Packers' Overachievers and Underachievers So Far
Ebbs and flows in player performance are a natural part of every season, but eventually they start to become trends.
Sooner or later, those trends become habits, and once those habits are formed, they're hard to break.
Just two weeks into the season, it's hard to see any trends forming, much less if any of those trends are becoming habits, but there are a few players who have already begun to separate themselves from the pack - for good and bad reason.
Here's a quick look at some of the guys who have overachieved so far...and some of their more negative counterparts.
Overachiever - Corey Linsley
When Linsley became the Packers' starting center by default just two weeks before the start of the season, it was fair to wonder if he'd really perform. But not only has he performed, he's been remarkably solid, allowing just two pressures in the first two games. Of the starting offensive linemen, only Josh Sitton has done better than that, and he's playing at an All-Pro level through the first two games. Linsley has been a very, very pleasant surprise, and at this point, it would be a shock of J.C. Tretter got his job back.
Underachiever - David Bakhtiari
I don't want to say that Bakhtiari has regressed in his second season, but he certainly isn't a dominant force on the left side by any stretch of the imagination. His pass blocking is okay (ranking 19th in the league among tackles in pass blocking efficiency, Pro Football Focus's combined measurement of QB hurries, hits, and sacks), but his run blocking has been a disappointment. That's not to say that the running game as a whole hasn't been disappointing, because it has, but Bakhtiari hasn't done much to alleviate that disappointment. He's currently the 66th ranked tackle in the league based on run blocking alone. That puts him below the starting two tackles of every team in the league.
Overachiever - Jordy Nelson
This is obvious, but Nelson has been so good, it's impossible to not devote a little time to him here. PFF ranks Nelson as the best wide receiver in the league through the first two games, and while some of that might have to do with the fact that he's been thrown to more than any other receiver in the league, he's also just playing incredibly well. Only Andre Johnson creates more yards every time he's on the field than Jordy Nelson, and he's run fewer than half as many routes as Nelson so far this year. Jordy Nelson has been dominant, plain and simple.
Underachiever - Jarrett Boykin
The Packers may have drafted Davante Adams to be their number three receiver of the future, but Jarrett Boykin was given every possible opportunity to be the number three receiver of the present. There was no inclination that Adams had any shot at unseating him until Boykin's bad, bad drop on Sunday. After getting erased by Richard Sherman (whether by design or otherwise), Boykin figured to bounce back against a softer secondary this week, but he didn't. Though I dislike the expression, he's been "just a guy" through two games. I thought we'd see more.
Overachiever - Mike Daniels
Mike Daniels is stopping the run better than every 3-4 defensive end in the league, except one: Calais Campbell. For sake of comparison, Calais Campbell is 6-8 and weighs 300 pounds. Mike Daniels is 6-0 and weighs 305 pounds. Calais Campbell is a giant. Mike Daniels is a giant who was cut off just below the knee.
The point is, he's been excellent. He gets moved around from time to time, but his effort is outstanding and he makes full use of the leverage he gains by just being smaller than people. It's hard to be the low man in a blocking situation if the guy you're blocking is lower than you to begin with.
Oh, and for good measure, he's ranking a not-too-shabby sixth in the league rushing the passer among 3-4 ends...just ahead of Calais Campbell.
Underachiever - Datone Jones
Typically, Packer Perspective tries not to be overly negative when discussing players. Football is fun and negativity is not. However, Datone Jones has been utterly anonymous on the football field so far this year. It's not necessarily that he's been bad, but he's just not that good. He doesn't really stop the run, he doesn't put much pressure on the quarterback, he doesn't create turnovers, and he's not someone the offense ever has to gameplan for. But he's still a former first round pick, and given his lack of production, he's the perfect example of an underachiever.
Overachiever - Davon House
Mike McCarthy raved about Davon House in training camp, saying the fourth year corner was having far and away his best year. House has backed that up on the field, ranking as the Packers' third best cover man according to PFF's numbers. He's been thrown at three times, allowing just one reception. House's physical attributes have always been excellent, and now he's finally making use of some of his potential.
Underachiever - Casey Hayward
The same can't be said for Casey Hayward, who was pulled from Sunday's game after his hamstrings apparently tightened up. Like House in Week 1, Hayward didn't log a single defensive snap on Sunday. Mike McCarthy has always said that one of the key attributes he looks for in a player is availability, and Hayward seems to be available less and less often. His ball-hawking rookie year is looking farther and farther away.