The tight end competition is going to be fun to watch.
For the past few years, Green Bay has been handcuffed at the tight end position. During Bubba Franks’ downfall and injury-filled last seasons with Green Bay, Donald Lee started to take over. However, last season Lee did not provide the Packers with a versatile passing threat to spread the field.
Enter Jermichael Finley, a third-round pick out of Texas last year. At 6′5″, many believed Finley would be the receiving option Green Bay has lacked. After a powerful offseason where he has matured greatly, Finley impressed in the first preseason game.
His presence also seems to have inspired Lee to push harder, evidenced by Lee’s hurdling of a defender to get a few extra years, which I believe he wouldn’t have done if he thought his job was secure.
With Finley pushing Lee, Green Bay’s offense will thrive in all aspects. Finley (pass catching) and Lee (run blocking) are great compliments of each other, who give the team viable options regardless of play call. Each player can learn from the other’s skills while competing for the better of the team.
Take this game’s performance with a grain of salt.
The game was against a Browns team with quite a few holes. New head coach Eric Mangini didn’t make friends when he first came here, so there’s no telling how the defense likes his new scheme or if it was even really trying.
Was it exciting watching the Packers score in the first two series? Absolutely. Should we expect this every game? No.
Last year, Cleveland’s starters gave up over 150 yards per game on the ground. The Packers ran for 230 yards, most of that coming against the 2nd and 3rd (if not 4th) stringers. This observation is nothing new, though. One can’t make regular season predictions from the first preseason game in any year.
The 3-4 defense has great potential.
OK, so Cleveland was the 31st ranked offense last year in terms of yards per game (249.1). But with that caveat, defensive coordinator Dom Capers didn’t use every scheme in his playbook , and the defense only gave up 149 yards while pitching a shutout in its first game using the 3-4.
This was like playing a scout offense, as Green Bay picked off four passes, but it was still an NFL game. Players finally got experience in the new scheme (remember, the Family Night scrimmage was cancelled), and pressured Cleveland’s quarterbacks constantly.
If Green Bay can hide some of its playbook for the first three quarters, then throw a screwball at the offense in the fourth quarter, it can eliminate the last-minute letdowns that occurred throughout the 2008 season.