*This will be a weekly post with updates after each game based on performance.*
A comprehensive win against a virtual lock for the playoffs, the Packers looked solid in their season opener. The beneficiary of some questionable calls, the Packers took advantage of their lone turnover and favorable calls to bury the pesky Seahawks.
Make no mistake, that Seahawks team is arguably the best defense in the league, and the Packers managed to put up 370 total yards on them, and limit Russell Wilson and company to 225. The Packers rolled out their nitro package with decent success, but with lots of questions moving forward. Here’s a breakdown of the Packers’ roster ranking following the comprehensive victory.
The “Super Bowl or Bust” Group
1. Aaron Rodgers – The king remains the king. Outside of a blatant error on his interception early in the 1st quarter, Rodgers kept them afloat. He pushed Seattle early, but couldn’t quite breakthrough until the Daniels strip-sack. Rodgers 12 men on the field radar is already in mid-season form. Should be a fun year on offense.
2. Mike Daniels – Daniels won that game for the Packers. The Packers were struggling early on offense, and were in the midst of a field position battle. Daniels won the field position battle with a strip-sack that lead to a Ty Montgomery touchdown. That went with his monstrous 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and 4 QB hits. Those were video game numbers, let alone for a 3-4 DE. He won’t face Seattle’s porous line every week, but make no mistake, Daniels is the lifeline of that defensive front and sets the tone for the whole defense.
3. David Bakhtiari – He gets a slight drop here, but not of his own doing. He played fine against, arguably, the best pass rush in the league (and, I can’t say enough good things about Daniels’ game the other day). While the line gave up 4 sacks yesterday, most of the time, it was because Rodgers was trying to buy more time to find someone downfield. Look for a ‘bounce back’ game against Atlanta, essentially a poor man’s Seahawk defense.
4. Nick Perry – You could tell from the very first snap, Seahawks backup LT Odhiambo was outmatched. Perry threw him aside and got his first tackle for loss early on. Perry was also part of the strip-sack on Wilson, and had another sack where he just flat-out beat Odhiambo. I want to see a game where they aren’t playing a terrible offensive line, but the Perry/Daniels combo rushes are going to be a helluva lot of fun to watch.
5. Jordy Nelson – Who said Jordy lost a step? Perfectly in sync with Rodgers virtually all day, he immediately ran deep after Rodgers saw the Seahawks with 12 men on the field, and caught the beautifully thrown 32 yard ball for the touchdown. Seattle’s secondary boasts 3 blue chip players, and Nelson shredded them on that play like they were rookies in training camp. Hauling in 6 additional catches for a total of 79 yards, it’s safe to say Nelson is fully back from his ACL tear.
6. Ty Montgomery – 74/82 snaps and 19 rushes. Don’t let the yards per carry fool you, he ran into the heart of the Seattle defense without fear. Again, this is the best defense they will play all year, and Ty managed almost 100 total yards. On his touchdown, he made a great read and cut, and bowled over Kam Chancellor for the TD. He also had some GREAT screen plays, and was difficult to take down in the open field. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again – he is the perfect complement to Rodgers.
7. Bryan Bulaga – Murphy played fine in his absence, but there were some speed rushes that Bulaga could have easily thwarted. There’s just an entirely different chemistry with Bakhtiari and Bulaga on the bookends on pass plays. Both know to throw the speed rushes out wide to open up some scrambling lanes for Rodgers, and that’s just not in Murphy’s repertoire – yet. The Packers will likely live if Bulaga misses another game or 2 (reason for his decreased rank), but he just brings more consistency on passing downs.
8. Corey Linsley – Unspectacular outing drops him a bit, but again, I can’t blame him. The running lanes just weren’t open very often, and there was a decent amount of pressure up the front. I look for the line as a whole to rebound next week against a far inferior defense.
9. Davante Adams – Frequently paired against Sherman, he had some nice breaks off the line, and had some nice shake and bake to his game in the little action he did have.
10. Clay Matthews – Matthews looked ‘healthy’ and like he had a little more quickness to him – but none of it mattered. He just can’t quite attack offensive tackles like he used to lack, maybe because a lack of another gear he had in his youth. He’s still going to get a fair amount of effort sacks(he still goes all out on every down), but Perry and Daniels are likely going to provide a majority of the 1-on-1 wins in the pass rush.
The “Better Luck Next year” Group
11. Morgan Burnett – No change. The Packers played almost entirely in the ‘nitro’ Package, and Burnett played a ton of ILB. He played just fine, and there was no real discernible impact on the run defense with smaller ILB’s. With a tackle for loss, a pass defended and a BEAUTIFUL play to shove Amara Darboh out of bounds, he showed his impact in all facets of the game.
12. HaHa Clinton-Dix – No change after a fairly quiet game from Clinton-Dix. He had 4 tackles and a pass defended. Typically, in a game where Wilson passed for 158 yards, 90 total rushing yards from the Seattle offense, and the Seahawks scored a measly 9 points, no news is good news from your free safety.
