Green Bay Packers: Where We Stand After Preseason Week 3
We've now seen pretty much the last of the starters until the Week 1 game against the San Francisco 49ers, and it's possible to take a few things away from the whole process.
This is about Week 3, sure, but it's about more than that as well. It's about taking stock as to where the team is as we get into the beginning of a year which it hopes ends with a championship.
What so many people outside of Green Bay seem to forget is that Aaron Rodgers is incredibly mobile. He's not quite as mobile as, say, Michael Vick, but he's more mobile than people think. It's why when people were looking to compare Cam Newton to someone, I always thought Rodgers was a good fit.
He showed it off Thursday night, and it was one of those things which reminded us that this offense can do more than one thing.
In general, Rodgers played just fine this preseason, a few hiccups aside. He seemed to pick right up where he left off, as did Jordy Nelson and, when he wasn't concussed, Greg Jennings. This offense looks just as explosive as it did in 2011 ,and it gained a running game.
I wish I could remember who said it on Twitter Thursday night, but "wow, imagine how scary the playaction would be when it has the actual threat of a run?"
It has that threat now.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that Ced Benson is the second coming of the clone of Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith, but he's reliable, healthy and good in pass protection. He looked very good against his old team Thursday, and while he won't play them every week, he can expect a nice workload.
The other thing people seem to forget is that when Ryan Grant was healthy, he had seasons with 280-plus carries twice. While I don't expect Benson to be carrying the ball 300-plus times this year, he can carry it a lot and the Packers can run the ball more effectively, setting up the pass that much more easily. Rodgers has a gorgeous playaction, and now it will be even more effective.
Benson gives this offense a dimension it hasn't had in a long time: a ground attack.
One thing that we learned which isn't so good is the lack of depth on the offensive line. With left tackle Marshall Newhouse out, it turned out that there is really nobody ready to fill in.
In fact, the whole second unit seems to be sub-par. This is only a problem if there are injuries, but there are always injuries.
It also made it a little more challenging to evaluate backup quarterback Graham Harrell, who found himself constantly under pressure.
Harrell himself is a problem, as even with protection, he doesn't appear to be very good. Is it a big enough concern to make a change before the first game? Once we get there, it's unlikely someone new could get in and be effective.
Both of those points are big Achilles heels in this potent offense.
So far, so good. Jerel Worthy and Nick Perry are playing very well so far, and we are starting to see a ripple effect across the rest of the front seven, as very quickly, the offensive line needs to decide which player they are going to let go.
The pressure is already coming and will only get more fierce as the weeks go on and everyone is more comfortable.
The secondary also is getting set, as it appears as if rookie Jerron McMillian will line up across from Morgan Burnett in nickel and dime packages, then giving way to Charles Woodson in sub-packages.
Woodson will be shifting back and forth between safety and corner, with various combinations of Davon House (who is hurt right now), Sam Shields and Casey Hayward filling in across from Tramon Williams when Woodson moves.
Williams looks back to his normal self after a rough 2011, and I contend, as I have all year, that the pressure up front will make a big difference for the secondary.
The defense looks very good right now, and with an offense which actually managed to add something to itself, this looks like a very good team going into the season.
If the line can hold up and Rodgers stays healthy, they certainly look the part of a division title winner.
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