The Packers came into Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles feeling pretty good about themselves after a 55-14 drubbing of the rival Chicago Bears a week before. The Eagles were also flying high after a dismantling of the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football. Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Packers were able to duplicate their recipe for success, and jumped out to a 30-3 halftime lead before closing out a 53-20 win.
Let's take a look at the positional performance grades, factoring in Pro Football Focus grades, and assess who gets the credit for the Packers rout of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Aaron Rodgers (+7.2 overall) finished 22 of 36 for 341 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a passer rating of 120.3, and also added 32 yards rushing on three carries. His pre-snap work was almost as impressive as some of the passes he made throughout the game. The Eagles secondary is suspect when the front seven doesn't get home on blitzes, and Rodgers made them pay on Sunday. He used hard counts to help reveal coverages, audibled out of runs in favor of quick passes, and threw receivers open with his patented back-shoulder throws.
He had plenty of time to pick apart the defense thanks to the pass protection of the offensive line, but Rodgers might be playing the best football of his career right now. Even during his 2011 MVP season, Rodgers never made it look quite this easy. If he can continue this level of play, the Packers will be hard to beat.
Running Backs: A-
Eddie Lacy (+3.1 overall, +1.5 pass, +1.1 rush, +0.5 pass block) ran for 69 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries and added three receptions for 45 yards. Lacy played all 37 first-half snaps, and broke four tackles despite his limited carry count. He is starting to run with the physicality that he displayed throughout his rookie season, and has added solid pass protection and pass catching to his repertoire in his sophomore campaign.
James Starks (-0.7 overall) added nine yards on eight carries, and John Kuhn added a three-yard run. Starks saw the majority of the carries in the second half, but didn't do much to separate himself from what DuJuan Harris did last week. If Harris can become a more reliable pass blocker, he may get a chance to pass Starks on the depth chart, but he only saw three snaps in a blowout victory, so the separation may be a large margin.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A
Randall Cobb (+2.4 overall, +2.3 pass) caught 10 of 13 targets for 129 yards, while Jordy Nelson (-0.1 pass, -0.5 run block) added four receptions on 10 targets for 109 yards and one touchdown. Davante Adams caught two passes for 13 yards, including a six-yard touchdown catch.
It's amazing how easily Cobb is starting to create separation at this point in the season; although he might not admit it, I think he wasn't completely right during the first month of the season. Nelson continues to make splash play after splash play and take the top off the defense.
Andrew Quarless (-2.2 overall, -1.2 run block) recorded two receptions for 35 yards, while Richard Rodgers (0.0 overall, +1.4 run block) added one catch for 19 yards. Both Quarless (44 snaps) and Rodgers (42 snaps) were effective contributors in the passing game, but had opposite contributions in run blocking. They were both partially responsible for the one sack allowed on the day, but they seem to be holding their ground better than they were at the beginning of the season.
Offensive Line: A++
David Bakhtiari (+0.4 overall, +1.0 pass block) might have had one of his more impressive performances in his young career, holding an athletic Trent Cole to only one hurry and being solid in run blocking as well. Josh Sitton (-1.0 overall, -2.3 run block) was equally impressive in pass protection against Fletcher Cox, but wasn't able to get much movement in run blocking. It's pretty obvious that his toe isn't completely healed yet, because he doesn't seem to have the balance and powerful explosion off the ball that he usually has.
Corey Linsley (-0.6 overall, +0.6 pass block, -1.3 run block) had one of his better games in terms of pass protection, but wasn't as powerful in run blocking as he usually is. T.J. Lang (+0.5 overall) and Bryan Bulaga (+1.8 overall, +1.2 pass block) were the most reliable run blockers on Sunday, which explains why the team decided to call more plays to the right side than the left. They were able to displace people on initial contact and weren't fooled at all on some the Eagles different stunts and blitzes. It has been a dominating effort in the past two weeks by this unit.
Defensive Line: B
Mike Daniels (-0.7 overall, +0.4 run, -1.2 rush) had a tough match-up against a very talented left guard in Evan Mathis, but was able to record one hurry and used his leverage to hold his own against one of the more athletic guards in the league. Letroy Guion (-0.5 overall, -0.6 run, +1.0 rush, -0.9 penalty) recorded four tackles, including one sack and was generally a menace in the first half. When he gets his 325-pound frame moving with a low pad level, he is hard to even slow down. His chasing down of Darren Sproles on a potential screen pass was about as impressive as anything I've seen a 300+ pounder do.
