Grading the Pack - Week 4 - Bills vs. Packers

Coming into this week a lot of the talk on defense had been about the edge rushers and safeties. The edge rushers weren’t getting home with any level of consistency and the safety play had, at times, been borderline terrible. In the previous three games the edge rushers graded out at a combined score of -11.65. The only positive grades all year were a Kyler Fackrell +0.1 in week three and Reggie Gilbert with a +0.05 in week one.

The safeties meanwhile graded out as a total score of -5.40 with positive grades for Jermaine Whitehead in weeks one and two, and a positive grade for Kentrell Brice in week one. Overall those were the two areas of the team that needed the biggest improvement.

On Sunday, we got some glimpses of hope. The safeties graded out as a net +2.70, while the edge rushers graded out as +0.35 total. They aren’t huge scores, but they are steps in the right direction. Clay Matthews had a nice day at +0.90 and was active throughout the day, while Kyler Fackrell ended with a +0.75 after notching three sacks and forcing a holding penalty.

All in all it was a great day for the defense as only five players graded in the negative, two of which (Adams and Crawford) barely saw the field.

Top 3 Offensive Players

David Bakhtiari +2.05
Corey Linsley +2.05
Aaron Rodgers +2.00

Top 3 Defensive Players

Kentrell Brice +1.40
HaHa Clinton-Dix +1.30
Kenny Clark +1.15

Bottom 3 Offensive Players

Geronimo Allison -1.35
Marquez Valdes-Scantling -0.85
Byron Bell -0.50
J’Mon Moore -0.50

Bottom 3 Defensive Players

Nick Perry -1.00
Antonio Morrison -0.65
Reggie Gilbert -0.35

Quarterback

Aaron Rodgers +2.00

Aaron Rodgers would be the first to tell you this wasn’t one of his best performances. He was also literally the first to tell you that the offense as a whole didn’t perform well overall. There were a lot of positive performances in this game, Rodgers, Jones, Adams, Bakhtiari, Linsley and Taylor all played well; but it was inconsistencies as a whole that plagued the team. The receivers didn’t do Rodgers a ton of favors and had they played well Rodgers’ day would have looked and felt much better. Rodgers still had a solid grade because he made some big time throws and put them in a position to win. This was more about his playmakers not getting open and making plays when they needed to.

Running Back

Aaron Jones +1.80
Jamaal Williams +0.35
Ty Montgomery +0.30

It’s not a surprise here to see Jones grade so well. He consistently ran hard, made people miss, and showed off his playmaking ability just about every time he touched the ball. Nobody is asking the Packers to run Jones into the ground but him not being the featured back and touching the ball at a minimum of 15 times per game is borderline insane at this point.

Wide Receiver

Davante Adams +1.30
J’Mon Moore -0.50
MVS -0.85
Geronimo Allison -1.35

It was a rough day for the collective wide receiver group and especially for Geronimo Allison. Allison’s had trouble separating throughout the first few weeks but it really showed up in this game. When he did gain some separation he also struggled with drops and also had a fumble that luckily for him bounced out of bounds. Meanwhile MVS and J’Mon just aren’t quite ready to contribute on a consistent basis but if Adams, Allison, and Cobb are out this week, the rookies will need to learn on the fly. MVS did show what he can do when he can use his speed to separate from corners. We should see more of that going forward.

Tight End

Marcedes Lewis -0.20
Jimmy Graham -0.35
Lance Kendricks -0.45

None of the tight ends are exactly tearing it up right now, although Jimmy Graham hasn’t been targeted a ton and his negative grades really stem from poor run blocking. Marcedes Lewis has been a disappointment and not just because he hasn’t seen playing time. He’s been lackluster in all phases of the game and if he wants to play more he needs to play better. Green Bay needs to do a better job of getting Graham involved in the offense early and often.

