Packers Playmakers: Where Do The Chips Fall? All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Aaron Rodgers and Josh Sitton
Aaron Rodgers and Josh Sitton are two of the Packers “blue chip” players.

Now that my fellow staff members and I have completed our annual player evaluations and report cards, I thought it might be fun to take a look at the Green Bay Packers’ impact players. Taking a page from Michael Lombardi, former NFL Network analyst who now works in the front office for the Cleveland Browns, I have categorized the players into representational colored chips.

I’ve added a couple more categories beyond the usual blue and red chips, but for the latter groups, I have taken some of the qualifications as used by Lombardi. While some players might have fallen short of their expectations this past season, I have attempted to look at their entire body of work and where they stand going into 2013.

One thing I did notice in this exercise was the lack of playmakers on the defense, which Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, and Dom Capers need to work on correcting.

Feel free to chime in with any agreements, disagreements, or additions to the lists!

Blue Chip Players:

» Demonstrates rare abilities and creates mismatches that have an obvious impact on the game.
» Is a premier player in the league and a weapon on the field.
» Combines competitiveness and skill to provide a consistent championship-level performance.

  • Aaron Rodgers – One of the best quarterbacks in the modern NFL era, Rodgers is the heart of this team. His exceptional football intelligence, technique, and work ethic make everyone else around him look better.
  • Randall Cobb – Some people might want to wait another year before elevating Cobb to this status, but he proved this year what kind of a difference he makes to the offense and special teams. His skill set is unrivaled.
  • Josh Sitton – He is the biggest asset along the offensive line, and without him I shudder to think how high Rodgers’ sack number would have climbed this year. Sitton handles both pass blocking and run blocking very well.

Red Chip Players:

» Has abilities that can create mismatches vs. most opponents in the league.
» Is a featured player on his team and has an impact on the outcome of the game.
» Can’t be taken out of the game in a one-on-one matchup.
» Is consistent from week to week.

  • Clay Matthews – Perhaps Matthews could be seen as more of a “purple chip” player. He’s close to blue chip status, but needs to be more consistently great rather than just consistently good.
  • Jordy Nelson – This was a bad year for Nelson with all of his injury problems. When he is healthy, though, Nelson makes a big difference for the offense by stretching the field with his “sneaky white-man speed.”
  • Bryan Bulaga – Like Nelson, Bulaga’s injuries really impacted his contributions this year. However, there’s no denying he’s a great right tackle and could move into the “blue chip” category depending on how he plays in the future.
  • Sam Shields – There can be no doubt that Shields took his criticisms to heart this year. He showed significant development to the point where he has become a key player on defense.

Cow Chip Players (Underachievers):

» These players have so far proven to be disappointments based on their projected value.

  • A.J. Hawk – Is there any more that can be said?
  • B.J. Raji – For all the problems we’ve seen Raji have along the line, he’s never really shed the hype from his name. His 2011 Pro Bowl selection was proof enough of that. While he’s shown progress this year, it’s still not nearly at the level we’ve expected.
  • Jermichael Finley – For all the talk of his improvement over the last portion of the season, it remains a fact that Finley hasn’t lived up to his calling card abilities. In fact, his performance in 2012 has highlighted a pervasive inconsistency. We really don’t have any idea what level of play we’ll get from him in the future.
  • D.J. Williams – Where has this guy gone? A “shorts superstar,” he’s shown a lot of good things in practices, but that has never been reflected on the field during gameday. The big question: is it a matter of opportunity or ability?

Keep Your Eyes On…

» These players could prove to be blue or red chip players in the future based on past performance.

