Sunday, September 05, 2004

Packers 7, Tennessee 27. The score was more lopsided than the actual game. The Packers actually looked better than Tennessee except on four big plays: the interception returned by LB Keith Bulluck for a touchdown, the interception by CB Samari Rolle and subsequent TD pass to WR Derrick Mason, and the 73 yard run by RB Chris Brown. In the regular season, the big play can make or break a season, but QB Brett Favre and RB Ahman Green were not given a full (or any) game of opportunities to make up the big plays. Overall, the Packers made few penalties and other mental mistakes, and many backup players were given the opportunity to prove they belong on the roster.

First Half: The Packers offense moved the ball pretty well against a very tough Tennessee defense. Two seasons ago the Packers went down to Tennessee for a regular season game and Green ended up with 10 yards rushing, so rushing for over 100 yards without Green against essentially the same defense was a big improvement. The Packers had success running the ball against the best run defense in 2003. Favre moved the team well down the field, until he threw an interception. On the first interception, Favre's pass was off slightly and Rolle was in a perfect position to jump the route and tip the ball to Bulluck, who ran it back for a touchdown. The second interception was another great play by Rolle. Hopefully the subsequent TD pass by QB Steve McNair to Mason was not a sign of things to come; CB Al Harris blitzed from the corner and SS Mark Roman rotated up to cover Mason, but he was late and missed an open field tackle which allowed Mason to run into the end zone. The Packers ran the same blitz and coverage rotation later in the half and it led to a tipped pass and an incompletion. Sometimes the blitz is an asset and sometimes it kills you. Favre made up one of the touchdowns with a beautiful pass to WR Robert Ferguson on a blown coverage by Tennessee's secondary. Last season, the Packers run defense looked susceptible early in games but then clamped down as the games went on, and the Packers followed that same pattern in the first half of this game. The Packers offensive line looked solid in pass protection during the first half. CB Ahmad Carroll got to start the game, was picked on all half by McNair, but played a great half. Carroll looks noticeable better from the first to the last preseason games and he should be the starting cornerback for the start of the season. P B.J. Sander had a 5 yard punt...

Second half: The offense looked inept without Favre, just as it had all preseason, but QB Craig Nall played in the 4th quarter and probably saved his NFL career. He should have had a long TD bomb to WR Kelvin Kight but Kight dropped the pass, probably could have had some more success with some help from his receivers, and played very well with a lot of confidence. Although Nall threw an interception in the end zone to essentially end the game, the offense looked competant without Favre in the game for the first time all preseason. Unfortunately for WR Scottie Vines, he made a big catch on a pass from Nall but fumbled the ball when he was hit and probably fumbled away his NFL career. Sander probably saved his NFL career with some good punts in the second half. QB Tim Couch did not kill his NFL career with his one poor outing on Friday night, but it is probably on life support. Tennessee had a lot of success running the football against the Packer backups in the second half, which probably lost many players their roster spots. On the other hand, the pass defense excelled in the second half, especially rookie CB Joey Thomas. How CB/S Bhawoh Jue has kept his roster spot is unexplainable. LB Tyreo Harrison played well on special teams and as the backup at middle linebacker, and probably has made the team. DT Kenny Peterson had his knee rolled up on by DT Cullen Jenkins and its likely Peterson is done for the season. Although the pass defense looked good in the second half, the pass rush vanished.

No comments: