Green Bay Preseason: Game Two Analysis
The NFL preseason continued on for the Green Bay Packers as they attempted to bounce back after losing the preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns. The Pack's efforts were not in vain, however, as they were able to mount a comeback in Seattle and walk away with a 27-24 victory.
There was plenty to take away from the Seattle game, and what to look for heading into their next preseason game against the Colts on August 26th. Looking back to Saturday, there are key notes to be made and changes to look for as roster cuts draw nearer:
- The first team offense looks to be in great shape, as Aaron Rodgers looks to be in his midseason form, and the receiver production without Driver was admirable, as James Jones was able to step into his starting role. Jennings and Finely look to be two prime targets this season, with both making spectacular catches in the beginning offensive possessions of the game. The offense also provided great misdirection for the new attacking Seattle defense.
- Matt Flynn showed progress with good poise in the pocket and completed passes despite his lesser arm strength. Graham Harrell did better in helping to orchestrate the game-winning drive to win the game.
- The running backs were slower this week, but Brandon Jackson performed the best with key runs and the game winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Kuhn did well as a running back with the banged up injuries to Lumpkin and Grant. The No. three running back spot is still wide open between Lumpkin and Porter, with Brandon Jackson starting to solidify his spot as the No. 2 guy.
- The first team offensive line didn't allow any sacks, which is a sign of progress thus far, as the Seahawks brought pressure often during Rodgers time on the field. The sacks came as the No. twos took the field. As most everyone can see, Allen Barbre's days as a Packer are looking numbered after a poor showing against Seattle's number twos.
- The fifth receiver spot is still wide open, with Brett Swain still looking banged up. He did well, but Chastin West showed good hands and possible return ability. Charles Dillon also played well with good hands; Shawn Gore also got a decent number of snaps as well, despite a dropped ball. As it looks now, the main competitors are Brett Swain, Chastin West, Charles Dillon, and possibly Shawn Gore. The tight end battle still looks deadlocked after this one.
- With an injury-plagued linebacker corps, the linebacker production did not have its best night, though key plays at the end, such as Havner's interception, allowed the Packers to win.
The starting linebackers included Brady Poppinga, Brandon Chillar, Robert Francois, and Spencer Havner, who must still work at linebacker due to injury. The linebackers are still trying to find their pass rush presence, and were not able to reach the quarterback very much.
In terms of competition, Francois did not help his case as an inside linebacker, but still has a chance. Cyril Obiozor I believe helped his chances, as I saw more effort on his part, and he must emerge these last two games.
- The secondary decided to rest corner Charles Woodson, and started Brandon Underwood and Tramon Williams. The secondary was the biggest struggle of the night, as Underwood was exploited multiple times by Houshmandzada and Hasselbeck.
The defense gave a lot of cushion to Seattle's receivers, and showed there is still work to be done here. Underwood has shown he has not completely locked down the nickel spot yet. Jarret Bush continues to show no value on defense, being exploited several times by back-ups and committing unnecessary penalties.
- The safeties did ok, despite cornerback troubles. Burnett started again, and showed flashes here and there. There is competition between Derrick Martin and Charlie Peprah for strong safety backup and special teams duties, with Peprah gainining ground on Martin.
Blackmon played on Saturday, but struggled to really get moving, as though his knee is still holding him back some at free safety. Levine at this point is still a long shot, but looks to possibly be headed to the proactive squad.
- The defensive line was able to do well as the game progressed, getting better push and pressure, especially Jenkins, who better stood out among all of the others. Raji is gradually making progressions as a starting nose tackle. This young group is showing improvement in Capers' system, despite the depleted linebacker corps.
- Mason Crosby kicked very well, hitting all of his field goals, including a 51-yard field goal. The holder, Bryan, also did well, and looks to be edging ahead in the punting battle as well.
- Blackmon doen't look to be full speed just yet, shown through his play defensively and on special teams. He must have a good recovery process for special teams to take a better step forward. Possible options include Chastin West, who returned a couple of punts, and Jordy Nelson as well. Brandon Jackson is a decent fill in for returns, and looks to handle them with a possible mix of Pat Lee or Jordy Nelson.
Two games down, two more to go. Then we shall finally see the opening day roster in a matter of two weeks. Who shall make the roster? Only time and performance will tell.
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