Green Bay Packers still among top NFC teams, scout says : Packers Insider

Green Bay Packers still among top NFC teams, scout says

November 6, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Nov 7, 2010 by Pistol Pete Dougherty

~The Green Bay Packers have lost more players to injuries than most, but with the NFC lacking elite teams, that doesn’t preclude them from making a deep playoff run.

A longtime NFL scout this week broke down the videotape of two recent Packers games and agreed to share his assessment of several players and the team as a whole. His conclusion? The Packers are as good as any team in the NFC save the New York Giants.

“Will the injuries eventually catch up?” the scout said as he began to list some of his concerns. “How will Donald Driver be (when he returns from a thigh injury)? Will the fact they don’t have a running game hurt them? Well, defensively they get pressure, that’s the name of the game, get the quarterback on the ground. I see a lot of positives that way. The one thing Green Bay can do is rush the passer.

“I think the Packers are in good shape for the rest of the year. They’re going to probably play some teams they’ll have to run the football against to be successful, but as long as they protect (quarterback Aaron) Rodgers reasonably well — he’s still mobile. I saw the Minnesota game, he had his first red-zone interception in 39 starts. The guy protects the football.”

Following is the scout’s take on several Packers players and position groups.

Rodgers’ statistics are down significantly from last year — his passer rating of 85.3 points is almost 20 points below the 103.2 he put up last season, and he’s thrown nine interceptions in eight games after throwing only seven in 16 games in 2009. But the scout still sees him as the biggest factor in the Packers’ 5-3 record at the halfway point of the season.

“The impressive thing is, for all the problems they’ve had, they still go to New York and get a win (over the Jets last week),” the scout said. “A lot of that has to do with Aaron Rodgers, with his leadership and what he’s doing. You can be critical about Aaron Rodgers and the numbers and all that, but look at the bottom line: They’re winning football games. They’re 5-3, not 2-6. They’re winning because of Aaron Rodgers, and defensively they’re holding things together.”

-Green Bay Packers' John Kuhn flies over a tackler in the second half. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Buffalo Bills 34-7 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI Sunday September 19, 2010.

The scout watched the videotape of the Packers’ last two games, wins over the Jets and Minnesota Vikings. Rodgers wasn’t great in either game — his passer rating against the Vikings was 84.8 and against the Jets 59.7. But the scout saw no difference in Rodgers’ throwing accuracy and touch from last season, and he takes into consideration the Jets and Vikings are two of the best defenses in the league.

“The most impressive thing is his mobility,” the scout said, “his ability to buy second chances with his feet, the way he delivers the football on the move. Those are the things — I give the Packers credit, when they’re able to keep the pocket clean for him, he’s done a really good job of stepping up and making good throws. Donald Driver is playing hurt, one of the better tight ends in the league (i.e., Jermichael Finley) is on IR, no running game because of (Ryan) Grant being on IR. (Rodgers’) ability to make plays is one of the reasons this team is in the shape it’s in right now.”

♦ Though the Packers ran the ball a little better the last couple of games — Brandon Jackson rushed for 113 yards on 28 carries (a 4.0-yard average) against the Vikings and Jets combined — the scout still sees the run game as a liability.

“They have no running game, in my opinion,” he said. “They tried to make a trade (for Marshawn Lynch) before the deadline, didn’t get it done. Jackson, (John Kuhn), neither one — you wonder why they don’t run the football, OK, if your offensive line is not getting push, usually a big-time back can make up for that. They don’t have a big-time back. That’s hurt them. I just see guys there, I don’t see anything dynamic or special about either one of those guys.”

♦ Though the loss of Finley was huge, the scout sees one of the better receiving corps in the league with Greg Jennings, Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson. The scout wondered about Jones’ inconsistency, including his drop of a potential 72-yard touchdown pass against the Jets, but generally liked the way he went after the ball.

“I remember (Jones) making some plays, too,” the scout said. “I think he’s a 4.59 (-second 40-yard dash) guy and he doesn’t play with quickness, but you do see him get some separation when he goes down the field, so you have to give him credit for that.”

♦ The scout didn’t see any holes on what he considered an OK offensive line — below average in run blocking, but above average in pass protection. Left tackle Chad Clifton looked no worse than last year, and rookie right tackle Bryan Bulaga was a surprise.

“I don’t see a physical group up there, and I think a lot of it has to do with why they don’t run the ball,” he said. “But pass protection they’ve had some good moments. (Bryan) Bulaga playing right tackle is a good fit for them. I know he’s a rookie right tackle, but he’s not killing them.”

♦ Clay Matthews, who leads the NFL in sacks with 9½, jumps off the tape as an elite player and is unusually advanced for his age.

“I see a relentless, high-effort, high-motor guy,” the scout said. “For a second-year guy, he plays with really good technique. He has a nose for the football. Always coming at you. As he’s rushing, he doesn’t have to stop to make moves and then restart, he’s always coming at you. It takes guys a while to learn how to rush the passer, how to set guys up, this guy has an array of moves, not a one-trick pony. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who’s only a second-year player.”

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