Green Bay Packers: Assessment of Team's Play in First Preseason Game
This article covers the 2010 preseason game of the Green Bay Packers versus the Cleveland Browns.
The first team offense was only out for three possessions, where one ended quickly by a Ryan Grant fumble. Grant suffered a minor concussion a few plays later and stumbled off the field. Brandon Jackson replaced him and had a nice screen play, but nothing else stood out. For most of the game, the offensive line had difficulty opening up holes for the running backs.
Aaron Rodgers looked very impressive where he began the game with 10 consecutive completions. He continued to make quick decisions and was able to spot the outside blitzes without taking any hits. Rodgers had two beautiful connections with Greg Jennings, including a 25 yard touchdown.
The other offensive weapons didn't disappoint. James Jones had a leaping catch near the sideline and Jermichael Finley looked unstoppable.
There doesn't seem to be any problem with Donald Driver's knees. He had a nice 12 yard catch and was able to balance a Gatorade cup on his head on the sideline.
I believe John Kuhn is a lock to make the roster as the starting fullback. He made a phenomenal second and third down effort, breaking two tackles to score a touchdown near the goal line. Later in the game, Quinn Johnson made a nice special teams tackle, leveling the punt returner.
The second team offense entered during midway of the second quarter, led by Matt Flynn. Before this game, I had zero confidence in Green Bay's backup quarterback, but Flynn has made excellent strides in his third year. Flynn had great protection for most of the game, which he took advantage of with a few nice play action passes.
Flynn was able to convert on third downs and stepped into his throws when defenders were in his face. He had a very nice 22 yard pass while taking a hit, and almost had a touchdown to Jordy Nelson in the end zone which was unfortunately dropped. Flynn had a few plays where he took a shorter pass option or held the ball too long on a couple third downs, but overall played a very solid game.
Quinn Porter is making a strong case to be the third string running back. Nicknamed 'Pom-Poms' by his college football team for joining the cheerleading squad prior to playing football, Porter had a few solid runs, one that could have resulted in a long touchdown but was tripped up.
In a crowded tight end backfield, Spencer Havner is fighting for a roster spot. It didn't help his case by missing a key block on a blitz up the middle during a third and short.
Graham Harrell entered in fourth quarter and is likely headed for the practice squad. Harrell is still a project as he struggled with his accuracy and was unable to keep drives alive.
Unlike last preseason, Dom Capers played a very vanilla defense with no blitzing on Cleveland's first two possessions. This allowed Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace ample time in the pocket as they shred the pass defense for two touchdowns.
Rookie Morgan Burnett made a few nice tackles on running plays, wrapping up the running back for little gain. Nick Collins showed off his athleticism, breaking up a pass with his fingertips.
The defense continued to be exploited by Brown's screen plays, though Mike Neal was able to read one play and make a tackle from behind.
The defense was unable to contain the scrambles of Colt McCoy. He was able to scramble up the middle for 12 and 13 yards. Hopefully the defense can adjust when they play Michael Vick in Week 1.
The Browns threw at AJ Hawk, who gave up a touchdown, showing poor coverage and getting schooled by a double move. I still see Hawk as the better player over Desmond Bishop.
When Jarrett Bush has a good play, he counters it with a boneheaded one. Earlier in the game, he did a good job at breaking up a third down pass, but later allowing a 23 yard catch on 3rd down with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Brandon Underwood made a great turnaround in the end zone to pick off an under thrown McCoy pass in double coverage. His ball instincts look very much improved as he pushes Pat Lee for the nickel cornerback position.
Undrafted outside linebacker Frank Zombo pushed Cleveland's RT into McCoy, which led to an interception by Derrick Martin.
Brandon Chillar spent some time at right outside linebacker where he deflected a pass in a third down situation. Chillar should be able to contribute this year behind starters Clay Matthews and Brad Jones.
Undrafted corner Sam Shields showcased his athleticism with a near interception, but needs to work on jamming receivers at the line. Shields is likely to make the roster based on talent alone, but is a project that will need at least another offseason to see the field on defense.
For all the work on special teams coverage, none of it seems to pay dividends. The coverage looks to be one of the worst in the league again.
Even though Sam Shields has 4.2 speed, he made critical mistakes in the return game. He dropped a kick off return in the end zone and another in traffic which led to a turnover.
Pat Lee didn't help the return game either with a dropped kickoff return.
Even though Mason Crosby can kick from 50+ yards on field goals, he only had one touchback.
Both punters Chris Bryan and Tim Matshay had decent games. Bryan has the ability to hit higher hangtimes, but is inconsistent. Some of Bryan's punts were too short or had no hangtime at all. I believe Matshay is likely to edge out Bryan because he hasn't had a bad punt so far.
Stay tuned for the next article on the 2010 preseason game of the Green Bay Packers versus the Seattle Seahawks.
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