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Grading the Pack - Week 5 (Defense)

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Grading the Pack - Week 5 (Defense)

Dallas’s offense against Green Bay’s defense is a very bad matchup for Green Bay. Let’s start there. Arguably Green Bay’s biggest assets on defense are Mike Daniels/Kenny Clark inside and Nick Perry/Clay Matthews off the edge. Unfortunately, against Dallas, those four go up against an incredibly strong Dallas offensive line who lived up to their billing on Sunday.

In addition, Green Bay’s hybrid Nitro defense is setup for spread offenses and teams who have to throw a lot to keep up with Green Bay’s offense. Dallas is quite obviously a power run team who can run over even the stoutest of power defenses, much less a team with undersized hybrid linebackers.

Of course Green Bay also doesn’t have a great slot corner to man up Cole Beasley and Capers’ propensity to play zone opens up the best zone tight end of all time in Jason Witten. Also Dak Prescott is just really, really good at football and his mobility can (and did) cause a ton of problems. All in all, the matchup was not there. And everything that should have been fairly predictable going in played out precisely as expected on Sunday. Green Bay’s defense was overmatched.

The biggest issue for Green Bay was the lack of big plays. Of course, maybe the biggest play of the game was Randall’s pick six, but this play was mostly due to Cowboy’s error rather than Green Bay’s defense. Take nothing away from Randall, a quick deflection like that is no easy task to haul in, but the receiver was open and it was a ball that should have been completed. Outside of that big play, Dallas mostly had their way on Sunday. Most disheartening is that when Green Bay most needed a stop on Dallas’ final drive, they gave up a 17-play 79 yard drive that lasted 8:43 and gave Dallas a 31-28 lead with only 1:13 to play.

Top 3 Performers

Davon House +1.55
Kenny Clark +1.35
Damarious Randall +1.25

Bottom 3 Performers

Nick Perry -2.05
Mike Daniels -1.40
HaHa Clinton-Dix -1.15

Defensive Line

Kenny Clark +1.35
Ricky Jean Francois +0.05
Dean Lowry -0.8
Quinton Dial -0.9
Mike Daniels -1.4

While Davon House graded out as the best player on Sunday, Kenny Clark was the MVP. Taking into consideration the competition he was playing against and the main goal of stopping Ezekiel Elliott, Clark was nothing short of exceptional in this game. He consistently took on double teams, held up strong at the line of scrimmage, shed blocks and made plays in the run game. He was the one player in Green Bay’s front seven that Dallas couldn’t find a real answer for. If Clark doesn’t perform to the level that he did on Sunday this could have been much uglier on defense.

It’s been quite obvious (and unfortunate) that Mike Daniels hasn’t been himself since his return from injury. Hopefully he can heal up during Green Bay’s upcoming bye and get back to his regular self. He also was going against Travis Frederick and Zach Martin, two of the best in the business.

Edge

Clay Matthews +0.3
Ahmad Brooks -0.4
Kyler Fackrell -0.4
Nick Perry -2.05

Speaking of players that are banged up and going against All-Pro’s, Nick Perry can relate to Mike Daniels’ struggles on something. Playing against Tyron Smith healthy is hard enough, playing against him with a bum hand is near impossible. Give credit to both Daniels and Perry for grinding it out against a really tough offense. Clay didn’t get consistent pressure but was very good in run defense and solid in coverage. He has really come up big so far this year.

Hybrid

Morgan Burnett -0.15
Josh Jones -0.95

As mentioned above, this was not the game for hybrid safety’s playing linebacker. Dallas’ offense was just to stout and the moment a Cowboy offensive linemen reached the second level, Jones and Burnett had no chance.

Linebacker

Blake Martinez +0.9
Jake Ryan +0.3

Once again, taking the competition and the scheme into consideration, these are really good grades for Martinez and Ryan. Martinez continues his breakout campaign at linebacker and has become one of the most consistent performers on the team. His grade’s not monstrous but his play stood out on Sunday. He has become much quicker at reading and reacting in his sophomore campaign.

Cornerback

Davon House +1.55
Damarious Randall +1.25
 Josh Hawkins +0.4
Kevin King +0.3
Quinten Rollins -0.6

This was maybe the biggest surprise as I graded the tape. We have become accustomed to Green Bay’s front seven grading out fairly well while the defensive backs let them down. This wasn’t the case on Sunday. Dallas struggled to get anything working to their outside receivers and attacked mostly inside and underneath. Randall’s high grade wasn’t just due to his pick-six either. He played a solid game from start to finish and really bounced back nicely after his sideline issues a week ago. Rollins was aggressive as a blitzer but was absolutely toasted by Cole Beasley for a touchdown in the red zone.

