Mid-season grades: offense

As the Green Bay Packers enter the second half of the season, here's a look at each player's performance in the first half, beginning with the offense. Grades are based on a combination of expectation and performance.<p>

QB Brett Favre—Favre continues to be one of the league's best quarterbacks, although injuries have affected his performance this year. He has a quarterback rating over 90 and has completed over 64% of his passes. He is still as tough as ever and one of the game's best leaders. The offense is working well overall and Favre has been good but not outstanding. In some games, he still throws bad interceptions but how many teams would love to have Favre's bad days? Grade: B+

QB Doug Pederson—Pederson was placed on the season ending injured reserve list and may be retiring after the season. He was unable to spark the Packers in the games he relieved Favre in but he really didn't have much of an audition. Grade: Incomplete

QB Craig Nall—Nall looked good in his one appearance of the year, completing eight of nine passes and throwing his first NFL touchdown although the outcome of the game was long over by the time he entered the contest. He seems prepared for the backup job, but hasn't really had a chance to show what he can do. Grade: Incomplete

RB Ahman Green—Green is on pace to gain over 1,400 yards and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry but he has been less consistent this year than he was a year ago. Nagging injuries have hampered him at times and it would have been very difficult for Green to match last year's exceptional totals. Fumbling hurt Green early in the season. His fumble against the Bears turned the game around in Chicago's favor. Still, there aren't too many backs I would take over Green who gives all-out effort, blocks well and is a threat to break one at any time. Grade: B+

RB Najeh Davenport—Davenport missed time due to injuries and his absence hurt the Pack. While Green is the speedy stud, Davenport is more of a Mack truck. He can bowl you over and gets tough inside yards. His style is a stark contrast to Green's and that helps keep defenses off balance. Davenport is also a threat on kickoff returns when healthy. The Pack needs a good second half from Davenport to keep Green fresh. Grade: B

RB Tony Fisher—Fisher has settled into his role as a third-down back and an occasional change of pace when running the football. He is a very good receiver out of the backfield although his running totals are less impressive this year than they were a year ago. Fisher also contributes on special teams. He knows his role and he does it in a steady fashion if unspectacular fashion. Grade: B-

FB William Henderson—Henderson remains the consummate team player. Even as he is losing playing time to Nick Luchey, Henderson remains an important part of the offense and contributes on special teams as well. Henderson is still a good blocker and a very reliable receiver out of the backfield. When all the downfield options are taken away, Favre always knows he can find Henderson for a few yards and has a chance to pick up a first down. Henderson continues to be an under appreciated part of the Green Bay offense. Grade: B

FB Nick Luchey—Luchey is bigger than Henderson and unlike Henderson is occasionally asked to carry the ball. He has only one reception this year but Luchey's strength is blocking. He has delivered some blocks that were just beautiful to watch where he uses his 270 pound frame to pulverize defensive backs or even linebackers. Luchey seems much more comfortable in the Packers offense this year and is making a solid contribution. Grade: B

WR Donald Driver—Driver has bounced back from a sub par 2003. He added muscle this off-season and it has benefited him tremendously. Driver is also someone Favre feels comfortable looking for on third down or in clutch situations. He is on pace for career best totals in receptions and yards which has to encourage the Packers coaching staff. He has played through minor injuries and continues to play well. Driver will be a key to the Pack's second half success on offense. Grade A-

WR Javon Walker—Javon Walker has made the biggest jump of all Packers receivers in 2004 and maybe of all Packers players. Walker showed flashes of big play ability in 2003 but now is showing why he was a first round draft choice in 2002. The light has turned on for Walker who is Favre's best deep threat and has shown excellent hands and leaping ability. Walker has gone over 100 yards four times this year and had a 200 yard game against the Colts. He is capable of becoming even better. Walker is not starting yet but gets more playing time than Robert Ferguson in most games. Javon could be Pro Bowl bound if he continues on his present pace. Entering week nine, he still led all NFL receivers in receiving yards and was averaging 17 yards per catch. His fumble against the Colts was costly, but the Pack wouldn't have even had a chance in that game if not for Walker. Grade: A+

