How the Packers Look at the Premier Positions
By Dan Dahlke
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.