Offensive Line

David Bakhtiari +2.05
Corey Linsley +2.05
Lane Taylor +1.30
Bryan Bulaga +0.70
Byron Bell -0.50

Bakhtiari continued his All-Pro season so far and Corey Linsley has been putting on a clinic at center. He doesn’t get nearly the recognition he deserves. Lane Taylor had some plays he ‘d love to have back but the good far outweighed the bad, and I’ll take a -0.50 grade out of Byron Bell every day of the week. He struggled early but once he settled down he was solid for the rest of the game.

Defensive Line

Kenny Clark +1.15
Dean Lowry +0.60
Mike Daniels +0.35
Montravius Adams -0.25

There’s not much more to say about Kenny Clark; you can basically put him down for a +1 grade almost every single week. His ability to eat double teams, disrupt the line of scrimmage, and get off of blocks is truly incredible to watch. He’s a beast up front and he helps out the linebackers a ton, too. Blake Martinez would have a significantly lower grade if Kenny Clark wasn’t on the roster. He’s at the point where not only is he a great player, but he’s also making the players around him better.

Edge Rusher

Clay Matthews +0.90
Kyler Fackrell +0.75
Reggie Gilbert -0.35
Nick Perry -1.00

Finally there were some signs of life from the edge rushers as Clay Matthews and Kyler Fackrell both had nice days. Reggie Gilbert continues to look overmatched and Nick Perry is only useful as a run defender on early downs at this point, but at least this was better.

As far as Kyler Fackrell’s day goes there are some asterisks. His forced holding penalty came one-on-one against a backup tight end, one of his sacks was him getting pancaked to the ground and was actually a negative grade, and the other two game in garbage time, with one of them coming against third string tackle Conor McDermott who really struggles in pass protection. It’s not to take away from him because he had a really good day, but it explains why he wasn’t a top graded player with three sacks and a forced holding penalty.

Linebacker

Blake Martinez +0.60
Korey Toomer +0.05
Oren Burks +0.00
James Crawford -0.10
Antonio Morrison -0.65

Honestly there was nothing really to write home about one way or another with the linebacker group. Overall it was a solid day. Oren Burks had a really nice play in coverage against Shady McCoy, and Blake Martinez started slow and played better as the game went along. Antonio Morrison shouldn’t be seeing the field much at this point; it’s time to get Burks his snaps.

Cornerback

Tramon Williams +0.60
Josh Jackson +0.30
Tony Brown +0.15
Jaire Alexander +0.10

Not a single defensive back graded in the negative this week which is a huge reason why Green Bay’s defense was so dominant and why Mike Pettine felt comfortable bringing so much pressure. Nobody was perfect, and there were definitely some communication issues and lapses, but the corner play is so ridiculously better than what it was a season ago.

Safety

Kentrell Brice +1.40
HaHa Clinton-Dix +1.30
Jermaine Whithead +0.00

I’ve been incredibly hard on HaHa Clinton-Dix and the last two weeks Kentrell Brice was my lowest graded player on defense; but that won’t be the case this week. If Green Bay gets this type of safety play from HaHa and Brice consistently it changes the entire face of the defense. Both players were aggressive, they tackled well, and they played far better in coverage than what they showed through the first three weeks of the season. Yes it was Josh Allen and Buffalo but Brice and HaHa were consistently in the right spots and it was a really impressive performance from the safety group as a whole.

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

Friday Film Room

Here are the players we will focus on during the Friday Film Room:

Kyler Fackrell +0.75
HaHa Clinton-Dix+1.30
Aaron Jones +1.80
Jamaal Williams +0.35
David Bakhtiari +2.05

Listen to the Friday Film Room 9:45am every Friday at http://www.thefan1075.com/

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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Comments (26)

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 05, 2018 at 10:03 am

Jones is special! Plain and simple.

He routinely turns what is a loss for most RB's into a gain. That clip of Jones spinning away from 2 tacklers which at least would have went for no gain, and ended up for 4 yards is the difference between a good RB and a great one. He can make people miss and create his own yards.

Jones has elite vision. He has the ability to make defenders miss. He has balance. He runs with power, and has the quickness/burst to accelerate.

