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Grading the Pack - Week 17 - Lions vs. Packers

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Grading the Pack - Week 17 - Lions vs. Packers

As ugly and miserable of a game as this was to watch live, it may have been even uglier and more miserable to watch a second time through. Green Bay’s 31-0 loss at home at the hands of the Lions was the fitting end to a disappointing season. At no point in Sunday’s game did Green Bay look like they were able to mount any sort of attack against the team that finished worst in the division.

Of course injuries played a major part. Aaron Rodgers (who never should have been playing in the first place) was injured early, and they were without the majority of their star players including Davante Adams, Kenny Clark, Jaire Alexander, and Mike Daniels. They would then go on to lose David Bakhtiari at halftime.

What was left was a shell of a team that couldn’t accomplish much of anything on offense or defense. The highlight of the game was Kyler Fackrell notching a sack to put him in double-digits for the season.

If you’re looking for bright spots, I’ll give you two. The first was the play of Bryan Bulaga over the last two weeks of the season. Over those two weeks he looked like himself, a top 15 right tackle, and a player who has a ton of value on this team. If Bulaga can get himself healthy and play like he has these past two weeks, Green Bay won’t have to overhaul the right side of their offensive line after all.

The other bright spot was Alex Light. Light entered in the second half and played 23 snaps against the Lions but didn’t look overmatched. He will need to do his best to add functional strength in the offseason, but for an undrafted rookie his footwork and awareness were above where you would expect. Green Bay was in pass-only mode in the second half so we didn’t get to see how he would hold up as a run blocker, but as a pass-protector he looked more than capable.

Here were the rest of the grades for Sunday’s game:

Top 3 Offensive Players

Bryan Bulaga +1.05
Corey Linsley +0.90
Lane Taylor +0.60

Top 3 Defensive Players

Kyler Fackrell +0.85
Antonio Morrison +0.65
Reggie Gilbert +0.20

Bottom 3 Offensive Players

DeShone Kizer -2.10
Jimmy Graham -1.05
Justin McCray -1.05

Bottom 3 Defensive Players

Kentrell Brice -0.95
Josh Jackson -0.85
Tony Brown -0.70

Quarterback

Aaron Rodgers -0.20
DeShone Kizer -2.10

Rodgers and the offense did nothing early before he came out of the game with his concussion.

DeShone Kizer took over and didn’t look near ready to run an NFL offense. He had a couple of tantalizing throws, but two awful decisions that both should have led to turnovers (one did). He also had a few throws where his receiver was open and he threw well behind his intended receiver. Green Bay will have to take a serious look at the backup quarterback position this offseason because Kizer hasn’t developed at all in his limited playing time in 2018.

Running Back / Fullback

Kapri Bibbs +0.00
Dan Vitale +0.00
Jamaal Williams -0.20

There’s not much to go over here, Green Bay only handed the ball off nine times with Williams receiving eight of those carries. Williams averaged 0.5 yards per carry but the offensive line in front of him did him no favors. Bibbs and Vitale both played limited snaps.

Wide Receiver

Marquez Valdes-Scantling +0.05
Allen Lazard +0.05
J’Mon Moore -0.45
Randall Cobb -0.55
Jake Kumerow -0.85

There were a lot of positive signs by MVS this week and his ability to scream by Darius Slay, one of the better and faster corners in the league, was one of those examples. He also moved the chains on a couple occasions including a contested catch that he deserves a lot of credit for making. That said, MVS needs to learn the nuances of playing receiver in the NFL. Understandably, he is far from a finished product. But there are way too many plays where he tips where his routes are going and corners can shut him down easily. He was the best receiver on the day for Green Bay, though.

Randall Cobb is no longer the answer in the slot. He struggles to gain any true separation and his primary value is only on plays that breakdown where he can wiggle free well after the quarterback should have already thrown the football. Green Bay would be wise to go in a different direction in the slot in 2019.

Jake Kumerow was also a bit of a disappointment. He is also a step slow and he doesn’t have the athleticism or the pure route running ability to consistently threaten a defense.

Tight End

Marcedes Lewis -0.20
Lance Kendricks -0.35
Robert Tonyan -0.50
Jimmy Graham -1.05

Graham, Tonyan, and Kendricks all had brutal drops in this game and nobody stood out as a run blocker. The tight end position was a major disappointment and nobody was able to step up and provide much value. Jimmy Graham was never a great blocker but the fact he has been so abysmal in the red zone and no longer has any ability to generate yards after the catch make him a very expensive player with very limited use.

