I guess I’ve advanced far enough through the stages of grief to put the roughly 100 hours of Green Bay Packers game film viewing to one last use. Yes, I know giving out grades is typically as revelatory as discovering rain is wet or that fire is hot, but I’ll do my best to make it more than an essay by Captain Obvious.
And this is Monty and I’m just going to chime in because I like to rip people who are mediocre. Mediocrity is the enemy.
Aaron Rodgers: A-
The A is for a second MVP. The minus is for the fact that, like his predecessor, his MVP trophies will now outnumber his Super Bowl rings. In his presser after the NFC Championship, Rodgers said, “We have no one to blame but ourselves.” Yes, and that includes himself. Rodgers may finish his career with only one Super Bowl ring and it’s his own postseason play that has a lot to do with that.
Like several other Packers, Rodgers had his chances to make the plays that could have won the NFC Championship game and he didn’t. Unlike the others, Rodgers is the MVP and he is expected to make those plays. That is two NFC Championship games and no touchdowns in the second half for the offense under Rodgers. The 2010 defense held on, helped by facing a third-string quarterback. The 2014 defense had no such luxury and could not.
On a bad wheel, Rodgers was OK, but that isn’t good enough.
B — I agree with everything Shawn says. Nice season by Rodgers, but this is Green Bay and success isn’t measured by how pretty your regular season stats are. You know who else has pretty regular season stats? Peyton Manning. He’s also a choker in the playoffs, which is why he will end his career with just one Super Bowl win. Oh, and that one Super Bowl win came courtesy of a Bears team led by the incomparable Rex Grossman. Impressive, Peyton. Real impressive.
I’d be happy to give Rodgers an A and if our ratings were based solely on the regular season, he’d get one, but he sucked in the biggest game of the year. That’s what I’ll remember about Aaron Rodgers in 2014. Not that he told me to relax, not that he won another MVP, that when the Packers needed him, he didn’t step up.
Matt Flynn: D+
The D is for Flynn’s abominable performance when called upon. The plus is for the fact we didn’t have to see him much. In a season-saving run last year, Flynn looked a lot like the guy the Packers lost in free agency. As a backup this season, Flynn looked a lot like the guy who got cut by Oakland and Buffalo.
F — Shawn is being too generous. I still don’t get why Flynn was the No. 2 over Scott Tolzien, when Scooter outplayed him throughout the preseason AND Flynn looked awful every time he got in a regular season game in 2014.
Scott Tolzien: E
The E is for easy street, which is what Tolzien was on all year as he collected paychecks and sat around. The champagne and oysters stop next season, however. If Tolzien can’t unseat Matt Flynn as No. 2, then he has no value.
E — My E is for effort because everyone gets a trophy in my rankings, just like Little League baseball. Everyone is winner!
Eddie Lacy: A-
Easy Eddie Lacy handled the ball 288 times this season. That is nearly three times more than the next Packers player not named Aaron Rodgers. In all, Lacy gained over 1,500 yards of total offense and scored 13 touchdowns. Probably best of all, he averaged 4.6 yards per carry and improved as a pass blocker from his rookie season, becoming a true three-down back. However, it was another slow start for Eddie and he needs to improve his goal line running.
B+ — In addition to the B+, Ed also gets and E. For Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeasy. The only reason I am not giving Ed an A is because he started the season poorly. He looked like he had no vision, confidence and didn’t know where to run during the first half. And that’s pretty poor. However, in the second half, there were maybe only two or three better backs in all of football. Lacy evolved as a pass catcher and a blocker in 2014 and improved his yards per carry from 4.1 to 4.6.
James Starks: C
Starks was underutilized this season. As a result, not only his overall numbers, but his output per touch declined from 2013. Starks only averaged 3.9 yards per carry, often being a boom or bust option for the Packers. He was not as good a pass blocker as Lacy and he and Rodgers struggled to get on the same page in the pass game all season. Dujuan Harris averaged 4.0 yards per carry, and though I expect Starks to be around for another season at least, Harris might get a better shot at the No. 2 spot next season.
C — After averaging 5.5 yards per carry in 2013, Starks fell to 3.9 yards per carry in 2014. That’s pretty much the definition of average, hence the totally average grade. In his defense, Starks didn’t get on the field for long stretches of time, which probably didn’t help much.
DuJuan Harris: F
Shawn didn’t want to grade DuJuan Harris, but I do, mostly because I think he was a total failure. Harris carried only 16 times for 64 yards all season. Not much to go on there. However, the Packers, in all their wisdom, decided Harris was a kickoff returner. Well, DuJuan Harris is NOT a kickoff returner. Watching him return kicks was like reading a choose your own adventure novel where you automatically get thrust into the shitty adventure every time. Harris didn’t know when to down the ball and when to run it out. He averaged 20.7 yards per return before losing his job following week 15. I will be surprised if Harris is on the roster next season.
