Sunday, November 21, 2010

Midseason Rankings of 2010 Green Bay Packers

The 2010 Green Bay Packers have suffered a ton of serious injuries so far this season, which has forced them to place 11 players on injured reserve after only 9 games. Here is a list of players placed on injured reserve between opening day and today, along with my initial ranking (53 players are on the roster) for each of them:
#46 - Justin Harrell (DE)
#43 - Derrick Martin (S)
#33 - Brady Poppinga (OLB)
#24 - Mike Neal (DE)
#23 - Morgan Burnett (S)
#18 - Brad Jones (OLB)
#17 - Mark Tauscher (T)
#9 - Nick Barnett (MLB)
#7 - Ryan Grant (RB)
#5 - Jermichael Finley (TE)

If you look back at my initial rankings of the 2010 Green Bay Packers opening day roster, a number of rankings have changed. Some players have stepped up, while others continue to wallow on the bench.

Based on losing all of the players above for the season, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson has had to add 10 new faces to the 53-man roster between the start of the season and today. In parenthesis is my opening day ranking for each player. You will notice that 10 guys have a ranking of NR because they have been added to the roster in place of the aforementioned 10 players placed on injured reserve. Without further ado, here is the list:

#53 (53) - Nick McDonald (G):
Why not bring in a dedicated return man instead of subjecting Jordy Nelson, Tramon Williams, and Sam Shields to injury? McDonald has been inactive for every game this season, which is why I am 100% convinced that the Packers would be better off with a dedicated return man than McDonald. McDonald may be good down the road, but the Packers need a dynamic return man in 2010 much more than a potential starting guard in 2012. Remember the impact that Desmond Howard had in helping the Packers win Super Bowl XXXI?

#52 (NR) - James Starks (RB):
Starks is a big back that the coaches have been impressed with, but he has been injured for over two years. As a result, Starks has not played in a competitive football game since January of 2009. Look for the Packers to slowly incorporate Starks into the offense, which will be helpful since the Packers have been thin at running back since losing starting running back Ryan Grant for the season in week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

#51 (NR) - Spencer Havner (TE):
After getting cut at the end of training camp, Havner was picked up and subsequently cut by the Lions...ouch. With the loss of Finley, the Packers brought Havner back because no one has stepped up in place of Finley. Will Havner be the answer? Probably not, but Havner gets the Packers back to having 4 tight ends on the roster again. If Havner can stay healthy he will end up in the 30's for the final rankings, but that is a big if.

#50 (NR) - Diyral Briggs (OLB):
Biggs has only been active against the Cowboys for the Packers this year. Briggs looks to be mostly a special teams player. The Packers are in trouble if Briggs is getting regular snaps on defense in a close game as well.

#49 (NR) - Erik Walden (OLB):
Walden was active against the Jets and Cowboys. Walden looks to be just slightly better than Briggs, but much like Briggs, the Packers are in trouble if Walden gets regular snaps on defense in a close game.

#48 (NR) - Matt Wilhelm (MLB):
Thompson normally does not add a veteran like Wilhelm during the season. Instead Thompson prefers to add young players like Briggs and Walden. With all the injuries the Packers have suffered at linebacker this year, Wilhelm is a veteran middle linebacker that the Packers need to not only play but also provide veteran knowledge and leadership for the young Packers defense.

#47 (50) - Quinn Johnson (FB):
With all the talent on the Packers roster going into the 2010 campaign, Johnson looked like one of the first guys that would get cut when the Packers had to add players. Fortunately for Johnson, injuries have forced the Packers to add players at other positions. Whether the Packers suffered injuries or not this year, carrying 3 fullbacks is still a joke.

#46 (44) - Marshall Newhouse (T):
With offensive tackle Mark Tauscher (ranked #17 at the start of the season) lost for the season to a shoulder injury, Newhouse might be forced into action if the Packers suffer another injury along the offensive line. Newhouse has long arms, which makes him an ideal candidate to play left tackle down the road.

