The Packers took a big step in the right direction this week with a boring, but thorough beating of the Lions. The Packers won the game where they haven’t won many lately – in the trenches.
The offensive line, especially the interior three, showed what they are capable of, going up against some of the toughest, baddest (over-rated?) hombres in the NFL and controlling them for pretty much the entire game.
The defensive line was stellar; something we first saw in the preseason and it has been consistently good four games into the season.
So let’s take a look at who’s trending and in what direction after Sunday’s game:
When matched up against Ndomukong Suh and the other bruising interior defensive linemen for the Lions, Lang did exactly what needed to be done: Control their pursuit upfield and use their own momentum against them to create running lanes. It was the second straight solid performance from Lang against a group of elite interior defensive linemen.
After a horrible opener against the 49ers and battling back problems against Washington, Sitton has played a key role in shutting down Geno Atkins and quieting Ndomukong Suh. Thanks in part to Sitton’s efforts, the Packers are fifth in the league in rushing and Aaron Rodgers has had a pretty clean pocket to step into. Moving Sitton to the left side has paid off so far.
You could put any of the three receivers in the rising category. I chose Nelson because his toughness is second to none. It doesn’t matter if he’s covered on the sideline or absorbing a big hit over the middle, Nelson makes the catch, then gets up and does it all over again. He hasn’t busted out the Jordy Stiff Arm yet this season, but the Jordy-Makes-a-Miraculous-Catch-With-a-Defender-Draped-All-Over-Him-as-he-Falls-Out-of-Bounds plays have more than made up for it.
If we’re going to give Sitton and Lang props for controlling some monster defensive tackles over the last few weeks, it’s only fair that we show Dietrich-Smith some love too. The free-agent-to-be is putting together a nice little season so far. Nothing spectacular, but more than holding his own against some quality interior defensive linemen.
Whatever the Lions tried to do on Sunday, Hawks was there to snuff it out. Much like Dietrich-Smith, Hawk hasn’t been spectacular this season, but he’s done his job and gone above and beyond in a few instances, with Sunday’s Lions game being the prime example. Now the Packers equipment crew needs to figure out how to keep Hawk’s helmet on his head. Given the Packers injury luck, I can see Hawk’s helmet flying off and hitting Aaron Rodgers in the elbow, causing the QB to miss the rest of the season. To be fair, Pro Football Focus was not impressed w/ Hawk. I disagreed with PFF’s assessment, but wanted to point it out since I used PFF to back up my placement of Lang in the rising group.
Stop adjusting the resolution on your computer screens. Quit rubbing your eyes. No, you’re not drunk or stoned. Both A.J. Hawk and Mason Crosby are in the steady category this week. Has this ever happened in the history of the Packers Stock Report? I’m too lazy to go look, but I highly doubt it. Two of the most chastised Packers in recent history are now together in the steady category. Hopefully both players take this honor as a reason to continue playing well in order to one day make it all the way up to the rising category. For now, though, baby steps. Here’s hoping Hawk and Crosby keep making positive contributions.
Remember when we thought that the tight ends behind Jermichael Finley were at least halfway decent? Turns out we were probably wrong about that. Taylor’s dropped pass against the Lions caused every Packers fan on Twitter to demand the return of Tom Crabtree.
I was one of the few people who kept his arms crossed and refused to get too excited about Franklin after the Bengals game. The guy’s fumble led directly to the winning touchdown. Any time that happens, it casts a serious shadow over anything else that player may have done during the game. Too harsh? Perhaps. But Franklin fumbled again against the Lions. Fumbles in consecutive weeks get you a first-class seat on the falling category train.
Raiola allegedly verbally assaulted members of the Wisconsin marching band on Sunday. Yes, you read that right. An NFL player — a grown man who makes $1 million per year to play football — yelled insults and homophobic slurs at a marching band. Raiola isn’t just falling in football terms, he’s falling in the category of life.