Johnathan Franklin easily earned a passing grade for the Green Bay Packers in Week 3.
It was a rather exciting game between the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals in their Week 3 matchup. The Bengals were able to jump out to an early lead, but the Packers stormed back thanks to a handful of turnovers before finally losing when a late drive came up a little short on fourth down.
Of the three games that Green Bay has played so far this year, this one was easily the sloppiest game of the season. Every single unit had their flaws, although some were definitely way worse. Overall, the report card doesn't look very good for the Packers.
Here are the grades for every unit following Week 3's loss.
*All stats via NFL.com.
Key Player: Aaron Rodgers
It's been a long time since anyone has seen Aaron Rodgers struggle as much as he did against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Rodgers finished the game by barely completing 60 percent of his passes for 244 yards. He only threw one touchdown compared to two interceptions. This was the first time since the 2010 season that Rodgers has thrown multiple interceptions in a game, according to ESPN.
However, the bigger issue is that Rodgers loses another close game. As ESPN points out, Rodgers is only 5-17 in games decided by four points or less. This was a tough game for Rodgers, and the Green Bay Packers are always going to struggle when Rodgers does.
Final Grade: C
Key Players: James Starks, Johnathan Franklin
James Starks was on his way to another 100-yard rushing game before getting knocked out of the game with a knee injury. He had 14 carries for 55 yards in the first half alone.
When Starks left, the only running back left on the roster was Johnathan Franklin. He hadn't played a single snap in the first two games, so no one really knew what he'd bring to the field.
To say his performance was shocking would be quite the understatement. Franklin was brilliant, for the most part, gaining 126 total yards and a touchdown. Of course, Franklin also lost a fumble that resulted in the game-winning touchdown for the Cincinnati Bengals.
However, the overall performance from Franklin has to be very encouraging for the Green Bay Packers moving forward. Combining his breakout game with the play of Starks and Eddie Lacy, the Packers now have a three-headed monster in the ground game.
Final Grade: B
Last week the receivers for the Green Bay Packers looked absolutely unstoppable. That certainly wasn't the case in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
In fact, the only receiver to make an impact was Jordy Nelson. He finished the game with a team-high eight receptions and 93 yards.
As for Randall Cobb and James Jones, neither player was impressive in the loss. Sure, Jones had the lone touchdown throw from Aaron Rodgers, but he finished the game with only four receptions and 34 yards.
While the receiving corps weren't playing with a top-notch quarterback like they're used to, they still need to play better than they did this week.
Final Grade: C-
Key Players: Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Ryan Taylor
Had the injury bug not hit Jermichael Finley early in the game, it's likely that this unit would have finished with a better overall grade. However, neither Andrew Quarless nor Ryan Taylor stepped up when Finley left the game with a concussion.
Taylor and Quarless combined for only five receptions and 32 yards on the day. Neither player was overly effective when blocking, either.
If Finley is out for an extended period of time, it could spell major trouble for the Green Bay Packers.
Final Grade: C
Key Players: David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang, Don Barclay
The offensive line is once again one of the hardest units to grade.
On one hand, they opened up holes that produced 182 total rushing yards. On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers was sacked four times and under consistent pressure all game long.
While it's great that the Green Bay Packers finally have a ground game, you can be sure that they'd much rather have better pass protection than run blocking.
Final Grade: C+
Key Players: B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Johnny Jolly
The defensive line of the Green Bay Packers had one of the better days compared to the rest of the units.
They only gave up 82 rushing yards on 24 carries from the Cincinnati Bengals. While they were impressive against the run, they were even better a getting pressure on the quarterback. Mike Daniels is the only defensive lineman with a sack credited to his name, but the entire unit did a great job in this aspect of the game.
They were also key contributors in creating some of the Bengals' three lost fumbles in the game. This unit has played well in each of the weeks, and they continued that streak in Week 3.
Final Grade: B+
Key Players: Brad Jones, Clay Matthews, Mike Neal, A.J. Hawk, Nick Perry
It' likely that this group would have had a much higher grade had Clay Matthews not left the game in the second half with a hamstring issue. Matthews was having a dominant game, including a sack and two forced fumbles, before being taken out.
While the rest of the unit did play one of their better games on the season, they weren't quite as good without Matthews. Brad Jones finished the game with 11 total tackles and consistently made plays all over the field. A.J. Hawk had nine total tackles and even Nick Perry got into the action making a handful of plays against both the pass and the run.
Losing Matthews certainly hurt this unit, but they still got a passing grade for their solid overall play.
Final Grade: B
Key Players: Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Davon House, Micah Hyde
There is no doubt that Sam Shields is the big winner from Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. He was tasked with slowing down star receiver A.J. Green, and he did a fantastic job for the majority of the game.
Green finished the game with only four receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown. Shields, on the other hand, finished the game with four total tackles and the lone interception for the Green Bay Packers.
As for Tramon Williams, he recorded a sack and six total tackles on the game. He wasn't as successful in coverage as Shields, but he still played decent football. Neither Davon House or Micah Hyde made overly notable plays.
The secondary did a good job of slowing down the potentially high-powered passing offense for the Bengals, which is why they receive such a solid grade.
Final Grade: B
Key Players: Jerron McMillian, M.D. Jennings, Chris Banjo
For once, the safeties weren't the worst position for the Green Bay Packers. In fact, Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings played one of their most impressive games against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Neither player gave up big plays like they had in recent weeks. On top of that, Jennings was instrumental in the Packers making a comeback in the first half. He returned a fumble for a touchdown and then came back on the next possession with a huge sack on opposing quarterback Andy Dalton.
Is there still room for improvement from this unit? Of course, but their Week 3 performance should definitely put doubters at ease heading into the bye week.
Final Grade: B-
Key Players: Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Jeremy Ross
Let's just get Jeremy Ross out of the way before we move onto Mason Crosby and Tim Masthay. The first kickoff that Ross touched he fumbled, giving the ball to the Cincinnati Bengals inside the 5-yard line of the Green Bay Packers.
This isn't the first time that Ross has made a horrible play on special teams. While he hasn't had a turnover like this one, he has made numerous poor decisions regarding returns. It'd be a surprise if he remained the main kick and punt returner for the rest of the season.
Outside of Ross, the rest of the Packers special teams had a great game. Crosby hit all three of his field-goal attempts, and Masthay didn't make any major mistakes. In fact, all three of Masthay's punts put the Bengals inside their own 20-yard line.
Had Ross not made such a monstrous mistake, this unit would have had a much better grade.
Final Grade: C-