John Kuhn: B
The emergence of Lacy as a three-down back limited Kuhn’s time on the football field, resulting in 28 total touches for the season. His yards per carry average — 3.5 — tells you that giving him the ball is not a very good option, and his lack of scoring — 1 touchdown — tells you that he isn’t anything special around the goal line either. However, he probably had his best season as a lead blocker when Mike McCarthy bothered to use him in that capacity. All of it was good enough for a trip to the Pro Bowl. For what that is worth.
C — Not just a Pro Bowl berth, but Kuhn was also named first-team All Pro. And yeah, I still don’t understand how that happened. Are there literally no other fullbacks in the NFL anymore? Look, Kuhn was good as a lead blocker, but that was about it. He certainly didn’t deserve to be an All Pro. His real value is in the leadership department, but we’re not grading leadership here.
Jordy Nelson: A
The Jordy Effin Nelson led the team in receptions (98), receiving yards (1,519) and touchdowns (13) and finally made the Pro Bowl, which was overdue. Also, that number for receiving yards was the most in franchise history. That is especially amazing considering he had a Pro Bowl receiver on the other side.
A — You know, I like nothing better than when a guy signs a big contract and then goes out and actually EARNS that money. It seems like that’s rare, but Jordy Nelson signed a fat deal last offseason and then went out and had his best season. The guy is a stud. A top-tier receiver on any team, not just one with Rodgers. You know, not Greg Jennings.
Randall Cobb: A
The Packers offense got off to a slow start and a lot of that had to do with Randall Cobb, who was still less than 100 percent recovered from the broken leg he suffered the prior season. Once Cobb rounded into form, the Packers offense took off with Cobb working the middle of the field while Nelson worked deep and the sidelines. In the end, Cobb finished with 91 receptions, 1,287 yards and 12 TDs, which was good enough to make him an alternate for the Pro Bowl. No one else on the Packers can do everything that Cobb does. The Packers must re-sign him or change their entire offense.
B+ — Cobb is a one-of-a-kind talent, who also had a career year. However, he started REAL slow. For whatever reason — he said he was worrying about being in the last year of his contract — it still happened. That’s why he doesn’t get an A.
Davante Adams: C+
Adams struggled for much of the season to get on the same page with Aaron Rodgers. However, he also showed flashes of being another second round gem at receiver for Ted Thompson. In the end, his 38 catches, 446 yards and three touchdowns was decent production from a third receiver, considering the top two both went to the Pro Bowl. Plus, his biggest games were against New England and Dallas, two of the biggest games the Packers played this season. If the Packers can keep Cobb in the fold to work the slot, with Adams and Nelson on the outside, the Packers are in great shape at the position for the foreseeable future.
C — If I were grading Adams on his production as a rookie receiver, he’d get a B. However, for this purpose, I don’t care that he was a rookie. Adams was the definition of inconsistent. He would show flashes or have a big game and you’d think, “Oh, he’s got it now!” Then he would be invisible for three weeks. That happens with rookies, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to pretend Adams was anything but average in 2014.
Jarrett Boykin: F
One could make the case that Boykin was the biggest disappointment for the Packers this season. Looking like he could develop into a decent outside threat last season, he never got it going, got injured and got benched in favor of Adams. Boykin ended up finishing with three catches for 23 yards and will have to earn his way onto the roster next training camp.
F — This guy had 49 catches for 681 yards in 2013, when Matt Flynn was throwing him the ball. If there were a grade lower than F, he’d get it. Far and away the most disappointing player on the Packers roster for me.
Andrew Quarless: C
By now, I think we know what Andrew Quarless is — a solid, but unspectacular tight end. His blocking and receiving had its up and downs, ultimately finishing with 29 catches for 323 yards and three touchdowns.
C — Andrew Quarless is the definition of average. He’ll never be anything more.
Richard Rodgers: C-
Rodgers was a no show unless he was doing something wrong for much of the season. However, he began to step forward and Quarless back as the playoffs approached. He finished with 20 catches for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Ultimately, Rodgers will likely be the starter next season.
D — Rodgers made zero impact on the vast majority of the Packers’ games this season. For most of the season, the only time I noticed him is when he was doing something stupid. The only thing saving DickRodge from an F is that he did seem to finally catch on toward the end of the season. He needs to learn what it is to be a pro because he certainly wasn’t one in 2014.
Brandon Bostick: F
Bostick would be in the mix with Boykin for the most disappointing season from a player that was expected to produce. As the lone tight end on the roster with the speed to stretch the field, many thought Bostick could be a factor in the Packers offense this season. Instead, Bostick got hurt, got passed up on the depth chart, got stupid, and then got nowhere. He finished with two catches, three yards and one touchdown. He also had one monumental poor onside kick decision where he failed to catch the ball with his helmet. Because of this, many are calling for his head, but I’d like to see if he could rally.
