Now that the Packers second preseason contest is in the books, it’s time to take a look at some individual performances and break down who looked good, and who struggled.
Just as a note before I get started, the Packers did have a pretty significant list of players who sat out. The list was as follows: Atari Bigby, James Starks, Clay Matthews, Al Harris, Charles Woodson, Donald Driver, Nick Barnett, Brad Jones, Aj Hawk, and Kregg Lumpkin.
The first four players on that list were expected, however, others such a Jones, were not.
This injury list will play a big role in my evaluation of players due to the mismatches it caused, and should explain some of the Seahawks early success scoring. For example, Leon Washington’s touchdown run on the Seahawk’s second possession wouldn’t have looked so easy had any of the Packers four starting linebackers been in the game.
Here we go…
Thumbs Up To…
Packers QB’s Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, And Graham Harrell
Rodgers looked spectacular as usual throwing for a touchdown on each of the two series’ he played in and ending with a QB rating of 146.2. Flynn looked impressive as well showing that he in fact can move the ball while under center.
He also did so against the Seattle starters for his first few possessions. And finally, third stringer Graham Harrell led a nice drive late in the game that helped Green Bay regain the lead and secure a win.
Note: Harrell likely won’t make the final roster this year, but should secure a spot on the practice squad and hopefully won’t be scooped up by another team. He could have a future as Aaron Rodgers’ backup in a year or two if Flynn continues to improve and ends up a starter elsewhere.
It seems like the hype coming out of training camp in regards to Finley was right on track. He used his size, speed, and sure hands a few different times in Seattle proving that he is anything but easy to cover.
Note: ESPN would never admit it but this guy could have serious value for all you fantasy guys. His stats last were solid for a TE and they should be even better this year if he stays healthy. No need to be hasty and draft a TE before anyone else this year, just wait until the run starts a take him after all those Jason Witten lovers have passed him by.
Greg had a solid catch from Rodgers on the team’s first possession to get them in rhythm. He also nearly pulled in another tough catch on the next drive but couldn’t quite hold on to a pass that was a little off target.
Note: Same old Greg here. Lots of effort on his part and it earns him lots of trust from Rodgers.
Along with catching the opening drive touchdown pass from Rodgers, he had six carries for 30 yards on his own. He was consistently impressive throughout the entire game.
Note: popular opinion is that Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson won’t keep three fullbacks on this year’s roster. The extra spot will likely go to a fourth tight end or a third quarterback. Kuhn looks to have his eyes on one of those two spots and if his play continues at this level, it could be the nail in the coffin for second year player Quinn Johnson.
The third round pick and only rookie starter on the Packers defense looked solid in coverage and showed good tackling abilities. Nothing spectacular yet, but no glaring holes either.
Note: Other safeties to watch include Charlie Peprah, Will Blackmon, Anthony Levine, and Derrick Martin. This position battle will be interesting because chances are only two backups will be kept (with Bigby on the PUP list) Blackmon and Martin Have special teams roles and therefore an advantage, but the will one of them be cut when Bigby returns? Will Peprah’s value at safety override the other players' special teams value?
Havner proved his worth on offense and special teams last year. He continued to showcase his versatility against Seattle by filling in at linebacker and recording an interception in his first significant look at the position in the NFL.
Note: Havner’s value could play a big role in the decision making process for the entire roster. His ability to play special teams, linebacker, and remain a red zone scoring threat at tight end gives Green Bay much needed depth and would help to justify an idea of keeping four tight ends on the final roster.
Mason “The Leg” Crosby was two of two on field goals for the first time since I can remember. Both were significant kicks too. He hit from 34 and 51 yards.
Note: The Packers kicker had a poor showing in the 2009 season and hasn’t looked great in training camp so far. Crosby’s kicking abilities have never been in question but his confidence and consistency have both been shaky to say the least. This solid game time performance should help him to get into a rhythm in time for the regular season.
And finally, a thumbs up to Will Blackmon
He’s healthy and returning kicks again.
Note: Blackmon may not have looked spectacular in his first game back in action for green bay but it sure was spectacular to have him back. He’ll need some time to get up to par as a returner and maybe a little more time to adjust to his new defensive role at safety, but if he can be successful in both of these roles it will mean a lot for the Packer’s special teams abilities.
And Now Thumbs Down…
Packers don’t punch people on the field, and they don’t get ejected from games. The replay angle wasn’t great, but it appears that martin did throw at least one punch which he was rightfully ejected for.
Note: Martin could be fighting for his job in this offseason and he wasted a chance at proving he deserved a roster spot. His value is mostly on special teams, but with guys like Havner, Kuhn, Blackmon, and undrafted rookie Sam Shields impressing the coaches Martin’s skills could be overlooked if he continues to show a lack of professionalism.
Bush was bad in clutch moments in 2009 and continues to let his bad play outshine any potential he may have. The helmet to helmet penalty was a bad call but Bush turned in enough bad plays elsewhere to enforce the fact the he just doesn’t deserve another shot in Green Bay.
Note: Bush isn’t the only Packer to have a blown coverage, but he is one of the few repeat offenders and just doesn’t seem to be improving. Pat Lee, Brandon Underwood, and Sam Shields are all more valuable both now, and in the long run for Green Bay. Bush MUST be cut.
Another player who showed poorly last year, and continues to do so this offseason. Barbre Failed miserably as a right tackle in 2009 and showed the same flaws as he gave up a sack on Flynn against Seattle.
Note: Barbre will almost certainly miss the final roster this year. He was responsible for much of the sack issues the Packers faced in 2009 and with the additions or Bryan Bulaga and Marshall Newhouse from the draft and Jason Spitz’s return from injury, Barbre will be easy to let go.
Daryn Colledge had another false start at left guard, Breno Giacomini had a horrible false start at right tackle that cost Green Bay what should have been an easy field goal, and Bulaga should have been called on a false start while in at left tackle. These penalties have constantly plagued the Packers and in the past I have written them off but I’ve had it now. These are simple and there is no excuse for them at all.
Other penalties that stick out in my mind are the incorrect helmet to helmet call on Bush, and an extremely iffy pass interference call on Tramon Williams.
At first glance I wanted to give Underwood a “thumbs down” for his performance last night as Matt Hasselback was able to constantly pick on him for easy completions. In reality Underwood is a seventh round pick in his second year in the league and was playing where Charles Woodson would normally be with the No. one’s.
That being said he didn’t look so bad. Even when he got beat I could see why the coaching staff likes him so much and why they’re giving him that kind of exposure while it’s free. He has all the physical tools to be a starter. He was also going against a QB with Super Bowl experience and a more than solid receiver in Tj Houshmanzadeh.
All in all I thought the Packers looked good in this game. With the players they sat and the production they still had (anyone notice a difference in the offense without Driver?) it seems to me like everything is coming together.
Special teams were shaky, but still improved. Both punters are an improvement over last year and Crosby seems to be getting more confident and consistent. Coverage teams should improve when a final group is set.
And my last special teams note is that I’d like to see Shields used in Bush’s role and not as a returner. I know why the coaches like him there, but he clearly needs more practice catching kicks. Give him a year a corner and you might not want to risk him as a returner, or just have him work all of next offseason at catching. I really hope he doesn’t get cut because other teams will scoop him up off our practice squad and give him a roster spot.
And my last note in general, is that the Seahawks looked much improved from the last few years. Maybe a dark horse to win the NFC West?
Thanks for taking the time to read my article and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @danielkrem to get sneak previews on my future articles and my other thoughts on sports and the NFL in general.