I always wait a few hours after a Packers win to see if I’m still feeling as good as I did right when the game ended. It’s easy to think that every position unit did well after a win, but after letting things settle in, I’m still feeling about the same. Well, about the offense anyway.
This addition of PTTF Grades will be the first time that the offense graded higher than the defense. To be clear, there is no special formula to the grades, this is purely subjective. Feel free to agree or disagree, but the grades I give really are just a gut feeling.
I reviewed the broadcast footage of the Packers-Raiders game several times before I finally put a grade down on paper. In past PTTF grade articles, I used the +2 -2 system that is very popular with coaching staffs. Honestly, I just didn’t feel like I was getting a good feel for how the team was really performing.
This week I wanted to look at each individual position group using a simple A+ to F- scale. I want to look at each group as opposed to the offense or defense as a whole. I feel like grading an entire unit doesn’t really gauge how well a particular unit did. The offensive line may have had some stellar blocks on a particular passing play and the receiver drops the pass, resulting in a negative grade. I think you can see where the system would be flawed. I hope that this system gives you a little more insight as to how I really think the Packers performed on Sunday.
It would be hard to give any less of a grade after the way Rodgers played on Sunday. He certainly had one of the best games of his career and ended the day with a perfect passer rating. Rodgers seemed to find receivers all over the field, with his touchdown throws coming mostly towards the boundary. The passing game was electric. Rodgers had one of those games where you felt that he had the ability to throw a touchdown every time he touched the ball. The timing and rhythm were there all afternoon.
Running Backs: B
As you can see from the chart, Jones didn’t hit a lot of big runs, but this was one of those games where you could hand him the ball and expect him to get 3-4 yards a carry. Nothing fancy, but just enough to get the job done. Jones was a decent go-to player on third and short, as he lowered the pads and picked up the yards when called on. LaFleur did a few things to try to get him involved in the game in a different way, such as putting him in the slot and trying to reach the edge while in the red zone. Jones was really the only back who was involved in the run game against Oakland.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B
With Adams still out, I was a little concerned about this position group. Shortly after the game started though, there was no doubt that they were well prepared. Rodgers was able to spread the ball around to multiple receivers who came up big. There were a few big drops, but nothing detrimental to the outcome of the game. The biggest surprise to me was Jimmy Graham. I’ll admit, I’ve been critical of Graham this season, but he proved me wrong against Oakland. He finished the day with 4 receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown. The most important stat of all was that he had zero drops. I think LaFleur is finding ways to get Graham more involved in the passing game, most notably in the slot position, where I feel he is most comfortable.
Valdes-Scantling had a big time reception for a touchdown late in the game. Aaron Jones threw a crucial block and Scantling was off to the races. It was also good to see Kumerow, Allison, and Lazard get in the action. Lazard had one easy drop but again, this group shined throughout the day.
Offensive Line: A-
It seemed as if Aaron Rodgers had all day to throw in the pocket. The offensive line did a solid job all game, both in the passing game and run game. I noticed several key blocks thrown by Jenkins in the run game that sprung some decent runs. Jenkins is turning out to be one of the biggest assets to the offensive line. He does a nice job of combo-blocking to the second level and reaching the linebacker. The offensive line did surrender a sack, but it seemed like after that there were little to no issues. Both tackles had a stellar game as well. I was paying close attention to them because I knew that Oakland would try to throw something in the mix to get the Packers line off balance. They handed the rush with ease all game.
Defensive Line/Edge: B
The defensive line was again on point this week. Oakland runs a lot of big on big concepts, so I knew that the defensive line would have to hunker down and control their gaps. I know that the all-22 film will give a better insight into how the defensive line did, but from what I saw they flowed to the ball nicely and, more importantly, they were able to rally to the running back. Kenny Clark went down with an injury in the game which gave me a little concern, however, Montravius Adams was able to step in and fill the role. I really think Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster have done a good job stepping up and finding their role in this defense as well. Kenny Clark was the leading tackler on the defensive line with 5 total tackles.
On the edge, both Za’Darius and Preston Smith had a big game. While they weren’t the force we’re used to seeing against the pass, they were able to string out the run which allowed the defense to rally to the football. This may have been one of their best days against the run.
Inside Linebackers: C
The inside linebackers didn’t give me a warm feeling after this game. Martinez was decent in the run game, but when it came to defending the pass he was lost. He either got too much width on his coverage drops or too deep. The Raiders had several easy throws over the middle in man coverage. With Pettine playing a lot of cover 3, this meant that the unoccupied zone was left by either Martinez or Goodson. I haven’t been overly-thrilled with Martinez this season. The run fits haven’t looked as clean as we’ve seen in the past. There were several that he overran which left a gaping hole in the cutback. I still feel like there is a lot of questions to be answered at this position.
Defensive Backs: D+
I’m going to state the obvious; the defensive backs did not have a good game. At all. Early in the game, the Packers were playing a zone heavy scheme. Miscommunication was the main problem with this group. In the first half alone I counted 5 busted plays. This was surprising, given how well they have played so far this year. Thankfully, one touchdown was called back due to a hold, but the receiver was wide open when he caught the football. The interesting thing is that the Packers have faced more exotic offenses this season. I can understand some problems against and offense like Philadelphia’s. Their offense is one of the more modern in the league, mostly because of the amount of RPOs they run. The Raiders, on the other hand, don’t seem that way. A lot of what Jon Gruden wants to run stems from his old west-coast days. Mike Pettine had to run more man coverage in the second half to cut down on the confusion, which was the best move he made all day.
Special Teams: C+
The bright spot on special teams was J.K. Scott. He was able to boom a few punts that set the defense up nicely. Scott has been an incredible asset on special teams, though it usually flies under the radar. Some fans don’t understand how a few big punts can really change the momentum of the game. The biggest disappointment was the kickoff return team. Blocking has been one of the biggest problems for them, as they just can’t seem to turn the corner (literally).
This is so often overlooked, but punts like this from JK are big-time momentum shifters. Any time the offense starts their drive inside the 20 its a relief to the defense. pic.twitter.com/EUek1j5RE3
— Ben Clubb (@PTTF_Ben) October 21, 2019
This is the second time this season that the offense has been graded higher than the defense. While things are trending up for the offense, my hope is that the defense hasn’t gotten too lax. If this team can find the right combination of both they could be a force to be reckoned with.
Follow me on Twitter: @PTTF_Ben