13. Randall Cobb – Last week I said he is the most dynamic receiver the Packers have, and this week was a perfect example. He has the best quick twitch, stop & start ability on the Packers offense, and he showed it a few times. He offered the greatest mismatch for the Packers – especially after Jeremy Lane was ejected. People are too quick to forget that Cobb was Rodgers favorite target on 3rd down to pick up first downs. In 2014, Cobb had 2 absolute daggers in the clutch – 1 against the Patriots to ice the victory, and once against the Cowboys in the playoffs to seal the win. Cobb has ice in his veins, and has all the ability the Packers could ever want – health and consistency is crucial for him.
14. Kenny Clark – Dirty work is the name of Clark’s game, and he did a great job at it. He only showed up in the stat sheet with a tackle and a pass deflection, but regularly eating 2 linemen and collapsing the gap and the pocket, he won’t ever light up the stat sheet. His size and effort allow the Packers to run with undersized ILBs in Burnett and Jones without concern. This helps speed up the Packers defense, making him incredibly valuable.
15. Martellus Bennett – A relatively quiet day, he had a huge first down conversion in the later stages of the game that ultimately helped ice the game. What stuck out more to me was the personal foul on K.J. Wright, where he shoved him after the play. Let me first say – yes, it is a personal foul and he ABSOLUTELY deserved to be flagged. There is no room for extracurriculars after the play. However, when you lower your should on a player who is giving himself up, and you’re driving him into the dirt (and for a team known for intimidation by questionable means), I fully support his foul. It shouldn’t matter if he slid forward, you lower you shoulder on a player giving up on the play, let alone a QB, you can’t expect that to go unnoticed. I also feel like Bennett is filling a gap T.J. Lang left void. Lang was NEVER shy about backing Rodgers up and getting in other teams faces. While I hope Bennett doesn’t make a habit of getting penalized, I fully support his defense of QB1.
16. Davon House – He made his presence known early on a screen play where he sliced through the blocking to make a great play behind the line of scrimmage. Much like Clinton-Dix, fairly quiet with no splash plays, but given the lack of productivity by the Seahawk offense, no news was good news here.
17. Lane Taylor – An up and down game, he played admirably against a tough front. A mauler who had trouble mauling in the run game, he should look to rebound against a lesser opponent next week. I don’t ever really expect him to be a top tier guard like Lang or Sitton, but he will always compete.
18. Jahri Evans – A terrible litmus test for how Evans will mesh with the Packers offense, he turned in an okay day.
19. Ahmad Brooks – Injured early in this game, the backups did a fine job in relief of Brooks. I still look for him to have a big impact on the run defense, but this remains to be seen given his limited action.
20. Dean Lowry – Odd man out in the Packers’ ‘nitro’ package with 2 down linemen, he played only 15 snaps. He failed to show up in the stat sheet, but I expect to see a lot more of him in passing downs, and for that goose egg to be an outlier.
The “Average Starter, Important Rotation/Reserves” Group
21. Demarious Randall – Before suffering another concussion, Randall had a heck of a game. He had 6 tackles and a pass defended before leaving the game, and looked at home in the nickel. He did reenter the game after a brief absence. Hopefully he stays healthy, because the Packers may have found something with Randall in the slot.
22. Kentrell Brice – He’s basically the Packers starting Strong Safety. Packers playing primarily in their ‘nitro’ package, that made Burnett a de facto ILB all game and Brice his primary replacement opposite Clinton-Dix. Playing 47/49 snaps, he put up 4 tackles and didn’t look out of place in coverage. He will guaranteed be tested next week against the Falcons quick hitting offense.
23. Quinten Rollins – Leading the Packers in tackles, it’s tough to justify moving him down this list, but he got lost in the fold a few times. He didn’t keep contain on one of the Prosise runs at the end of the half and had a few bad angles in the passing game. Moved to the slot after the injury to Randall, he played ok after the move. Only a 1 spot drop, but he will be tested next week for sure.
24. Blake Martinez – Everything in the pre-season led fans to believe Martinez was second in the pecking order at ILB. However, after out-snapping Jake Ryan 42-5, it was clear the Packers favored Martinez in this matchup. As the primary starter at ILB in the ‘nitro’ package, Martinez played fine, with a tackle for loss and a pair of tackles and no breakdowns in coverage. The Packers don’t really value this position much, and I expect the position to be fluid based on matchups, but Martinez looked fine.
25. Kyle Murphy – Everyone puckered up when they heard Bulaga was going to miss the game, but Murphy held his own. As anyone would expect, there were some up and down moments for the second year player in his first start, but he more then held his own against the best front seven in football. For all the words written this off-season about the Packers’ backup linemen (including myself) this hopefully provides some stability and peace of mind to fans and the Packers alike.
26. Kevin King – The first off the bench, he played fine in his 6 snaps. They are holding him back, but look for him to work his way into the rotation, especially if injuries start happening.
27. Josh Jones – Don’t read too much into Jones’ lack of snaps (zero, to be exact). The Packers knew the importance of this game, and clearly favored experience as opposed to upside. Jones still has a long way to go as far as his understanding of the defense and of pro-style offenses, but he has far too much talent to sit on the bench for long.
