Green Bay Packers: Report Card Following Their Preseason Week 2 Win
The Packers certainly had an impressive showing in Week 2 of the preseason against the Cardinals, but that's not to say they didn't play without flaws. On offense, they struggled out of the gate until catching momentum in the second quarter, and on defense, they gave up some big plays.
This article will grade the different positions on their overall performance during their game against Arizona.
It's hard not to give the quarterbacks a good grade when all three of them put together a passer rating over 100.
Rodgers started out a little shaky on his first two drives, missing several targets and getting sacked, as well, but both of these could be partially attributed to the wide receiving corps and offensive line, respectively.
Once Rodgers and the Packers offense entered the no huddle, however, they regained their form, and Rodgers led the team down the field for a touchdown pass before being taken out of the game for Matt Flynn.
Like he did in Cleveland, Flynn led the Packers down the field on a drive at the end of the half that would result in a touchdown and a 14-6 lead. In the fourth quarter, he would unleash a 97-yard touchdown pass to Chastin West that would give them a 21-20 lead, before being replaced by Graham Harrell.
Although Harrell struggled in Cleveland, he performed much better this time around, completing seven of nine passes for 81 yards and a touchdown pass that would extend the Packers' lead to 28-20.
Although the Packers offense did struggle at times, all of the quarterbacks put up good numbers and didn't turn the ball over. As a result, they earned high marks for the night.
Running Backs: B
Alex Green was the star of the running backs on Friday night, although his numbers weren't necessarily spectacular. Green caught a screen pass that ended in a big 25-yard gain, which set up for a touchdown run by Green, where he was able to get his first Lambeau Leap. Green definitely showed promise on Friday night, and will certainly make the roster as a third-string running back.
With Starks out, the other running backs that saw significant time were Dmitri Nance and Ryan Grant. Nance ended up leading the team in rushing with four carries for 28 yards. Grant also performed well, getting five carries for 23 yards.
The Packers running game looked solid, but per usual, was outshined by the Packers passing game.
Wide Receivers: B+
The receiving corps certainly made some big plays, but was also part of the reason the Packers sputtered at times on offense. Rodgers made a couple of good throws in his first two drives that were either dropped, or the receiver simply ran a poor route.
However, the Packers receiving corps stepped up at the right time, with Chastin West being the star of the the receivers, catching five passes for 124 yards, including a 97-yard touchdown. Greg Jennings and Donald Driver also performed well, with Driver catching three balls for 40 yards, and Jennings catching two for 24 yards and a touchdown.
Other receivers that saw time were Tory Gurley, who caught three passes for 31 yards, Antonio Robinson, who could a pass for 15 yards, and Kerry Taylor, whose sole catch was a touchdown.
Tight Ends: A-
Jermichael Finley was the only tight end who gained any significant yardage, as he caught four passes for 33 yards. Quarless also caught a pass for 11 yards. However, the job of the tight end isn't just to catch the ball. It is also to block, and while there were some offensive line issues, the tight ends seemed to do a pretty good job in both roles.
Offensive Line: C-
The offensive line clearly needs work. The line gave up four sacks in the game, and Rodgers, Flynn, and Harrell all felt pressure during the game. Derek Sherrod appears to need more time to improve, as T.J. Lang seemed to perform better at guard, but overall, the Packers offensive line was shaky at best on Friday night, and received the lowest marks of any position.
Defensive Line: B-
Without Cullen Jenkins, the Packers defensive line is going to have to fill some pretty big shoes. C.J. Wilson didn't see a lot of time, as he got taken out early with a concussion, and Mike Neal wasn't able to play because of an injury as well. Both Wilson and Neal are seen as future contributors, but unfortunately, the weren't able to prove much on Friday night.
Veteran Ryan Pickett performed well, recording a sack in the game, while B.J. Raji, Jarius Wynn and Howard Green were solid as well, giving the Cardinals offense adequate pressure. However, there is still much room for improvement.
The outside linebacker position is certainly a position that is up for grabs between Frank Zombo, Erik Walden and D.J. Smith, but even Robert Francois or Vic So'oto could find a spot on their roster. Francois, who was brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2010, performed well on Friday, leading the linebackers with four tackles. However, the other linebackers performed solidly as well.
Another player to watch is D.J. Smith, who was drafted in the sixth round and whom Dom Capers really seems to like as an option at linebacker.
Some of the cornerbacks struggled, while others shined. Undrafted free agent Brandian Ross showed a lot of promise, recording the team's only interception. M.D. Jennings also had another solid preseason game, leading the team with seven tackles. However, other cornerbacks like Jarrett Bush and Pat Lee, who have struggled for as long as the have been in Green Bay, struggled again on Friday night, definitely making their spots on the roster in 2011 questionable.
For the safeties, Nick Collins is entrenched as the starter, and performed expectantly well. Morgan Burnett is also likely the starter at safety, and played solidly as well. However, as a whole, the secondary was guilty of giving up several big plays by the Cardinals, which marks its grade down a bit.
Special Teams: B+
The Packers special teams is definitely looking up from last year, as they have a solid returner in Randall Cobb, who had two returns for a total of 55 yards. Alex Green and Kerry Taylor also got chances at returning, and performed solidly as well. The one dark spot, however, was a fumble on the second half kickoff from Diondre Borel, a turnover that was eventually turned into points by the Cardinals.
Mason Crosby and Tim Masthay both had solid outings, with Crosby hitting all his PATs and not having to kick another field goal all game long, and Masthay punting five times in the game with a solid 46 yards per punt.