#45 (NR) - Atari Bigby (S):
After missing most of the off-season because of a contract dispute, Bigby reported to training camp with an injured ankle. As a result, the Packers had to place Bigby on the physically unable to perform list so he has only appeared in one game for the Packers this year. If things continue this way, 2010 is looking like a lost season for Bigby.

#44 (NR) - Anthony Smith (S):
The Packers sent the Jacksonville Jaguars a conditional 7th round pick to re-acquire Smith this year. It still boggles my mind why the Packers cut Smith before the 2009 season. Smith looks to be mostly a special teams player that might see some action at safety if the Packers suffer yet another injury.

#43 (51) - Brett Swain (WR):
With Donald Driver hobbled, Swain is getting more snaps on offense than expected in 2010. The Packers continue to keep Swain on the roster despite better wide receivers being on the free agent market. It must be Swain's play of special teams, because he has shown little as a wide receiver to justify his place on the roster.

#42 (NR) - Dimitri Nance (RB): the Packers signed Nance off the Atlanta Falcons practice squad. People complain about the Packers failure to trade for Marshawn Lynch or Jerome Harrison, but it was the Packers failure to add a guy like Ryan Torain (current Washington Redskin running back) that really hurts. Torain was a free agent when the Packers signed Nance so they could have gotten Torain for nothing. Nance might be good, but his lack of carries despite being on the roster for 8 games is telling.

#41 (37) - Brandon Underwood (CB):
Going into training camp Underwood looked like the odds on favorite to hold the nickel cornerback job (3rd on the depth chart). A little more than halfway through the season the Packers have him no higher than 5th on the cornerback depth. No one besides Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson know whether it is because of the cloud surrounding his off the field issues or his play.

#40 (48) - Pat Lee (CB):
Lee showed some promise returning kickoffs, but as usual, got hurt. I feel for Lee on personal level but as a professional he needs to be on the field more often. If not, it is time to cut Lee in the uncapped year and move on without him.

#39 (NR) - Howard Green (DT):
When the Packers claimed Green off waivers from the Jets before their match-up with the Jets, it was just what the doctor ordered. The Packers sorely needed a big body to add along the defensive line. Green was one of the keys to the Packers beating the Jets. Get out your “Grave Digger” shovels because Green looks like the 2010 version of Gilbert Brown.

#38 (47) - Tom Crabtree (TE):
With the injury to Jermichael Finely, the tight end position went from a position of strength to a pedestrian group of guys. Crabtree blocks well but it is questionable whether Crabtree will become a receiving threat in the second half of the season.

#37 (45) - Jarrett Bush (S):
I might be wrong on Bush. Initially I thought it was a waste of a roster spot to keep Bush, but he has proven to be a consistent player on special teams. Bush has cut down on penalties and justified Thompson’s decision to keep him on the 53-man roster.

#36 (NR) - Jarius Wynn (DE):
After getting cut at the end of training camp, Wynn was on the street until the Packers re-signed him following the inevitable Justin Harrell season ending injury. Wynn was the 182nd pick in the 2009 NFL Draft and has sadly given the Packers more than Harrell, the 16th pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

#35 (35) - Jason Spitz (G/C):
Going into the season, Spitz was the #1 back up at left guard, center, and right guard. Fortunately with all the injuries the Packers have suffered on both sides of the ball, one of the only places they have been healthy all season is the three interior offensive line positions.

#34 (31) - T.J. Lang (G):
Apparently Lang is not fully healthy yet because the Packers were working rookie first round draft pick Bryan Bulaga at left tackle and left guard. When starting right tackle went down, the Packers went with Bulaga instead of Lang. Lang still looks to have promise, but he will have to prove that 2009 was not a one-year flash in the pan.

#33 (40) - Donald Lee (TE):
By all accounts, Lee is a nice guy off the field but he still doesn't do enough for me on the field. Look for the newly acquired Havner to take away snaps from Lee when the Packers are looking to pass.

#32 (52) - C.J. Wilson (DE):
Wilson looked too small to play defensive end in the 3-4 and too slow to play outside linebacker. As a result, Wilson did not look like a match for the 3-4 defense. Fortunately, Wilson has put in the hard work to prove all the critics wrong and play well as a back up at defensive end in the 3-4.