28. Kyler Fackrell – He…wasn’t…terrible. Yes, it was a weak offensive line, yes, it was in limited snaps. He had a few decent rushes, and recorded a QB hit and a tackle in just 12 snaps. As a 4th stringer, I’m okay with it – for now.
29. Aaron Ripkowski – Just 22 snaps, he took a backseat to Montgomery on passing downs based purely on pass catching ability. I still think he will get a lot of usage on short yardage and pass protection, but he’s clearly going to be relied upon each aspect less and less as Montgomery progresses.
30. Mason Crosby – Barely snuck in a kick to make it a 9 point game, he had a fine game. He will probably stay here most of the season, barring struggles.
The “Reserves and Below Average Starters”
31. Brett Hundley – Did not play. Still a good disaster relief plan.
32. Lance Kendricks – Packers favored 3 receiver sets over 2 tight end sets against the Seahawks short handed secondary, which left Kendricks out of the mix. Still had a pair of nice catches for 18 total yards. Look for him to be used more in the near future.
33. Jake Ryan – I was stunned to see so little of Ryan in this game. Maybe they liked Martinez’s coverage ability a bit more in the matchup, but given the preseason snap counts, I was stunned to see he only had 5 snaps. This will be an interesting snap breakdown week in and week out.
34. Jamaal Williams – Had 6 snaps when Montgomery got hurt, and had 2 carries for 9 yards. The depth chart here is an enigma, but it seems Williams is the 2nd on the depth chart.
35. Justin Vogel – In a field position battle, Vogel kept the ball away from Tyler Lockett wonderfully. With an average of 43.8, a long of 57, and only 7 return yards, that’s all you can ask for out of the rookie.
36. Richard Rodgers – Limited usage (5 snaps, no receptions) as the Packers went for primarily 3 receiver sets, he will get plenty of usage in 2 tight end sets.
37. Geronimo Allison – He’s the biggest receiver on the roster and has pretty sure hands. He gets the nod over everyone else upon his return and considering the WR behind him got a total of 9 snaps.
38. Joe Thomas – Took a back seat to Burnett as the primary pass coverage ILB, he will still factor in if injuries become a problem. He is a fine 3rd stringer.
39. Jason Spriggs – Yes, Murphy is back up right tackle and he played fine, but the Packers drafted Spriggs expecting him to be their swing man. He may just need more refinement, and the Packers can be somewhat patient with him, but it doesn’t bode well if Bakhtiari were to get injured.
40. Quinton Dial – An inactive last week, he jumps quite a bit because of the Jean-Francois release. Raise your hand if anyone saw that coming…(put your hand down). Does pretty much the same thing as Jean-Francois but has high upside and is just more versatile.
The “Special Teamers and Cut Candidates”
41. Jeff Janis – The teams primary gunner, kick returner, and took 3 snaps at WR, he just does everything the Packers ask of him…minus run clean routes and consistently catch the ball.
42. Trevor Davis – Why he fielded that punt on the 3 yard line is beyond me. Why he fielded 3 punts inside the 10 is inexcusable. He needs to clean up his punt returning skills and fast.
43. Josh Hawkins – An inactive last week, but given the departure of Gunter, he will likely see some playing time this week. He had a stellar preseason, and will look to reward Green Bay’s good faith in keeping him around as a project.
44. Marwin Evans – Primarily a special teamer, he was fine.
45. Brett Goode – He did fine…
46. Justin McCray – Did not play, but was shockingly active, and moved to the backup right guard and center instead of Patrick. Weird fluidity to the Packers OL depth chart.
47. Davante Mays – Did not play, but was a surprising activation over Aaron Jones, who I think many thought had a good pre-season.
48. Lucas Patrick – Did not play. He was a surprising inactive for the game, and has been replaced by McCray as the backup right guard and center in the depth chart.
49. Montravius Adams – He was an injury inactive, and will probably remain here until he gets up to full speed with the playbook.
50. Aaron Jones – Kind of a surprising inactive, I thought he was the most talented back behind Montgomery. Maybe he had an injury, but really, this backfield will be difficult to project.
51. Chris Odom – With the concussion to Brooks, he might need to be active next week, and could see some decent playing time, given the lack of health among that group.
52. Adam Pankey – His addition just doesn’t make sense to me. They already have 10 OL rostered, which is a lot to begin with, and the OLB corps is incredibly thin with Brooks suffering a concussion. Seems like he’s best suited as a guard, which makes this even more questionable, since they are mostly healthy and playing fine. Maybe it’s just a place holder until they get either Biegel or Barclay back? I guess we will see, but boy, this is just a head scratcher.
53. Lenzey Pipkins – Pipkins is the last man standing after Gunter was cut. Given his superb preseason play, and the Packers propensity to keep project CB’s in the weedsf, seems likely he’ll hang around for awhile.
The “Injury & Suspension” Group
Vince Biegel – The more I watch the OLB group, the more I think he makes an immediate impact and inserts himself into the rotation.
Don Barclay – Depending on his health, they may not bring him back. The backups haven’t looked awful yet.