  • Casey Hayward – If he performs as well as he did this year with a bigger workload and more responsibility on defense, then Hayward could easily be a blue chip player. His awareness and ball skills are excellent.
  • Nick Perry – It’s a shame that injuries kept us from seeing Perry develop throughout the season. He wasn’t as impactful as we were hoping as a rookie, but there’s plenty of potential to be seen.
  • Davon House – Hopefully House’s shoulder injury will be long forgotten come next season and that it doesn’t affect his play. While he may never be a blue chip player, he could definitely achieve red chip status.
  • Andrew Quarless – It all depends on how he returns from his gruesome knee injury. Before that fateful Giants game, Quarless was starting to come on strong and looked like he could be the starting tight end of the future.

Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski


40 thoughts on “Packers Playmakers: Where Do The Chips Fall?

  1. You have to add James Jones to the blue chip list. For as much dogging the guy took the previous two years, he was James Velcro last year.

    I would have tossed DuJuan Harris a red chip. It’s not his fault that MM lost all the pages from his playbook that had the running plays against the 49er’s.

    A lot more players could be added to the cow chip list, with Saturday at the head of the line.

    1. Hayward is a Red Chip now.

      Matthews should be a Blue-minus. Inconsistency is strictly due to injury, and I think you want the chip rating to reflect how much the team really misses him then.

      Jones should be a Red plus, not blue. Even last season, he was more of a steady go-to presence rather than a true game-changer.

      Its a concern to see how many of these guys underperform.

      Sitton should also be a Red (he looks blue in

      1. The question is: what is underperforming, and what is performing to the best of their ability despite our expectations?

        Philosophically speaking, of course…

    2. DuJuan Harris looked good at times, but if he’s red-chip based on this limited exposure, there’s a ton of red-chip running backs out there.

  2. Finishing up:

    Sitton should also be a Red (he looks blue in contrast to the rest of the line, but is a marginal pro-bowl guy, not a true dominating presence.

  3. CM3 needs to resolve his chronic “hammy” before he moves to “Blue Chip.” He misses far too many games.

    I don’t disagree that Raji is an underperformer. I question why is he being advertised as someone they need to eat a significant part of the salary cap for. Maybe his under-acheivement is the way he is instrcted to play?

    This is going to be a very important off season. They need to resolve Line issues on both sides of the ball. LB is another area. And RB!

    Can’t wait for FA to take off and see shat the strategy will be.

    1. ^^^this. Also, whassup with Tramon Williams? “Chip that fell off the table and blends in with the carpeting?”

  4. Cm3 is a blue chipper … On any team. Put a solid OLB and dl with him and he dominates. He is one of the best if not best 3 down OLB in the game. His only issue is his hammies and being doubled too often due to no help on the other side …

    1. I agree that CMIII needs more support. I’d like to see help from the safety position, too, but if you say that he needs a solid OLB playing opposite and a solid DL, you’re talking about conditions that could make most good (but not great) OLB look exceptional.

      1. I feel the same as Dobber. If a guy needs that much help from other players, how dominating is he really?

        1. No disrespect, but ……..

          Let’s look at it another way, cm3 had 13 sacks in 12 games this year. Two other LBs had more and it was across 16 games, Aldon smith and Von miller. If we are talking on the field impact, that spells b…l…u…e to me. His downside is staying healthy … No issue on that …

  5. I don’t believe that any of the receivers, in and of themselves, is a blue-chipper at this time. As a group, they are formidable and create matchup issues, but when one or more is missing, the offense struggles.

    Who in that group can take over a game? We saw last season that teams can scheme to take away any of them and be effective at it. The blue-chip receivers get their looks, yards and scores regardless.

    Nelson and Cobb qualify as red-chippers, and maybe Jones. But in all honesty, I’m not so sure Jones wasn’t the beneficiary of opposing DC’s scheming to minimize Nelson and Cobb.

    1. Say what you want about JJ, he led the league in TD’s. To me it makes them at least a red chipper. And the receivers including Finley are skewed down b/c of AR spreading the ball around. Case in point, look how well Finley performed at the start of the 2010 season when he was the focus. What would our WR’s numbers be if they were on the ViQueens or the Lions?

