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Mid-Season Grades the Total Packers Way

TP.Grades

It’s that time of year again. With half the regular season already down, it’s time to hand out the mid-season grades for the entire Packers’ organization. This has been made relatively easier since I have already been grading the Packers every week for the Game View. If I miss someone or some facet of the organization that you would have liked see graded, then let me know or put your own grade for them in the comments. I have been known to miss people. To loosely quote Billy Bob Thornton from Armageddon, “Our budget allows us to track about 3% of the sky, and beg your pardon, sir, but it is a big ass sky.”

QB

Aaron Rodgers – Week Grades: A, A, A, B, C, C, D, C   Mid-Season:  C+

Sure, the Packers are 6-2 and wouldn’t be without Aaron Rodgers. It is true that he was a very early season MVP candidate, and it is also true that if you projected his mid-season numbers over an entire season they would be 3800 yards, 38 TDs, 6 INTs with a 108 QBR. Except for the yards, those are grade A numbers. However, the fact of the matter is that A-Rodge has had 4 good games and 4 average or worse games. I expect him to turn this trend around.

RB

Eddie Lacy –  Week Grades:  B, D, B, B, C, D, C, F   Mid-Season:  D

A notoriously slow starter, Eddie Lacy has been slowed by injuries and has never gotten going so far this season. Looking at his weekly performances, you see that other than an injury in Week 2 the real turning point is when the Rams became the first defense to start playing 8 guys in the box exclusively. Defenses loading the box, poor decision making and a lack of breaking tackles has resulted in a regression for Lacy in the first half of this season.

James Starks –  Week Grades:  C, B, C, D, B, A, C, A   Mid-Season: B+

James Starks was the solid #2 back entering the season. So it should be no big surprise that he got off to a slow start, especially when Lacy was hogging the touches. However, Starks has come on for the last four games and has even taken the starting role from Lacy, deservedly. The Packers have two long runs this season, and they were both by Starks. That is also why Starks it the only back to get over 100 yards rushing this season for the Packers.

WR

Randall Cobb –  Week Grades: B, A, A, B, C, C, C, B  Mid-Season:  B-

Cobb’s grades have somewhat reflected the grades of his quarterback. The Packers need more from Cobb, and he knows it. Cobb is on pace for 80, 932, 10 TDs. Not bad. Again, like his QB, the only down numbers are the yards.

Davante Adams –  Week Grades: Incomplete    Mid-Season:  D

The only quality game that the Packers have gotten from the man to replace Jordy Nelson was last week in a loss where Adams earned his first B game of the season. Adams has not scored a TD yet this season and his yards per reception average is less than Cobb’s, who is a slot receiver. Injuries have been a factor, but the Packers need much more.

James Jones –  Week Grades: A, C, A, B, B, D, C, B  Mid-Season:  B-

JJ looked like a savior through the first three weeks of the season, but his performance has again mirrored his quarterback since. Teams are sticking with tight man-to-man coverage against him and getting separation was never really his game. His yards per catch dwarf every other Packer receiver with more than 2 catches; his is 20.1 while the next highest for a receiver is 11.9 for Cobb. Jones is on pace for 48, 966, 12 TDs. I doubt the Packers are expecting more.

Ty Montgomery –  Week Grades: Incomplete  Mid-Season:  C-

Ty was off to a decent start for a rookie this season and actually looked like the third best receiver for the Packers by Week 4. Unfortunately, he was injured in Week 6 and the Packer offense has never looked the same since. The Packers need him healthy and back on the field.

TE

Richard Rodgers –  Week Grades: C, B, C, B, D, C, F, C   Mid-Season:  D

Yeah, Rodgers’ weekly grades don’t average out to a D, but that’s my grade for him anyway. Again, like every other pass catcher on this list, his grades reflect the grades of his quarterback. The last 4 weeks have been ugly. I don’t see big progress as a blocker for Rodgers, and that is a bigger deal for a guy who is never going to be a dynamic pass catcher. Numbers-wise, Rodgers is second on the team in receptions, and is on pace for a 56, 248, 8 TD season. Those numbers are fine except for the yards. Rodgers averages only 8 yards per catch. However, before we crucify him for that, we might notice that all the receivers are low in yards per catch and that their quarterback’s yards per pass is a low 7.7. So, which Rodgers is at fault?

OL

David Bakhtiari – Week Grades: C, D, B, C, C, C B, B   Mid-Season:  C

Bakhtiari was apparently injured at the start of the season, which partially explains his struggles through the first quarter of the season. He has been better since Week 5. Ultimately, we are starting to realize that an average left tackle is exactly what Bakhtiari is and possibly will ever be. He gets pushed often into the backfield, but then usually manages to employ the bearhug to keep pass rushers off of Rodgers. That is basically his game, which explains why he collects a lot of holding calls. He is better than Bryan Bulaga at run blocking, which just makes him average.

