GB-ARI Grades: Freeney earns highest grade since 2013
Here are the top takeaways and highest graded players from the Cardinals’ 38-8 win over the Packers:
– Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (+4.6) turned back the clock for this one, and turned in his best effort since his first game as a Charger in 2013. Proving too much for Green Bay’s left tackle, Don Barclay, to handle, Freeney caused one of Rodgers’ fumbles, which was returned for a TD, and even broke out his patented spin move for a sack at 13:26 of the third quarter. With three sacks, five hurries and three penalties drawn, this is the kind of edge presence that could pay huge dividends for the playoff-bound Cardinals.
– Expecting to be picked on, it was an eventful day in coverage for cornerback Justin Bethel (-2.8), whose lows added up to outweigh his highs. Bethel’s interception in the end zone that thwarted a first-half Packers’ drive, and his tackle near the goal line, which ended another late in the third, were examples of him rising to get the job done. However, the seven completions he allowed (five for first downs) and a pair of dropped passes in the end zone, two coverage penalties, a missed tackle, and a two-point conversion catch allowed, all served to send the scales tipping in the other direction.
– The defense took over in the second half to make life easy on the Arizona offense, and send the game to garbage time way earlier than anyone would want to see. But, while the offense was still pressing, WR Michael Floyd (+2.1) and HB David Johnson (+3.1) gave them all they needed to open up a lead. Floyd hauled in six of eight targets for 111 yards (45 after the catch) and five first downs (his other catch got 9 yards on 1st-and-10) while Johnson forced six missed tackles—five as a receiver—and gained 81 of his 88 receiving yards after the catch.
OLB Dwight Freeney (+4.6)
HB David Johnson (+3.1)
LB Deone Bucannon (+2.8)
RT Bobby Massie (+2.7)
OLB Alex Okafor (2.6)
Green Bay Packers
– Left tackle Don Barclay (-3.9) was on the hook for four sacks, four hurries, and three penalties, as he simply had no answer for the pass rush barrage sent his way in the shape of Dwight Freeney and Calais Campbell. Across from Barclay, right tackle Bryan Bulaga was lost to injury early in the third quarter and replaced by Josh Walker (-4.2), who promptly gave up a sack and four hurries in his 16 pass-blocking snaps before being replaced by J.C. Tretter (+0.2) for the remainder of the game. That was Walker’s first significant stint at the position—and his worst outing of the year. Barclay, on the other hand, has already logged three performances worse than this week’s forgettable grade.
– A rough day for QB Aaron Rodgers (-3.3), who was pressured on 18 of his 38 dropbacks and completed just three of his eight passes on those plays for 42 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Absorbing eight sacks, he fumbled three times—snatching one back himself, while watching the two others returned for Arizona scores. With the game far out of reach, Rodgers’ day was done at the end of the third quarter, and probably should have been long before that, as the Cardinals’ pass rush was teeing off for much of the second half.
– With plenty of negatives to go around, one bright spot was defensive tackle Mike Pennel (+1.4), who worked his way to his third green-graded game (better than +1.0) in his last four, collecting a sack, a hit, a hurry and three defensive stops on the day. His sack came at 7:59 of the first quarter and is worth a watch—especially for dispirited Packers fans looking for a smile—go see him send Arizona right guard Ted Larsen airborne as he makes his move inside on the way to the QB.
LG Josh Sitton (+3.0)
RG T.J. Lang (+2.8)
RT Bryan Bulaga (+2.8)
DT Letroy Guion (+2.4)
DE Mike Pennel (+1.4)