Friday, August 14, 2015

Packers Cruise In Preseason Opener: 22-11 Over Patriots

During the 1st quarter, when QB Aaron Rodgers was in the game, the Packers couldn't score on multiple red zone opportunities. The backup defense failed to contain on either edge at the start of the 2nd quarter when RB Jonas Gray ran for a 55 yard touchdown and then a two-point conversion. The Packers also failed to convert on either of their two point conversion attempts. I mention these bad plays at the start of this post because other than those problems, the Packers were in control in every other aspect of this game and wasn't even as close as the score might indicate. Also the stats below don't reflect all the penalty yards the Patriots gave up.
The backup quarterbacks. After a sloppy performance in the televised practice on Family Night, I was a little down on the backup QBs. But against the Patriots, Scott Tolzien and Brett Hundley each threw a touchdown pass and neither had a turnover. That doesn't sound like a major accomplishment, but these preseason games have featured a lot of bad backup quarterback play over the past couple seasons. That's promising.

The 2015 draft class. 1st round CB Damarious Randall sat out with a groin injury which probably gave more playing time to 2nd round CB Quinten Rollins and undrafted CB LaDarius Gunter, and both of them played like they were ready to start in Week 1. Gunter came away with a nice INT when he stole a bouncing ball right in front of the receiver, while Rollins seemed to be running the receiver's routes for them and missed out on an couple of interceptions in the 2nd quarter. 3rd round WR Ty Montgomery didn't light up the box score as a return man but he looked really comfortable on special teams, and he caught a couple passes too. 4th round LB Jake Ryan had 6 tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for losses, and 1 QB hit; he looked like the downfield, hard charging inside LB I've been hoping they would find for the past few seasons.

WR Jeff Janis. He's had some drops in camp and appeared to be on the outside of a roster with too many receivers, then he goes and catches a touchdown. He can be a deep threat with his speed and size (and single coverage) even if he isn't often a target.

The second string defense and second string offensive line. It's always a little deceptive to see the backups beating up on other backups (DE Jayrone Elliott's outside rush doesn't look as fast in the regular season) but they were flying around there and hustling to every play, like a pack of guys battling for a roster spot should look. There were a couple of free rushes to the quarterback and some blown blocking assignments, but mostly held up better than I've come to expect from preseason pass protection.

RT Don Barclay. He'll probably be given some slack for playing in his first game in over a year after a serious knee injury, but he was beaten badly on a couple plays. They have some good options (Taylor and Tretter) for the backup jobs on the inside, but Barclay's their best option as a backup tackle. LT Jeremy Vujnovich played better on the other side but he isn't obviously a better option at this time.

TE Andrew Quarless. He too probably deserves a break after a terrible past few weeks off the field, but he got off to a terrible start as the starting TE. He cut a route short of a 1st down on a 3rd down reception and then got blown up on his run blocking assignment when they went for it on 4th down. He also had a drop pass on the next drive. It took a while for TE Richard Rodgers to find the field, I didn't see him until after TE Justin Perillo got into the game, so Quarless should be the starter (depending on if he gets suspended to start the season).

RBs John Crockett and Alonzo Harris. They each scored a touchdown and they give the Packers a couple more running backs to think about. They were also facing a bunch of backups.  which included a keystone cops moment when on Harris's touchdown run, three Pats defenders ran into each other instead of tackling Harris.

It's just a preseason game, but there was very little bad to come out of it. No injuries and a really good showing from the 2015 draft class. Another preseason road trip is coming up to Pittsburgh on Sunday August 23rd.

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