Green Bay Packers Mid-Season Report
By Brian Umbaugh, @NFLRosters
Record: 6-2, tied for 1st in NFC North
Offense: 25th (26th Pass/13th Rush)
Defense: 23rd (23rd Pass/28th Rush)
Aaron Rodgers has numbers that reflect a normal season – 19 TD’s against 3 INT’s, 1937 yards. PFF rates Rodgers as a +15.2, which rates 6th in the NFL. However, much of his positive rating has been earned on the ground. In addition, he has struggled in the last few games, earning a -2.1 rating over last 4 games. He has also had only one QB rating over 100 in the last 5 games. He has not been as adept at beating the blitz as in years past, and his lack of weapons has been affecting his normal superhuman ability.
Scott Tolzien has played 2 snaps (vs. Denver), without attempting a pass. Over his Packers tenure, he has only played a few times, and has been quite average.
2015 5th round pick Brett Hundley rounds out the roster, but has seen no action.
A lot of turmoil is surrounding Eddie Lacy as the season has progressed. Too big? Too slow? Or is he injured? It’s been hard to determine the source of the problem, but he has been a below average runner this season, on pace for 600 yards at a 3.7 YPC clip. Each of the last four games have netted a negative PFF rating.
Backup James Starks has made a lot of headway toward a starting job. He has more snaps and yards at the midway point, with a slightly above average PFF rating. He has more wiggle, more burst and has not put the ball on the ground this season. The Packers might be best served to split these two evenly until Lacy gets back on track.
Third-stringer Alonzo Harris has had four carries on the season. The practice squad also holds promising rookie John Crockett.
Fullbacks John Kuhn and Aaron Ripkowski have combined for 90 snaps, with only 2 Kuhn rushing attempts in the books. Ripkowski has showed some potential, but Kuhn’s blocking has not been great this season.
The impact of Jordy Nelson’s knee injury have been felt. Randall Cobb became the #1, James Jones was re-hired as the #2, and different receivers have tried their hand at the #3 and #4. Only Davante Adams as the outside 3rd receiver is not miscast, but he’s been injured.
Cobb and Jones have been a little above average, but an 80-catch pace is disappointing for Cobb, and he catches a low percentage of his targets. Jones, while catching 6 TD’s, disappears too frequently. Adams and Montgomery have been injured, although Montgomery causes a good amount of missed tackles. Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis have been forced into action, but other than 2 long Janis receptions, have been inconsequential.
Undrafted Fort Hays State rookie Ed Williams is currently on the practice squad.
For a team that could really use a good pass catching TE, they have not spent a lot of effort getting one. Richard Rodgers has taken the lion’s share of the snaps, but he has been a sub-standard blocker. He has caught 28 passes, which is decent for a non-primary passing option, but he does not stretch the defense. In all games but one, he averaged less than 10 yards per reception.
New additions Justin Perillo and Kennard Backman have only combined for 27 snaps and 2 receptions. Andrew Quarless will come off IRDR at some point soon, but he’s not much of a blocker or pass catcher.
Western Kentucky undrafted rookie Mitchell Henry is on the practice squad, but he only caught 78 passes in 46 college games.
Tackles David Bakhtiari, Bryan Bulaga, and backup Don Barclay have not had good seasons; they are ranked 45, 50, and 73 out of 75 eligible tackles. Marshall Newhouse of the Giants has given up 28 QB hurries in 627 snaps; if Barclay had played that much, he would have given up 51. It hasn’t been pretty.
Guards Josh Sitton and TJ Lang have been Top 20 material, with Sitton being a best PFF rated pass protecting guard in the NFL. Both have run blocking grades have been slightly above average.
2nd year center Corey Linsley has been a little above average as a run blocker, and a little below average as a pass blocker.
Backups JC Tretter and Josh Walker have logged 60 snaps. Lane Taylor has not played, and the practice squad holds Pitt rookie guard Matt Rotheram and 3rd year tackle Jeremy Vujnovich.
On this 3-4 defensive line, a fairly strong five man rotation has provided above average pass rushing and run stuffing ability. Mike Daniels is rated by PFF as the 6th best 3-4 DE in the NFL. He has 4 sacks and 18 hurries. On the other side, Mike Pennel and Letroy Guion have shared starts with minimal success; however, backup Datone Jones is finally showing some skills as a pass rusher. He has tallied 10 hurries. Josh Boyd has been placed on the IR with an ankle injury, so Jones is seeing more playing time.
In the middle, Raji has not been the run stuffer he used to be, but he has provided a bit of pass rush and has forced a few defensive stops.
Syracuse rookie DT Eric Crume and 6th round DT Christian Ringo from Louisiana are on the practice squad.
Starting OLB Mike Neal is supposed to be the run-stuffer, and Julius Peppers is the pass rusher from the other side. Unfortunately, Neal is not much of a run stuffer this year, and is a liability as a pass rusher. Peppers has 6 sacks, but doesn’t stop the run and can’t drop well in coverage. The best OLB has been backup Nick Perry, who has 4 sacks in limited snaps and has stood up against the run. Backups Jay Elliott and Andy Mulumba have mimicked Peppers and Neal during their snaps.
On the inside, Clay Matthews and Sam Barrington started the season, but Barrington went down after 16 snaps with a foot injury, and is now on IR. Matthews only has 4 sacks, has been average against the run, and relatively unhelpful in coverage. Nate Palmer has taken over the other inside position, but has been mediocre in all areas. Backup Joe Thomas has some pass coverage ability, but has not been strong against the run. 2015 4th round pick Jake Ryan from Michigan has been taking some snaps recently and has shown some promise.
LSU undrafted rookie Jermauria Rasco is on the IR, and last year’s 4th round pick Carl Bradford is on the practice squad.
The Packers boast three of the Top 20 cover corners in the league: rookie Damarious Randall (ranked 13th), Sam Shields (16th), and Casey Hayward (19th). While this unit is not big on creating turnovers, they have only given up 5 passing TD’s. Backups Quinten Rollins has shown some ability in the run game, but Ladarius Gunter and Demetri Goodson are liabilities in coverage.
At safety, starters Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton Dix have not impressed. Clinton-Dix has been their best run stuffer, but also their biggest problem in pass coverage. Burnett has not done much while battling injuries. Backup Chris Banjo has had decent production in his 88 snaps, but Sean Richardson has done nothing with his. Hybrid CB/S Micah Hyde has been very average in coverage; he gets targeted more than anyone on the team.
Kicker Mason Crosby is 11-12 on FG’s, but his kickoffs present too many opportunities for kickoff returns. Through the abilities of the kick coverage team, this potential problem has not created any real problems yet.
Punter Tim Masthay is nothing special. He frequently kicks high and short, but opposing teams still return a large percentage of punts.
Rookie Ty Montgomery has had some exciting kick returns; he averages 31.1 yards per. Micah Hyde has handled punt returns without much excitement; he only averages 6.1 yards per.
Jay Elliott and Chris Banjo have been very productive on the coverage units.
Overall Grade: C+