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Grading the Pack - Week 13 (Offense & Defense)

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Grading the Pack - Week 13 (Offense & Defense)

Green Bay is in such a unique situation with their team at the moment. While the chances still seem slim, Green Bay remains in the playoff hunt and desperately needed a win against Tampa to keep those chances alive. At the same time, they are playing a ton of young players and really getting a great look at the future of their team.

Players like Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, Jason Spriggs, Kenny Clark, Kyler Fackrell, Blake Martinez, Josh Hawkins, Jermaine Whitehead and Josh Jones are all players acquired in the past two years that are getting a great deal of playing time. Add in Brett Hundley and you have a ton of young, inexperienced players rotating through the lineup.

This last week we saw the continued growth of Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones, a gutty performance by Kenny Clark, and improved performances from Josh Hawkins & Jermaine Whitehead. On the flip side Josh Jones, Brett Hundley, Jason Spriggs & Kyler Fackrell continued to struggle. Green Bay is going to need these young players to continue to step up in the weeks to come, even with the potential re-emergence of QB1, if Green Bay has any ideas of making it to the playoffs.

Top 3 Offensive Performances

Jamaal Williams +1.90
David Bakhtiari +1.50
Lane Taylor +1.15

Top 3 Defensive Performances

HaHa Clinton-Dix +1.05
Jake Ryan +0.85
Clay Matthews +0.65

Bottom 3 Offensive Performances

Brett Hundley -2.65
Jason Spriggs -1.80
Lance Kendricks -0.75

Bottom 3 Defensive Performances

Nick Perry -1.55
Blake Martinez -0.75
Ahmad Brooks -0.7

Quarterback

Brett Hundley -2.65

To me, there are two type of backup quarterbacks that you want on the team. The first is a developmental quarterback who is honing their craft and working to become an eventual NFL starter. The second is a veteran QB who is never going to be a top flight quarterback but one who can come in for a 6-8 week stretch and not outright lose you football games. These quarterbacks generally get the dreaded “game manager” moniker. Right now, Brett Hundley fits neither of these molds. Hindsight is of course 20/20 and at the time I agreed with the decision to make Hundley the number two quarterback, but Sunday was an example of a quarterback who couldn’t manage the game and almost single-handedly lost a very winnable football game. Hundley’s interception, his inability to hit a wide-open Geronimo Allison in the end zone, and his inability to read defenses pre-snap could have (and arguably should have) lost Green Bay the game on Sunday. The difference between winning and losing is so paper thin in these types of games that the miss to Allison alone could have been the difference. Hundley has to be better this week against Cleveland or Green Bay will lose to the 0-12 Browns.

Running Back

Jamaal Williams +1.9
Aaron Jones +1.0
Aaron Ripkowski -0.3

Through the first 15 weeks of the season (including preseason) I respected Jamaal Williams. I saw a running back who consistently ran hard and who always seemed prepared and ready to play. At the same time I was kind of bored by Jamaal Williams. Yes he ran hard but he ran without patience, lacked vision, and wasn’t making anyone miss in the open field. In general, he got what was there for him, ran hard to and through contact, and that was about it. For the first time this season, Sunday gave me a reason to be truly excited about Jamaal Williams. Williams did run with patience, he ran with vision, and for the first time he consistently was able to make people miss in the open field. I’m officially excited about the future of the running back position in Green Bay. Green Bay’s recipe for success the rest of the season should be to feed the ball to Williams and Jones as much as possible. Want proof? See Ben’s tweet below.

More on the Packers’ running backs from Zach: https://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/jamaal-williams-aaron-jones-fuel-packers-gifted-backfield-346

Wide Receiver

Geronimo Allison +0.9
Davante Adams +0.7
Trevor Davis +0.05
Jeff Janis +0.0
Jordy Nelson -0.25
Randall Cobb -0.65

