Grading the Pack - Preseason Week 4

Preseason week four is unequivocally a make or break game for bottom of the roster players. I whole heartedly believe that Christian Ringo (at least initially) beat out Brian Price in this game, while Derrick Matthews, Reggie Gilbert, and especially Donatello Brown earned their practice squad spots with big performances. This was also another big week for Geronimo Allison and Taysom Hill (single tear) and a bounce back week for Jason Spriggs. As always, a full breakdown of how I grade is below. Enjoy this week’s grades!

Top 5 Offensive Players

Geronimo Allison +2.2
Aaron Jones +1.4
Taysom Hill +1.15
Devante Mays +0.8
Jason Spriggs +0.8

Bottom 5 Offensive Players

Geoff Gray -1.3
Adam Pankey -0.8
Malachi Dupre -0.75
Kofi Amichia -0.35
Brett Hundley -0.35

Top 5 Defensive Players

Donatello Brown +1.2
Christian Ringo +0.95
Reggie Gilbert +0.7
Derrick Mathews +0.7|
Quinten Rollins +0.4

Bottom 5 Defensive Players

Josh Hawkins -0.55
Cody Heiman -0.45
Josh Jones -0.35
Brian Price -0.35
David Talley -0.35

Quarterback

Taysom Hill did everything he could this preseason to try and lock up a roster spot but at the end of the day Green Bay didn’t see enough to keep him around. Green Bay had to feel that by cutting both Hill and Callahan they would for sure get one back to the practice squad—they were right. I’ve seen a lot of people say Brett Hundley could start in the league and Green Bay would be wise to trade him for a high pick. While I absolutely believe he would QB1 in New York or San Francisco, he hasn’t played up to starter level this preseason and seems destined for a role as a solid, serviceable, backup quarterback. Still not bad for a late 5th round pick.

T. Hill +1.15
J. Callahan +0.1
B. Hundley -0.35
A. Rodgers – DNP

Running Back

This was a coming out party for the running backs as we got glimpses of what all three rookie running backs could do. Aaron Jones has special vision and an innate ability to always find extra yards. I’ve liked what I’ve seen out of the young backs and look for all three to contribute as the season rolls along.

A. Jones +1.15
D. Mays +0.8
J. Williams +0.75
K. Phillips +0.1
A. Ripkowski +0.1
J. Kerridge – DNP
T. Montgomery – DNP

Wide Receiver

I can’t help but wonder if Green Bay didn’t do themselves and these young receivers a disservice by simply having too many solid young receivers on the roster. There really wasn’t enough playing time to go around for guys like McCaffrey, Clark, Crockett, Davis, Janis, Yancey and Dupre to prove themselves. At the end of preseason Green Bay ended up with the two receivers they knew the most about, Janis and Davis, making the roster.

P.S. Allison is going to be a stud.

G. Allison +2.2
M. McCaffrey +0.15
T. Davis +0.1
M. Clark +0.0
M. Crockett +0.0
D. Yancey -0.1
J. Janis -0.15
M. Dupre -0.75
D. Adams – DNP
R. Cobb – DNP
J. Nelson – DNP

Tight End

Aaron Peck had a nice touchdown grab but didn’t show enough in the preseason to make the practice squad. Neither Byrd nor Peck ever threatened for any type of roster spot.

A. Peck +0.3
E. Byrd +0.2
R. Rodgers +0.0
L. Kendricks -0.2
M. Bennett – DNP

Offensive Line

This was a really nice bounce back game from Jason Spriggs. Make no mistake he benefited from lesser competition but it was a really solid outing nonetheless. I’d go into more depth on the offensive line but Michelle had a fantastic article this week that you should read instead (see below).

J. Spriggs +0.8
R. Leff +0.4
T. Evans -0.05
J. McCray -0.2
K. Murphy -0.25
K. Amichia -0.35
A. Pankey -0.8
G. Gray -1.3
D. Bakhtiari – DNP
D. Barclay – DNP
B. Bulaga – DNP
J. Evans – DNP
C. Linsley – DNP
L. Patrick – DNP
L. Taylor – DNP

More on the offensive line from Michelle: https://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/green-and-bold-packers-o-line-on-the-brink-of-disaster-215?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CheeseheadTv+%28Cheesehead+TV%29

Defensive Line

It’s hard not to feel for Christian Ringo and I’m really glad he got picked up to an active roster by the Bengals. Simply put he deserved to make an active roster. Ringo graded +0.65 (+3.7 overall) or better in all four preseason games and showed quickness and power when rushing the passer. I was most impressed with his improvement in run defense. Green Bay would have been better off cutting Francois than Ringo in my opinion.