Josh Sitton – Week Grades: A, B, A, C, A, C, C, C   Mid-Season:  B

Josh Sitton is the Packers’ best offensive lineman and looked like it through the first 5 weeks. Unfortunately, an article celebrating his number of games without giving up a sack streak was printed locally before Week 6. Sitton promptly gave up a sack and has been off his game since. Maybe he is fighting injury again.

Corey Linsley –  Week Grades: B, A, B, B, C, B, C, F   Mid-Season:  B

Linsley is already a consistent performer in his second year. Again, it was Week 5 against the Rams when nearly everything changed for the Packer offense. Since that game, defenses have been consistently blitzing 5 and 6 rushers, especially on third down. It maybe should be no surprise that a 2nd year center has struggled under those conditions. Last week the Panthers’ A gap blitzing had Linsley on tilt, and he struggled to even snap the ball decently.

TJ Lang –  Week Grades: B, B, A, B, B, B, B, B   Mid-Season:  B+

So far this season, TJ Lang has been the Packers’ best offensive lineman. Hopefully, no one else notices because the Packers can’t afford to pay another guard big money.

Bryan Bulaga –  Week Grades: C, Out, Out, Out, B, B, D, D  Mid-Season: D+

I don’t know what a D+ is. You suck but good job at it? Regardless, it fits the season of Bryan Bulaga so far. After he first came back from a sprained MCL, he played well and all was fine. He has played poorly after the bye. Go figure.

DL

Mike Daniels –  Week Grades: B, B, A, B, A, C, C, C  Mid-Season: B+

Like the rest of the defense, Daniels has cooled off in the past 3 games. He is on pace for 50 tackles and 6 sacks. Not bad for a DE in a 3-4, but the Packers could use more, as could his wallet.

BJ Raji  –  Week Grades: B, A, B, A, B, B, C, C  Mid-Season: B+

We have seen this story with Raji before. He typically starts and finishes fast while disappearing in the middle. Hopefully, we see the fast finish. He is on pace for 30 tackles and 1 sack.

Datone Jones  –  Week Grades:  Incomplete   Mid-Season:  C+

Datone has come on a little while the rest of the defense has stunk up the joint, but he is still only on pace for 18 tackles and 2 sacks. He needs more opportunities. His limited snaps prevented me from giving him a grade through most weeks. I give him a plus for his actual impact being better than his stats.

Letroy Guion  –  Week Grades:  Incomplete   Mid-Season:  D

Guion is hardly worth the trouble right now. He missed the first 3 games of the season due to suspension, which we learned during the bye was a gift. He hasn’t done a lot since coming back. He is still on pace for the same 18 tackles as Jones though.

Mike Pennel  –   Week Grades:  Incomplete   Mid-Season:  C

Pennel doesn’t play enough to get a weekly grade most weeks. He is on nearly the same pace as BJ Raji for tackles while being cheaper. He looks better than last season at getting off blocks.

ILB

Clay Matthews –  Week Grades: B, B, B, A, A, B, B, C  Mid-Season: B+

Clay has been the best player on the Packers’ defense, as he is paid to be, and one of the better ILBs in the NFL. He is a candidate for DPOY though he needs to overcome the attention that offenses have given him the last two weeks. The Broncos and Panthers ran away from him whenever he came up to the line and threw the ball when he lined up in the middle. He and the Packer defensive coordinators need to come up with a counterattack. My suggestion would be to put Nick Perry on the opposite side of him when he lines up at OLB.

Nate Palmer –  Week Grades: C, B, C, B, D, C, D, C  Mid-Season: C-

Palmer was okay when he first entered the Packers’ starting lineup due to the injury to Sam Barrington. He was decent in coverage while being a step down from Barrington against the run. However, he got worse as the season got on, especially getting lost while in zone coverage. His play against the run has not improved. Unless he is an abomination in pass coverage, Jake Ryan should start.

Joe Thomas  –  Week Grades: Incomplete    Mid-Season: C

In Dom Capers’ only unusual tweak for this season so far, Joe Thomas was brought in to only play the ILB position in the dime package. It is quite possible that this position was ear-marked for Sean Richardson before his injury. In a copycat league, this is a rip off what the Arizona Cardinals like to do on passing downs with an extra safety in the game. Thomas has been merely adequate with his first game, against Seattle, being his best.

