Monday, August 31, 2015

2015 Preseason Game 3: Packers Lose To Eagles 39-26, Down 25-0 After 1st Quarter

The 1st quarter against the Eagles was as bad as it gets for the Green Bay Packers. It was a complete team meltdown, but mostly it was the defense just not defending:
The special teams started off the game by allowing a 67 yard kickoff return. P Tim Masthay looked terrible early (but better later) and the Eagles had fantastic field position on almost every possession. QB Brett Hundley looked great overall but his first pass attempt led to a shoulder injury for WR Randall Cobb (it might be minor) and his second one turned into a pick-six when TE Richard Rodgers slipped and fell while running his route. And all the penalties, penalties, and more penalties.

And unfortunately this just happens sometimes. Especially early in the season. Last season, the Packers were bad in Week 1 at Seattle, then at home in Week 2 against the Jets, and lastly in Week 3 in Detroit, before Aaron Rodgers told everyone to R-E-L-A-X and they won 13 of their last 16 games.

There was a lot of bad on defense. LB Sam Barrington was abused in coverage, and while he's not my favorite player, he was about average against the pass last season. There was little pass rush and QB Sam Bradford was barely touched in the pocket. The running lanes for the Eagles' running backs were enormous. But the Packers weren't doing anything special in their scheme either; they seemed to be in their standard nickel package the entire time. The Packers' D isn't the best in the NFL and once in a while they're going to have a bad quarter or two. And it was very nice to see LB Clay Matthews, healthy and back on the field.

Injuries, injuries, injuries. Cobb was the worst news, and it didn't look good for CB Micah Hyde either, who was taken off on a cart. RT Bryan Bulaga twisted his ankle, but later in the game, after getting some ice on it, he was sitting on the bench and putting his shoe back on. He didn't look seriously injured. I'm expecting the entire starting offensive line will be ready to play by Week 1, and that'll be a big help.

Hundley played with the first team offense but he only had RB Eddie Lacy for 4 carries, and he only played with two starting offensive lineman. So his performance with much less than the 1st string offense against the Eagles 1st string defense looks even better. I hope he's never needed in 2015 but after the 2013 collarbone debacle, the Packers need a reliable backup, when necessary.

WRs Jeff Janis, Ty Montgomery, and Myles White. They bring different talents to the field, though Montgomery and Janis are similar type deep threats, down the sidelines and in the middle of the field, while White is more of a short yardage menace. I could see the coaches mixing and matching during the season, depending on the match-up and maybe just seeing who has the hot hand.

TE Kennard Backman. He's playing at a thin position, and he finally showed something as a pass receiver. He made a difficult catch behind his body while getting hit, and then turned a short pass into a lunging touchdown reception. He also drew a holding flag, so he's still a rookie and not going to take any serious playing time away from either Quarless or Rodgers, but he's also looking like he'll make the 53-man roster.

RB Rajion Neal. He's had a great camp and starred against the Eagles with a long TD reception, and some hard running behind an offensive line that wasn't giving him much help. I'm not sure they'll keep a fourth running back but he could be back on the practice squad.

So I wouldn't worry too much about the defense but the special teams need a lot of work. Some of that will work itself out after the 53-man roster is set, but some of their problems might not be so easy, such as what to do with Tim Masthay. And the most important thing will be to get everyone healthy.

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