B.J. Raji: 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

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B.J. Raji
B.J. Raji

1) Introduction: This was supposed to the season where Raji established himself as a top defensive lineman. He never made that leap, and it killed the Packers down the stretch.

2) Profile:

Busari Raji Jr.

Position: NT
Height: 6-2
Weight: 337 lbs.
AGE: 25

Career Stats:

3) Expectations coming into the season: Stud. After totaling 39 tackles, 6.5 sacks and dancing his way to the Super Bowl in 2010, Raji appeared to be on the verge of greatness. Unfortunately, he only managed to achieve halfway decentness. Raji’s numbers dropped to 22 tackles and three sacks in 2011 and he never was the consistent game-changing force that the Packers so desperately needed up front.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: With four tackles and a sack against Carolina in week two, Raji got off to a hot start.   He followed that performance by getting shut out next week at Chicago, which was the story of Raji’s season. Just when you thought he was about to get going and show us a new dance move or two, Raji disappeared.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Raji played almost 80 percent of the defensive snaps, so he’s durable. But you also have to wonder if Raji’s workload from the last two seasons wore him down. Looks can be deceiving, but Raji’s doughy body doesn’t appear to conducive to carrying a heavy workload. It’ll be interesting to see what the Packers do with Raji next season. Will they give him more snaps at DE, where he generates a good rush every now and then? Or will they keep him inside, even though he tends to get pushed around more than a player with his size and skills should?

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Filling in this category for the defensive line evaluations has been redundant. Raji didn’t contribute much in the postseason because the Packers pass rush was dismal.

Season Report Card:

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

Overall Grade: C+

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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.

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  • Thomas Hobbes

    I would be curious to see if he was given more double teams this year than last (not that he isn’t supposed to be able to split a double team). Also thanks for saving me, I’ve been replying to like 5 LB evals at once till your post came up :D

    • Adam Czech

      Even when he wasn’t getting doubled, he didn’t win his one-on-one matchups often enough.

  • ELo

    Not sure he earned the State Farm cameo

  • Tarynfor 12

    A c+…seriously?
    Hasn’t Raji suffered through the same pains as CM3 this season.Too many snaps and abosolutely no help on the DL.
    CM3 and Raji have felt the same feelings all season…alone and abandoned.
    Not only will CM3 burn out,we can assuredly add Raji to the list also.

    • Oppy

      Raji is a Nose Tackle in a 3-4 scheme.

      By definition, He’s going to be double teamed a majority of the time. That’s kinda the NT’s job- they are supposed to command a double team.

      They aren’t really supposed to have help, they’re kind of the whipping boy of a DL. They’re supposed to draw and hold double teams.

      I do agree that it’s highly unusual to have that big guy playing that many snaps and it could lead to burn out, but hey- he did it last year, and they actually were actively limiting his snaps somewhat since about mid season.

      I think the difference maker for Raji is that playing NT does not play to his strengths.. Look at Raji’s collegiate highlights, the most striking facet of his game is his lateral agility and BLAZING quickness for a man of his size.. When he’s taking on doubles at the point of attack, he rarely has the chance to utilize those attributes.

      When he’s on the edge, he has opportunities to surprise linemen, RB’s, and QB’s with his unusual (and therefore, unexpected) quickness and ability to get sideline to sideline.

      • Thomas Hobbes

        Sure by definition Raji should be getting double teams as the NT, but if Green was to step in to NT do you think he would get a double team too? The fact that Raji had a great year in 2010 was bound to attract him more attention, I’m curious if his reputation lead to more focus on him, or was it that not having to deal with a Cullen Jenkins on the end made Raji more of a target for offensive lines to block?

        • Oppy

          What I’m getting at is in 2010, Pickett played more snaps at NT and Raji spent more time at DE in our base alignment or playing the 3 technique in our 4 down linemen sets.

          This year, they put Pick back out on the perimeter and got Raji more at NT.

          I would agree he got more attention, too.. But when you’re playing NT in the 3-4, your kinda going to get doubled on most snaps right from the get-go, being that you are over center and have a guard to each shoulder.

          • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

            “This year, they put Pick back out on the perimeter and got Raji more at NT.”

            I don’t think that’s correct, Oppy. Pickett was still the Primary NT when they were in their okie (3-4). Thing is, you just didn’t see that alignment very much. capers is on record as saying he didn’t think they were very good in okie, so he played a ton of nickel with only two DLs.

            Here they are talking about Raji at DE this November:

            http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20111110/PKR01/111110151/Green-Bay-Packers-DE-B-J-Raji-doesn-t-question-decision-to-flip-positions-in-3-4-defense

            • Oppy

              Am I losing my mind? Did I miss a year somehow?

              The Packers list Raji as a NT and Pick at DE on their roster.. Could have sworn I’ve been watching Raji at NT most of the time.

              • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

                In 2010, they moved Pickett out to end and Raji to nose tackle. In 2011, they swapped them back. (basically, Raji has moved every year.)

                Again, most of the time the Packers were in Nickel, so you saw Raji over the guard a lot. Also, in his grades post, Bob McGinn did say that Pickett and Raji shifted back and forth a lot between NT and DE. So we’re both right, actually.

              • Oppy

                Both right? I’ll take it! :)

              • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

                Just saw an article on ProFootballFocus which mentions that Raji played a lot less nose tackle this year than last…

      • Mojo

        This is why if the Pack end up drafting let’s say Alameda Ta’amu or Dontari Poe it wouldn’t be the worst thing they could do. It would have a positive ripple effect on the whole D-line. I agree Oppy that Raji is better served on the edge.

        • Oppy

          Raji does play the edge better, but, he was drafted to be our NT of the future, a role I think he will grow into and eventually flourish in.

          Right now, though, it’s clear he’s more effective from the edge, and Pickett is a better true NT than Raji. Pickett is way underrated, he did a great job when called upon to play NT.

    • Adam Czech

      Again, if Raji would have won more one-on-one matchups this season, he would’ve been much better than a C+. Unfortunately, he didn’t.

      (And when he was doubled teamed, it often wasn’t pretty)

  • indycheezhed

    I guess the pro bowl is for just average players.

    • Zack

      Apparently… Seems like your post is aiming at being sarcastic but I agree with it in this case. Raji should NOT have made the probowl. I like him but he didn’t play well at all this year. He was supposed to be our run stuffer and O-lines pushed him around like a chump. RB’s ran all over him. He did no do his job this year.

      • Adam Czech

        When a younger, lower profile, player has his first pro-bowl caliber season, he ofton doesn’t actually make the pro bowl.

        He often makes the pro bowl the following season, even if he wasn’t as good, because his reputation and popularity grew after establishing himself the season before.

        (Sorry if you get a headache reading that. It’s early.)

        • Zack

          lol… Football karma. what a crappy system of doing things. it’s more like a high school popularity contest then the pollished, professional system we would all prefer for it to be.

  • Ron LC

    A “C” is good for his 2011 performance. The real question is why? Looking at past DVR’d games there was a pattern that caused me to think he may have been doing exactly what he was told to do. He got off the ball good made a push on his blocker(s), took a step or two then stopped and held his position. This happened far too often to be performance only. Something else was involved.

    Ok, I’m going back to create another conspiracy theory.

    • JimR_in_DC

      Hmm, conspiracy theory, eh? Brent Farve sitting on his tractor using mind control over Packers players hundreds of miles away? Freezing Packers defenders, making WRs and TEs drop easy catches? Hmm, you may be on to something, Ron! ;)

  • Dan

    BJ needs an off season in the weight room, un-like last year