I’ve always enjoyed checking the league statistics in mid-week to see how the Green Bay Packers’ stars are doing in comparison to others in the league. Aaron Rodgers, of course, has been at or near the top of the QB rankings for years. Clay Matthews used to regularly be among the top five or 10 players on the sacks list. Jordy Nelson’s stats were often right up there with the other top receivers in the league.
Following individual player stats is not as enjoyable for Packers fans this year.
Among NFL quarterbacks, Rodgers is 19th in passing yards per game. Due to his last three outings, however, he has climbed up to 11th place in passer rating.
Looking at the rushers, Eddie Lacy (remember him?) is somehow still 23rd in rushing yardage. Ty Montgomery is 90th and James Starks is 111th, but the Packers do have the 54th best rusher in the league — that Rodgers guy again.
The Packers have also come upon hard times in the receiving yardage rankings. Davante Adams is in 37th place, Jordy Nelson is in 41st, and Randall Cobb is in 50th.
On the defensive side, Jake Ryan is tied for 46th, Blake Martinez is tied for 69th, Morgan Burnett is tied for 74th, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is tied for 121st in tackles. The last ranking is quite a disappointment, as Clinton-Dix was supposed to be destined for stardom. I also had predicted that Martinez would be a “tackling machine” for the Packers – but so far his 40 tackles (solo and assists) is fewer than I had hoped, but he’s young and has time to continue to develop.
The Packers’ sack leader is tied for 13th among his peers – but instead of the usual names, it’s Nick Perry. Julius Peppers is tied for 38th and Clay Matthews is tied for 46th.
That leaves us with interceptions. We’re almost halfway through the season and no Packers player has more than one interception. Damarious Randall, Joe Thomas, Burnett, Perry, and Martinez are tied with 93 others in 37th place. Worse yet, Casey Hayward, who left the Packers and joined the Chargers in March, has only one fewer pick than does his entire former team!
Things aren’t much better in various other categories. Jacob Schum is 31st in punting average. Montgomery is tied for 23rd in kickoff return average. Trevor Davis is one bright spot, as he is fifth best in punt return yardage. However, that’s based on only six returns, and is mostly due to his 55-yard return against Atlanta, which makes his ranking totally misleading.
After drafting no higher than 21st over the last nine years, the Packers have not been in a position for quite a while to select any near-sure-fire stars. Among their first draft picks that have worked out the best in the last decade are Clay Matthews (No. 23 in 2010) and Jordy Nelson (No. 36 in 2008 – they had no first round choice that year). Nor can I think of any diamonds in the rough, or lower round draft choices, who are considered to be near the top of their profession at their position, though Mike Daniels (132nd overall, 4th round, in 2012) is knocking at that door.
The current Packers’ roster is for the most part solid, but there are few players who are – or appear on their way to becoming – true NFL stars.
Until a year and a half ago, Aaron Rodgers was the brightest star in the NFL firmament. The last three games suggest that his star is once again ascending.
This little meander about Green Bay’s current star power quotient serves as a reminder, not a revelation, that Aaron Rodgers has carried this team on his back for close to a decade now. The prospect – regardless of the other 52 players on the roster – is that the team will continue to prosper or fail based on the quality of his play for another five years or more.