Offensive Line

Bryan Bulaga +1.05
Corey Linsley +0.90
Lane Taylor +0.60
Alex Light +0.25
Lucas Patrick -0.10
David Bakhtiari -0.30
Justin McCray -1.05

As mentioned the few bright sides for this team were on the offensive line. However, there should be a pretty sizeable caveat here. When the game started and Green Bay was trying to work through their game-plan the line really struggled. When asked to run block the line as a whole was terrible. It wasn’t until the second half when Green Bay went pass only and Detroit went very vanilla with their pass defense that the line settled in. Detroit wasn’t exactly blessed with any high-end pass rushers either which made the line’s job easier. Still, the performances from Bulaga, Linsley, Taylor, and Light were at least commendable in comparison to the rest of the offense.

Defensive Line

Tyler Lancaster +0.00
Fadol Brown +0.00
Dean Lowry -0.05
Montravius Adams -0.35
James Looney -0.55

Tyler Lancaster deserves a bit more credit than his grades the past few weeks. As a run defender he’s really a force that opposing offenses struggle to move. Green Bay found themselves a really nice player here. Unfortunately due to lack of depth Green Bay needed to play him a lot more on all downs and he doesn’t have a ton of use as a pure pass rusher. If Green Bay can limit Lancaster to 20-ish snaps on early downs he has the opportunity to be a really nice chess piece for the defense.

While James Looney struggled it wasn’t totally his fault. He had to come in when Detroit was going run heavy and he is not the type of player who is going to eat blocks. Looney is a pure pass rushing defensive tackle who came into a game where the opposing team wasn’t passing much. He had one play where his movement jumped off the tape. I’m intrigued by his upside as a pass-rusher.

Edge

Kyler Fackrell +0.85
Reggie Gilbert +0.20
Clay Matthews -0.65

The top edge defender on the year put together another solid game to top off his really solid season. Fackrell wasn’t fantastic this year but he was consistent and played well in all phases. He continued to get better as the year went on.

If Clay Matthews did play his last game as a Packer on Sunday he will have appropriately played 52 snaps in his farewell performance. He will end the season as my lowest graded Packer on defense and 2nd lowest graded player overall.

Linebacker

Antonio Morrison +0.65
Oren Burks -0.05
Blake Martinez -0.25

Antonio Morrison isn’t too dissimilar to Tyler Lancaster. Put them on the field on run downs and they look like big-time players. Get them exposed on passing plays and they look like street free agents. Still, Morrison plays with passion and aggression and, like Lancaster, can be a major chess piece on early downs and obvious run plays for Green Bay. He consistently got better as he learned the defense and as the season went along.

Last year the player that I was lower on than most and I received some flack over was HaHa Clinton-Dix. I criticized HaHa for taking plays off, and ultimately not being a very good safety. I reiterated that this season and ultimately HaHa was jettisoned to Washington where by all accounts he has struggled mightily as well.

This year, that player for me was Blake Martinez. Yes he leads the league in tackles, has five sacks, and is a solid player. I’m not as down on Martinez as I was on HaHa and I think Martinez still has a roll on this team, but there are those that think he’s a high end starter or a near Pro-Bowl player and that is what I vehemently disagree with. He will end the season with an exactly neutral +0.00 grade for me and that’s about exactly what he is as a player. He’s there, he makes the plays that are there, but isn’t a playmaker and won’t add a ton of value overall. He’s looked a lot better in his career because of the play of Clark and Daniels in front of him.

Cornerback

Bashaud Breeland -0.30
Tony Brown -0.70
Josh Jackson -0.85

The corners struggled in this game but a lot of that was due to the complete lack of pressure up front. Josh Jackson gave up two touchdowns and has some major offseason of work ahead of him—he was pretty easily my lowest graded corner this season.

Tony Brown had his toughest game of the season. He missed a couple of tackles in the open field, something he’s usually very adept at, and also was burned for a touchdown if Stafford would have seen it. Overall an impressive rookie season for the undrafted free agent out of Alabama.

Safety

Tramon Williams +0.05
Josh Jones +0.00
Eddie Pleasant -0.20
Kentrell Brice -0.95

Not too much to note for the safeties other than Kentrell Brice missed a couple tackles in the open field and likely played his last game as a Packer. What started as a very promising rookie season has ended with back-to-back disappointing years.

Meanwhile Josh Jones played mostly at linebacker in this game but was exponentially better than he was a week ago. It was a solid bounce back performance after a tough outing for him.

