Sam Shields 2014 Report Card – Packers Player Grades

Green Bay Packers Report Cards, Player Grades

1) Introduction: Sam Shields got the big contract to start off the season and this was time for him to show he was worth it.  Would Sam Shields be 6th best cornerback in the league, like his 2014 salary indicated?

2) Profile:

Samuel George Shields III

  • Age: 27
  • Born: December 8, 1987 in Sarasota, FL
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 184
  • College: Miami
  • Rookie Year: 2010
  • NFL Experience: 5 

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Live up to the contract.  The Packers made a pretty interesting call by resigning Shields to a 4-year $39 million contract at the start of free agency, which has been mentioned on this blog as high but flexible in terms of guaranteed money.  Therefore, it becomes imperative that Shields justify his contract every year in order to stay on the team since Shields signed for the lowest amount of guaranteed money of the 2013 free agent cornerbacks.  Overall, that didn’t work out for Shields as he recorded one of his worst seasons.  While Micah Hyde went from really good to really bad (which gives him an F), Sam Shields went from average in 2013 to bad in 2014, which while still not as bad of a fall from grace as Hyde still deserves a flunking score.  Shields needed to play much better to show he was worth the money and he didn’t deliver.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Shields’ highlight was his interception against the Bears (again everyone seems to have their highlight against the Bears this year) where he returned a interception 62 yards.  As for lowlights, it definitely appeared as if Shields wasn’t healthy coming back from his concussion as Julio Jones continually roasted him in week 14 against the Falcons.  Personally, I would put more of the blame on the Packers training staff and coaches for putting a player who was definitely out of it on the field, but nevertheless, it was probably one of the worst games Shields has ever played.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Below average.  It’s a little interesting to note that while the Packers and Packers fans seem to think that Shields is one of the better cornerbacks in the league (and he’s being paid like one), in reality Shields has only had one really good season (2012, though he missed the middle of the season due to injury) and the rest he’s been incredibly up and down. In 2014 he did have some good performances, but overall he had many more poor ones which ultimately resulted in his poor grading.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Shields was largely average in the playoffs, not really making much of a name for himself in either regard.

7) Intangibles: Shields is getting to that point where speed starts to decline and it will be interesting to see if he has more tricks in his bag other than his blazing recovery.  More and more teams are abandoning the “deep threat” (such as Mike Wallace/Torrey Smith) receiver in favor of mismatch receivers (such as Jimmy Graham/Alshon Jefferies) so it will become imperative that Shields refine his technique and rely less on his speed.

Season Report Card (Player Grades):

(F) Level of expectations met during the season

(D+) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C+) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  D


Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s


17 thoughts on “Sam Shields 2014 Report Card – Packers Player Grades

  1. Wow, with the number of awful grades being handed out, you’d think we must really suck. This team did just get 3:59 from the SuperBowl, right? I think this is the time to coin the phrase “greater than the sum of its parts”……GoPack!

    1. Well we are starting with the defense and I’m pretty sure no one is going to argue that the defense is carrying the offense. Sure the defense can throw a shutout every once in a while, but in reality it’s usually the offense bailing out the defense.

  2. While I would agree that Shields did not play up to his salary an F score seems a bit harsh to me. The F makes it sound like he was consistently beaten badly for big plays and TDs and that was not the case for Shields.

    1. It appears as though the grading is not simply “how did they play” but rather a rating that also includes living up to one’s contract….

      1. Scheny – I agree and I understand that salary should be taken into account up to a point for grading purposes. The problem with Thomas’ grade is that in football while each player has a role they also function as part of the team on every play and each player’s performance is impacted by the play of the other players on the field. If we judged Aaron Rodgers or any top tier QB by their salary, then any top tier QB who does not win the SB would receive an F grade. At $20 million plus salary should A. Rodgers receive a F for not winning the SB? No, because the results he achieves are based on the performance of his OL, his RBs and WRs on every play. To a lesser extent the same is true for Shields and the other position players. The Packers defense improved in 2014 and Shields was a part of that improvement even if his play did not match up to his salary level. Thanks, Since ’61

        1. “If a player is only paid $500K does that mean his poor play results in a more favorable grade?”

          In reality yes, you pay your first round picks more than your undrafted rookie free agents because you think your first round pick will contribute more and be more productive. A players salary is one of the most concrete ways to determine a players value in the league; of course there are mitigating circumstances such as players on rookie deals or superstars who get paid by name recognition alone, but for the vast majority of veteran players, what they make is directly tied into how good they are.

          On the flip side, Aaron Rodgers doesn’t get an A for making $20 million; Aaron Rodgers gets an A for putting A grade performances on the field and is paid accordingly.

