Green Bay Packers Week 5 Report Card: Grading Each Position
NBC reminded us once again (as if we didn’t know) why we waited all day for Sunday night. Personally I waited all week. I don’t know what she was talking about. This is football, not dinner.
Week 5, what a week. The Green Bay Packers made me nervous for the first time this season. With the red carpet that was lain out for the Atlanta Falcons in the first drive of the game, I wondered when I had missed the press release that the team was subbed out for a JV High School Team.
Fortunately the Boys From the Bay riled back, and was able to clinch the only 5-0 standing so far in the league. But with the opening performance that we saw, we need to get a little critical. How did each position really do when you break it down?
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw just four yards short of another 400-yard game against the Atlanta Falcons. Although we saw some struggles, Rodgers still completed 67 percent of his pass attempts. His current rating for 2011 sits at 122.9, but in the Falcons game it was at 117. Compared to other teams though, this is nothing to scoff at.
I give him credit for the way he was able to rally back after looking so visibly shaken after the team's difficult start. Despite four sacks, his highest so far for the season, he was able to keep his head in the game and bring his team to a second-half victory. The only thing the sacks seemed to do was prevent rushing on his behalf, with a final mark of -1, far from last week's 36 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Aaron Rodgers gets an A for his performance. The first half looked dismal, being down by 14 points for this first time since facing Brett Favre as a Minnesota Viking. Bringing it back the way he did, did more than validate his talent.
Defense Needs To Defend Their Choices
Let's just talk about that elephant over in the corner right off the bat. Where was Dom Caper's defense? After bringing him on in 2009 and allowing him to take over the defensive strategizing, Capers brought Green Bay's defense to second best in the NFL after his debut year.
Guess where they're at now?
Despite the 5-0 stance, Green Bay's defense was just ranked 28th according to the Chicago Tribune.
Fortunately there were some save plays later on in the game to redeem the shaky defense, with Bishop sacking Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan and Jaret Bush and Charlie Peprah making game-securing interceptions in the final quarter.
Despite the fact that Green Bay pulled it together in the end, they gave up 14 points as a team who is allegedly one of, if not the, best in the league.
Atlanta was also allowed nearly 27 minutes of play time, despite two interceptions.
Special recognition to linebacker Desmond Bishop, again, that's two weeks in a row from me now. Seven tackles and a sack from a a defense that's struggling is all it takes to impress me this week.
Cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson held their own as well, with three solo tackles and one assist each. For third string, Jarrett Bush didn't do so bad either, securing an interception in the final minutes of the game.
These four I'm all awarding a B, for holding the defense together in a time of peril. Other than that, really Capers? Really?
Wide receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver can't really compare this week. Jennings secured four receptions for 82 yards and one touchdown. Driver, a typical fan favorite, caught one for five.
Despite being second string, WR James Jones was the player of the day in this position, with five reception for 140 yards and one touchdown. The A grade goes to him, keep it up Jones.
WR Randall Cobb is still up there in my book because of his career-opening debut against the New Orleans Saints. Although we haven't quite seen an equal since, we know the potential this player has. His contribution Sunday night was two catches for an additional 26 yards.
Tackles and Guards
I'm not happy with the entire front line of the offense.
At 6:38 in the second, rookie tight end D.J Williams let Atlanta Falcons Weatherspoon blitz and sack Aaron Rodgers while he sauntered up behind him. Thirty seconds after that, rookie tackle Derek Sherrod tripped and allowed Lawrence Sidbury a clear shot up the middle for a second sack near the end zone.
Tackles are going down in my book at a D. This might seem a little harsh for a championship team, but with the exception of Chad Clifton, Green Bay tackles are at two years experience or a rookie. Considering Green Bay has the NFL's best quarterback to defend, maybe Ted Thompson shouldn't have gone so heavy on the linebackers and actually secured the offensive line, something I pointed out right after he solidified the 53-man roster.
All we have to do is look to the Indianapolis Colts to see that if you lose the best, you can quickly drop to one of the worst. As Redskins cornerback Deangelo Hall was stupid enough to actually admit, career ending or not, weaknesses will be exploited.
If you regularly read me as a columnist, you're aware that my respect for Mason Crosby has been increasing every week. The more I pay attention to him as an individual the more pleased I am with him. We will get the A out of the way immediately for him. But, why?
Tying a career-record field-goal length of 56 yards, Mason Crosby once again put more points on the scoreboard than any other individual player. Minus Rodger's contributions of course. He also has the highest field-goal average this year, and hasn't failed Green Bay yet.
A kicker can often make or break the game, and come into play at intense times during the game. When an overtime playoff game is won, or lost, by the kicker, you know special teams is important. Garrett Hartley of the New Orleans Saints knows this. He kicked a game-winning field goal of 40 yards in the 2010 NFC championship game.
As a whole the Packers were able to pull it together to secure their fifth seasonal win. However it wasn't without threat, and defensive coordinator Dom Capers and head coach Mike McCarthy need to look at some serious areas of concern before it's victimized. Green Bay has what it takes to repeat as champions if they can keep it together.
So far they have, but right now it's on shaky ground. As for now, bring on the Rams.