That almost does it for grades this season. Please note in the next few days grades will be posted for the games against Arizona, Atlanta, and Chicago. Those games were while I was out and I will be posting the grades for each of those games in the next three days; please keep an eye out.

I will also be doing some end of the year breakdowns on the grades so keep an eye out for those as well. Thank you for following along again this season, hopefully next year’s grades will be much better! Please note the final grades below aren’t completely final yet for the offense. Defensive grades are done but I still have to finish and tabulate the grades for the offense against the Bears.

2018 Grades: https://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/grading-the-pack-2018-regular-season-totals-547

Lastly, a huge, huge thank you to those people on Twitter whose clips I have used besides my own this season, please make sure to go out and follow them. They include:

@benfennell_nfl
@rossuglem
@the_green_gold
@pttf_chalktalk
@dustyevely
@PackerSrcibe
@aaronnagler
@Zachkruse2

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 difficult 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.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (32) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Tarynfor12's picture

31-0 against the Lions in a game where so many believed that Rodgers playing because his teammates were and how it would be a momentum builder for next season. Not one player deserves a plus grade and a play here or there individually matters not because a play here or there is the least you'd expect in every game.

Skip greenBayless's picture

Nomentum is real. Stupidly played Rodgers and suffered a 31-0 defeat along with a concussion. Yeah, I bet these young players can't wait to build off that final game. Huge confidence builder for the team and it's fans going into next season.

fastmoving's picture

so you got your "stupid" wish and AR in the last game. why you still crying about it? hmmm, be careful what you wish for.

but at least everyone can see how proud you are of your smart Nomentum term. This is nearly as clever as our Kumerow stroke of a genius.….

can never have enough smart, positiv people…...

Skip greenBayless's picture

I got my wish? My wish was for Rodgers not to play the last two games because nothing good can happen and that's exactly what happened. Nomentum!! You wanted him to play at all costs Fastmoving. Who's the dummy? dummy.

FGS

BoCallahan's picture

Fastmoving, Dash emphatically screamed it from the rafters that AR should not be playing. He said it so much that it was getting a bit old. What he feared happened, AR played and got hurt in a meaningless game. I don’t agree with everything he says but he nailed this one right on the head. Give credit to whom credit is due.

Skip greenBayless's picture

Thank you BoCallahan for your honesty. I appreciate it and won't forget it .

Dash

BoCallahan's picture

Dash, I hope your prophecy regarding Boyle is just as accurate as it was concerning AR. By the way, do you know the punishment for a false prophet/prophecy?

Skip greenBayless's picture

BoCallahan, thanks again for the kind words. Always appreciate the few that recognize when someone says something and it comes true. For people like Fastmoving and Lare to blatantly lie is disgraceful. I still see Tim Boyle as the heir apparent to Mr. Rodgers in two more years. I see Kizer off this team next season. We're going to be just fine once we end the Rodgers era in two more years. As far as punishment for being wrong, I honestly don't know that Bo as I've never been wrong yet. No worries. RELAX. Two more years before we all reach The Boyleing Point.

Dash

Dr Mixer GED's picture

I think the false prophet gets Boyles.

BoCallahan's picture

I had to laugh, both times.

Dr Mixer GED's picture

I think the false prophet gets Boyles.

Gort's picture

I was one calling for AR to play, but my reasoning was because it's his job. Dash was definitely with those calling for him to sit.

"Nomentum" is a great term and it is even speeleed write?

Since '61's picture

Just give everyone a - 1.00 for the game and move on to 2019. We could give Crosby a 0.00 since he didn't need to make a kick for the entire game.

It seems like when we lose to the Lions we make sure to do it badly. 42-10 back on Turkey day in 2013. 31-0 to end this season and in 2017 we lost badly as well.

Hopefully with our new HC we can go back to beating the Lions consistently at least. Thanks, Since '61

dblbogey's picture

Yep, we've laid some eggs against the Lions. I remember one of Lombardi's great teams getting blown out in a Thanksgiving day game.

Guam's picture

Once again Andy, thank you for all of your hard work. I really look forward to this article every week and appreciate your football expertise.

Your grades confirm what I have come to believe about Cobb and Mathews - neither one should be retained next year. Cobb has never performed to his contact and is too often injured and unavailable. Mathews has lost his athletic edge and will be 33 next year. It is time to move on.

The dead money issue will be substantial with Graham, but it may also be time to move on from that experiment. I don't blame Gute for trying as we have needed a TE for years, but Graham has not worked out and like Mathews, Graham is old enough he is not getting the magic back.

