Monday, August 25, 2014

Preseason Game Number Three: Packers Easily Beat Raiders

It wasn't an awesome performance on the part of the Green Bay Packers. The first team offense punted on three consecutive drives. A missed blocking assignment between Josh Sitton and David Bakhtiari led to a sack. WR Randall Cobb dropped a couple passes. Neither of the potential starting TEs can run block. A whole bunch of defenders can't tackle RB Maurice Jones-Drew. And CB Sam Shields went on a pass interference spree.

Despite all that, by the time all the starters left the field, the Packers had a 22-7 half time lead and it never felt like the Raiders were in the game. The Packers are looking like a Super Bowl caliber team because they can control a game even when they aren't playing their best football. They made it look easy against a team that they should have beaten.
The Packers lost both C JC Tretter and NT B.J. Raji to injuries. Raji is lost for the year with a torn triceps and I'm not sure how exactly they'll replace him. Veteran free agent NT Letroy Guion is back at practice but I wouldn't be surprised to see them go younger with Josh Boyd and Mike Pennel. Raji was making plays in the backfield this preseason, so is Pennel but against the second team offensive lines. It won't be a big dropoff but they'd have been better with Raji.

Tretter has made some mistakes this preseason, but he's also made some nice blocks, and his absence (up to six weeks) is worst than Raji's because rookie C Corey Lindsay will have to take over and he has zero experience with the first team offense. They can make transition in short order with a veteran line and quarterback, but Lindsay's bound to make some mistakes in the first couple weeks that he might have gotten out of his system in the preseason, had he started with the first team offense from the beginning.

As for the rest of the preseason performances:

Who should start at tight end? Both Richard Rodgers and Andrew Quarless showed that they're good receivers, and they both demonstrated that they can't block anyone on a run play. It'd be nice if they had a Tom Crabtree type player to lineup in short yardage. It doesn't matter which one starts, but I expect the team want Rodgers to go first.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew's long touchdown run. Both starting safeties and a couple of starting linebackers all missed tackles/took bad angles on a straight up the middle touchdown run. It's not a big surprise that it happened, poor tackling was a problem last season too, but it shows that the defense is still lacking up the middle.

The defensive backs. While Morgan Burnett and Micah Hyde were missing Jones-Drew on the ground, neither one was challenged in pass coverage because the Raiders don't have a healthy QB with enough arm strength to challenge down the middle. It was up to the cornerbacks to stop the 10-yard out routes from Matt Schaub, and CB Davon House looked great while subbing for CB Casey Hayward. However, Shields couldn't keep his hands off the receivers, which is unusual for him. Backup safety Sean Richardson has been locked into a roster spot all preseason, and he's got to be the hardest hitter on the team. He forced a fumble which unfortunately led to a season ending injury for a Raider running back.

The pass rush. The Raiders have a solid veteran at left tackle (Donald Penn) but he couldn't stop either Julius Peppers or Nick Perry. And undrafted rookie Jayrone Elliott continued his dominance over second string left tackles. Clay Matthews and Mike Daniels haven't made much noise this preseason, but I'm not worried about either of them. Once Dom Capers opens up the playbook in the regular season, this could be a great pass rush.

RB DuJuan Harris. He had a fumble against the Rams, but that all seems forgotten as he was their main backfield weapon against the Raiders. He showed a lot of quickness, even if he doesn't have a lot of speed, and his only real threat for a roster spot is RB Michael Hill, who might be a better candidate for the practice squad.

Scott Tolzien vs. Matt Flynn. If QB Chase Rettig had a better training camp, he's already been released, then maybe Flynn would have been in danger. But he's done just enough, despite an ugly INT on his second pass attempt, and Tolzien has been zipping passes all over the field while keeping the offense moving. Maybe Flynn will be the official backup because of his experience, but Tolzien's the better player right now.

WR Davante Adams and Jeff Janis. While Tolzien was throwing passes to Chris Harper (since released), Jake Stoneburner, and Alex Gillett, he couldn't connect with either Adams or Janis. It's concerning that the talent goes to Adams and Janis, but the production is going elsewhere. The Packers will chose talent and potential over great preseason stats, but it was a disappointing game for Adams and Janis.

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