Room for Improvement: 5 Green Bay Packers Underachieving

ALLGBP.com All Green Bay Packers All the Time

The Green Bay Packers are 5-0 and favored by more than 15 points in their week six matchup against the St. Louis Rams. Led by Aaron Rodgers and a ball-hawking defense, the Green and Gold machine is producing touchdowns and turnovers at a rapid pace.

Of course, a few parts of the machine could use a tuneup. Even the most finely-tuned machines need a little maintenance in order to continue operating at a high level.

As dominant as the Packers have looked, a handful of players have not quite played up to their potential, or at least to our preseason expectations. These players haven’t necessarily played bad, just not as well as they are capable of playing.

All of these players are good to great players. But in order for the Packers to repeat as champs, they’re going to have to step their games up just a little.

Josh Sitton
Sitton signed a new contract before the season and has played well, but not quite as well as we’re used to. Sitton has already matched his penalty total (three) from last season and hasn’t been erasing defenders like he has in the past. I’d still take Sitton over almost any other guard in the league, but he’s been just a little off through the first five games.

AJ Hawk
Hawk looks slow and clumsy this season. His stats are also way down. Hawk had 71 solo tackles in 2010, but only 11 through five games this season. I know it’s not Hawk’s job to run around the field and make 15 tackles every game, but he needs to be explosive when he’s in position to make a play. It always seems like he’s a step behind.

Sam Shields
Last year’s late-season darling has stumbled out of the gate in 2011. Shields has been chewed up and spit out by several receivers and has also struggled to make tackles. The second-year CB looked better against Atlanta and hopefully has put the slow start behind him.

Clay Matthews
Matthews falls into the same category as Sitton. Both of them are playing well, but not as well as they have in the past. Matthews is making plays in the run game, and starting to get more pressure on the QB, but he has only one sack. The Packers pass rush has been non-existent at times. If the Packers want to repeat as champions, Matthews will have to find a way to get to the QB and bring him down, especially when the team’s pass rush goes into hibernation mode.

Donald Driver
The Packers career leader in receptions has just nine catches for 76 yards……oh who am I kidding? Does Driver really belong on this list? When you have six legit pass catchers and two decent to good RBs, it’s inevitable that somebody’s stats will decline. Driver appears to be the odd-man out right now. Then again, he had a borderline drop on Sunday and Cobb took his place late in the game. If we’re putting Sitton and Matthews on this list, I guess it’s fair to include Driver. But like Sitton and Matthews, I think we’ll see Driver improve and make a few more plays as the season goes on.

So there you have it. Two players that are legitimately not playing all that well (Hawk and Shields) two players that are playing good, but not quite as good as they should be (Sitton and Matthews) and one player who’s borderline underachieving (Driver).

Finding underachievers on this team wasn’t easy. And you could easily argue that I’m way off base even including Matthews, Sitton and Driver on this list.

——————

Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam\\\'s writing on the Packers here.

——————

  • JimR_in_DC

    To me, Josh Sitton’s penalties really stood out the past few weeks. Last year, you rarely heard his number called by the zebras.

  • Ron LC

    Judging the receiving corps is always going to be difficult with GB. See the Atlanta game as reference. 12 different receivers. DD is slowing down a bit, no question. He’ll not be generating the lofty statistics he once did. He will still be showing up at critical times.

    • Adam Czech

      Of all the injuries the Packers have suffered over the last two years, the WRs have been healthy. If that luck runs out, I’m sure Driver will get plenty more opportunities.

  • cow42

    finley’s had 1 great game. my expectations were for him to be the best TE in the NFL. he is not.

    don’t even think about going over to cheeseheadtv and suggesting that matthews isn’t playing up to potential. you will get lambasted – i know from experience.

    • CSS

      Finley drags coverage over the top when he’s not thrown the ball. There’s a reason Jones and Nelson are among league leaders in yards per route run. There is no coverage in the middle because Finley drags it all out. One bad drop in one game they won regardless, get over it.

      As to decent you get on Cheeseheadtv, get over it. State your case and move on, no need to martyr yourself elsewhere.

      • cow42

        it was a joke.
        you are a dusche.

        • Bearmeat

          Cow, seriously take it easy. I agree with you about the pass rush (or lack thereof) and Neal (Harrell part 2 so far) and until ATL the secondary coverage… but that has turned around.

          If GB is your favorite team (which I don’t doubt) you need to not only point out their potential rough areas, but actually ROOT for them.

          And enough with the namecalling.

        • CSS

          It’s a joke when you say it once. When you say it repeatedly across different blogs it’s really not a joke.

  • BubbaOne

    Eric Walden:
    W/ Zombo’s injury he has been the starting OLB. He’s improved on his run defense but has been less than stellar rushing the passer. W/ the loss of Cullen Jenkins the team needed someone to step up and he hasn’t. His coverage skills also need improvement.