HC is the hot issue right now and with good reason, but it is clear the Packers have a great deal of work to do in the talent department as well. Even a great head coach needs player talent to win.

jclombardi's picture

Again great work Andy showing a few bright spots in the loss. You have a great offseason. I look forward to seeing your great indepth analysis next season after long overdue changes at the Packers.

Lare's picture

Everyone has a right to their opinion. However, I disagree with your opinion Andy on Martinez.

Martinez is one of the leading tacklers in the NFL (two years in a row) and has more than twice as many tackles as any other player on the team (144 vs 66) this season. He also calls the defensive plays, played in every game, had 5 sacks, 3 passes defensed and 10 tackles for loss.

Is Martinez an All Pro? No, he may never be. But he does the job he's asked to do and I think the Packers defense would be much better off (both on and off the field) with more "neutral" players like him.

Not trying to be critical of the work you do (Lord knows there's enough negativity around here), but just stating that I disagree with you on Martinez.

splitpea1's picture

I agree with you about Martinez; if he doesn't make all those tackles, then who does? And the just the fact that he played in every game is impressive in itself, especially for this team.

Oppy's picture

I couldn't agree more about Martinez

I believe something that often gets lost in the mix is that you can't have a team of all "playmakers". Those big time play-makers have to gamble to make those big time plays. In order to afford players the opportunity to gamble and go after those big time plays, you absolutely must have other players on the field that are fundamental and assignment-sure down in and down out to hold down the fort. Martinez is one of those players, and his ability to just do the job reliably should allow other players around him the freedom to freelance a bit and sell out for the big plays.

Martinez is a solid football player.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

if the Packers are serious I'm doing something they should make a trade for Antonio Brown.

Gort's picture

No. 'Nuff said.

egbertsouse's picture

This series is the best thing on this site. Thanks.

I completely agree with your assessment of Martinez. He’s adequate but I can’t really see this Pro Bowl fuss his supporters are making. The same with Fackrell, he’s now become an adequate starter ( I thought he was a bust, so I’ll eat some crow) but put him on a team with a good defense and he’d be riding the pine.

Josh Jackson reminds me a lot of Quentin Rollins, a promising beginning but regressing every game. Hopefully, new coaching will benefit him.

dblbogey's picture

Hopefully they'll move him to safety and see if he can prosper there. He's just too slow at corner. Unfortunately, he's not a great tackler or heavy hitter, so even safety may be a problem for him.

Kb999's picture

Another great job Andy. Let's hope they get it right in this years draft & FA. This was tough to watch.

nostradanus's picture

Andy, glad you are healing!

Thank you for your hard work

I always look forward to it

NitschkeFan's picture

Andy thanks for the weekly posts. Always interesting and informative.

flackcatcher's picture

Great job Andy. Pretty much said all that needed to said.

Gort's picture

Ditto from me to Andy. Thank you!!

BoCallahan's picture

Andrew, you confirmed things that I was thinking and caused me to look closer at the play of others. I have noticed and appreciated the high motor of Morrison. I was glad to see you highlight it. I hope you were well compensated for the hours spent this season on this project. I’m looking forward to the totals. I enjoy reading the story that numbers tell.

croatpackfan's picture

Andrew, thank you for your effort. Your assessments are one of my favorite articles here, along with Al's "Confessions of a Polluted Mindset: A Packers Brain Drain" and Aaron Nagler's "Gut Reactions"...

I hope you'll continue this excellent piece of work..

ILPackerBacker's picture

the 3 top players on O were OL?

did you even watch the game? outside Kizer RUNNING FOR HIS LIFE what kind of run blocking? since Kizer was RUNNING FOR HIS LIFE and Rodgers was knocked out of the game how good was the pass protection?

Totally agree on Cobb and CM3, should have been gone.

Oppy's picture

"He had a couple of tantalizing throws, but two awful decisions that both should have led to turnovers (one did)." - Andrew Herman on DeShone Kizer

This is the exact analysis i've been throwing out there on Kizer's game since preseason week 3. While Kizer is young, he has an entire year of starting experience under his belt, and now has had an entire season to sit back and get his head into the pro game without the pressure to perform on the field. Still, he makes those horrible, horrible decisions. This kid wasn't an undrafted FA from a small school. I fear that Kizer is one of those guys who has a lot to like, but is missing something that makes him a viable NFL QB. The lapses of judgement are back breakers.

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