#31 (49) - Andrew Quarless (TE):
This is based on potential more than production, because Quarless has yet to make a clean catch the entire season. His only touchdown "catch" stood because Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress failed to challenge the play. Some people compared Quarless to Finley in terms of their physical skills. Half way through his rookie season, Quarless has shown that he has a ways to go to get compared to Finley.

#30 (26) - Matt Flynn (QB):
The Packers tried a fake against the Vikings with Flynn throwing a deep pass to Andrew Quarless that should have been caught but Quarless tripped. As a result, I stand by my assertion that Flynn should be the holder instead of Masthay. Again one of my favorite journalists Bob McGinn completely disagreed with me in his chat, but I stand by the assertion. Flynn got some garbage time snaps against the Cowboys. It is still hard to tell whether Flynn is an NFL caliber quarterback…hopefully the Packers will not have to find out in 2010.

#29 (38) - Korey Hall (FB):
Converted from linebacker to fullback. With the Packers lack of quality depth at linebacker, may be the Packers should give him a few reps at linebacker like they did with newly re-acquired tight end Spencer Havner.

#28 (42) - Brett Goode (LS):
Recently the Packer tried wide receiver James Jones and offensive lineman Josh Sitton at long snapper. I understand that long snapping is a very specific skill but I am still amazed that teams cannot teach their starting and back-up centers to be the long snapper. Not only would it save a roster spot, but it would also provide some continuity at the snapper position. That said, Goode has been almost perfect in 2010 so the Packers might not want to mess with a good thing.

#27 (20) - Brandon Chillar (MLB):
Injuries have kept Chillar on the sidelines for a good portion of the season. With Bishop thriving in a starting role at middle linebacker, the Packers might be forced to decide whether they part ways with Barnett, Hawk, or Chillar in favor of Bishop because keeping all of them would mean the Packers have way too much money invested in four middle linebackers when only two can play at a time.

#26 (34) - Tim Masthay (P):
After a rough start to the season, Masthay's performance on the road against the New York Jets in windy conditions might have saved his job for the season. Masthay doesn't look like a franchise punter yet, the real test will be how he performs in the nasty weather conditions at Lambeau Field in December.

#25 (27) - Mason Crosby (K):
Crosby has pulled a Dennis Green "being who we thought he was". Crosby missed a tough game winning field goal on the road against the Washington Redskins as time expired. If Crosby made the aforementioned kick, he probably would have been ranked 5 spots higher on the list. Unfortunately Crosby continues to be just an above average place kicker as opposed to an excellent kicker. Plus, Crosby still hasn't had to kick in horrible conditions yet, so December might be a make-or-break month for Crosby.

#24 (19) - Jordy Nelson (WR):
Nelson has not taken the opportunities presented by the absence of Donald Driver to thrive in the passing game. Nelson still does not look like a #1 or #2 wide receiver. The Packer tried Nelson on kickoff returns, but much like Kuhn being pedestrian at running back, Nelson is pedestrian at kickoff returns. After his horrible two fumble performance that almost lead to a home loss to the Lions for the first time since the Model T was invented, the Packers are trying Sam Shields on kickoff returns.

#23 (39) - Frank Zombo (OLB):
With Brad Jones and Brady Poppinga lost for the season, Zombo is the starting outside linebacker opposite of Claymaker for now. Zombo looks better than an undrafted free agent but still not talented enough to be a legitimate starting outside linebacker in the NFL yet. Zombo is the beneficiary of playing opposite Claymaker. With teams forced to double Claymaker, Zombo has been able to make some plays.

#22 (29) - John Kuhn (FB):
With starting running back Ryan Grant lost for the season, the Packers have used Kuhn as their back-up running back. Kuhn is a good blocker but does not possess the breakaway speed to break off a big run or the power to consistently pick-up a yard in short yardage situations.

#21 (28) - Brandon Jackson (RB):
Each week Jackson gets better and better in place of the injured Ryan Grant. Jackson has shown that he will never be an every down running back like Grant, but his confidence continues to increase each week. As long as Jackson holds onto the ball, the Packers will be fine for the rest of 2010 with Jackson as their starting running back.