Safety

Kentrell Brice +0.35
Marwin Evans +0.0
HaHa Clinton-Dix -1.15

Kentrell Brice didn’t play quite as much as he normally does, but when he was in the game he made an impact. Brice was aggressive and made a huge stop on third down knocking down a pass intended for Jason Witten.

After showing signs of life last week, Clinton-Dix regressed once again this week and is quickly making the case for most disappointing Packer of 2017.

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

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 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 (30) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

CAG123's picture

Defense wasn’t amazing but I must give them some credit for shutting Zeke down for nearly the whole game he only started getting loose in the 4th when the Packers dropped their safeties into coverage also for not really giving up too many big plays besides the 49 yarder on a broken play Dak only had 202 yards on 36 attempts. The Packers pretty much did what Dallas did in the playoff game exempt they finished the job.

Bearmeat's picture

This was an encouraging performance from the D - aside from the last drive and letting Dallas absolutely own 3rd down in the first half.

Something to build off of - especially for the young players on the team.

BPEARSON21's picture

Encouraging performance...? Lol yikes.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I'm worried about Clinton Dix. I honestly think ATM Brice should be on the field more than Dix. He's been terrible, especially taking handoffs in zone.

Turophile's picture

Good to see Kenny Clark getting the love. He looks great.

Elsewhere on this site, I said that Mike Daniels (when healthy) is Scylla (the rock), while Clark is Charybdis (the whirlpool) who sucks everything in.

Now if Lowry can turn it up a bit, this is a very good front three (not to mention Montravius Adams waiting probably not-so-patiently in the wings). Francois and Dial aren't toast, either.

Johnblood27's picture

Bye week self scouting will either get some things fixed or get some personnel changes made in terms of PT.

The 2nd half will be better than the first and the first hasnt sucked.

CheesyTex's picture

Navarro Bowman?

flackcatcher's picture

Dix may have the second most thankless job on the Packer defense. Cleaning up after Brice's constant mistakes in coverage and being the last man standing in pass defense is pretty thankless. Last week Dix was an iron man along with Burnett in the Dallas heat. I'll say it again. Both SS are playing totally different roles in this defense this year. Capers trust them so much they are being left on a island. The Burnett role stands out because he is either in the box, or playing the slot. More importantly, Burnett is making the calls for the entire defense. Frankly Brice worries me. His impatience is hurting the entire secondary. Last week we saw Jones in for Brice as the third quarter rolled on. It may be Perry has grown tired of waiting for Brice to grow up. Or more likely, Jones understands enough of the defense that he can't be kept off the field. If he can take the pressure off Dix and Burnett, the Packers defense goes up to an entirely different level, and the secondary becomes a place opponents will not want to throw to.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Interesting, what do you have to say about Dix's pickups in zone? He gave up huge plays last week because he was late and soft and had guys running free on post routes. You can't play cover 2 if the safety can't defend the post routes.

flackcatcher's picture

Well, Capers has played mostly 1high when in nitro or big okie. Only in the base do we see 2 high. Dallas was one of the few times the Packers played more base than nitro. Packers don't play a straight 34, so Burnett is in the slot. I wish Jones was in the slot with Burnett back with Dix, but Jones is still learning, but after Dallas I don't know how they keep Jones off the field. Brice cheats, he is peeking in the backfield leaving him out of position. Randall's meltdown was caused by Brice cheating up and not having over the top inside. Then he did it again in Dallas which I think led Perry to pull him for Jones. One of things not shown on TV was both Burnett and Dix dressing down Brice on leaving his zone uncovered after the Bears touchdown. Dix has had to slide over trying to cover when Brice goes chasing squirrels. Other teams see on video Brice biting on the play action, which leaves Dix in a pretty impossible situation. Dix is good, he not that good. Look, Brice is the kind of athlete the Packers want on the field, but he can't keep blowing assignments just so he can get the big hit.

flackcatcher's picture

I should add, it led Hawkins to taking some of Brice's snaps in the third and fourth quarters in Dallas. In fairness to Brice, a lot of the secondary went down with cramps and dehydration with Burnett pulling his hamstring at the end of the game. Dix was the last DB standing. Goodness knows who they would put out on the field, if the game had gone into overtime.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Interesting, I wish I had time to watch all 22.