C. Ringo +0.95
C. Heurtelou +0.35
R. Jean Francois +0.1
I. Lunsford -0.05
B. Price -0.35
M. Adams – DNP
K. Clark – DNP
M. Daniels – DNP
D. Lowry – DNP

Edge

All week I fought the narrative that Reggie Gilbert should have made the team instead of Kyler Fackrell. To me it came down to upside and Fackrell has more. Then I watched the final tape on this game and I’m no longer willing to fight the Fackrell fight. Gilbert was better in all but week one and graded +1.4 better than Fackrell over the course of the preseason. Even more importantly, Gilbert was getting better every week while Fackrell was, at best, staying stagnant.

R. Gilbert +0.7
K. Fackrell -0.2
J. Calvin -0.25
J. Letuligasenoa +0.0
V. Biegel – DNP
J. Elliott – DNP
C. Matthews – DNP
N. Perry – DNP

Linebacker

Mathews earned his practice squad spot this week and really flashed in run defense. There’s a quickness that Mathews has the ability to play with that stands out and while he hasn’t put everything together yet, when he does he could be a contributor on the active roster.

D. Mathews +0.7
J. Ryan +0.3
B. Martinez +0.0
D. Talley -0.35
C. Heiman -0.45
J. Thomas – DNP
J. Tripp – DNP

Cornerback

This was a really nice outing from Donatello Brown and I can’t help but wonder if he was 21 instead of 26 if he wouldn’t have been considered a much better prospect and made the team instead of Pipkins. That said, Pipkins was deserving overall and it’s great to get Brown back on the practice squad. Gunter continued to shine this preseason.

D. Brown +1.2
Q. Rollins +0.4
L. Gunter +0.35
D. Randall +0.1
D. Holmes +0.05
D. House +0.0
R. Pringle +0.0
L. Pipkins -0.1
J. Hawkins -0.55
D. Goodson – DNP
K. King – DNP

More on Lenzy Pipkins from Zach: https://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/surprise-roster-addition-lenzy-pipkins-hoping-to-be-more-than-just-a-surprise-141

Safety

We better get ready to see five safeties active on game days because Marwin Evans needs to have a roll on this team. All five safeties show so much potential and even Whitehead is an NFL caliber who will now reside on the practice squad.

M. Evans +0.35
K. Brice +0.1
A. Taylor +0.1
J. Jones -0.35
M. Burnett – DNP
Clinton-Dix – DNP
J. Whitehead – DNP

Here you can find a running list of how all players have graded throughout the entirety of the preseason: https://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/grading-the-pack-preseason-grades-total-458

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.
  • Preseason does not have All-22 film which makes this exercise even more challenging than usual
  • Bigger plays in the game such as a 4th and 1 or a two-point conversion are weighted higher than say a normal 1st and 10 play to start the game.
  • Lastly, the grades do not necessarily reflect who the best players are on an overall basis. As an example, Morgan Burnett may grade almost two full points below Jermaine Whitehead. Does this mean that Whitehead is the superior player to Burnett? No. It means that given the opportunities each player was given, Whitehead performed at a higher level for this individual game.

Please feel free to ask questions or comment below!

__________________________

Andy is a graduate of UW-Oshkosh and owns & operates the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Andy has taken multiple courses in NFL scouting and is an Editor for Packer Report. Andy grew up in Green Bay and is a lifelong season ticket holder - follow him on Twitter @AndyHermanNFL!

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Comments (8)

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Denver's picture

September 07, 2017 at 08:41 pm

Great stuff...will be even more interesting how the starters fare now that the real games are about to begin. Edge, LB, and CB especially.

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GatorJason's picture

September 07, 2017 at 11:22 pm

So Gunter gets a sack, TFL, a pass defensed and an interception but his rating is only +0.35. I would have thought he would score higher considering it was one of his best games.

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AndyHerman's picture

September 08, 2017 at 08:32 am

Jason,

Great question. If you look at the two plays Gunter made, he was unblocked on the sack and looked like the intended WR on the INT. Had he beaten an OT or RB for the sack or jumped in front of a receiver to grab the INT he would have graded significantly better. He certainly earned positive grades on those two plays but it wasn't anything over the top. Gunter had a really nice preseason though and finished it off with a strong performance in week 4.