F — I don’t blame Bostick for the onside kick fiasco. Yes, it was a colossal fuck up, but there were so many opportunities for the Packers to seize that game and so many other guys failed just as badly or even worse. What I do blame Bostick for is not doing anything else for the Packers this season. I heard rumors that he seemed to have a sense of entitlement, like, “Once I return from this injury, I’m going to be the man.” That type of crappy attitude isn’t going to get you anywhere. Either put in the work or get the hell out of town.
Bryan Bulaga: B
Bulaga finally made it through a season without being on injured reserve. He missed a game and a half, and the Packers lost one of those and almost lost the other. By the end of the season, he was probably playing about as well as any right tackle in the league. Like much of the Packers’ offensive line, he is a better pass blocker than run blocker. However, he was good enough for the Packers to rush for more than 1,600 yards, not counting Rodgers’ total, while averaging more than four yards per carry. The Packers would love to keep Bulaga around, but he is probably expendable if the number is too high. Don Barclay and J.C. Tretter are possible replacements already on the roster.
B — I’ve never really seen anything spectacular from Bulaga, but at least I didn’t see him getting whooped in 2014 like I have in the past. It probably helps that he wasn’t his usual injury-prone self. Bulaga had an above average campaign, but not great.
T.J. Lang: B+
The Packers’ inside trio on the line had the most to do with their run success this season. Lang had his best year as a pro and could be one of the more under-appreciated starters on the team.
B — I personally feel like Lang is the weak link on the line. Or at least I did before this season. Pretty much, he’s just a body to throw out there. Well, he changed my opinion as the 2014 season wore on. Lang was solid in both the run and the pass. Not great, but definitely better than average. This season is definitely the best I’ve seen him play.
Corey Linsley: A-
Not even expected to start, Linsley ended up being the Packers’ rookie of the year and one of the best rookies in the NFL in 2014. Barring injury, the Packers have their starting center for the next four seasons.
B+ — Every other guy who started the season slowly (Lacy, Cobb) got downgraded from an A to a B+. The same goes for Linsley. He had a Pro Bowl-caliber season as a rookie. However, it took him a few weeks to stop looking like a deer in headlights. Once he realized he could play at this level, he played his ass off.
Josh Sitton: A
Sitton finally was recognized this season for being what he has been for at least a couple years now — one of the best guards in the NFL. He gave up one sack all season and is the Packers best run blocker.
A — Sitton is the Packers’ best offensive lineman. He’s one of the best guards in the league. He leads the league in body hair. His shower drain is probably disgusting. However, this is the guy you want to run behind. He also played half of the season with a torn toe ligament, so he gets extra points for toughness. In my mind, Sitton grades out higher than anyone else on the team.
David Bakhtiari: B+
After having an up-and-down, but good enough rookie season, Bakhtiari took another step forward in his second season. He still led the team in sacks given up, but that is while facing by far the best pass rushers. In fact, the list of pass rushers who were stoned by Bakhtiari is long and illustrious. In two games against Seattle, facing mostly Michael Bennett, Bakhtiari gave up zero sacks. Penalties do remain an issue. Something that Bakhtiari can look to improve for next season.
B+ — There were times in 2014 where I was ready to say Bakhtiari was among the best left tackles in football. He did indeed shut down an impressive list of pass rushers. However, he definitely has room for improvement as a run blocker. Too many times Bakhtiari was the reason a running play got blown up in the backfield. Bakhtiari is close. If he can continue to improve, he’ll join that group.
J.C. Tretter: D
For the second straight season, Tretter got injured and saw himself relegated to the bench for most games. When he did make a showing, usually as an extra tackle, he did nothing to showcase himself. On the other hand, a Bulaga exit could change this guy’s career.
I — I am giving Tretter an incomplete. If this guy could ever stay healthy, then we might be able to see what we’ve got. Until then, I’ll reserve judgment.
Lane Taylor: D
Taylor had an unmemorable performance in the debacle in New Orleans. He also was an extra blocker on occasion around the goal line, which was equally unmemorable. He is the Packers’ backup guard and it is nice to have someone in that role who has seen some game action. He might actually be needed next season as the Packers can hardly hope to stay as healthy on the offensive line.
D — Well, there’s a reason Taylor is a backup and not a starter. He’s not really all that good. When we saw him on the field in 2014, he played like what he is — a backup offensive lineman.
Jarrett Boykin: Z
Matt Flyn -Z
The grades are on target. A for Shawn And A for Monty. Oops A- for Monty forgot to use the same scale Monty used.
The receiving corps of Nelson and Cobb is the best in the business. Packers MUST re-sign Randall Cobb. Overall, I think he in the most versatile and talented offensive player on the team. Wasn’t he a college quarterback?