#20 (41) - Charlie Peprah (S):
The most undervalued player on the initial rankings. Peprah has played well enough to keep Atari Bigby and Anthony Smith on the sidelines.

#19 (21) - James Jones (WR):
In a contract year, Jones was supposed to have a breakout year. Unfortunately Jones has had breakout games followed by horrible games. With Donald Driver hobbled by injury for most the season, Jones had a chance to take the #2 receiving job and run with it. Instead Jones has had huge fumbles (lead to a loss to the Bears on Monday Night Football) and games riddled with drops. Jones looks like a guy that thrives as a 3rd receiver because of the mismatch it creates as opposed to a 1st or 2nd receiver.

#18 (36) - Desmond Bishop (MLB):
In my initial rankings I talked about how Bishop was "Mr. August" because he always impresses in training camp but never plays in actual games. I went on to say the only way that Bishop would get on the field in 2010 was a catastrophic injury at middle linebacker. Well that catastrophic injury happened to starting middle linebacker Nick Barnett. Fortunately Bishop has stepped up and performed admirably in place of Barnett. Bishop has played so well that the Packers need to seriously consider extending Bishop's contract before the end of the season when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

#17 (22) - Daryn Colledge (G):
With a little more than half the season in the books, Colledge has played above average at left guard. Unfortunately for Colledge, the Packers have quality back-ups (Spitz, Lang, Newhouse, and McDonald) on the offensive line so he still might not get the big extension he wants.

#16 (30) - Sam Shields (CB):
One of the biggest surprises and reasons why former starting cornerback Al Harris is playing for the Miami Dolphins instead of the Green Bay Packers. Coming out of the bye week the Packers are going to try Shields in the return game, something I have been calling for all season.

#15 (32) - A.J. Hawk (MLB):
Hawk has come up with a bunch of big plays this season. Although Hawk still has not justified being the #5 pick overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, he is making the Packers think twice about bringing him back in 2011 despite his $10 million salary.

#14 (25) - Bryan Bulaga (T):
With the loss of starting right tackle Mark Tauscher for the season, Bulaga has justified being a first round selection in less than one full NFL season. Whether Bulaga is the left tackle of the future in Green Bay is still up for debate. Bulaga has made a few rookie mistakes but has played well in place of Tauscher.

#13 (12) - Donald Driver (WR):
Out family hopes we didn't personally put the hex on Driver. Before the Packers/Vikings Sunday Night Game, Cheesehead Chick got her first NFL jersey...a Donald Driver jersey. I totally supported the decision because of Driver's back-story and consistent performance for the Packers over the last decade. Since then, Driver has not caught a ball…sorry DD.

#12 (15) - Scott Wells (C):
The anchor of the offensive line continues to play at a high level. Wells name has not been mentioned that often this year, which means he is doing what he is supposed to do along the offensive line.

#11 (8) - Ryan Pickett (DE):
Pickett has struggled with injuries this year. Despite Pickett being hobbled and losing up-and-coming rookie defensive lineman Mike Neal, the Packers have still been able to get a pass rush thanks to the emergence of C.J. Wilson and Jarius Wynn. That said, the Packers are much better with a healthy Pickett in the line-up

#10 (11) - Cullen Jenkins (DE):
Despite playing most of the season with a club on his hand, Jenkins has gotten the most consistent pass rush of any defensive lineman on the roster. Jenkins claims he would have had 5 more sacks without the club. That is up for debate, but what is not up for debate is that without Jenkins the Packers would be a 5-4 team, at best, as opposed to a 6-3 team.

#9 (14) - Chad Clifton (T):
When the Packers signed Clifton to a three-year contract in March, it looked like a one-year deal depending on how healthy he was at the end of the season. With Bulaga playing well at right tackle, Clifton has played even better at left tackle and deserves every chance to keep his job at left tackle in 2011 as long as he is healthy.