With the WR's banged up I hope we see a lot of Jones this week.
And I wish they would put Montgomery in with Jones. Create some new looks.

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nostradanus's picture

October 05, 2018 at 10:19 am

Great work Andrew!

I look forward to this each week.

I thank you BIGGLY

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Turophile's picture

October 05, 2018 at 03:32 pm

Seconded, nostradanus. I've mentioned a couple of times on CHTV that Andy Herman liked Whitehead last season (before most people had any thoughts about him), he graded +0.00 last week.

It seems he is ahead of Josh jones at this point who cannot get on the field. He seems more aware in his 4th year, he didn't see the field much in his first two years (UDFA for the 49ers, Ravens and Packers). That may seem a bit unfair on J.J. it being only his second year, but he was a much more sought-after player when drafted (round 2).

This is exactly the kind of player teams want to fill out their roster once the valuable new draft picks are slotted in. I don't hear his name called much (not a bad thing).

Watching the play where RB Jones maks two people miss, and the one where Kenny the postman (he always delivers) sucks up that double team - beautiful plays.

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freddisch's picture

October 05, 2018 at 10:46 am

Great job as usual

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The TKstinator's picture

October 05, 2018 at 10:49 am

Love this stuff!
Thank you for the work you do!!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 05, 2018 at 11:54 am

Great article. I find myself checking CHTV early (Thursday and Thursday evening) just on the chance your article came out early! Thumbs up.

I expect Brice to shine in games against dreadful QBs. Brice has a role he can play.

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kevgk's picture

October 05, 2018 at 11:04 am

Jones played better than I gave him credit for in the preseason. If he can keep this pace up, he can be a real threat for the offense to use.

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Bearmeat's picture

October 05, 2018 at 11:08 am

2nded.

This is great stuff. I look forward to this article weekly. Thanks so much, Andrew!

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Since '61's picture

October 05, 2018 at 11:16 am

Andrew - thanks for yet another great article. Excellent work pointing out the good and the bad plays which highlights the inconsistencies this team is still working through. If we can stay healthy this team will get better and better as the season goes on. Hopefully enough to get hot come playoff time. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Spud Rapids's picture

October 05, 2018 at 11:27 am

I'm really encouraged that the safety play was better. Andy, what I like about the way you grade is you don't grade on results you grade on the overall play e.g. position they were in and how they performed one on one. That being said I sure hope the safeties playing better is Mike Pettine coaching. If that's the case then I would hope his ability to coach and make a defense better over the course of the season is going to turn this defense into a top 10. It gives me a lot of hope.

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Oppy's picture

October 05, 2018 at 11:40 am

Good stuff as usual, Andrew.

I have to wonder how Dusty found that throw to be just a "flick of the wrist." That's a full fledged throwing motion for sure.

I love that Ben appreciates Kenny Clark's ability to anchor vs. double teams, and I wish more Packers fans could appreciate how poor BJ Raji used to be at it.

"For my 1st block I will only use a karate chop. For my 2nd block I will use only my ass." Andy, this is pure gold.

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Spock's picture

October 06, 2018 at 11:01 am

Agreed, Oppy. The Larry M. called it, "The seldom used Butt Block" on his analysis of the play. Andy's description was even more hilarious. :) :)

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croatpackfan's picture

October 05, 2018 at 02:43 pm

Andrew you know that you are star in my eyes...

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PatrickGB's picture

October 05, 2018 at 08:52 pm

It’s disappointing that Lewis isn’t playing up to the hype that he has had. Perhaps that why he doesn’t get as many snaps as some fans have been clamoring for.

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Jordan's picture

October 05, 2018 at 10:59 pm

Let me guess. You drafted him and have him starting on your fantasy team each week. lol :)

I hate to break the news to you PatrickGB, but Marcedes Lewis is veteran player that the Packers are using for depth. He's not a starter anymore. He's a backup that plays on special teams and a few snaps during the game to give the other TE's a breather. That's why the Jaguars cut him and his 3.5M salary. That's why the Packers signed him to a one year contract at 2.1 million. Keep in mind that veteran minimum for a guy like him (10+ years) is about 1 million. The Packers were desperate for a veteran backup TE.

