News & Analysis

GB-JAX grades: Packers defense steps up in close win

during a game at EverBank Field on September 11, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Green Bay Packers 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 23

Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the Green Bay Packers’ 27-23 Week 1 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars:

Green Bay Packers

Quarterback grade: Aaron Rodgers, 76.2

While wide receiver Jordy Nelson returned from his knee injury, the connection between him and Rodgers clearly did not work in this game as it used to. There were a few plays when Rodgers was not on the same page with his receivers, but he was still accurate on 67.7 percent of his aimed passes. Although he struggled a bit when he had to hold onto the ball for long, Rodgers was at his best when he was blitzed by the Jacksonville defense. His highlight pass also came on a play when Jaguars rookie defensive back Jalen Ramsey was holding onto his jersey as he completed a pinpoint-accurate pass to Devante Adams in the end zone. Here is a look at Rodgers’ numbers when he held the ball for more than 2.6 seconds:

rodgers-ttt-stat

Top offensive grades:

G T.J. Lang, 79.9

OT David Bakhtiari, 77.7

WR Randall Cobb, 77.2

OT Bryan Bulaga, 73.0

TE Richard Rodgers, 72.1

Offensive line keeps Rodgers clean

Although the Packers recently released one of their elite guards in Josh Sitton, the other — T.J. Lang — is still on the team and showed Sunday that he is still capable of playing at a very high level. While Lang was impressive in run blocking, he was even better in pass protection, as he did not allow a single pressure on his 41 pass-blocking snaps. Furthermore, while the Packers offensive line did surrender six quarterback hurries – including three by Lane Taylor, who is Sitton’s replacement – they did not give up a single quarterback hit or sack.

Top defensive grades:

CB Damarious Randall, 86.1

ED Nick Perry, 80.9

LB Joe Thomas Jr., 80.2

S Micah Hyde, 80.1

ED Datone Jones, 80.0

Randall shines as Matthews struggles at old position

Second-year cornerback Damarious Randall was all over the field in this one, as he prevented two receptions, including one pass breakup, had an impressive stop on a run play and registered a tackle even on special teams. While he was targeted six times in coverage, he allowed only two receptions for 13 yards. Clay Matthews was back at his original position at outside linebacker Sunday, but he had an off day as he recorded only two pressures on 33 pass-rushing snaps, and neither came by beating a blocker. In addition, he missed the most tackles on the Packers defense with two, and also earned the lowest overall grade with 38.1.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Quarterback grade: Blake Bortles, 81.3

Blake Bortles had an excellent start to his season, as he passed for 320 yards and had an adjusted completion rate of 68.4 percent. While he did turn the ball over on a slightly inaccurate pass, it could have been avoided if Marqise Lee held onto the football. Bortles’ touchdown pass to tight end Julius Thomas was one of the prettiest you will see this week, as he used excellent touch to find Thomas in tight coverage.

bortles-passing-stats

Top offensive grades:

OT Kelvin Beachum, 79.4

TE Julius Thomas, 79.4

TE Marcedes Lewis, 78.1

OT Jermey Parnell, 74.6

C Brandon Linder, 72.5

Young pass-catchers perform below expectations

Experts are expecting big things from the young Jacksonville WR trio of Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee this season. However, while they had plenty of opportunity to put down the foundations for a breakout season, they could not take advantage of the situation. They did combine to catch 12 passes for 169 yards, but that production came on 23 targets — not the most efficient game from them. Robinson had a few opportunities to come down with jump passes thrown towards him, but today he was unable to come down with any of the acrobatic catches we saw from him last season.

Top defensive grades:

DI Jared Odrick, 78.3

S John Cyprien, 75.5

CB Dwayne Gratz, 73.9

CB Prince Amukamara, 72.4

LB Telvin Smith, 71.0

Jacksonville defense can't produce much of a pass rush

While the Jaguars defense did put together a solid performance when it came to coverage and run defense, they could not get close to Aaron Rodgers on a consistent basis. Even though Jared Odrick earned the highest grade among Jacksonville defenders, even he failed to record a single pressure on his 24 pass-rushing snaps. In addition, while second-year edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. did record two defensive stops, including the first tackle in the game, he failed to register a single pressure on 30 pass-rushing snaps.

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