It's been a rather interesting first six weeks of the season for the Green Bay Packers.
There have been blowouts and close losses. Players have struggled to perform up to expectations while others have played better than anyone could have expected. And there have been injuries, lots and lots of injuries.
On the surface, some would say it's been somewhat of a disappointing season for Green Bay. However, one way to dig a little deeper into what the Packers have been able to do this year is to look at websites that specialize in breaking down the game.
One site that does this is Pro Football Focus. They look at every play for every player in order to come up with an overall grade for that player.
What we're going to do today is take a look at how the Packers have been playing through six weeks according to advanced statistics.
*All statistics come from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required).
Coming into the season, many expected the Packers to field one of the better offenses in the league. Through the first six weeks of the season, advanced statistics prove that these expectations are true.
The Packers currently have the ninth-best overall offense in the league according to Pro Football Focus. The table below lets you know exactly how the Packers grade out when their overall offense is broken down:
|Green Bay Packers Offensive Grades|
|Via Pro Football Focus|
It should come as no surprise that their passing offense is one of the best in the league. However, what is surprising is the fact that their ground game is respectable this year and their pass blocking is also surprisingly good.
On the other side of the spectrum, rookie offensive tackle David Bakhtiari has the worst grade of any Packers player. His grade of negative-7.3 ranks him as the 12th-worst offensive tackle. While that's certainly a poor grade, Bakhtiari is the only key member of the Packers offense who has a negative grade so far.
Advanced statistics paint a pretty complete picture of an offense that has been dominant at times but has also seen its struggles.
It hasn't been such a good year for the Packers defensively. Sure, some of that is because of injuries to key players like Casey Hayward, Morgan Burnett and Clay Matthews, but there are definitely issues that go much deeper than just injuries.
As of Week 6, the Packers have graded out as the ninth-worst defense in the league per Pro Football Focus. Let's take a look at how these grades look when broken down into each aspect of the defense:
|Green Bay Packers Defensive Grades|
|Via Pro Football Focus|
What's so surprising about these numbers is just how bad Green Bay has been at getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks and in its pass coverage. Being in the bottom five in both of those categories is simply not good.
When you break down the defensive side of the ball, things don't get any better for the Packers. The player with the highest grade is safety Morgan Burnett, but he's only played in 138 snaps this year.
As far as the worst-graded defensive player goes, it should come as no surprise that that player is safety Jerron McMillian. He's been bad enough to garner the third-worst overall grade of any safety in the NFL.
Unlike the offense where most players had a positive grade, the defensive side of the ball is filled with negative grades. Key players like B.J. Raji, Mike Neal, A.J. Hawk and Sam Shields all have negative grades at their respective positions.
All in all, the Packers defense has really struggled according to advanced statistics, and this matches up with what has been seen on the field.
The purpose of advanced statistics is to allow you to dig deeper than what you see on the field. Sometimes this information matches up perfectly with what is seen and sometimes there is information that is shocking.
The Packers' advanced statistics fall somewhere in-between these two extremes. A lot of what the advanced statistics show, such as Jordy Nelson having such a great season, is easy to see. However, the fact that so many defensive players have struggled, especially the likes of Sam Shields and A.J. Hawk, is a little surprising.
Overall, it should come as no surprise after looking at these advanced statistics that the Packers have struggled at times on both sides of the ball. However, there are also the clear signs that this is still a team that opponents need to be extremely concerned about.
It'll be interesting to see which players improve, which players decline and how the offense and defense as a whole plays for the rest of the season.