#8 (3) - Greg Jennings (WR):
The Packers have tried to get Jennings involved in the offense but his numbers are still down this year despite the Packers missing wide receiver Donald Driver and tight end Jermichael Finely. You would think with less people to throw the ball to, Jennings numbers might go up. In fact the exact opposite has happened. Defenses are keying on Jennings, which has lead to a down year for him so far. I expect the Packers to make some adjustments in the bye week and Jennings will have a big second half in 2010.

#7 (6) - Nick Collins (S):
Part of the reason that Charlie Peprah has looked so good filling in for injured rookie safety Morgan Burnett is Nick Collins. Safeties like Collins have so much range that they make the other players around them look better. Collins has made some spectacular plays (think of his interception of Favre on Sunday Night Football) this season. The only knock on Collins is that he dropped a few interceptions this year. Either way, Collins is carrying on the tradition of wearing jersey #36 well.

#6 (2) - Charles Woodson (CB):
As I have mentioned a few times before on the blog, I chart games for Football Outsiders. One of the things that I have to mark down when charting games for Football Outsiders is the defender targeted for each pass thrown. I have written “21-C.Woodson” much more than “38-T.Williams” this year. One theory is that Woodson covers the best receiver on the other team. Even if that is the case, Williams is shutting down his receiver more than Woodson this year. It is amazing that the NFL defensive player of the year is not the best player at his position on his own team the next year, but that shows just how well Tramon Williams is playing in 2010.

#5 (10) - Josh Sitton (G):
Sitton continues to impress and looks like the starting right guard in Green Bay for the next decade if the Packers are willing to pay Sitton. Sitton's combination of size, strength, and agility is rare at the guard position, so the Packers would be wise to extend Sitton.

#4 (16) - Tramon Williams (CB):
Despite being up-and-down in the preseason, Williams had been the best defensive back for the Packers in 2010. You read that correctly, Williams is playing better than safety Nick Collins and cornerback Charles Woodson. The Packers let former starting cornerback Al Harris go, in part, because of how well Williams has played in 2010. Williams is in a contract year so the Packers need to extend Williams soon or risk losing him to free agency in the off-season, which would be a catastrophic loss.

#3 (13) - B.J. Raji (NT):
Raji has been the playing time MVP of the defense in 2010. With all of the injuries the Packers have suffered along the defensive line, Raji has played the most snaps of any defensive lineman by a mile. Not only has Raji been healthy, but he has also played extremely well. There is no way that the Packers defense would be getting all the turnovers they are creating right now without Raji plugging up the middle so well.

#2 (1) - Aaron Rodgers (QB):
When Rodgers took over the starting job in 2008, some thought he forced the ball to wide receiver Greg Jennings. Last year Rodgers spread the ball around much better. Unfortunately this year Rodgers forced the ball into dynamic tight end Jermichael Finely much like he did with Jennings in 2008. When the Packers lost Finley for the season, Rodgers seemed to lose his rhythm with the offense. In the bye week, I hope the Packers took time to make sure everyone is incorporated in the offense so the second half can look more like the Packers/Cowboys game than the Packers/Redskins game.

#1 (4) - Clay Matthews (OLB):
I am not too sure if you have noticed lately, but I am calling Clay Matthews "Claymaker" on the blog because not only do I like the name but it succinctly describes how well he is playing. Claymaker is putting together quite an impressive resume in only a year and a half wearing the Green and Gold and quickly turning into the most dynamic defensive players in the NFL. Claymaker leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks this year, making him the only player in Packers' history to register 10 sacks in each of their first two seasons in the NFL. Claymaker was named NFC defensive player of the month for September. Claymaker also earned his 2nd defensive player of the week award this year and 3rd all-time. As a result, Claymaker joined Charles Woodson (4 times) and Reggie White (3 times) as the only Packers to be named NFC defensive player of the week at least 3 times. Something tells me Claymaker is going to break Chuck's record in short order. Let me leave you with something to ponder, 51 of the 53 NFL's most valuable players have been on the offensive side of the ball (two defensive players were: Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page in 1971 and New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986)…could Claymaker be the 3rd all-time in 2010?

No comments:

Post a Comment