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Dec 16, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) talk with outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

How the Packers Look at the Premier Positions


Dec 2, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. The Packers defeated the Vikings 23-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2013 NFL season approaches, the NFC seems to be stacking up as a competitive conference. I thought it would be interesting to see how the Green Bay Packers match up against other teams in the NFC. Let’s compare the Packers players at the four premier positions with other top NFC teams at these positions.

The current NFL is dominated by the passing game, and this trend has led to certain positions on the roster becoming higher priorities than others. In the modern NFL, four impact positions have emerged on the field.

These four premier positions are Quarterback (passer), Left Tackle (pass protector), Shutdown Corner (pass defender), and Pass Rusher (4-3 DE or 3-4 OLB).

Notice a theme here?

These four positions have dominated the top picks in the draft for the past several years and are often the highest paid players on the roster. For teams to be successful in the modern pass-happy NFL, they need to find top talent at these four positions.

Green Bay has been fortunate enough the past few seasons to have excellent players at two of the four positions (Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews), but they have had inconsistent play at shutdown corner with Tramon Williams. Williams has put together some good seasons, especially the Packers Super Bowl year, but he has also played poorly at times. Green Bay has also struggled to find a solid blindside protector at left tackle since Chad Clifton went out of the lineup a few seasons ago. Green Bay is hoping that by switching Bryan Bulaga to this position this year the pass protection will improve.

Teams with elite players at these positions often do well in the season, but teams who fail to fill these roles with high-level players, tend to falter when the opposition takes advantage of this weakness. For example, last year Green Bay struggled to find production at left tackle and were overmatched in the playoffs against the Forty-Niners pass rush.

Granted, the other eighteen positions on the field play important roles to a team’s success, and I’m not taking anything away from that. But for teams to be consistent contenders for the championship, they need solid play from the four most important positions on the roster.

So let’s take a look at whom the Packers have at the four premier positions compared to other teams around the NFC. I provided statistics from last season to give us an idea of the player’s performance, but keep in mind that gameday statistics don’t tell the whole story and don’t always reflect the player’s effectiveness on the field.

(*OL stats from: hosted.stats.com)

(*Pass Defensed stats from: pro-football-reference.com)

(*Pass Rush stats from: advancednflstats.com)

 

Green Bay Packers

QB – Aaron Rodgers, 4295 pass yds, 39 TDs, 8 INTs, 108.0 passer rating

LT – Bryan Bulaga, 5 sacks allowed, 9 starts, 5 penalties

CB – Tramon Williams, 2 INTs, 15 passes defensed

OLB – Clay Matthews, 13 sacks, 23 QB hits

 

Chicago Bears

QB – Jay Cutler, 3033 yds, 19 TDs, 14 INTs, 81.3 passer rating

LT – Jermon Bushrod, 4.5 sacks allowed, 16 starts, 6 penalties

CB – Tim Jennings, 9 INTs, 21 passes defensed

DE – Julius Peppers, 11.5 sacks, 15 QB hits

 

Dec 9, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen (69) celebrates his tackle of the Chicago Bears running back for a 1 yard loss in the first quarter at the Metrodome. The Vikings win 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings

QB – Christian Ponder, 2935 yds, 18 TDs, 12 INTs, 81.2 passer rating

LT –  Matt Kalil, 5.5 sacks allowed, 16 starts, 4 penalties

CB – Chris Cook, 0 INTs, 5 passes defensed

DE – Jared Allen, 12 sacks, 20 QB hits

 

Detroit Lions

QB – Matthew Stafford, 4967 yds, 20 TDs, 17 INTs, 79.8 passer rating

LT – Riley Reiff, 0 sacks allowed, 8 starts, 4 penalties

CB – Chris Houston, 2 INTs, 11 passes defensed

DE – Ezekiel Ansah, 4.5 sacks as a senior in college

 

Jan 27, 2013, Honolulu, HI, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) scrambles during the 2013 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. The NFC defeated the AFC 62-35. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Seahawks

QB – Russell Wilson, 3118 yds, 20 TDs, 10 INTs, 100.0 passer rating

LT – Russell Okung, 2 sacks allowed, 15 starts, 9 penalties

CB – Richard Sherman, 8 INTs, 24 passes defensed

DE – Chris Clemons, 11.5 sacks, 20 QB hits

 

San Francisco Forty-Niners

QB – Colin Kaepernick, 1814 yds, 10 TDs, 3 INTs, 98.3 passer rating

LT – Joe Staley, 7 sacks allowed, 16 starts, 5 penalties

CB – Carlos Rogers, 1 INT, 7 passes defensed

OLB – Aldon Smith, 19.5 sacks, 27 QB hits

 

August 18, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) is sacked by New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) during the first quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants

QB – Eli Manning, 3948 yds, 26 TDs, 15 INTs, 87.2 passer rating

LT – William Beatty, 3 sacks allowed, 15 starts, 7 penalties

CB – Corey Webster, 4 INTs, 13 passes defensed

DE – Jason Pierre-Paul, 6.5 sacks, 9 QB hits

 

Dallas Cowboys

QB – Tony Romo, 4903 yds, 28 TDs, 19 INTs, 90.5 passer rating

LT – Tyron Smith, 3 sacks allowed, 15 starts, 10 penalties

CB – Brandon Carr, 3 INTs, 11 passes defensed

DE – Demarcus Ware, 11.5 sacks, 20 QB hits

 

Nov 4, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel (22) takes the field before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Cowboys 19-13. Mandatory Credit: Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons

QB – Matt Ryan, 4719 yds, 32 TDs, 14 INTs, 99.1 passer rating

LT – Sam Baker, 3.5 sacks allowed, 16 starts, 0 penalties

CB – Asante Samuel, 5 INTs, 18 passes defensed

DE – Osi Umenyiora, 6 sacks, 12 QB hits

 

New Orleans Saints

QB – Drew Brees, 5177 yds, 43 TDs, 19 INTs, 96.3 passer rating

LT – Charles Brown, 1 sack allowed, 3 starts, 1 penalty

CB – Jabari Greer, 3 INTs, 13 passes defensed

DE – Will Smith, 6 sacks, 17 QB hits

 

Jan 6, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) drops back to pass during the second half of the NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks at FedEx Field. The Seahawks won 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Redskins

QB – Robert Griffin III, 3200 yds, 20 TDs, 5 INTs, 102.4 passer rating

LT – Trent Williams, 5.5 sacks allowed, 16 starts, 6 penalties

CB – DeAngelo Hall, 4 INTs, 14 passes defensed

OLB – Ryan Kerrigan, 8.5 sacks, 12 QB hits

 

How do you think the Packers hold up against other NFC teams?

Both Seattle and San Francisco look pretty solid at these positions, and Atlanta has top talent at quarterback, left tackle, and corner. These teams could be tough for Green Bay this season.

However, Green Bay definitely has the edge at quarterback over any other team in the conference, and Matthews could go toe-to-toe with the best edge rushers in the league. If the Packers could see improved play at their top corner position and left tackle they could be real contenders.

What do you think Packers Nation? Do you feel confident in the players the Packers have at the premier positions? How do you feel they fair against other teams in the NFC? In the division?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Tags: Aaron Rodgers Bryan Bulaga Clay Matthews Green Bay Packers Roster Analysis