RobinsonDavis's picture

Although I have been a big Brice supporter, I have to admit there appear to be a number of issues that he needs to address with respect to coverage. But, I can also say the same about Jones, Flack. They both seem to have a boom or bust mentality. I LOVE what I have seen from Jones in the run game and pass rush, but his coverage has also lacked a great deal.

Regarding Andrew's point on Rollins, for the life of me, I do not understand why Rollins gave up the inside on that play unless he thought he had help. How many times do we have to say it, JAM THE GUY off the line!

flackcatcher's picture

I will try to keep this short. Rollins either had the wrong coverage, or missed the snap call. From the way Perry was talking to him, it seemed the latter. No anger, just a teaching moment. Away game in a hostile stadium, it happens. Under the radar, Rollins was good in Dallas. Jones and Brice. Bottom line, both are tremendous athletes football teams lust after. Jones is a rookie playing in a system that takes all season to grasp. Brice has no excuse. He is a starter because the Packers think he has the maturity to be successful in his role. He been in the Capers system for over a year now. Freelancing DB's leave zones open for NFL QB's usually ends with touchdowns. Atlanta in the NFC championship game last year. Bears game this month. Just like Randall, Brice has some growing up to do too.

Nick Perry's picture

EXCELLENT post Flack....

flackcatcher's picture

Thanks Nick.

Lphill's picture

Packers should get Derrell Revis to cover the slot . Maybe he can't keep up with the deep route runners but he can certainly cover the short stuff .

JDK52's picture

I'm still frustrated by the bad call on the 4th down where Zeke reached. They treated it as a goal-line play, and they weren't at the goal line. The Pack had that stop with less than 2 minutes left. If it had been ruled correctly, that's 3 points surrendered by the D in the second half.

Damned impressive if you ask me!

Since '61's picture

According to MM the officials made the correct call on that play. The player is allowed to reach and recover the ball, which is what Zeke did. MM's concern is why was he allowed to reach, someone on the D should have prevented the reach on the play.

From the NFL rulebook concerning reaching the first down line to gain:
A new series of four scrimmage downs is awarded to Team A when the following conditions exist:
During a given series, the ball is declared dead in possession of Team A while at or beyond the line to gain.
Zeke reached the ball up to the line to gain and the ball was declared dead. Hence Dallas made the first down.
Same rule would apply to the Packers.

Thanks, Since '61

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

To be clear, on the replay you'd have see Zeke stretch out to determine that he crossed the line needed, and then listen for the whistle to determine when the ball was dead. The whistle being blown has to coincide with Zeke reaching forward, right '61? Nevermind, I don't care anymore.

JDK52's picture

The officials have to blow the whistle at the moment Zeke was fully extended for that rule to apply. Again, they treated the play as a goal-line call, essentially ruling the play dead at the point when the ball crossed the line.

I read the full NFL rulebook section concerning gaining a first down and nowhere does it say the ball crossing the line ends the play. The play is over when the ball carrier is downed.

(Moot points because it's a Win, but I enjoy discussing rules)

JDK52's picture

*double*

A Pickled Packer's picture

I still think the defense got robbed on that 4th down call. It really took the wind out of their sails and created a total momentum shift. It was a statement play that our defense is indeed stout and can deliver in crunch time. Despite the call, I expect the defense to feed off it.

flackcatcher's picture

It's a good example of how a stadium can intimidate officials. This crew had lost control of the game early, and never got it back. By the end, both teams were ready to fight. In a football game where both clubs tackling bordered on the vicious. Defense should be proud of the way they played. They got the short end all day and never broke.

croatpackfan's picture

The most stupid article I read!

There is much better comments here from fans than from that guy. Dooms day guy!

RobinsonDavis's picture

As usual thanks, Andrew! Care to way into the discussion regarding Dix and Brice

Lphill's picture

The Packers best defensive player is Aaron Rodgers .

Since '61's picture

Always has been since Woodson left the Packers. Thanks, Since '61

JohnnyLogan's picture

Ha Ha is playing soft but so are the CB's. Capers loves zone. Teams know it and just have their receivers stop 5 to 8 yards from our defenders and compete passes as easily as playing catch in the backyard. It's why Jordy and Cobb and Adams seemingly always have a defender on them while our defenders are only there to make a tackle after a catch. It's a Capers coaching decision and it's been crap for years.

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