Please note that he had no other free agent visits. Let me translate that for you: Nobody else wanted him. Use Google search to do some research. :)

I think you can feel confident that he will make some big plays when it matters in December and January.

https://www.bigcatcountry.com/2018/3/22/17150894/big-cat-country-q-a-why...

https://packerswire.usatoday.com/2018/05/31/marcedes-lewis-explains-deci...

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 06, 2018 at 09:17 am

Yes, Lewis is depth, but your comment is a gross exaggeration. I also read Bigcatcountry about Lewis. The article you linked to by Ryan Day has Day's opinion that Lewis just isn't good anymore. Here is Mr. Consistent's comments on Lewis:

Why did we cut Lewis: "Because he wasn’t good enough and there are several good tight ends in this year’s draft." March 22, 2018.

Here's Mr. Day's comments when Jacksonville exercised Lewis' option in February:

"While Lewis never quite translated the receiving game threat he was in college at UCLA, he is still a fantastic all-around tight end in the Jaguars offense going on 12 seasons. You can clearly see some decline in Lewis’ game, especially in the receiving front with loss of speed and quickness, but he’s still been a solid player in the run game and in pass protection. And, hell, the dude caught the opening touchdown in the AFC Championship." February 20, 2018.

What do you suppose changed in the space of one month where no one plays or comes in for workouts? So, is he not good enough or is Lewis still a FANTASTIC ALL-AROUND TIGHT END? Kindly don't quote Mr. Day to me because he has a finger up checking the direction of the breeze.

Jax signed Niles Paul and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. Paul came out in 2011 as a 6' 0.7", 224 pound WR but was a tweener. Since then he is up to 242 pounds and is listed as a TE, FB, and WR. Jax paid him $2.1M but he isn't really a replacement for Lewis: they are completely different players. Paul is not unlike Kendricks, except Kendricks can play TE and Paul can't. PFF lists Kendricks as a TE while listing Paul as a jack of all trades. Paul plays 70% of ST snaps. Lewis won't play a lot of STs: right now Lewis is at 17% of ST snaps.

Really, this was simply a business decision. Jax exercised Lewis' option so he was under contract at $3.75M in February and then decided ASJ at $4.66M was a better TE so they signed ASJ and dumped Lewis. Lewis was just a cap casualty.

I don't expect that Lewis' phone was ringing off the hook after he got released, but I bet it wasn't wholly silent, nor do I think no other team wanted him. It is true that Lewis took one visit, and didn't have any others publicly known, but I suspect that he would have generated interest in time.

https://www.bigcatcountry.com/2018/2/20/17032238/jacksonville-jaguars-ma...

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 06, 2018 at 09:11 am

Jax did something I noticed with the ASJ and Niles Paul contracts: both players have options due 22 days before the start of the 2019 league year. That would be mid-February, which is the same time Lewis' option came due. If Jax fails to make those payments, the contract voids and the player becomes a UFA. That's very player friendly since the team doesn't even get a chance to sniff around other players during the legal tampering period; instead, the team must make its decision well prior to free agency. IIRC, Lewis' option was only $250K; I can't help but wonder if ASJ and Paul think their $500K options are enough so that Jax doesn't blind-side them as they did to Lewis.

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Jordan's picture

October 06, 2018 at 12:52 pm

I don't know man. Here's Marcedes snap count. It is what it is after 4 games. (16 percent)

In fairness to Marcedes, the play/video above that Andy Herman is dinging him on in the Bills game wasn't really Marcedes fault. Rodgers fell/tripped. Marcedes would have no way of knowing it was a busted play. Marcedes would have looked good if not for Rodgers falling. I don't think Marcedes was graded poorly by the Packers on this particular play. Marcedes would have had an effective block if the play had been executed by QB/RB....imo.

