Erik Walden: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

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Erik Walden
outside linebacker Erik Walden

1) Introduction: One of the pleasant surprises of the 2010 season, Walden had a career day in the last regular season game against the Chicago Bears where he terrorized Jay Cutler with 2 sacks and the rest of the team with an astonishing 11 tackles.  Many fans hoped that in 2011, Walden would emerge as the James Harrison (only as a player, not as a crazy d*****bag), who had also been cut multiple times in his career before becoming a dominating player.

2) Profile:

Erik Walden

Position: OLB
Height: 6-2
Weight: 250 lbs.
AGE: 26
Career Stats

 

3) Expectations coming into the season for that player: High; while forced out of the Super Bowl due to injuries, Walden was a good starter during the playoffs and was considered the front runner for the starting outside linebacker position opposite Clay Matthews III along with Frank Zombo.  When Zombo exited the competition due to injury, the position was essentially given to Walden by default who became the starter for the majority of the season.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Walden’s 2011 highlight game was where he recovered a fumble by Marcel Reece and turned it into a defensive touchdown in week 14 against the Oakland Raiders.  Undoubtedly Walden’s lowlight was having to spend all Thanksgiving weekend in jail due to domestic violence allegations brought froth by Walden’s girlfriend and mother of his child (which was then subsequently dropped).

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Moderate; while Walden wasn’t a huge liability, Walden’s lack of big play ability often meant that teams were able to solely focus on Clay Matthews III on the other side by double or triple teaming him.  Walden also wasn’t very stout against the run and teams often took advantage of this by running the ball directly at him, which is probably the reason why Walden was benched in favor of Brad Jones during the playoffs.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Next to nothing; Walden was benched for the playoff game against the Giants and only saw time on special teams where he posted one tackle

Season Report Card:

(B) Level of expectations met during the season
(C) Contributions to team’s overall success
(D-) Player’s contributions in the playoffs

Overall Grade for the year: C

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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  • JimR_in_DC

    Hi have to disagree with your rating, Thomas. Walden is definitely a C-. ;)

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I won’t argue you with that one :P

  • Anthony

    How about an F. There’s a reason why so many say we need a “pass rusher opposite Matthews”. Him, Zombo, and Jones have not panned out to be anything more than a decent backup.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      One inherent problem with the grading system that we’ve setup is that players who are on the field more are inherently higher graded than backups. For instance, if I were to give an F to Walden, what grade could I give say Vic So’oto (who presumably you agree was even worse that Walden)

    • Ron LC

      With you Anthony. Walden was trapped inside instead of securing his end all season long. The more he played the worse it got.

  • GCinRichmond

    I would strongly disagree with this grade as well. According to neutral grading site ProFootballFocus Walden was one of the lowest graded 3-4 OLB in all of football. He was the worst pass rusher at the position. By definition he was below replacement level and the grade should be a D at best. His sole asset was that he was healthier than Jones or Zombo. While he may not have been the only reason for the Pack’s D struggles, he was definitely one of them and the position MUST be upgraded.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Those same PFF stats will tell you more than you are stating. The predominate reason for his low score was performance against the run. Rushing the passer, Walden did have 22 pressures, 14 hits and 3 sacks. These are similar numbers to Brooks Reed, for example. So I reject the “Walden didn’t do anything” talk.

      Walden started the season with some good games, but definitley seemed to regress as the season went on. I think C is a pretty accurate grade. C- at worst.

  • Tarynfor 12

    I agree with you Al,
    Stats are for reading,film is for seeing,and in this case,neither are too believing.

  • Dan

    I give him a D-. December is when healthy players should be playing thier best football and gearing up for the playoffs. The fact that he played his worse football leading up to the playoffs and then was benched for the most important game of the year was absolutely unacceptable. When a team has to scramble the week before a huge playoff game to fill your unproductive post …it warrants a true failure grade. He failed to hold his position in the end. And further more, he lost his position to below par players. If finishing the season on the bench and letting your team mates down warrants a passing grade, then I’m confused.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      You can’t just consider his grade based solely on the playoffs, keep in mind players have to play well to get their team into the post-season to start off with. Under that argument, Matt Ryan would be a terrible quarterback because he’s lead each of his playoff teams to a one and done. I would argue that Walden basically average or slightly below average through out the regular season.

  • Lucas

    Against the run (D+) as he made some plays in the backfield early, got hooked often, and rarely strung a play to the sideline. Pass rush (D) for a guy that rarely rushed unless it was as a 5th rusher, meaning one-on-one match-up for him. Only 3 sacks with an offense focused on stopping Raji and CMIII is not acceptable. Against the pass? I don’t remember him one way or another…so…C?

  • Dan

    The bottom line is the Packers need another stud at the all important ROLB position. Someone who can rush the QB, contain the run and cover when needed. Someone to take pressure if CM. Walden is not close to being the answer.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I completely agree, in a 3-4 defense, the outside linebacker can’t be just average he needs to be spectacular.

  • http://allgreenbaypackers.com Since ’61

    Walden seemed to have a good start to the season. I would say a B for the first half, but his performance trailed off significantly, especially after his arrest over the Thanksgiving weekend. Based on his performance decline and his personal issues, which impacted the team, I would agree with a D or less. Character is supposed to be a major factor considered by Packer management when reviewing their players and draft choices and I am afraid that Walden is lacking in this critical area.
    Thanks, Since ’61

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Well I wouldn’t put Walden as a character issue with just one incident, especially since he was not convicted of anything. If he were like Brandon Underwood and had a history of trouble like domestic assault and solicitation of prostitutes, then yah kick him to the curb.