    2. The F score if for the expectations from the 2013 season carrying into the 2014 season. In 2013 Shields was graded out largely as average (+0.8 PFF grade) but this year he fell all the way down to -3.3 PFF grade. The only person who took a bigger nose dive from 2013 to 2014 was Micah Hyde, who I also gave an F to. Add to that the fact that he has to justify his contract (which gave him the 6th highest salary this year for a cornerback) and I don’t think he did all that well this year.

      1. I read an article yesterday though that said if he continued playing the way he did over the 1st 6 weeks, he would have been on pace to grade out as a top 5 CB. Said he actually had a +6.1 over the 1st 6 weeks of the season, then in the next 5 games back after injury was -8.4. So obviously the injury had some major effect on his play after returning. And it also said over the last 4 games, including playoffs, he started to get better, grading +1.8 over those last 4 games and having one of his best games of the season week 17. Hopefully he can stay fully healthy next year, he should bounce back nicely. Have a Morgan Burnett type turnaround. A lot of Packers fans sound the same way towards Shields this year as they did toward Burnett last year, wanting him cut. I think that’s absolutely ridiculous just as i did with Burnett.

  3. I disagree strongly with your grade of Shields. I really can’t use any adjectives that come to mind without losing civility. I do agree that he can’t rely on his blazing speed forever, and that he seemed to lose his outstanding catch-up speed after his knee injury in week 6. The concussion may have had some effect as well. I also factor in that Capers leaves his CBs on an island a lot, and often played Burnett near the LOS, leaving just a single high safety. And that safety was either Clinton Dix and Hyde, who were still learning and did not erase as many mistakes made by the CBs, especially early in the season as one might have hoped. I never expected Shields to be the 6th best CB in the NFL. Here are some stats:

    14 games, 2 INT, 0 Sacks, 11 passes defended, 36 tackles, 8 assists.
    86 targets, 44 receptions allowed, 51.2%, 15.9 Y/R against, 5 TDs allowed, 83.5 QB rating allowed. [median NFL starter QB Passer Rating is 88.6].

    For expectations, I would give him a D+. For playing to his contract, I would give Shields a D-. For actual contributions on the field, I would give Shields a B-. Playoffs would be a C+. Overall grade might be a C+.

    Given your grade for Shields, I can’t wait to see the grade for Tramon Williams.

    1. You’re probably not going to like Williams grade then 😀

      I didn’t factor in Shields playing hurt cause I felt it would be impossible to “curve” the grades based on injury for every player, especially when it’s basically impossible to tell just how hurt and how detrimental playing hurt is for a specific player. Yes, Shields played hurt and yes the scheme might not be all that forgiving for a cornerback but its not like the scheme does any favors for Mike Daniels and he sure makes the most out of it.

        1. This is going a bit into my methodology but I complied all my grades first and then wrote the commentary later. Hayward’s grade was not curved by his injury, but his commentary was. I will say I did basically the same thing with Shields, where his grade was unchanged due to injury but I did comment on his concussion

      1. Um, Thomas, i went back and looked and you gave Tramon a C if I read it right. I was fine with that, could have been a C-. Let me say this: grading is really hard. Now that I’ve read some more on Shields, I might reassess the grade I just gave him not 30 minutes ago. Using statistics, both House and particularly Hayward had better stats than either Shields or Williams, but they did not start at CB. Still, a thought provoking article.

    2. Oops, you already graded Tramon Williams, and worse, I commented on it. Here are stats for Tramon by way of comparison to Shields:

      16 games, 3 INT, 0 Sacks, 14 passes defended, 1 fumble recovery, 65 tackles, 12 assists, 110 targets, 70 receptions allowed, 63.6%, 12.2 Y/R against, 10 TDs allowed, 101.7 QB rating allowed (rating includes playoffs, but I have seen this number in around 95 as well).

      I have Shields with a lower expectations grade but with a higher on field contribution grade than Williams. I would give Williams a lower grade then Shields, but it would be a C- for Williams.

  4. In a sense, giving individual grades for a sport that is truly about the team, is really just fodder for the offseason. I am confident that Sam Shields or any of the Packer coaches would read this and say “Thomas Hobbes who? Bleep Thomas Hobbes he doesn’t know jack bleep”. I am not saying that I think that, I’m just saying that we don’t know calls, we don’t know responsibility and we don’t really know what players should be doing so to rate them as if we do is an exercise in inaccuracy. PFF only claims they know so even that system is flawed. These ratings are fun for the offseason, but we shouldn’t get too worked up over them. Look forward to the rest of the grades. GoPack!

  5. It’s interesting to see how someone else’s objective evaluation compares to my more subjective evaluation.

    I saw a highly paid cornerback frequently get beat by bigger receivers, by guessing as opposed to playing (and paying the price for it) and by not consistently being able to contest for the ball and win when it’s in the air.

    My grade would be a D.

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