Favre – A. I considered A- for Favre due to his relatively bad games against the Giants/Bears/Dallas, but he really had a great season and I think it is significant that he had his career-high completion percentage this year – that means better quarterback thinking and better coaching.
Rodgers – B-. Many may wonder how he could not get an A for a top-notch relief effort against the Cowboys – his only real action of the season. He gets the B- for being unable to stay off the injury report. His delicate nature should be a powerful reminder to Packer and NFL fans that Favre’s record streak is one of the greatest records in all of sports. Sure, he had bye weeks at the right time and he may have played too hurt at some points in his career, but when you consider all the other QBs other teams have gone through and the fact that our own back-ups can barely make it through a game, it is impressive. And let me add, Brady and/or Manning may someday break the streak if they both keep it up, but neither of these guys get hit like Favre has – they would have to get an asterisk.
Nall – D+. Nall was really bad in his only opportunity. He was not with the team too long so that is an excuse, but still, he had the previous week of practice and laid an egg with his opportunity.
Running Backs/Full Backs:
Morency – C-. If I graded him based on my expectations going into the season, he would get an F. I thought he would be a big contributor with his shifty style and determination. Unless it changes next year, (if he even makes the team), I might have to admit to Brother Steve that this mancrush was a mistake.
Grant – A. Ryan Grant had an incredible season. He deserves an A, maybe an A+. He runs hard, he has an extra gear we’re all surprised to observe, and he has a great attitude. I disagree with those who think we shouldn’t be somewhat confident that he’s the long term answer – he will be. He will be able to build off of this year and become an even savvier (if you will?) runner going forward. I hate to admit it, but Brother Steve called this one big-time right when the trade happened.
Wynn – C+. Wynn kind of got hosed when he was put on IR mid-season. I know the decision to put him on IR was not just due to the injury he had at the time, but due instead to his history of being a wuss, but still – he could have come back in a few weeks. He did have some flashes and made some special plays this year. If he can be a little more pain-tolerant, I think he could end up being a contributor to this team.
Jackson – C. Poor guy – he had a chance to start for a big-time team and blew it. He was bad and rightfully was replaced as the starter. The end of the year, however, he showed that TT may not have been on something when he drafted him afterall. He looked darn good in some of the final games. I also loved his penalty against Seattle trying to block a punt – when was the last time any Packer coach went after a punter! It was a somewhat costly penalty, but I’d much rather take some chances here and there than play lame/conservative ball all the time.
Hall – B-. Did well for making transition from linebacker. Without game video, it’s so hard to really understand who is screwing up when a run play goes nowhere, but I can’t help but suspect several times, Hall wasn’t making the right block. On the other hand, he clearly, sometimes single-bodiedly (as it were) opened holes for Grant. Overall, I do think this guy has promise and think this year of experience will be a solid foundation for years of productivity.
Kuhn – C+. He stepped in and did a decent job when called upon and made some nice special teams plays. Don’t mind having him around.
Colledge – D+. Not sure if it was as much his fault as people make it out to be, but judging from what the coaches said throughout the season (including the refreshingly blunt Joe Philbin), he did not play well. Platooning with Coston may have disrupted his rhythm, though a solid argument could be that he never had rhythm.
Spitz – C+. I’d have to go back and check, but I think it was Spitz who filled in admirably at center when Wells was out. I don’t think he had a great year at guard, but he was a center in college, so we should probably expect some development time for him in this new position.
Wells – B-. Though some coaches really think highly of him, from my perspective, a good number of the run plays that didn’t go anywhere seemed to have defenders shooting through the middle area, where Wells is. Maybe it wasn’t always his man, but it made me wonder. Still, very solid young player.
Clifton – B. I’m surprised he is going to the Pro Bowl. He has had a few very strong years for the Packers and should have gone before, but I didn’t see this necessarily as a strong year. I’ve read articles from national writers saying he was one of the best in the league this year and I just don’t see it. As McGinn noted, he’s always been a good pass protector which is a critical skill needed in a left tackle with a right-handed quarterback (blindside guy). However, I just don’t think he moves that well on the run blocking. I think Tauscher is quite a bit better than Clifton overall.
Tauscher – A-. He may have had a few errors this year here and there, but overall, he was rock solid again. He should go to the Pro Bowl. His game against Kerney was one of the best games I’ve seen from an O-Lineman. He is very good on the run and more than adequate on pass plays. He is smart and level-headed (and a great guest on Tuesdays with Tauscher on the new 540 ESPN Radio Milwaukee).
Coston – C+. He apparently showed some flashes when he did play, but I didn’t watch him that carefully frankly. There must be a reason they keep him on the roster though.
Driver – A. He is a true professional. He gracefully stood by as more and more national attention was going to Jennings (and even acknowledged at one point that he thought Jennings should be the one going to the Pro Bowl). I think he genuinely takes guys like Jennings under his wing and provides valuable insight. Jennings and the other receivers are really lucky to have Driver on the team. All class.
Jennings – A. Brother Steve has a huge mancrush on Jennings, sometimes scary. He has said from day one that Jennings just has it – just like what Favre said. He does. He has a way of managing his body that seems so fluid, making moves that usually only talented veterans make. The only issue I had with Jennings this year were a couple times on interceptions where he didn’t seem to very aggressively try to disrupt the D-back or prevent the pick.
Jones – B-. I really like James Jones and am trying hard to assess him bias-free. I think he has huge potential and is already quite good. But the truth is, he had rookie moments. It is surprising to me that he led the team in drops considering he has great hands, but he did have some important drops. His fumbles against Chicago also hurt. But these are learning experiences and I expect him to be even better next year.
Martin – B+. When he’s in the game, I don’t know if there is anyone more active than Ruvell Martin. If he is not running a route, he is making tight-end quality blocks. He plays hard and outside of a pretty crucial drop in the Giants game, he had a great year.
Bodiford – C-. He’s another player who had a few opportunities this year that he didn’t seem to take advantage of. Like a few others though, there must be a reason he keeps being asked to come back
Robinson – C+. He had a couple nice kick returns and was an important emotional spark for the team at a time when lots of teams start to mentally/emotionally fatigue. However, he clearly has lost speed and his moves do not appear to be very fluid/evasive. I wouldn’t mind if he sticks around though because he could end up becoming one of those savvy veteran receivers that make contributions somehow whenever called upon.
Coverage Units – B-. Solid overall effort. Few (if any?) runbacks allowed and overall held opponents to average field position.
Return Units – B-. There were a few spectacular plays by Williams, Blackmon, Woodson and one by Robinson. Overall the efforts were solid. But championship teams can usually get a bit more out of the return game to make it a solid X factor in games. Hopefully this will happen next year.
Jon Ryan – B-. Wacky year. Some horrendous plays and at least 2 unreal plays (monster punt in the Detroit game after the bad Bears game and the improv panic run for a first down – up there for play of the year). Still, stats-wise he did reasonably well and he seems to be growing nicely into his potential.
Mason Crosby – B. Very solid rookie year. One hallmark of great teams is that the GMs aren’t afraid to make what seem like questionable personnel moves if they really believe an upgrade is possible. I don’t know of anyone who complained about Dave Raynor after last year so we all assumed finding a kicker was not a priority. TT must have thought differently and seen something in Crosby. He’s tough, he has a good leg, he’s reasonably accurate, he held his own as a rookie and, like this whole roster it seems, he has a great attitude.
Stay tuned for coaching grades.