Grades: Packers vs. Chargers
The Green Bay Packers came off a bye week to take on the San Diego Chargers and one would hope that in that off time the issues the defense was having would have been fixed. No such luck. The Packers jumped out to commanding early lead, but squandered it late and were on the verge of losing their 14-game win streak. Lets look at the teams grades.
QB: There isn’t really much more anyone can say about Aaron Rodgers. He’s on pace to break all current passing records for a season and may end up having the greatest season ever for a NFL quarterback. On Sunday he was 21-of-26 for 247 yards, four touchdowns and he ran for 52 yards. My only knock on Rodgers is he held the ball a little too long on several occasions. It’s not nearly as much as he did a couple years ago, but if I had to find a negative, there is it. GRADE: A+
RB: There was a total of 18 run plays called, with James Starks getting 13 of them. The Packers ran for a total of 66 yards, which comes to over five yards per carry. Starks has obviously become the featured back in the offense and he deserves it. Ryan Grant reminds me of Dorsey Levens in his later years and shows some burst and power at times, but nothing like what he used to. The running game did what it was asked to do. Nothing great, nothing bad. GRADE: B
Receivers: The group as a whole is a very very good group. Jordy Nelson again showed he’s a stud on the rise in the NFL. He very well could be the benefactor of Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley getting a lot of attention, but he’s getting to the point where he will start getting that notice from the opposition. Speaking of Jennings and Finley, they were a little quieter than usual, but both grabbed touchdowns and had six and five receptions, respectively. James Jones also contributed a 21-yard TD. The one player who seems to be lost in the mix this season is Donald Driver. He’s been somewhat inconsistent in his route running and seems to drop more passes than usual. GRADE: B+
Offensive line: This is a group that is at times solid and at other times, well, not so solid. I get that they’re a relatively young group and have had to deal with injuries, which can lead to miscommunication, which in turn causes sloppy play. The running game, as I stated, was descent for the chances they had and the line provided a good push up front. Marshall Newhouse is the weakest link in the chain and could have gotten Rodgers killed on that fourth quarter play when he sprinted right and got leveled from behind. Newhouse got smoked. Overall, the pass protection was shaky, which led to Rodgers running for 50-plus yards. Giving up four sacks is not acceptable. The offensive line has a tough road ahead with some very good defensive lines on the schedule. Time to get it together. GRADE: C-
Defensive line: Another game, another lackluster effort from the defensive line. There seems to be no energy and overall, the defensive line is a disappointment — in particular, B.J. Raji. He has been a non-factor for the majority of the year. Ryan Pickett has been disappointing as well and he’s the leading tackler on the front, which says a lot. They get no pressure on the QB and made Mike Tolbert look like an All-Pro running back. The Packers miss Cullen Jenkins and Mike Neal, but that’s no excuse for their performance. It’s getting old talking about them. GRADE: D+
Linebackers: Just like the defensive line, this is an underachieving group. I get that Clay Matthews is getting double teamed on passing plays, but don’t you think that would free up the other linebackers? Erik Walden got to Rivers for a sack, but once again, that was it. The one bright light is Desmond Bishop. He’s one of the leading tacklers in the league. He played smart, aggressive football and made his presence known. It was nice to get Frank Zombo back for all of five seconds before he got injured again. A.J. Hawk was tied for team lead in tackles on Sunday, but was average at best. GRADE: C+
Defensive backs: Oh boy. The secondary was absolutely terrible. So they had three picks and two of them went for six, but they gave up a lot more than that and it was against Rivers, who leads the league in interceptions. The defensive backs looked lost and dysfunctional. They allowed Rivers to have his best game of the season, yardage-wise, and Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates ate them alive. Charles Woodson covered Gates most of the time and had a couple penalties in the process. Charlie Peprah had two picks, but he was one of the biggest reasons for Rivers four TDs. The fourth quarter touchdown pass to Jackson where he ran a corner route made the secondary look like even Curtis Painter could have carved them up. I’m seeing the Thanksgiving day game against Detroit and Calvin “Megatron” Johnson as a problem. The defense better get fixed quick and it starts with the secondary. GRADE: D-
Special teams: It was really an uneventful day for the special teams units. They didn’t need to punt a lot (two punts for a 42-yard average). Mason Crosby had one field goal from 47 yards, which is pretty good for the fact it was raining most of the game. Coverage on punts and kickoffs were good and the Packers never gave San Diego great field position. The one play that was plain bad was San Diego’s onside kick. What was Jordy Nelson thinking? Grab it and fall on it. Do not play volleyball and swat it back to the other team. As I said though, other than that play the special teams did their job. GRADE: B-
Overall: The offense did what it does and that’s score points at a record-breaking rate. The defense is allowing other teams to score at the same rate our offense does. Hopefully, this game was a wake-up call to Dom Capers & Co. GRADE: C+
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