Packers Playmakers: Where Do The Chips Fall?
Now that my fellow staff members and I have completed our annual player evaluations and report cards, I thought it might be fun to take a look at the Green Bay Packers’ impact players. Taking a page from Michael Lombardi, former NFL Network analyst who now works in the front office for the Cleveland Browns, I have categorized the players into representational colored chips.
I’ve added a couple more categories beyond the usual blue and red chips, but for the latter groups, I have taken some of the qualifications as used by Lombardi. While some players might have fallen short of their expectations this past season, I have attempted to look at their entire body of work and where they stand going into 2013.
One thing I did notice in this exercise was the lack of playmakers on the defense, which Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, and Dom Capers need to work on correcting.
Feel free to chime in with any agreements, disagreements, or additions to the lists!
Blue Chip Players:
» Demonstrates rare abilities and creates mismatches that have an obvious impact on the game.
» Is a premier player in the league and a weapon on the field.
» Combines competitiveness and skill to provide a consistent championship-level performance.
- Aaron Rodgers – One of the best quarterbacks in the modern NFL era, Rodgers is the heart of this team. His exceptional football intelligence, technique, and work ethic make everyone else around him look better.
- Randall Cobb – Some people might want to wait another year before elevating Cobb to this status, but he proved this year what kind of a difference he makes to the offense and special teams. His skill set is unrivaled.
- Josh Sitton – He is the biggest asset along the offensive line, and without him I shudder to think how high Rodgers’ sack number would have climbed this year. Sitton handles both pass blocking and run blocking very well.
Red Chip Players:
» Has abilities that can create mismatches vs. most opponents in the league.
» Is a featured player on his team and has an impact on the outcome of the game.
» Can’t be taken out of the game in a one-on-one matchup.
» Is consistent from week to week.
- Clay Matthews – Perhaps Matthews could be seen as more of a “purple chip” player. He’s close to blue chip status, but needs to be more consistently great rather than just consistently good.
- Jordy Nelson – This was a bad year for Nelson with all of his injury problems. When he is healthy, though, Nelson makes a big difference for the offense by stretching the field with his “sneaky white-man speed.”
- Bryan Bulaga – Like Nelson, Bulaga’s injuries really impacted his contributions this year. However, there’s no denying he’s a great right tackle and could move into the “blue chip” category depending on how he plays in the future.
- Sam Shields – There can be no doubt that Shields took his criticisms to heart this year. He showed significant development to the point where he has become a key player on defense.
Cow Chip Players (Underachievers):
» These players have so far proven to be disappointments based on their projected value.
- A.J. Hawk – Is there any more that can be said?
- B.J. Raji – For all the problems we’ve seen Raji have along the line, he’s never really shed the hype from his name. His 2011 Pro Bowl selection was proof enough of that. While he’s shown progress this year, it’s still not nearly at the level we’ve expected.
- Jermichael Finley – For all the talk of his improvement over the last portion of the season, it remains a fact that Finley hasn’t lived up to his calling card abilities. In fact, his performance in 2012 has highlighted a pervasive inconsistency. We really don’t have any idea what level of play we’ll get from him in the future.
- D.J. Williams – Where has this guy gone? A “shorts superstar,” he’s shown a lot of good things in practices, but that has never been reflected on the field during gameday. The big question: is it a matter of opportunity or ability?
Keep Your Eyes On…
» These players could prove to be blue or red chip players in the future based on past performance.
- Casey Hayward – If he performs as well as he did this year with a bigger workload and more responsibility on defense, then Hayward could easily be a blue chip player. His awareness and ball skills are excellent.
- Nick Perry – It’s a shame that injuries kept us from seeing Perry develop throughout the season. He wasn’t as impactful as we were hoping as a rookie, but there’s plenty of potential to be seen.
- Davon House – Hopefully House’s shoulder injury will be long forgotten come next season and that it doesn’t affect his play. While he may never be a blue chip player, he could definitely achieve red chip status.
- Andrew Quarless – It all depends on how he returns from his gruesome knee injury. Before that fateful Giants game, Quarless was starting to come on strong and looked like he could be the starting tight end of the future.