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Grading the Pack - Week 2 (Defense)

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Grading the Pack - Week 2 (Defense)

After a stellar week one performance, Green Bay’s defense quickly came back to earth at the hands of Matt Ryan and Atlanta’s explosive offense. I graded the defense first this week because I was really interested to see just how the defense graded out as a whole after what seemed like a fairly significant beat down on Sunday Night Football. The results, in many cases, proved my initial theories correct: Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall weren’t up to the task at corner, Kevin King was the team’s biggest bright spot and the defensive line was severely limited by the loss of Mike Daniels.

On the flip side, the defense didn’t grade out quite as poorly as I was expecting. In fact if you add all the grades together, it ends in a net positive. I believe the biggest reason for this was Atlanta taking their foot off the gas in the second half. In fact, Dean Lowry and Kenny Clark specifically would have graded out much lower had it not been for some run stops on obvious run downs late in the game.

Lastly, there were times where the players graded out fine on a play, but they were simply not put in a position to succeed with the play call. There were obvious run downs and heavy formations in which Morgan Burnett was in at linebacker and Green Bay was in its Nitro defense. Green Bay has to do a better job of matching up with opposing defenses, rather than trying to keep the same 11 on the field regardless of the opposing team’s formation.

Top 3 Performers

Clay Matthews +1.65
Kevin King +1.65
Nick Perry +0.85

Bottom 3 Performers

Kentrell Brice -1.35
Damarious Randall -1.30
Quinten Rollins -1.30

Defensive Line

Mike Daniels -0.1
Dean Lowry -0.15
Kenny Clark -0.2
Quinton Dial -0.35

As mentioned above, the defensive line really missed Mike Daniels. There was a lack of penetration on the inside and Green Bay doesn’t have a pass rusher on the interior that can come close to Daniels’ production. Lowry and Clark both ended up with ok grades but both were buoyed by late game run defense. If Daniels remains out, Clark & Lowry need to take a big step up and start getting some penetration inside.


Clay Matthews +1.65
Nick Perry +0.85
Kyler Fackrell -0.05

The early returns on Clay Matthews are very promising. It’s too early to begin celebrating just yet since Matthews usually wears as the season goes on, but he’s been impressive so far. Matthews was the star of the defense on Sunday and continued to play hard throughout the game. Green Bay will need his production with Daniels & Perry banged up.


Morgan Burnett +0.5
Jake Ryan +0.5
Joe Thomas +0.4
Blake Martinez -0.25

Burnett had a really nice pass break up covering Julio Jones on a big third down and Joe Thomas worked nicely on a stunt to get to the quarterback but overall this group was just average. There were plays to be made in the run game and the linebacking corps as a whole needs to find a way to be more aggressive, shoot gaps and get TFL’s.  

More on Clay Matthews from Zach:


Kevin King +1.65
Josh Hawkins +0.0
Davon House -0.1
Quinten Rollins -1.3
Damarious Randall -1.3

Was a star born on Sunday night? Not yet, but this was a huge step in the right direction for Kevin King. It’s too much to ask of him to be a true number one corner at this stage of his career but there’s absolutely zero doubt at this point that he’s the most talented corner on the team. It’s time to let King start and lineup against the NFL’s best and see what he can do. You won’t often see me jump to conclusions this early in the season, but after doing full reviews on Rollins & Randall this offseason, I feel more than comfortable saying that they should not be starting cornerbacks in the NFL. House and King need to be the starters and it might already be time to see what Hawkins or Pipkins can do in the slot.

For Randall’s offseason scouting report:

For Rollins’ offseason scouting report:


Josh Jones +0.8
HaHa Clinton-Dix -0.3
Kentrell Brice -1.35

If it weren’t for Kevin King, we’d probably be talking much more about Josh Jones this week. In his first significant action of the regular season, Jones looked the part of a starting NFL safety. Jones will get over-aggressive at times but he has Pro Bowl level talent that explodes off the tape. It sounds like he has a chance to start this week with Brice’s injury. Either way, he will be a very big piece of Green Bay’s future in the defensive backfield.

I understand unequivocally that this was a very bad look for the defense this week but when I watched the tape and saw the performances of Kevin King and Josh Jones I at least had a positive to take away from the game. Remember that this is an organization that generally has rookies develop slowly over time and breakout later in their careers. If King and Jones find success this quickly they both could be very special players. On the flip side, Green Bay has some serious question marks at cornerback, they need to do a better job of matching up personnel and they need to get Perry and Daniels healthy as quick as humanely possible.

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 Herman is an avid Packers fan and season ticket holder. He has graduated from National Football Post's and Sports Management Worldwide's NFL Scouting courses and is the owner of the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Find him on Twitter @sconniesports.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (17) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

badaxed's picture

"Stop. Stop creating some narrative that everyone knows football better than somebody else. Your eyeballs tell the story. The defensive backs suck. That's my stat."