WR Robert Ferguson—Ferguson has battled injuries at various times this season, too but he will not develop into a top flight receiver until the coaching staff stops using him so extensively on special teams and lets him concentrate on catching the ball. Fortunately for the Pack, Driver and Walker have picked up the slack for Ferguson's off year and Ferguson can play the role of third receiver. Even though he starts, Ferguson doesn't get as many snaps as Walker. Ferguson has had only one catch in every game except the Bears game. His down-field blocking remains excellent and his special teams contributions are solid. Grade: B-

WR Antonio Chatman—Chatman has been a pleasant surprise as the team's fourth receiver. When injuries struck, he stepped up and became a credible third receiver who Favre could rely upon. His lack of size hurts at times but while not very fast, he has good quickness and a knack for finding open spaces. Chatman's primary worth is as a return man where he is steady but unspectacular. He has more spark than he did last year and his contributions on offense are a nice bonus. Grade: B

TE Bubba Franks—Franks has never reached the full potential the Packers saw in him when they made him a first round draft selection. That being said, he is a good tight end but not a great one. Franks is most effective in the red zone where Brett Favre loves to look for him. He lacks great speed and has yet to discover how to use his size to his full advantage. At 6'6", Franks should create more mismatches than he does. His strength is finding a spot in zones and making the catch but he isn't a deep threat and his blocking is average which is a disappointment since he seemed to be a better blocker in 2002 than he is now. Franks is on pace for 32 catches and six touchdowns which is an average year for the big tight end. Will the Pack re-sign him next year when his contract expires? Right now, it's about 50-50. Grade: B-

TE David Martin—Martin is another player who never became what the Pack thought he would be. Green Bay drafted the college wide receiver with the hopes that he could become another Tyrone Davis and use his speed to create mismatches on linebackers and safeties. That never quite materialized, at least not on a consistent basis. Martin has contributed as a second tight end, making the occasional catch and staying in to help protect the quarterback at times. On special teams, Martin does his job. Grade: C+

OT Chad Clifton—Clifton has done a great job of protecting Brett Favre's blind side and has proven a good run blocker. He uses excellent technique and blocking angles and usually puts himself in the best possible position to make the right block. Clifton has been called for a few too many false start penalties this year, but he is an anchor on a very good offensive line and is playing just below a Pro Bowl level after eight games. A strong finish may get him to Honolulu. Grade: B+

OG Mike Wahle—The Naval Academy alum is the best run blocker on the Packers offensive line and that's saying something. His work on screens and draws is top notch and Wahle is a good but not great pass blocker. Wahle is smart, strong and tough. Grade: B+

C Mike Flanagan—The Packers miss Flanagan and at times it has shown. This year, the versatile center never really got on track due to his injured knee. He missed the pre-season and aggravated his injury during the Pack's second game against Chicago. Flanagan is excellent pulling to lead sweeps and screens, an element which his replacement lacks. Grade: Incomplete

C Grey Ruegamer—Ruegamer gets an "A" for effort. He is an ideal backup offensive lineman in that he can play both center and guard and is reliable and tough. He has filled in well for Mike Flanagan, but lacks Flanagan's quickness in space and his versatility. Ruegamer plays a smart game but is not very quick and is not a mauler either. He gets the job done in a steady but unspectacular fashion. Grade: B

OG Marco Rivera—Rivera played in the Pro Bowl the last two seasons and continues to be a strong guard for the Packers. He is smart, crafty and darn strong. He lacks is not as fast as you would like a guard to be on pulling type plays and this is where the absence of Flanagan has hurt Rivera and the Packers. Still, Marco has done a fine job this year overall and is as tough as they come. Grade: A-

OT Mark Tauscher—Tauscher is a heady offensive lineman who takes the right angle to defenders to make up for his supposed lack of athleticism. He is well coached and knows the game. Tauscher rarely takes bad penalties and rarely gives up a sack. In fact, the Packers have allowed only five sacks in the first eight games of the year in 303 passing attempts and Tauscher is as responsible for this as anybody. Grade: B+

OT Kevin Barry—Barry lines up as a tight end in the Packers jumbo package and when he does, it's a safe bet Green Bay will run behind the big man. While other teams know this, they have a hard time stopping the run anyway. Barry is a strong, tough lineman who can hold his own against anybody straight ahead. He has done his job well. If he was forced to start, Barry may be limited to the right side of the line because of his lack of speed but on the right side, he could be very effective. One on one, nobody wants to line up opposite Barry. Grade: B+

Coming tomorrow: The Defense


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