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Jordan's picture

October 06, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Player Team Position Total Snaps Off Snaps Off Snap Pct Def Snaps Def Snap Pct ST Snaps ST Snap Pct
80-J.Graham GB TE 235 235 83.3% 0 0.0% 0 0.0%
84-L.Kendricks GB TE 107 91 32.3% 0 0.0% 16 13.7%
89-M.Lewis GB TE 66 45 16.0% 0 0.0% 21 17.9%
85-R.Tonyan GB TE 51 0 0.0% 0 0.0% 51 43.6%

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Oppy's picture

October 06, 2018 at 01:58 pm

I'm not trying to be disrespectful, but do you know that Marcedes Lewis wears #89 on his jersey? I feel that you must have been looking at the wrong player in that clip.

If Lewis' assignment on that play was a conventional drive block (I don't think it was), the defender completely won the rep, easily swatting away Lewis' hands and putting him on the ground with ease like a child.

If Lewis' assignment was to cut block the defender (best case scenario for Lewis, and most likely), it was sorely ineffective (he barely brushed the defenders' leg at all) and the defender was not impeded by Lewis at all- still on his feet with balance, not stumbled, still flowing towards the play.

The snap count is what it is- and similarly, that play is what it is. There's nothing that could be construed as "Good" or even "Neutral" about Lewis' performance on that play. It was horrible.

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Jordan's picture

October 06, 2018 at 06:02 pm

Don't worry man. You're not disrespecting. Yes, I know who wears 89. lol

I also know from experience how difficult it is to for a TE to backside block a guy that is much quicker and faster than you.

We've already established the Marcedes is old. The Packers knew he was old when they signed him.

My point is.....he doesn't have to look pretty blocking and he's not going to look pretty because he has to lean (off balance) going against quicker, faster, more agile defenders to cut them off from backside pursuit.

He just needs to get the job done. And had that play not been a busted play, he would have got the job done. In other words, had the play not been busted, he would have got himself between the pursuit defender and the ball and prevented the backside pursuit defender from making a tackle 10 yards down field. That was his job. He did his job. Other players on the team were unable to execute the play. That's not his problem if the other 10 guys can't do their jobs.

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Oppy's picture

October 06, 2018 at 06:31 pm

We'll have to disagree. I don't care about any of the other players on the field. Isolate Lewis and the defender- Lewis did not do his job.

To be honest, he barely touched the defender. He whiffed his cut block and ended up on the ground without making any impact on the defender.

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Jordan's picture

October 06, 2018 at 07:42 pm

He wasn't attempting a cut block. He was doing a reach block against a quicker, faster defender. He looked bad because the defender he was attempting to block took an angle that Marcedes wasn't expecting because Rodgers tripped and fell behind the LOS and the defender saw that and reacted to that. Marcedes attempted to block the play (correctly) as it was designed. The play was not designed to have Rodgers trip and fall to the ground behind the LOS.

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Guam's picture

October 06, 2018 at 08:05 am

Add my thanks as well for an excellent article Andrew. Appreciate all of your hard work!

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Spock's picture

October 06, 2018 at 11:11 am

Andrew, Your analysis of this if always my favorite article of the week. Glad you have the patience to do this multiple looking at plays/players. Great work! I especially appreciated this this week as the game wasn't shown here in AZ. I always replay most of these two or three times to observe what you are emphasizing and it really gives me a better understanding of what the players are doing. Clark should make the pro bowl this year I believe. What a young stud. I (finally) have confidence that we will have an improving and excellent DB group. Yea!

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flackcatcher's picture

October 07, 2018 at 09:27 am

Outstanding article Andrew. Your grading within the scheme on both sides of the ball is telling. Most writers doing these post game analysis grade these players outside of the system they play in. As is the play call or coaches decisions has no impact on the player on the field. That's plain nuts, besides being lazy as heck. While it may be the harder path, understanding how a player works within the scheme is critical. After all, football is a team game.

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