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GatorJason's picture

September 08, 2017 at 06:10 pm

Sun Tzu said the most satisfying victory is when an opponent concedes without a fight. In your scoring scheme, it would be "no blood, no achievement". If Gunter disguised his blitz and the OL was completely caught by surprise, Sun Tzu would have given him a higher score than if he climbed over the top of OL to tackle the QB.

On the interception, Gunter played passing lane and caught an errant pass. He did his job. Belichick would have been proud and the interception his just reward.

Do you give credit for CBs who are not thrown at because their coverage is too good? Stat line may say nothing happened because all the throws went to a weaker cover guy yet the guy who created the "no fly zone" dominated the game.

Earned grades have more relevant meaning if based on true, objective measures of performance. E.g. CBs measures could be % pass completion against, TD allowed, yards receiving allowed, YAC allowed, QB rating when thrown against. Grades have higher credibility when objective measures are used as the basis rather than subjective style parameters applied on top of simple outcomes.

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flackcatcher's picture

September 08, 2017 at 01:49 am

I have no problem with these grades. (including Gunter) As long as it is grading within the context of the game played. Nicely done Andrew.

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Turophile's picture

September 08, 2017 at 05:14 pm

Agree with just about everything you say, Andrew.

Don't get discouraged if there aren't a huge number of comments each week - how many times can you say 'great work'. Your grades will be looked over by many, many fans. Did the time of entry, of players into game 4, give you any clues to the cutdown, before it happened ?

I get the over-abundance of wide receivers, because later in the draft you take guys with potential and hope to see it developed - if WR is where the best potential is, that's who you draft, and you let them sort things out in camp.

What I did find disappointing with that group was keeping the 10th O lineman over a 6th receiver (7th when Allison comes back week 2). I didn't like losing McCaffrey. Equally, I'd have kept QB Hill on the 53 in preference, as well. It was pretty obvious Hill would be claimed, with so much demand for QBS, and it is highly likely the Packers lose Hundley and need a credible No.2 QB next year. You could have lived with an 8 man O line (starters + Spriggs, Murphy, and Patrick, who is out of concussion protocol). I don't see McCray being claimed on waivers.

Ringo was another guy that like you, I just didn't understand. Sure he doesn't have the length that Dial has, but for all his size, Dial is fairly, well meh. I'd have liked a bolder move, if they liked Dial a lot, replace a vet with a vet, Dial for RJF. Ringo is young, ascending, keeps showing up in games - the eye test says Ringo is bigger now than his listed weight of just under 300lb.

To summarise, I think that 8 O linemen + McCaffrey and Hill on offense is better; and Ringo instead of RJF (or just don't get Dial), would also serve the Packers better, in the long term.

I understand it is easy to criticise after the event, when the claims have come in and the players lost, but Ringo and McCaffrey and Hill being snapped up - well, none were any surprise.

I wanted to say we could have kept one less RB, but as your grades show, not to mention using our own mk.1 eyeball, they all look pretty good. Finally, I'm still on the fence with Gilbert vs Fackrell, I can live with either choice.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 08, 2017 at 06:54 am

These are great articles. I appreciate the time and effort it takes to write this. Thank you for your hard work!

The player that I'm very excited about is Aaron Jones. Like you said he has special vision. He sees the holes and hits them. He runs with power and runs through contact. The video on here he gains 6-7 yards after contact.

I hope we see more from Jones.

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RobinsonDavis's picture

September 09, 2017 at 08:08 am

Andrew....nice job!!! And, interesting comments regarding Gilbert and the WRs.

If you consider who was picked-up by other teams as a measure of your grades, Ringo, Price, Hill, & McCaffrey jump out. I like to look at which former Packers are signed by other teams as a potential mark of the relative strength the Packers may have at any position. Some of these players are not signed because of any performance measure, but because of physical attributes and potential Former Packers signed to other teams thus far are: Ringo, McCaffrey, Hill, Price, Tripp, Pringle, & Gray.
And Crockett has a tryout with the Bears.

Besides what we already knew about the depth of the WR, Safety, & QB positions, teams are picking up our some of our defensive cuts. Hope it is a good sign!! Find it interesting nobody has picked up Dupre as of yet.

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