    • Adam Czech

      I didn’t include Walden because my expectations weren’t that high for him.

  • Andrew

    Matthews is grading out so much better this year. You guys are foolish.

    • Chad Lundberg

      Matthews had 8 1/2 sacks at the same point last year. He currently has one. It’s not a foolish conclusion when there’s a clear drop in production. So hush.

      • CSS

        Because the only aspect of a linebackers game a team grades are sacks, right?

      • Lucas

        He had 6 of those 8.5 in two games. Then teams adjusted. His contributions are far more than the single teams he faced in those two games. Memory serves…they were 3-2 at this point as well.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      grading out how? If we’re talking against the run, yep, he’s done a much better job holding his ground and being a “force” player. If we’re talking about containment, yep, he’s not caught out of position very much this season. If we’re talking getting to the quarterback, he has been a half second late over and over (as has Walden, for that matter). But it’s not foolish to say his impact plays are way down from last year. He’s been steadier all-around, which I’m sure is what the coaches want, but us fans, we want the big sack.

      • CSS

        I don’t. Sacks are among the most overrated statistics in the game. Pressures tend to go un-noticed but do more for your turnover ratio and field position than sacks. Also, you don’t get to your favorable down and distance to even rush the quarterback as a defense if you can’t stop the run and make a team one-dimensional. Sacks are overrated and over-celebrated (but I won’t deny they’re exciting).

        • Adam Czech

          Do you think Matthews has superstar talent? I do. Players with superstar talent get pressures and sacks. And the turnovers follow.

          • Lucas

            Perhaps THE play of SB45 came from Howard Green, a pressure, not a sack. Pick 6. Capers runs a pressure defense, not a sack defense.

  • JimR_in_DC

    Thanks for the insult, Andrew.

  • Mojo

    I wouldn’t put Hawk on the list because he’s not underachieving based on the way he’s played his whole career. He’s at his norm. However, he is underachieving based on pay-scale.

    • Adam Czech

      Hawk averaged 73 solo tackles per season his first five years in the league. He’s on pace for 31 this season.

      Hawk is underachieving.

      • Lucas

        Haven’t thought too much about it, but it hit me that the D line seems to be making more stops against the run this year. That obviously steals tackles from Hawk/Bishop. I’m in favor of stopping RBs before they get to the second level. But, I haven’t looked at the tape to really assess this. Thoughts?

        • Normthe1

          Good point. I’m not sure that it would halve tackles made by linebackers but it definitely would affect that stat…

          • lucas

            I read a while ago that lb tackles are a misleading stat. Anemic offensive teams put their defense on the field more thereby leading to

            • lucas

              More opportunities for tackles. Look at Patrick Willis. Okay…he is still a beast. Our O forces teams to pass a lot more than last year’s pace…reducing tackles even more. I don’t agree Hawk is playing slower, especially using the tape and tackles arguement.

  • CSS

    Well, pro football focus placed Bishop on their, ‘All Had a Bad Day’ team for this past week. I like Bishop and Hawk, but find it odd that Bishop never gets grief for bad overall games because of the occassional ‘splash’ play while Hawk is the easy cliche for fans to echo, he sucks.

    Glad we have em’ both, just saying nobody ever calls out Bishop.

  • Savage57

    I’ve been joking around with people telling them someone has to file a missing persons report with the Brown County Sheriff’s Department for AJ Hawk.

  • http://none GalaxyM81

    I am not sure about some of the others on this list, but Matthews does not belong. If anyone here has truly been watching, Matthews is getting keyed on, double and tripled teamed at times. I see no lack of effort, or anything by Clay. His numbers are lower but he is not getting any help from anyone on the D line. The linemen up front have not put much pressure on the opposing QB as of yet, which allows for all the help these teams are focusing on Matthews.

    Does anyone here suggest or want to think what life would be for our Defence if Matthews was not on the field??? Give me a break!!!

  • Wagszilla

    Al what do you think is Clay’s “problem”?

    I see the same speed, I see the same explosiveness, but I just don’t see the same power.
    Bum tackles are having their way with him.

    In my estimation it’s because of 3 things:
    -Injury
    -Too much funtime with the ladies
    -Got off PEDs

    He’s doing a great job with the run but as far as the pass rush (even when he’s not doubled or tripled) his performance isn’t great.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Well that’s a rather cynical viewpoint. I think it’s a combination of doing what the coaches are asking him to do and game planning by the other teams. Opposing quarterbacks are well aware that Matthews is coming and have been throwing more quick passes as well as screens and dumpoffs. Look at other team’s success in throws to their running backs. Throw in nagging injury (there’s a reason he’s held out of practice), and it’s just a combination.