I believe the time has come to begin using Geronimo Allison more often in the offense. There’s been a lot of back and forth recently about the usefulness and abilities of both Randall Cobb & Jordy Nelson. Let me start with my thoughts on both players. I believe both Cobb and Nelson still have a lot to give this football team and ultimately can help Green Bay win football games. That said, neither player is having a stellar year with or without Aaron Rodgers. Randall Cobb has always been at his best when the play breaks down (one of the best in football in my opinion) and Jordy’s biggest asset is his other-worldly timing and rhythm with Aaron Rodgers. It also should be noted just how good Jordy can be as a timing and possession receiver in the red zone. All of that said, neither player has been able to break open consistently within the scheme of the offense. Davante Adams consistently gets open and Geronimo Allison has shown signs in limited action as well. I’m not saying it’s time to bench either Cobb or Nelson, but rather I’d like to see some of their snaps go to the fresher, younger Allison. It’s also worth noting that Allison is probably Green Bay’s best run blocker on the team.

Tight End

Richard Rodgers -0.25
Lance Kendricks -0.75

Another week, same story. I should note here that Richard Rodgers had some really nice plays in the run game on Sunday but it’s just so hard to get excited when the best you get in a 60 minute game from your tight ends is a couple of nice run blocks. I’m fully on board with Green Bay pulling a 1999 cornerback draft (Edwards, Vinson, McKenzie) or a 2017 running back draft (Williams, Jones, Mays) and just rebuilding the entire tight end depth chart from scratch.

Offensive Line

David Bakhtiari +1.5
Lane Taylor +1.15
Jahri Evans +0.35
Corey Linsley +0.1
Ulrick John -0.25
Jason Spriggs -1.8

Here’s the good news on Jason Spriggs. In three weeks alone he’s been upgraded from downright awful to simply frustrating. At least in the past two games Spriggs has shown true signs of being able to hold up in the pass game and actually put some really nice plays together in the run game. The newly frustrating aspect is that he shows the capability but just has way too many mental lapses. For those who watched his college tape, you know this isn’t new for him. A -1.8 grade isn’t exciting, but it’s still better than a couple weeks ago and any improvement is worth noting. Bakhtiari and Taylor both had stellar performances and were integral in opening holes for Jamaal Williams. Linsley and Evans has some hiccups but overall also performed well. Jamaal Williams was the MVP this week but the offensive line deserves a ton of the credit.

Defensive Line

Kenny Clark +0.35
Dean Lowry +0.15
Mike Daniels +0.0
Quinton Dial -0.05

So the NFL deemed Dean Lowry as the NFC defensive player of the week while I have him as only the ninth best defensive player on the Packers. I probably have some explaining to do…. First of all, Dean Lowry played a really nice game on Sunday. He actually had two or three plays that I enjoyed quite a bit more than even his interception or his sack. Let’s not kid ourselves though, when the NFL is giving defensive player of the week honors they aren’t basing it off of film study. The reason Lowry is player of the week is due to his touchdown and his sack. Fortunately for the Packers but unfortunately for Lowry’s grade, he actually didn’t do much on either of those plays. On the interception he got beat clean by the offensive tackle. He was well behind the play and in no position whatsoever to make a play on the quarterback. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred that’s a negative grade. In this situation Kenny Clark and Jake Ryan made nice plays, the ball popped into Lowry’s arms and he took it untouched and untroubled for a touchdown. A hell of a play for the defense? Absolutely. A big grade for Lowry? Unfortunately not. The same goes for the sack. On Lowry’s lone sack of the day he was unblocked. Sure he did a nice job coming in under control and bringing Winston down but that’s a play every linemen in the league should make. It certainly graded out positively, but it wasn’t a big grade like a lot of sacks can be. So while Lowry unquestionably had a nice day at the office, he didn’t garner a huge grade overall.

Edge

Clay Matthews +0.65
Kyler Fackrell -0.55
Ahmad Brooks -0.7
Nick Perry -1.55

Green Bay was probably very lucky that they were able to get Clay Matthews back this past week because without Clay nobody on the edge showed that they could get to the quarterback with any consistency. It was fairly obvious this past week that Nick Perry just wasn’t himself. He’s had his lowest grades of the season the past few weeks and just doesn’t seem to have the speed, power, or bend to get to the quarterback. While he’s questionable for this week it might be time to set him down for a bit until he’s closer to 100%.