Datone Jones (+0.9 overall, -1.9 run, +2.7 rush) recorded three pressures in the first half, but still doesn't look completely right. He was moved around too much, and didn't get off blocks very well. Josh Boyd and Mike Pennel didn't contribute much in their rotational snaps.
Clay Matthews (-1.1 overall, -1.9 run, +0.9 rush, -0.3 coverage) recorded five tackles, including one sack. I don't know how he is graded so low, but I can say that it might be impossible to quantify what he does in this remix edition of the Dom Capers defense. He played weak side inside linebacker, right outside linebacker, and even a fifth lineman in some instances. His speed catches lineman off guard, his physicality is disruptive, and he is playing with a lot of confidence that just wasn't there in the first few games of the season.
A.J. Hawk (-2.0 overall, -0.9 run) displayed his understanding of the Dom Capers scheme, making a lot of critical pre-snap adjustments after Matthews shifted from one position to the next. He wasn't great against the run, but he helps everyone get aligned properly before the snap.
Julius Peppers (0.0 overall, -1.7 rush, +1.5 coverage) led the team with four pressures, including one that resulted in an easy interception for Tramon Williams. He also displayed his elite-level athleticism when he dropped back in coverage, picked off a pass and stiff-armed Jordan Matthews to the ground on his 52-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Nick Perry (-1.6 overall, -0.4 run, -1.4 rush) didn't provide much pressure in his pass rushing, but was able to use his physicality to deny any stretch run plays against an Eagles team that tries to get its speedy athletes to the edge. Mike Neal (-2.1 overall, -2.0 rush) added three tackles, including one sack, while Brad Jones played only four snaps. Sam Barrington played 19 snaps in place of Matthews in the fourth quarter.
Morgan Burnett (-0.7 overall, -1.4 coverage) recorded 9 tackles to lead the team. The most important stat for Burnett was only a single missed tackle. The team needed him to be a sure-tackler against the Eagles' elusive backs, and he was up the task. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (-1.3 coverage) added seven tackles, but also led the team with two missed tackles. He also had a blown coverage that resulted in a 40-yard completion to Jordan Matthews.
Tramon Williams (+0.6 overall) was really only beat by Jeremy Maclin once on a comeback route and tackled much better than he had been recently. Sam Shields (-0.7 overall, -1.0 coverage) got lucky that Mark Sanchez overthrew Riley Cooper on a post route, because Cooper had Shields beat as soon as he started his cut. He tackled much better than he did a week ago, but his continued struggles in coverage is troublesome.
Micah Hyde (+0.4 overall) did an excellent job in coverage, often on a much faster Darren Sproles. His 75-yard punt return also broke the game open towards the end of the first quarter. Casey Hayward just has a nose for the ball. Just a week after he caught the easiest pick-six I've ever seen, he adds a 49-yard fumble recovery with similar ease. If nothing else, it will help him gain confidence as he battles for the starting nickel back spot against Micah Hyde.
Sean Richardson played 21 snaps and was beat on a 36-yard completion. Davon House played 24 snaps and didn't allow any splash plays.
Mason Crosby connected on field goals of 27 and 33, but missed from 50 yards out. He added 5 of 6 extra points. The blocked extra point wasn't on him, as there appeared to be a complete breakdown in the blocking scheme. He also added 68 yards and 3.7 seconds of hang time on 10 kickoffs.
The Ginger Wolverine punted once for 40 yards, had a second attempt blocked, and botched a hold on another failed extra point attempt. Is the lack of live game action affecting our red-haired hero?
For the second week in a row, the team looked more prepared than its opposition. The offense picked apart an above-average defense that attacked with numerous blitzes, stunts, and formation looks. The defense was able to neutralize the talented playmakers within the Chip Kelly offense, and make Mark Sanchez attempt to beat them with his arm. While the blocking on extra points and punts was suspect, the punt return unit may have made the play of the game when they took a first-quarter punt back 75 yard to give the Packers a 17-0 lead. Overall, this team is clicking on all cylinders and a lot of credit has to go to the coaching staff on the changes they have made since the Week 9 bye.
Up Next: The Packers travel to Minnesota for a noon (CST) kickoff against the Vikings (4-6), who lost 21-13 in Chicago last week. With a win and a Detroit loss at New England, Green Bay would take sole possession of first play in the NFC North.