Monday, September 21, 2015

Packers Beat Seahawks 27-17, But Lose Eddie Lacy To Ankle Injury

It was hard to watch all the carts drive off players during the first half (Eddie Lacy, then Davante Adams and Josh Boyd). But QB Aaron Rodgers was fantastic once again, including a sick touchdown pass to WR James Jones (of course) against CB Richard Sherman while jumping in the air. However, LB Jayrone Elliott was the surprise, big playmaker of the game.
Elliott has been a star of the last two preseasons, but it hadn't carried over into the regular season yet. The Packers tried everyone at outside linebacker in this game and they all struggled to generate a pass rush or contain QB Russell Wilson on the bootleg and cut backs. Most of the pass rush came against Seattle's interior lineman. Elliott was the last outside linebacker to take the field (Peppers, Matthews, Perry, Mulumba, and Neal all played snaps outside before Elliott) but the interception above was the turning point, and his forced fumble on RB Fred Jackson sealed the victory.

The pass coverage had at least one busted coverage and CB Micah Hyde allowed a couple big plays, but generally the coverage was tight and TE Jimmy Graham was held to only one catch. After getting exposed last week in Chicago, CB Sam Shields was rarely seen against the Seahawks (which is probably a good sign that he's getting the job done and we don't see him). The interior of the defensive line (Raji, Daniels, and Pennel) often overpowered the unheralded interior lineman of the Seahawks, and they were the big reason why RB Marshawn Lynch never got going on the ground.

RT Don Barclay struggled badly in the preseason during his first action since injuring his knee in 2014, but he was decent in place of RT Bryan Bulaga. Though it wasn't a perfect performance; he did miss blocks and was overpowered on one sack (LT David Bakhtiari was overpowered on the same play). It wasn't perfect and Rodgers was hit on more plays than I'd like to see, but his lineman overall gave him time to throw and RB James Starks some room to run against a tough run defense.

While Starks did have a great game, except for a first half fumble which, at least, wasn't turned into any points by the Seahawks, it was made possible by an ankle injury to Lacy. The early indication is that it's not serious, so hopefully it will be one of Starks's few big moments in 2015. He's a solid running back, but his track record with injuries makes it unlikely he'd survive an entire season.

It was a small coming out party for WR Ty Montgomery, who didn't blow up the stat sheet (4 receptions for 37 yards) but he had a couple 3rd down receptions on their final scoring drive that helped eat up a lot of clock. Also, he slipped away from Sherman in the first half and drew a 50+ yard pass interference call. It's not going to be all Jones as a replacement for WR Jordy Nelson, and it looks like Montgomery can take on some of the responsibility.

The Packers now get a little more time to recover, and let Lacy's ankle heal, as they don't play until next week Monday night. The Chiefs are a good team but playing them in Lambeau (the Packers last game against the Chiefs was in 2011, when they lost their only regular season game that year on the road in Kansas City) is a big help.

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