      1. TDs is another largely meaningless stat–not as bad as tackles on defense, but in the same vein.

        I do think that JJ is a red-chip player, but for other reasons.

        I agree that if Mathews isn’t a blue-chip player then none of the WRs can be blue-chip either.

        1. How many TDs did Nelson have last year? How many TD passes does ARod throw? Someone’s gotta catch them, and if defenses are scheming to take away Nelson and Cobb, Jones is the beneficiary.

          How many catches for Jones this year? How many yards? As the only WR who didn’t miss time due to injury, you’d expect to see more than that from a blue chipper.

  6. I know he had a few rough games late in the season, But i was very surprised not to see Tramon Williams as a red chip player. He is crucial for the packers in winning their division. He takes on megatron and Brandon what his name from the Bears.

    He was also a stud in the 2010 playoffs.

    1. I get where you’re coming from but since he played like a blue chipper in 2010 it’s hard to give him high marks for his play this year. Though as you said he went up against the other teams best WR. Okay, I just talked myself into giving him a red chip.(Yikes, I just had a conversation w/ myself).

      I’m surprised Morgan Burnett get’s no lovin’. He played every snap on defense and alongside the aged Woodson, newbie MD, and rookie McM and still had good #’s.

      1. I was tempted to put Burnett in the “Keep Your Eyes On…” category. I think he’s close to becoming a red chipper.

      2. Given that we just saw a post with the intent of justifying why Morgan Burnett is more valuable than we think, it argues that he’s too “behind the scenes” to get the lovin’ and recognition you’re talking about.

  7. Only real blue chippers are Rodgers and Matthews. Rest afe reds and there are probably more reds. Just need a Safety and a LB to step up to make the D dominant again.

  8. To me, saying CM3 is anything but a Blue Chip guy is insane. Answer this: what other OLB has his “complete” game, and what other OLB would you swap straight up for him?

    GBP 4 LIFE

    1. Matthews rated best olb in nfl. PFF had him #1 pass rusher and #6 run defender. Absolute blue chipper!

      1. You guys might have convinced me… especially the question about who I would swap him for.

  9. You overrate Bulaga. His first season was terrible, his second was good, and this last year really showed me something, the fact that he had a terrible start that was exactly when the toughest teams on the schedule appeared. Then he was pretty good against bad teams. Now he has a broken hip. And the team keeps saying he’ll be fine. Just like last offseason, when they kept telling us that Sherrod would be ready for the season! I’ll believe it when I see it.

  10. This is a very uneven team. Great QB, very good WR’s, very good CB’s and fair safety play. CMIII can be great if he can stay on the field, Sitton is very good, and Bishop can be really good.
    The TE’s are below average, mostly Finley. The other 4/5 of the O-Line is not very good. Second most sacks, and cannot run block! D-Line is not good. Raji is not a nose tackle! Pickett is almost done, and the rest are just guys. Hawk is terrible, the jury is still out on Perry. Harris is the only actual NFL running back we have, and he should be a third down back. Not a very deep team at all. Considering we continue to hear how deep this club is. The only real depth is at WR and CB.

  11. After thinking about it, I would have to look long and hard at Von Miller. That’s the only guy I couldn’t think of a reason to throw out. He’s friggin good.

  12. Great article, Chad. Can I suggest a followup comparing the numbers of blue/red chip players from the Packers 2010 and 2011 seasons to where we are in 2012. I think it would provide an interesting look at how the strengths of this team have changed, and where next year’s team needs more impactful/plus type players.
    One other thought: an orange category (almost red) for players that were not red for the year, but over the last quarter of the season and the playoffs played to a red level, thus elevating the teams’s play over the most critical part of the year. I would suggest this year’s team had 3: Harris, Shields, Finley. The 2010 team also had 3: Nelson, Starks, and Raji. My takeaway from that is don’t count on the improved performance level continuing, as only Nelson maintained it the next year.

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