So, here we are again. This is why I support an 18-week season with byes after every six games. The football season is too damn short or at least it goes by too fast. The holidays probably have something to do with that. Getting older has something to do with it, too.
Anyway, it’s time for the season grades for every Green Bay Packers player that matters and even for some who don’t.
The grades are a combination of film review, the weekly grades, and my mood at the time. This will take an effort, so let’s start with the offense first.
Aaron Rodgers: C-
Sure, if I graded Aaron Rodgers against Teddy Bridgewater or Jay Cutler he’d get an A every fricking season. There is a reason why those dopes aren’t the highest paid players in football. I grade Rodgers against Rodgers and that makes this easy. After six games in 2015, the Packers were 6-0 and Rodgers was an MVP candidate. His QBR was 119. The Packers went on bye and Rodgers went to Mexico. Apparently, his mojo didn’t make it back through customs. After the bye, the Packers’ passing game and Rodgers would basically remain on bye. Rodgers would amazingly not put up another QBR over 100 all season. Even though Rodgers started all 16 games, the Packers would finish 26th in passing, tied exactly in yards with the mighty Tennessee Titans and their rookie QB. Consider that and be dismayed. I am pretty sure that Tom Brady and three girl scouts could finish the season ranked higher than 26th in passing. Rodgers forsook the need for such fundamentals as footwork and progressing through his reads. As a result, balls thrown 5 yards out of bounds and wasted timeouts became the calling card of the 2015 Packers offense. Undoubtably, the Packers’ best offensive play in 2015 was getting the defense to commit a penalty. Leadership was also an issue with Rodgers, often looking like he preferred to be shooting a commercial. Fortunately, Rodgers seemed to rediscover something for the playoffs, decided to lead again rather than wallow, took some risks and became closer to his normal self. His footwork and accuracy on deep balls remained an issue, but he played well enough to keep an undermanned team in it until the defense collapsed in the end. If Rodgers can get back to the fundamentals that made him great while also keeping that aggressive attitude for the playoffs, he can lead this team back to the Super Bowl, finally. If he doesn’t, there is always acting.
Scott Tolzien: S
S stands for syanara. If my keyboard had Japanese letters, I’d go with that.
Brett Hundley: PC
P stands for preseason, when this guy was a star, and C stands for clipboard.
Eddie Lacy: F
We all know the many things that F stands for. If Lacy doesn’t show up in shape to training camp, he might as well turn the hell around and go home. Consider it severance pay.
James Starks: B
I give James Starks a B because he’s a man. He fumbled too damn much this season, and he’s probably never going to catch a pass that was thrown more than five yards. But I forgive that because he runs hard and does a thankless and brutal job. Give me James Starks and that jitterbug from Detroit and we’d have something.
John Kuhn: K
K is obviously for KUUUUUUUHHHHHNNNN! And there is nothing else to say other than enjoy fishing, hunting, the rodeo or whatever retirement brings.
Aaron Ripkowski: C
Fullbacks aren’t especially known for their special teams talent. He is younger and cheaper than Kuhn. That is good enough for me.
John Crockett: I
This guy did a good enough job of working hard that the Packers felt they had to pull him off the practice squad and put him on the team. Predictably, they then barely used him. Other than a brief appearance against Detroit, when Eddie Lacy was in the doghouse, mop-up duty in Arizona and a media manufactured running back controversy, Crockett was an afterthought. Nine carries, 21 yards on the season.
Randall Cobb: C+
I feel for this guy. He busted his ass all season against double coverage, triple coverage and was held mercilessly while his quarterback was either looking the other way, running for his life or aimlessly throwing the ball out of bounds. I would feel worse for him if he didn’t drop 14 balls and hurt himself twice while merely falling to the ground. The Packers need more from him and he knows it. He needs a threat somewhere else.
James Jones: B
For about a 10-game stretch, the screen pass and the back-shoulder pass to Jones was about the only thing the Packers’ passing game could do. Jones was cut by two teams only to come to the Packers and lead the team in receiving yards and TDs. If you do a numbers game, you realize Jones could be the odd man out again. Talk about thankless.
Davante Adams: F
NFL means Not For Long when you play like this jackwagon did this season. When he wasn’t injured, he was dropping balls and acting like it ain’t no thing. Fortunately for him, he did enough before the season to make his quarterback a devout follower. Unfortunately for the rest of us, that led to us having to watch him fail week after week. As a second-round pick, one assumes he has another year to get his act together. If you think that’s because TT plays favorites with his picks, then give Jerel Worthy and Brian Brohm a call and go home and rethink your life.
Jeff Janis: B+
The grade for Janis is mostly based off his special teams performance where he became one of the best gunners in the NFL. His season as a receiver is one of the most confounded mysteries in recent Packers history. As soon as you can tell me why Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren rushed to get Chris Jacke out of town right after winning the Super Bowl — they mailed him his ring — I’ll tell you why the hell Janis spent the season on the bench even while the Packers offense beached like a bloated whale. Mike McCarthy has taken deserved fire after Janis showed himself a difference maker in the biggest game of the season, but keep in mind that Aaron Rodgers was right there with McCarthy. If you aren’t annoyed enough already by this whole fiasco, then consider the fact that there is an assistant coach making six figures whose entire job it is to make sure Janis knows which routes to run and how. That’s it. And yet, after two years of being on the team, somehow Janis still doesn’t know where he is supposed to be. Either Janis scored a negative on his Wonderlic or some coach really sucks at their job.
