It’s far from a Moneyball style stats movement, but the guys over at Pro Football Focus have slowly but surely put together one of the premier stat-organizing sites available for the NFL and its legion of fans. It’s not a fool-proof system, and I occasionally disagree with a rating or two from a given game. But PFF grades every player on every play for all 32 teams, so there’s no shortage of work these guys put into their grades and ratings.
With the 2011 season over in Green Bay, I used PFF’s ratings/grades to analyze the Packers’ eight free agents this offseason. If you’re not familiar with the ratings at PFF, don’t fret—a higher score indicates a better rating, and a negative score obviously isn’t what you’re looking for.
Also, for another look at the Packers’ free agents in 2012, check out this article from AllGBP’s own Adam Czech.
CB Jarrett Bush (-4.0, 321 snaps)
There was a time early in the season that Bush was rated as the Packers’ best cornerback. As the season wore on, however, teams exploited Bush in the passing game more and more. In the Packers’ final regular season game against Detroit, Bush played a season-high 83 snaps and allowed 105 receiving yards on 10 targets. Overall on the season, Bush allowed 19 completions on 38 attempts for 302 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions (72.5 passer rating). Bush also finished with seven tackles on special teams, which was good for third on the team.
TE Jermichael Finley (-4.4, 832 snaps)
A couple of factors hurt Finley’s rating in 2011. As you’d expect, one knock was drops. PFF had Finley for 14 on the season, which led tight ends by a wide margin and was fifth overall in the NFL. The other was run blocking, where Finley had just two positive games and finished at -8.3 (46th among tight ends). During a year in which so many tight ends put up shocking numbers across the board, Finley was a big disappointment to PFF’s eyes. He completed the season ranked as the 37th best tight end.
QB Matt Flynn (4.6, 119 snaps)
No backup quarterback had a higher rating in 2011 than Flynn. At 4.6, Flynn finished as the 15th highest rated quarterback overall—an incredible thing to see when you consider that the third-year QB played just 119 snaps. Of course, his 5.5 rating against the Lions in Week 17 was the biggest reason why we saw such a huge jump. His 16 snaps against the Raiders were graded at -1.1.
RB Ryan Grant (2.7, 382 snaps)
James Starks had four times the rating of Grant, who played well against the Bears, Chiefs and Raiders but was a ghost in most other weeks. A drop and fumble against the Giants meant a -1.3 grade to finish the season. Grant was solid in pass protection, and the only two sacks he allowed were against the Chiefs.
DT Howard Green (-4.1, 235 snaps)
Green was never meant to be a playmaking defensive lineman, but PFF had the veteran for only eight total tackles (six assisted) and three quarterback pressures. His pass rush grade (-4.4) was mostly to blame for his overall grade, but Green’s run rating (-0.7) wasn’t anything to write home about either.
CB Patrick Lee (-5.6, 21 snaps)
Lee simply didn’t see the field enough on defense to make much of an impact. He saw 10 snaps against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, registering one QB pressure but also allowing one catch on one target for 23 yards. On special teams, where Lee saw the majority of his playing time, the former second-round pick was tied for the team lead in tackles with nine. His painful struggles returning kicks against the Lions in Week 17 (-3.1) was the main reason for his low grade.
OLB Erik Walden (-20.5, 933 snaps)
Where should we even start with Walden? He was the worst graded 3-4 OLB by almost 10 points (Joey Porter was next at -10.7), and no 3-4 OLB was worse against the run (-16.4)—again, by a wide margin (Sam Acho finished at -7.9). There’s more. Walden allowed the second most passing yards by a 3-4 OLB at 204, and a bone-headed personal foul penalty vs. the Lions gave him a negative grade in penalties. Walden had a few bright spots—at San Diego and at New York—but the 2011 season was a complete mess for the Packers starting ROLB. His grade only fortifies the thinking that Green Bay needs to make a massive upgrade at that position for 2012.
C Scott Wells (18.0, 1,132 snaps)
Wells finished as the fourth-best center in the NFL, and he was finally rewarded with a trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. While he didn’t excel in any one area, Wells was solid in both the run (7.9) and pass (7.5) games and committed just four penalties. He also allowed just two sacks. However, one of his worst performances came Sunday against the Giants (-1.3), as Wells allowed three QB pressures and committed two of his four overall penalties.——————
Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.
You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.Follow @zachkruse2