Packers: Positional grades in NFC title game loss to Bucs

Green Bay Packers, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Another year, another tough playoff loss for the Green Bay Packers.

Since 2014, the Packers have made four trips to the NFC Championship Game. No other team has been there more than once. But they have zero victories to show for it. That’s tough.

Sunday’s defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was another heartbreaker to add to the list.

Let’s hand out positional grades from the loss.

Quarterbacks: B

The numbers look good for Aaron Rodgers with 346 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Overall, Rodgers played well.

But there were many missed opportunities from not seeing Davante Adams on a free play, to missing a potential touchdown pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and also deciding not to run with the possibility of scoring late in the game.

Rodgers’ interception at the half proved costly as it led to a Buccaneers touchdown, a huge swing in the game.

Running backs: D

Not a good day for the Packers’ running backs, who combined for 67 yards on 16 carries. Aaron Jones fumbled twice, losing one, before leaving the game with an injury. Let’s hope that’s not the way his Packers career ends.

Matt LaFleur deserves some of the blame for not sticking with the run. AJ Dillon averaged 5.7 yards on his three carries. Giving him more opportunities could’ve helped get things going on the ground.

Wide receivers: B

Valdes-Scantling deserves so much credit. He’s had some great moments this year but made frustrating mistakes. Not in this game. MVS stepped up in high-pressure situations and made plays, catching four passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Davante Adams played well going 9-67-1, but an uncharacteristic drop in the end zone proved costly.

Tight ends: B

Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan combined for seven targets, all of which were caught for 50 yards and a touchdown. It could have been Lewis’ final game with the Packers, but he made some key plays.

Offensive line: F

The Packers’ offensive line has been the best in the NFL this season but struggled in both matchups with the Bucs. The loss of David Bakhtiari really showed in this game.

Green Bay couldn’t get anything going on the ground against a talented Tampa Bay front, and the offensive line allowed five sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers was pressured on 15 dropbacks.

Rick Wagner and Billy Turner struggled at tackle and the Bucs’ edge rushers kept generating pressure.

Defensive line: A

Credit where it’s due. We’ve discussed the run defense all season long but they’ve come a long way. Green Bay shut down Tampa Bay’s rushing attack all afternoon, giving up just 76 yards on 24 carries for an average of 3.2 yards per attempt. Meanwhile, Kenny Clark led the team with eight tackles, had the team’s only sack, a tackle for loss, and a QB hit.

Edge rushers: D

Where did the Smith Bros. go?

Whereas Rodgers was consistently under pressure, Tom Brady was given a clean pocket far too often. Za’Darius and Preston Smith were signed to make a difference in big games, but both failed to make a sack.

The rare times the pass rush did get home, Brady made bad decisions. The Packers just couldn’t get any kind of consistent pressure in the game.

Inside linebackers: B

It hasn’t been a great season for Christian Kirksey but he made some big plays in this game including a tackle for loss. Perhaps his best game with the Packers. Ty Summers also had a tackle for a loss. Overall, a solid performance in the middle of the defense.

Secondary not including Jaire Alexander: F

It would be unfair to include Jaire Alexander for this performance by the secondary.

Kevin King made costly mistakes such as mistiming his jump on Mike Evans’ touchdown, then letting Scotty Miller get behind him for a score in the final seconds of the first half. In possibly his final game with the Packers, King played one of his worst with the team.

Brady also went after Chandon Sullivan a lot with great success. It was a surprise we didn’t see Tramon Williams.

Jaire Alexander: A+

It might have been a rough day for the secondary, but that doesn’t include second-team All-Pro Jaire Alexander. What a performance he had. Not only did Alexander come away with two interceptions but, according to Pro Football Focus, he didn’t allow a single catch on four targets.

Alexander’s rise this season has been a joy to watch. If the Packers can build around him in the offseason, this secondary can be special.

Next. Death, taxes and miscues after another NFC title game loss. dark