Jared Abbrederis: C-
Abbrederis started the season the same way he ended the last one — injured. His struggles to make it on the field are less befuddling than Janis because he is a slot receiver and the Packers had one of those. He showed he might have a future at the end of the season. With Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery still on the depth chart in front of him, he’ll still have a battle to see the field regularly next season. I nominate him as the new punt returner since Micah Hyde slipped in those duties this season.
Ty Montgomery: I
Unlike someone else, Montgomery appeared to get off the plane knowing the Packers offense. He looked good early and got injured in week 6. The Packers basically sold a line of crap for two months before admitting the guy was seriously injured and should just shut it down.
Richard Rodgers: C-
Numbers-wise, Richard Rodgers had 58 catches for 510 yards and 8 TDs. Those are probably good enough for a solid B. Unfortunately, Rodgers was also supposed to improve as a blocker and he might have actually gotten worse. If you are a pass-catching tight end who makes enough plays that the defense has to account for you, then you can kind of get by without being a great blocker. When you are a big, slow, red zone type of tight end, then blocking is pretty important. The draft-and-develop model is probably more effective when you stick with the motto — expect the worst and hope for the best. The Packers and Ted Thompson might be guilty of doing the opposite with several of their young players. So, with that in mind, let’s not assume Rodgers is going to show himself to be anymore than he was this season. That means Rodgers is an okay red zone option or second tight end in a two-tight end set, but he is not a starter. The Packers better find one.
Justin Perillo: C-
It’s an indictment against Perillo that he couldn’t get on the field more, considering the guy who was on the field ahead of him. But that’s just it. That’s because Perillo is an average tight end. After coming up off the practice squad, Perillo pulled down 11 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. That puts him squarely in Richard Rodgers’ territory.
Andrew Quarless: F
Consider anything written about him prior to the hiding-behind-a-plant episode to be a complete waste of your time and mine. His days as a Packer could be over. For a guy that won a Super Bowl his rookie year, it is too bad it had to end like this. But you know what they say. Everything ends badly or it wouldn’t end.
Kennard Backman: F
The fastest tight end on the roster never saw the field on offense. Apparently, it is that confounding offense again. Maybe a Backman-Janis-Munn threesome. Hell if I know. In the words of a general from War Games –– “Hell, I’d piss on a spark plug if it’d do any good.”
David Bakhtiari: B-
Injuries and penalties account for the minus. Otherwise, Bakhtiari had a pretty solid season. He improved as a run blocker while only allowing five sacks all season. One of his replacements allowed four in one game. Hopefully Bakhtiari can stay healthy and take his game up one more notch next season. If he can, then the Packers are looking good at left tackle for the foreseeable future.
Josh Sitton: C+
One of the better guards in the NFL, Sitton gets the plus for remaining the best run blocker on the team. However, by most standards, he had his worst season as a pro. He was called for holding six times to equal the team mark of David Bakhtiari. He also amazingly gave up 6.5 sacks, which was more than his left tackle. Sitton has averaged 2.5 sacks allowed per season during his career. That makes 2015 pretty brutal. Of course, the moronic game at left tackle didn’t help.
Corey Linsley: C-
Linsley started and finished okay, but was shaky in the middle of the season like a lot of Packers. He gave up three sacks in 13 games in 2015 after giving up one sack in 16 games in 2014. His run blocking was decent, but not as good as last season either.
TJ Lang: B-
The consensus seemed to be that Lang was the best offensive lineman on the team this season until the final run blocking stats come out. He led the line by only giving up 1.5 sacks and was only called for one penalty all year. However, he gets the minus for his run blocking, where he surprisingly graded out as the worst on the line.
Bryan Bulaga: C-
Injuries, which seem to be a constant for this guy, limited Bulaga to playing in 12 games this season. In those 12, he gave up 5.5 sacks and was called for three penalties. He also is a poor run blocker for a right tackle. Perhaps due to injuries, it appears that David Bakhtiari is now a better tackle than he is.
Don Barclay: F
I warned during the preseason that Barclay is a guard and not a tackle. I pointed out that when he started 14 games in 2013 at right tackle, he was rated by PFF as the 64th-ranked tackle in the league, essentially meaning the worst. The Packers thought otherwise, even having the audacity to allow Barclay to play left tackle, where his lack of foot speed made him a virtual sitting duck. Barclay gave up 10.5 sacks in five games as a result and cost himself a boatload of cash in the process. Should have stuck to guard, Don. He could probably be one somewhere next year, but likely not with the Packers.
J.C. Tretter: B
I don’t know, maybe we should let the guy who played left tackle in college give it a shot. There’s an idea! What fricking MENSA member figured that one out and why isn’t he offensive coordinator? Tretter got spot duty at center and left tackle this season. He gave up one sack and was called for holding once, which I’m pretty sure was bullshit. He is intelligent and athletic, if a little light in the seat to play tackle full time. Still, weight is easier to gain than shed. Get this guy some HGH and he could be the much-needed answer at backup tackle next season.
Josh Walker: F
Walker didn’t get much time on offense in 2015 and thank the gods for that. In his brief appearance, Walker proved himself to be a bigger disaster than Don Barclay. That was in Detroit, where the Packers were so beat up on the offensive line that they had to think about turning to long snapper Brett Goode. The Packers inserted Walker briefly when David Bakhtiari got hurt. They quickly found out Bakhtiari at 50 percent is better than Josh Walker at any percent. It really is a wonder this guy made the team to begin with.
Lane Taylor: C
Taylor got two starts in 2015 and they weren’t a total disaster. The guy isn’t a starter in this league, but appears decently suited to be a backup. The Packers can send him out there and not expect the whole offense to blow up. If they only had two more guys who fell into that category…