OLB

Julius Peppers  –  Week Grades: A, C, C, B, B, B, C, C   Mid-Season: B-

Peppers has been the Packers best pass rusher so far this season. He leads the team with 5.5 sacks, which has him on pace for 11 at season’s end. Both the Broncos and Panthers doubled him when they had the chance, somewhat nullifying his impact on both games. As a run defender, he has been better when teams run inside him than when they run at his edge. Like Raji, Peppers has a tendency to disappear in the middle of seasons. Just as long as he has something left for the stretch run.

Mike Neal  –  Week Grades: B, C, C, B, A, C, C, C   Mid-Season: C+

Neal started out the season starting opposite Peppers. However, Nick Perry has begun to get more and more of his playing time. Neal has actually been better against the run than he was last year, but that is still not a strong suit. He is on pace for 36 tackles and 4 sacks. That would garner him some attention in free agency, but don’t expect anyone to break the bank for those numbers.  Oh, and he’s injured again.

Nick Perry  –  Week Grades: C, C, B, A, A, C, C, B  Mid-Season: B

Nick Perry is having his best year as a Packer, though that isn’t saying much. With limited opportunities, he has the third most sacks on the team with 3.5. He is on pace for 40 tackles and 7 sacks, which would command more money in free agency than what Mike Neal is looking at. Perry also remains the Packers’ best edge defender against the run. Perry is playing through another injury, likely because this is a contract year. The constant injuries are reason enough for the Packers to let Perry walk, but I am becoming intrigued at the thought of having Perry on one side and Matthews on the other if Perry can continue to improve. This is certainly what the Packers hoped for when they drafted him.

CB

Sam Shields  –  Week Grades: F, B, A, B, B, C, Out, Out  Mid-Season: C

After a horrific Week 1, Shields looked like the player the Packers hoped for in the next 4 weeks. However, a soft game against the Chargers was followed by injury. Shields is on pace for 50 tackles and 4 INTs and 20 passes defended. The Packers need him on the field.

Damarious Randall  –  Week Grades: C, C, C, B, B, B, B, B  Mid-Season: B

By most measures, the rookie who was a safety in college last season has been the Packers’ best cornerback so far this season. He is tied for the team lead with 2 INTs and leads the team with 12 passes defended. He needs to keep improving as teams have steadily attacked him, but thank God for him because of this next guy.

Casey Hayward  –  Week Grades: D, C, B, C, B, C, F, Out  Mid-Season: D

Casey Hayward has been a disappointment this season, and one has to think his days in Green Bay are numbered. He shows the tendency to be lazy in coverage and is even worse when in zone. He will never be strong against the run. He has zero INTs yet this season.

Micah Hyde  –  Week Grades: C, D, C, B, C, B, C, C  Mid-Season: C

Hyde could probably be a B+ safety, but he will likely never be better than a C corner. He lacks the quickness to cover the slot and tries to make up for it by being physical. He plays hard, smart and is a good tackler. Since the Packers have no true centerfielders at safety, they might want to try Hyde there and eventually let Morgan Burnett walk.

S

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix  –  Week Grades: C, D, C, A, A, B, C, F  Mid-Season: C+

HaHa has been all over the map this season, much like a rookie would be. I love the way this guy plays, but he may never be the centerfielder that this defense needs him to be. Instead, he appears to be simply a more physical version of Morgan Burnett, meaning his skill set is better suited for around the line of scrimmage. Ha Ha leads the team with 53 tackles, which is a great, but he only has 1 INT and 3 passes defended. That is not good enough against the pass.

Morgan Burnett –    Week Grades: Incomplete    Mid-Season:  D

Burnett has been in and out of the lineup and has been no consistent force for the Packers either against the run or the pass. He doesn’t have a pick yet this season and only has 14 tackles. The Packers really should keep Ha Ha Clinton-Dix near the line of scrimmage for his tackling prowess, but that is the only thing Burnett is really good at as well. Against the Panthers, the Packers kept Burnett up and left Clinton-Dix playing centerfield. Disaster followed. If Burnett doesn’t start producing and eventually form the safety tandem with Clinton-Dix that the Packers hoped for, then they can’t get out of his contract fast enough.

Special Teams

Mason Crosby  –  A

He has missed one FG all season and is perfect on extra points. His kickoffs have also been decent for once, helping the Packer special teams vastly improve on kick coverage.

Tim Masthay  –  C

I am not going to give Masthay credit for not being the abortion he was in preseason. He is ranked 20th in the NFL in net average on punts and has downed two punts inside the 20. For this joker, those are good numbers.

Organization

Mike McCarthy –  B

MM dropping play calling has drastically helped the special teams, maybe, but it certainly hasn’t helped the offense or defense. The Packers had great game plans against the Seahawks and Chiefs, but ever since the Rams switched up the defense being played against the Pack, the Packers have appeared to be grasping at straws on offense. Regardless, by far the most important number for MM is 6-2, and that is good enough for a B at this point.

