Green Bay Packers

Packers vs. Cowboys: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Green Bay

Matt SteinCorrespondent IIDecember 16, 2013

Packers vs. Cowboys: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Green Bay

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    Matt Flynn and Andrew Quarless earned fantastic grades in this week's report card.
    Matt Flynn and Andrew Quarless earned fantastic grades in this week's report card.Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Somehow the Green Bay Packers escaped with a 37-36 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. It was, without a doubt, the most exciting win the Packers have had all season.

    It took a strong second half for the second week in a row for the Packers to continue their winning streak. This week it was five touchdowns over the course of the final two quarters that propelled Green Bay to a victory.

    The fight from this team in the second half definitely improved all of the grades for the report card this week. Here's a look at full grades for each position unit following Sunday's win.

     

    *All statistics courtesy of NFL.com.

Quarterback

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Player: Matt Flynn

    Well, it might be safe to say that Flynn earned himself another contract at the end of this season with his performance on Sunday.

    While the first half wasn't too inspiring, what Flynn did in the second half was simply unbelievable. He led the Green Bay Packers to 34 points on five scoring drives. He finished the game with 299 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.

    Flynn's poise and control of the offense during the third and fourth quarter was really something quite special. His play literally kept the Packers' playoff hopes alive.

    This might be the last time that Flynn sees the field this season, which makes this performance all the more special. There is no doubt that he earned the high grade he received this week.

     

    Final Grade: A+

Running Backs

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Players: Eddie Lacy, James Starks

    The narrative surrounding Lacy hasn't changed all year. He remains a huge part of the offense and is carrying this team without quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the field. 

    Lacy finished the day with 141 rushing yards and a touchdown. He also added four receptions which totaled 30 yards.

    As for Starks, he didn't get many touches, but he made them count when he did. His lone reception went 11 yards and for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

    This unit played just as good a game as any unit on the Packers this week. 

     

    Final Grade: A+

Wide Receivers

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Players: Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jarrett Boykin

    This is the type of production that we've been waiting to see from the receivers of the Green Bay Packers. They were finally making big plays and exploiting the Dallas Cowboys defense.

    Boykin led all Packers receivers with a team-high six receptions and 83 yards. Nelson and Jones combined for eight receptions, 110 yards and two touchdowns.

    What was most impressive from this unit was the number of difficult receptions that they made. Nelson's touchdown reception was literally picked off the head of his defender and both Jones and Boykin made tough receptions look easy.

    It's always been true that the Packers have had one of the most talented receiving corps in the league, and they finally played that way on Sunday.

     

    Final Grade: A

Tight End

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Player: Andrew Quarless

    With Brandon Bostick out and Ryan Taylor not seeing much playing time, Quarless was the only tight end to be a factor in this week's game. The good news is that he was a huge factor.

    Quarless finished the game with six receptions, 66 yards and a touchdown. What's incredible about those numbers is that they are the same exact statistics he finished last week's game with.

    No one really expected a tight end to make a big impact without Jermichael Finley on the field. While it took some time, Quarless is proving to be a dangerous weapon. He's also making the Green Bay Packers offense an even scarier unit.

     

    Final Grade: A

Offensive Line

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Players: David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang, Don Barclay

    It wasn't the worst of weeks for the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers this week. In fact, the second half against the Dallas Cowboys was about as impressive a half that we've seen from this unit.

    The problem is that the first two quarters weren't that great. That's when the Dallas Cowboys got both of their sacks and the struggles of the offensive line were a big reason why the Packers offense couldn't get things going.

    If this group can ever figure out how to play an entire game like they played the second half in Dallas, it could be scary for the rest of the NFL.

     

    Final Grade: B+

Defensive Line

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Players: B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Josh Boyd

    The problem with grading the defense this week is the same problem we had last week with grading the following units. Every single unit played extremely poorly in the first half, but stepped their game up in a major way to finish out the game.

    The defensive line had the worst game of all the units. They failed to get much pressure on quarterback Tony Romo and were continuously pushed back when the Dallas Cowboys ran the ball.

    In fact, had the Cowboys been committed to the run late in the game, it's likely that the Green Bay Packers wouldn't have won this game. The bright spot this week was from the youngsters Daniels, Jones and Boyd. They combined for seven tackles and one-and-a-half sacks.

    There is definitely room for improvement following Sunday's game, but this group has a strong second half to build upon moving forward.

     

    Final Grade: C+

Linebackers

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Players: A.J. Hawk, Clay Matthews, Brad Jones, Mike Neal

    The linebackers played a solid game on Sunday, but it was far from dominant. And much like the defensive line, most of the damage was done in the second half.

    Jones led the way with six total tackles while Matthews and Neal combined for one-and-a-half sacks. Where this team was most impressive in the second half was in pass coverage. They did a good job of keeping tight end Jason Witten from running wild and protected the middle of the field extremely well.

    This group still needs to create more pressures over the course of a game. However, if they can continue to play as well as they did in the third and fourth quarter of this game, the Green Bay Packers defense should be able to play solid football.

     

    Final Grade: B

Cornerbacks

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Players: Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Micah Hyde, Jarrett Bush

    It's a shame that the cornerbacks got beat so often in the first half because they were spectacular to end the game.

    Shields' interception gave the Green Bay Packers the ball late in the game and ultimately caused the game-winning touchdown from running back Eddie Lacy. After that offensive drive, Williams made his best play of the year with a fingertip interception to basically end the game for the Dallas Cowboys.

    Those two plays alone were enough to propel this unit into a solid grade for Sunday's game.

     

    Final Grade: B+

Safeties

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Players: Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, Sean Richardson

    The good news for the safeties this week is that they played much better than they have in recent weeks. It still isn't great football, but it appears as if they're improving.

    What's interesting is that the Green Bay Packers are so much better when Richardson is on the field instead of Jennings. For whatever reason though, the Packers seem content with only giving Richardson a handful of snaps.

    With Richardson and Burnett, the Packers could really have something special at the safety position. However, until they commit to playing those two for the majority of the game it's likely that this unit will continue to have its struggles.

    Sunday's game was the best the safeties have played in a long time. That's great news for this defense moving forward into the final weeks of the season.

     

    Final Grade: B

Special Teams

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Players: Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Micah Hyde

    For the first time in a long time the Green Bay Packers actually got a decent performance from the coverage team on special teams. That's a big reason why the unit gets a solid grade this week.

    While the Dallas Cowboys only returned a total of three punts and kickoffs in the game, the Packers still did a good job at not allowing any big plays. Outside of the coverage team, the rest of this unit had a great game.

    Crosby hit a 57-year field goal in the first half with ease. Even Hyde was able to get a big punt return in the second half that gave the Packers offense a short field to work with.

    Overall, it was one of the better performances by the special teams of Green Bay this year.

     

    Final Grade: A-

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