Green Bay Packers: Stock Up, Stock Down Report

Oct 9, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) is tackled by New York Giants cornerback Leon Hall (25) after catching a pass during the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) is tackled by New York Giants cornerback Leon Hall (25) after catching a pass during the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

The latest Packers victory over the Giants wasn’t quite what most of us expected in that both sides combined to score only three touchdowns in a 23-16 field-goal fest in which both offenses appeared to lack any sort of sustainable rhythm.

The Green Bay attack was the superior of the two due to a promising first drive culminating in a two-yard Aaron Rodgers-to-Jordy Nelson touchdown pass and the strong running of Eddie Lacy.

Despite the invigorating start, though, the Packers were unable to put the inferior opponent away.

Much of the blame has to be placed on Mike McCarthy’s reluctance to continue riding Lacy for much of the second quarter in favor of James Starks.

What ultimately won this game was the defensive front seven, which shut down New York’s running game by limiting the opposition to 2.9 yards per carry and relentlessly harassing Eli Manning with a fierce pass rush.

Packer backers should be relieved that their boys grinded it out and prevented Manning and company from ever gaining any kind of real momentum.

But those that think this 3-1 franchise can continue achieving successful results against top-echelon teams with the type of offensive performance they provided in Week 5 need to step in their showers and turn on the cold water full blast.

Much work lies ahead for McCarthy’s troops with a red-hot Dallas Cowboys team looking to add to its impressive 4-1 record next Sunday.

This week’s stock report examines which players rose to the occasion in yesterday’s tilt and which ones aren’t fulfilling expectations. This detailed analysis will look to serve the purpose of identifying what’s working and what isn’t with the end goal of concluding what types of changes need to be made.

Here are your Week 5 heroes and zeroes.

Whose Stock Is Up

Eddie Lacy: The fourth-year veteran used his quick feet and pure brute physicality to string together several exciting runs that went for 11, 12 and 31 yards in the first half. He not only dropped his shoulder and buried oncoming defenders, but he also used his vision to run away from the blitz and spin his way out of trouble. McCarthy mysteriously opted to go with Starks in the lineup for long stretches despite Lacy having the hot hand in the latter stages of the second quarter. The bruising ball carrier limped off the field with an unspecified ankle injury in the third quarter and sat out the rest of the game.  He finished the night with 81 yards on 18 carries, but could have had 150 at the rate he was going.

Aaron Ripkowski: The young fullback made his presence felt by often serving as a lead blocker for Lacy on a number of bug runs that went right into the teeth of the opposition. It was great to see “Rip” charge ahead and carry a small nation of defenders with him on a 13-yard carry where the 246-pound back kept churning his legs and refused to go down.

Randall Cobb: It was only a matter of time before the slot receiver began seeing more targets go his way as Cobb bounced back in grand fashion from an lackluster showing in Week 3 by securing nine catches for 108 yards. He converted a number of key third downs including a 3rd-and-9 play in which No. 18 slipped away from oncoming defenders that had him dead to rights and gained 17 yards on a fourth-quarter drive that allowed the Packers to go up by two scores at the 6:39 mark of the fourth quarter. Cobb was often matched up with safety Landon Collins, who couldn’t keep pace with the shifty wideout when he broke out of his routes. The versatile Cobb also had a 21-yard touchdown catch called back due to an illegal-shift penalty.

Davante Adams: The Fresno State product had his best game of the season and kept mistakes to a minimum. Adams made his mark in the second quarter by exploding past cornerback Michael Hunter down the right sideline and tracking down a well-thrown Rodgers pass that put Green Bay up 14-3 in the second quarter. He later came up big by holding his body up with one hand and refusing to go down on a 10-yard catch that helped the team establish the field position needed for Mason Crosby to hit a 25-yard field goal to put the Packers up 23-9. Adams has scored three touchdowns in four games.

David Bakhtiari: We said Bakhtiari’s matchup with defensive end Olivier Vernon would be a key factor in beating the Giants and the blindside protector came through by preventing the premiere pass rusher from sacking the quarterback. The Packers’ bookend did a fabulous job of using his hand hands and quick feet to anticipate his opponent’s spin moves. “Bakh” was also effective against Jason Pierre-Paul by keeping a wide base which allowed him to maintain is balance.

J.C. Tretter: The Packers’ offensive line as whole did a bang-up job in allowing Rodgers enough time to survey the field as well as opening holes in the running game. Tretter emerged as a key blocker on quite a few running plays that went for big yardage including an 11-yard scamper by Lacy and an eight-yard blast by Starks right before the half. His quickness and leverage skills helped him win inside battles against Damon “Snacks” Harrison. The starting center earned the second-highest grade (86.5) among his teammates from Pro Football Focus (PFF).

Kyler Fackrell: The rookie edge rusher is coming on like wildfire. Not only is Fackrell exhibiting the ability to use his quickness to disengage from blockers, but he successfully converted speed to power on a second-quarter sack/forced-fumble play that saw him knock back right tackle Bobby Hart with a punch to the chest before running past him.

Clay Matthews: After a one-game hiatus, the “Claymaker” was back in business by chasing Manning out to the sidelines and batting down passes. His signature play of the night was a quarterback sack where Matthews was seen driving left tackle Ereck Flowers back into the pocket and subsequently disengaging from his man by dipping underneath him before making a bee line to the opposing passer.

Letroy Guion: Wearing a big ole knee brace didn’t stop Guion from making an impact on the game. He knocked down a Manning pass on New York’s first drive of the game and then continued to do a lot of the dirty work of putting offensive linemen back on their heels which resulted in the Giants rushing for a meager 43 yards and possessing the ball for only 23 minutes.

Whose Stock Is Down

James Starks: The 31-year-old back had one or two shining moments, including an off-tackle run for 10 yards in the third quarter, but overall his performance was unsatisfactory. While Starks is a slasher that has the ability to make defenders miss, he doesn’t run with nearly the same power Lacy does and his hands as a receiver out of the backfield are inconsistent at best. His fourth-quarter fumble—that he was able to recover—with 2:41 remaining in the contest could have put the Giants in position to tie the game. Starks is strictly a change-of-pace option that cannot carry the load if Lacy is out next week.

Richard Rodgers: The one thing that we could always count on with Rodgers has been his soft hands that can pull in just about every catchable ball thrown in his vicinity. Strangely, that wasn’t the case last night. His most egregious play came on a pass that went right through his hands in the end zone. Rodgers failed to separate from Keenan Robinson for the most part, as the Giants’ linebacker swatted away a couple of throws intended for the Packers’ tight end. His stat line shows only one catch for six yards on five total targets. The one-time California Golden Bear’s only real contributions came as a help blocker.

Julius Peppers: The defense’s elder statesman didn’t do anything to embarrass himself, but he was practically invisible with Matthews, Fackrell, Nick Perry and Datone Jones all outshining him.

Jason Schum: When will Ted Thompson come to his senses and put an end to the Schum experiment? I get that the organization was able to save money by cutting Tim Masthay loose, but the team is paying for this cost-cutting measure in other ways. Schum’s punts of 32 and 33 yards allowed the Giants to start their drives with outstanding field position at their 45 and 47 yard line.