Ted Thompson – B+

When Thompson drafted a safety in the first round of the NFL draft to play corner and replace Tramon Williams, most talking heads and fans scratched their head. Well, Damarious Randall has been a huge cog in the Packer defense and looks like a natural NFL corner. Second round pick Quentin Rollins is tied with Randall for the team lead in INTs with 2 and also looked good before being sidelined with injury. Ty Montgomery took quickly to the Packer offense, and that offense has struggled without him. Jake Ryan needed and still needs some work, but he might be a starter for the remainder of the season. All four look like strong picks that might be key contributors for the Packers as early as next season.  Thompson also made a huge move in bringing James Jones back right before the start of the season.

Dom Capers  –  C-

The defense essentially won the games against the 49ers and Rams, and it has been awhile since that was the case. The defense is currently ranked 23rd in yards allowed and 12th in points. That second stat is the more important one. Capers needs to get this secondary playing better while finding ways to free up Clay Matthews once again.

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Shawn

Shawn Neuser attended UWGB and lives and works in Green Bay. He enjoys long walks on the beach and being intimate with game film.

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8 Comments

  1. TyKo Steamboat November 14, 2015

    Ahhhh one of my favorite annual post. (Along with Monty posting YouTube clips with our top draft picks)

    Have to say, you’re solid here Shawn. Can’t believe you gave weekly grades too.

    I feel like Randall, Clinton-Dix & Datone Jones’ grades were slightly worse than they deserve (despite HHCD’s well deserved F last week.
    You gave Corey Linsley too much credit imho. Nice reports

  2. Fritz fm WI November 14, 2015

    ST haven’t done shit this year so far. which means they are no better than ST last year to this point. so WTF does your undecipherable explanation of their grade even mean, once it is deciphered? does it have some mysterious link to MM’s undecipherable grade, maybe?

  3. Big Gay Clay November 14, 2015

    LT should be a D. TE should be an F-

  4. Big Gay Clay November 14, 2015

    Dom Capers gets an F- too and the whole offense gets a D just because of its potential.

  5. ARS85 November 15, 2015

    Can you grade Nicky Hilton’s top 10 looks of all time? Or is that asking too much?

    1. Fritz fm WI November 15, 2015

      LOL. maybe we are asking too much of TP even tho they are more expert on the packers than 90 pct. of the other sports media out there.

      Instead of assigning grades to individual players [based on fitting performance to a “bell curve” of all nfl active at the position being graded?], maybe it would be more useful to assign team grades to important attributes needed for nfl ch. success:

      1 – leadership. The packers have been exposed to a crisis of leadership in recent POST-seasons. I wonder if MM even knows that. Does he even acknowledge that Lombardi’s success was largely due to his great talent as a leader of men? fighting men? Lombardi instinctively knew that military essentials like learning about fatigue and how to fight it was something that players could take from the training classroom and practice field to the game day WITH THEM. Lombardi never looked for excuses, or scapegoats either, unlike “choking Mike” #1 [Sherman], or our current “choking Mike” #2.

      2 – work ethic, BY EXAMPLE. this is where MM’s post season opponents like Pete C, have really shined. the only season where MM was never out coached in the post season was the “fluke” wild card road run to the SB in 2010, and that was only because he somehow got seeded against other mediocre, or worse, coaches that year [e.g. Lovie S, Tomlin, et. al. just pure luck, which is why it is starting to look like that whole postseason was an improbable anamoly, prob. never to be repeated by any wild card team anytime soon].

      3 – You do the math. there are a number of attributes that should be graded here, because this team needs to understand why their morale is sinking, the players may even be in denial as they push their sub-conscious fears to the backs of their minds in orlder to focus on game day [fears like a gnawing realization that they can’t really trust their “leaders” to be fair and help them to develop and improve throughout the FB “war” that is a long nfl campaign, indeed, a fear that anyone could be stabbed in the back by a “leader” who is primarily looking out for no. 1, and protecting his fat paycheck?].

      4 – ____[you fill in the blank]. hey, the more the merrier. maybe one of the GB coaches/mgmt. will read this site and learn about the great tradition and history of FB leadership in titletown, the most fabled sports franchise in world history, and current fans’ perceptions of same.

  6. MetsPackersRangers November 15, 2015

    Fire McCarthy and bring in Jim Harbaugh and bring in Josh McDaniels. Defensive coordinator will be Rex Ryan. Trust me we need this kind of influence on our team. We are a bunch of pansies right now.

  7. Feck November 15, 2015

    #21CF