Andy Herman's picture

Well played sir.

KenEllis's picture

Great to hear such positivity about the 2017 first and second round picks King and Jones.

Seems like the same things were being said about the 2015 first and second round picks Randall and Rollins during their rookie years. Now, the author concludes these two are clearly not worthy of starting positions in the NFL.

Got to hope King & Jones are the real deal rather than busts like Randall & Rollins.

stockholder's picture

If Randall and Rollins were busts, Gunter would not have been let go. Not many can cover Julio Jones etc. As long as they keep their speed. Randall and Rollins will be your next Shields and Williams, in this defense someplace.

BPEARSON21's picture

Lol... yikes.

GBPDAN1's picture

It's becoming clear that our only hope to having a much needed shutdown, or, semi-shutdown corner is King. Most certainly not Rollins, Randall or House. The best we can hope for any of them would be adequate, But not against top dog receivers. I see Fackrell graded bad again. Perry and Daniels are out. Holy Wah!

rdent's picture

Excuse me!

rdent's picture

To whoever gave my post a dislike, I didn't write the article you MORON!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Do you have a narrative going about Fackrell? -0.05 is unspectacular, very neutral grade, but it isn't bad. But keep repeating it anyway.

EDIT: We could talk about the ten players who graded worse than Fackrell did: Brice at -1.35, R&R at -1.3, Dial at -.35, Dix at -.3, Martinez at -.25, Clark at -.2, Lowry at -.15, Daniels and House at -0.1. Or, we could talk about the mere 6 players who got positive grades: Josh Jones, King, Burnett, Thomas, CM3 and Perry. (One, Hawkins, got a neutral grade of zero after playing just one snap.)

Bearmeat's picture

Great stuff. Thanks, Andy.

The defense has the pieces to be above average. You said it all above: Perry and Daniels must get healthy. J Jones and King need to play. Rollins and Randall are looking like busts.

Turophile's picture

Yep, there is talent on the defense now. I was surprised that Daniels was missed as much as he was, not because he isn't a great player, he is, but because I thought Clark and Lowry with help from the others would be good enough to pick up the slack.

Maybe in another half a season of play they could have covered for Daniels, but they aren't quite there yet. The Packers already have a good front three (with Daniels). If Adams turns out as good (by seasons end) rotating in there, as I expect , that could be a unit that gets pressure on the QB with only 4 guys rushing overall (including linebackers). Dom Capers would love that. I found it interesting that Andrew put some blame on Dom for being unimaginative. Have to watch that going forward.

On the Randall and Rollins thing. Randall looks disappointing (though he is more an athlete than Rollins). I still have more hope though, for Rollins, as he was so green when he was drafted. I have been set for months that WR/OLB are the first two picks (either way around) next draft. Now I am starting to think that another corner just might be in the mix - apologies for a little negativity there.

Thanks as always Andrew.

BPEARSON21's picture

^^Perfectly encapsulates the Green Bay Packers.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I posted about the 3rd and goal at the one on the opening drive and us being in nickel/dime for it. Here, we have Daniels and Clark as DL, Perry and CM3 as OLBs, Martinez at ILB, and 6 Safeties/CBs on the field. It is nickel if you count Burnett as an actual ILB, or Dime if you think of him as a DB. Crickets on this site. Daniels, Clark, Dial and Lowry are all still available to play, but we didn't sub.

Packer Fan's picture

My only comment on King regarding the crossing route run by Julius Jones. Did you see King close on Jones to deflect the ball away? Neither Gunter, Randall or Rollins had that closing ability. Just hope that King develops as the year progresses.

billybobton's picture

you make a great point on King and I agree you are correct on Rollins but you are dead wrong on Randall. randall has the speed and quickness to make that play

but he is always out of position, refuses to be close due the chance of physical contact, that is why he is effective on balls bouncing off receivers and getting picks........kind of the reverse dropvante, if you refuse to cover then you are in position to make a play when the WR kicks the ball up or there is a terrible pass

and that works, check his grades from week one where he was TERRIBLE in bold dark face quotes but because Wilson is not good and because wilson was running for his life the play results ended up positive .... but positive without ANY attribute to Randall

DD's picture

I said it for how many years now, lack a true feared pass rusher, and DB'she are too slow to cover speed receivers. Capers defense is to complex; simple, aggressive team effort, and do your job! Capers way over thinks things. Guys are afraid of making mistakes. Why not press and take a chance, since the DB's get burned any way.

al bundy's picture

I hate go be negative all the time. Lots of great packer fans on this board. I've beaten pass d like a muel here the past three years.
This year i was hopeful that issue is solved. Either we have the players, or we dont but i for one am now blaming the capers nitro package that basicaly is saying to me, i have piss poor linebackers who cant cover for shit, no real pass rushers and a bunch of teds pics i have to play or he may loo bad.
If cincy looks good this week on offense we should have some idea where his team is going.

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