Stop me if I sound like a broken record. Once again, the Green Bay Packers earned a costly victory Sunday when they defeated the Cleveland Browns 31-13 at Lambeau Field. In the victory, Packers' starting tight end Jermichael Finley suffered a scary neck injury that is being diagnosed as a bruised spinal cord. Finley laid motionless on the field for over five minutes before finally being carted off the field on a stretcher. Finley has since been released from ICU, but don't expect to see No. 88 out there for the Packers anytime soon.
Add Finley to the long list of Packers' injuries, which includes Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Brad Jones, James Starks, Bryan Bulaga, Nick Perry, Jarrett Bush, Casey Hayward and Robert Francois. Despite the above listed injuries, to a number of key starters and contributors, the Packers keep winning, and keep impressing in the process.
After a dominating victory over the Browns (with some help from Brandon Weeden) the Packers now sit at 4-2 and in sole possession of first place in the NFC North. Lets take a look at some of the winners and losers from both sides of the ball, according to PFF.
According to PFF, the Packers have the NFL's 9th best offensive unit with a season grade of (+24.0). This grade combines grades in the passing and running game, along with offensive penalties, to give a specific grade.
The Packers struggled a bit on offense at times on Sunday, but here are a few players who earned high grades.
Rodgers continued his solid season Sunday, throwing for 260 yards and three touchdowns and, most importantly, no interceptions. There have been a few critics of Rodgers over the years saying he benefits from having a ton of offensive weapons, but I'd love to see what those critics are saying now.
For the majority of the game, Rodgers was throwing to a pair of veterans in Jordy Nelson and Finley, with the rest of his receiving corps consisting of undrafted rookie Myles White (one catch, nine yards), undrafted second-year man Jarrett Boykin (eight catches, 103 yards and a touchdown), and running backs Eddie Lacy and veteran John Kuhn, who combined for six catches for 34 yards. Of Rodgers' 25 completions, 15 of them went to either a rookie player or a player who was undrafted coming into the NFL. Pretty impressive. Rodgers earned the highest offensive grade given out to any Packer on Sunday with a (+2.0).
I mentioned before that Boykin caught eight passes for 103 yards and a touchdown in the victory. Before Sunday's game, Boykin had just six career catches for 70 yards. He finished with the Packers' third best offensive grade of (+1.7), and his role should expand even more with Finley out indefinitely. He could have another big day this Sunday against a poor Minnesota Vikings' secondary.
Honorable Mention: Evan Dietrich-Smith (+1.8)
After a solid start to the season where he graded among the best offensive players for the Packers, Barclay has put together three consecutive awful performances. His last three game grades are as follows: week 5 (- 2.5), week 6 (- 2.8), Sunday (- 4.6).
Barclay's performances over the past few weeks have led many to wonder when head coach Mike McCarthy will make the change and give Marshall Newhouse a start at right tackle. Personally, I think McCarthy has to wait another week to see if Barclay can figured it out by himself, because he was so good in the beginning of the season. However, he has to be on a short leash for the foreseeable future.
Quarless is a guy the Packers are hoping to see elevate his game in the absence of Finley over the next several weeks — hopefully his performance against the Browns is duplicated in future weeks. If it weren't for Barclay's performance, Quarless' grade of (-3.6) would've been the worst offensive grade for the Packers.
He is supposed to be the Packers' best run-blocking tight end, but Sunday he was downright awful in that category. He received a run-blocking grade of (-3.4), by far the worst on the team. Like Boykin, Quarless' role in the offense is going to expand this week and in future weeks out of necessity, so hopefully he plays better than he did Sunday.
House played his best game as a professional on Sunday. House finished the game with two tackles, an interception (a gift from
Santa Brandon Weeden), and in coverage he only allowed two catches for 21 yards on seven targets. That results in a passer rating of 0.0, if you're wondering.
House looked like the House of old from the preseason in 2012 before he suffered a painful shoulder injury in the first preseason game last season. He has now put together back-to-back solid performances and is earning more playing time in the process. If House continues to play this way, Tramon Williams may become expendable at the end of the season as the Packers could use the $9 million Williams is set to make next year to extend guys like B.J. Raji, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, etc.
Before the season started I guaranteed that Burnett would be a Pro-Bowl safety at the end of the season. If it weren't for an injury that cost him the first three games of the season, that prediction may be slowly coming to fruition.
Regardless, Burnett has been outstanding for the Packers this season. The former third-round pick out of Georgia Tech is starting to show why he was worthy of a high pick back in 2010. Burnett is cementing himself as one of the better safeties in the NFL by consistently grading out high for the Packers' defense.
This week he earned the Packers' second-highest defensive grade with a grade of (+2.9).
Notice how the headline says "loser," that's because for the third week in a row the Packers' defense has been outstanding. This week only one player graded in the "red," (under -1.0) while six players graded in the "green" (above +1.0).
Aside from week five against the Detroit Lions where he finished with a grade of (+4.6), Neal has been in the "red" every week. Take away that performance against the Lions and Neal has a season grade of (- 10.4). For the second week in a row Neal failed to even record a tackle, or a sack, and has just seven tackles and one sack on the season.
Neal passes the eye test on the field at times, but the production still isn't there, along with the consistency needed or expected from a second-round pick. Now more than ever, with all the injuries the Packers have suffered in their defensive front seven, the Packers need more from Neal.
There you have the grades given out by PFF after another Packer victory. Keep it here at APC as we break the game down further and get you ready for Sunday night's showdown with the Vikings.
More from Acme Packing Company:
- Doctors Believe Packers TE Jermichael Finley Can Play Again, but IR Not Ruled Out
- 2013 NFL Power Rankings, Week 8: A New Number One
- Browns vs. Packers Performance Grades: Boykin steps up, House shuts down
- Packers Game Balls: Rodgers Leads the Way In Win Over Browns
- Packers Take Over First Place in NFC North