Linebacker

Jake Ryan +0.85
Joe Thomas -0.05
Blake Martinez -0.75

I'm not sure which grade people will be more mad at me for, Lowry's or Martinez's. Blake had some really, really big plays in this game but he wasn't consistent. He really had trouble getting off blocks and struggled in the pass game. The play below is a great example of what he brings to the table and some of his big plays are becoming flashy; this is a great sign as Green Bay needs more playmakers. I just want to see Martinez become more consistent down by down and work on getting off blocks and exploding to the ball carrier. P.S. Jake Ryan had an awesome game.

Cornerback

Davon House +0.5
Damarious Randall +0.3
Josh Hawkins +0.25

While it wasn’t sexy, this was one of the better overall performances by the cornerback group this season. All three corners graded out positively and were able to keep Evans, Jackson and company in check throughout most of the game. It would have been great to see Hawkins make the interception when he had the opportunity but overall this was a much better performance from him. Hawkins seemed to play with a bit more confidence and hopefully this is a sign that things are slowing down for him and better play is on the horizon. Green Bay will be counting on him greatly this coming week with House and King out.

Safety

HaHa Clinton-Dix +1.05
Morgan Burnett +0.5
Jermaine Whitehead +0.0
Josh Jones -0.45

What a turnaround it was this week for HaHa Clinton-Dix. I’m not sure if he had some extra motivation or if Green Bay gave him more autonomy this week but HaHa was flying around the field with much more freedom against Tampa Bay. The result was a more aggressive Clinton-Dix and a much better performance overall. The other noteworthy item here was the emergence of Jermaine Whitehead. Not only did Whitehead overtake Marwin Evans as the teams’ fourth safety, he also played ahead of Josh Hawkins and played quite heavily in the slot against Tampa. It will be interesting if this is something that continues as the season progresses. Whitehead did give up the touchdown but played well outside of that one play.

To find an updated, running total of the grades throughout the season, click here: https://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/grading-the-pack-regular-season-totals-454

Note: In these articles I often add tweets from Ben Fennell, Zach Kruse & Dusty Evely. All have been gracious enough to allow me to do so and are phenomenal follows. Please make sure you are supporting and following each of them! Thank you!

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.
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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's Phantom Downvoter's picture

Great stuff, Andrew. Thanks!!

nostradanus's picture

Great job on this as always Andrew, you efforts are appreciated more than you know

HankScorpio's picture

Interesting observations about Geronimo Allison. It sure would be a positive development for the team if he can make a jump. There is a lot of uncertainty at the WR position that needs to get resolved in the offseason. It would be a nice first step in getting it resolved.

nigrivasilayesrej's picture

These are the best weekly articles going right now. Nice job.

croatpackfan's picture

Thank you Andrew. Your articles quickly become irreplaceable.

I especially like that I can check what was my impression on some players and compare that to what was really performance... Very instructive and enlarge joy of watching games...

Bret Iverson's picture

Great Breakdown! It seems some players have read some posts or looked at there own performances and have worked to improve. Ryan has gotten better since the Lions game. Martinez needs to get off blocks and cover better. Brooks needs a big game this week. A good solid game as a team will go along ways if Aaron Rogers returns.

Slim11's picture

I like the continuing analysis. Keep up the good work!

On Allison's being so wide open...at 61 years old I think I could have made that throw. It's awfully hard for anyone with a halfway decent arm to miss Allison on that play.

Turophile's picture

Very interesting comments on Allison and Lowry. Great job as always, Andrew.

flackcatcher's picture

Disagree on Perry, Allison, and Spriggs Andrew. Perry had constant double teams and Tampa always had a TE or FB chipping or cracking back. Perry held the edge and beat the double to cave the pocket. may be his best game of the year. Allison was a gameflow decision by the OC Bennett when Hundley proved so inaccurate. Not Allison's fault, that just the way it is lacking QB 1. This is the game where Spriggs body caught up to to his mind. The number of adjustments Spriggs made in mid snap during the game was quite impressive. That he has meshed so quickly with the starting unit, says volumes about both his mental prep, and the coaching it takes to get there. He is no longer a minus for this team. As always, an excellent job and well done to you Andrew and your fellow football video watchers.

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