis! --- Great job (again) by Mr. Herman.
Real numbers that also create real optimism going into a new season.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
TXCHEESE's picture

July 12, 2019 at 04:36 pm

Thanks Andy. Really good read. I laughed out loud on the last clip. The huge real difference between Amos and HHCD is tackling. One does and the other doesn’t. And that’s why GB couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down the last 3 seasons.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
mamasboy's picture

July 12, 2019 at 05:18 pm

Anything Andy Herman puts out is well worth reading or listening to. Thanks!!!

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Gort's picture

July 12, 2019 at 08:26 pm

Great article Andy.
Makes it worth every cent I pay for this!

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Spock's picture

July 14, 2019 at 09:09 am

" But what you are getting is a consistent grader who is watching specifically Packer games and putting multiple hours into every week to breakdown film and assign grades." Thanks, Andy, for your hours and hours of time you put into these player breakdowns. You've put out enough of these now that we as CHTV fans can get a real feel for your grading. Superb work and one of the things (your articles) that I love most about this site. Kudos!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.