With the “dress rehearsal” preseason game – i.e., game No. 3 – against the Indianapolis Colts just five days away, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy took a cautious approach Saturday night against the Seattle Seahawks.
In other words, a lot of players didn’t play.
The entire starting linebacking corps was out, for example, as were Charles Woodson and Donald Driver.
Still, some things of note came out of Green Bay’s 27-24 road win over the Seahawks. Since the Packers were shorthanded, to say the least, for this one, it seems sort of silly to write an actual game recap.
Instead, let’s take a trip to the question department to discuss some of what went on:
- Question: What, if anything, should we make of the collective performance of the “starting” units?
Answer: If you believe the preseason means anything – and everyone has differing opinions on that - you could say that the Packers very much were who we thought they were (copyright, Denny Green). In other words, this game didn’t change my feelings on the team one bit.
The starting offense was once again fantastic, with two scores in two drives. Aaron Rodgers personified this with yet another sterling showing (8-of-11, 116, two touchdowns, 20-of-24, 275 yards, three touchdowns, no picks in just over two quarters of preseason play). Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings are clearly the top two targets and the offensive line looked great (and was much better in run blocking). Again, all pretty much what you expected.
The “starting” defense was also what you figured the depleted unit would be, allowing two scores in four drives. The run defense was once again top-notch (the starting d-line was in the house for this one) but the pass rush was non-existent and corners Pat Lee and Brandon Underwood can officially be placed in the “Not Ready for Primetime” category, as of now. Not too worried about that, though, since those guys very well could end up as the No. 4 and No. 5 corners when the season starts.
As for the special teams…well…we’ll get to them in a minute.
- Question: Okay, minute’s up. Will the special teams ever actually, you know, improve?
Answer: I wish I could say they will, but as of now, it appears unlikely. Once again, the coverage units were terrible, allowing far too many open lanes and missing a ridiculous amount of tackles. The return units were only a little less terrible than last week against Cleveland, but still nowhere near good enough (as much as I like Sam Shields’ potential, as a corner, the team must take him off return duty as he’s way too much of a liability).
Granted, yes, some of the guys drawing special teams time will be bagging groceries at your local supermarket in a couple of weeks, but still, those players alone weren’t the problem. Several key special teams players turned in awful performances once again. I fully understand it’s the preseason, but when you play on a unit that’s been as heavily scrutinized as this one has, you’d think the group would want to be better, if only to shut everyone up. Well, they weren’t.
What the hell is Shawn Slocum doing, anyways?
- Question: Is there anyone we should feel better about coming out of the game?
Answer: There’s a few guys, actually: Brandon Jackson, Matt Flynn and Mason Crosby. Jackson (11 carries, 80 yards and a game-winning touchdown run) ran extremely hard and looks to be improving in finding open spaces to hit. He’s an underrated part of what the offense will do this season, for sure.
Flynn (10-of-20, 130 yards, one interception) was much, much better than his numbers would indicate. His confidence and poise were better than they’ve been throughout camp thus far and he showed good decision-making, as well. He moved well in the pocket and, for the first time in 2010, gave me confidence that this team could survive for a stretch with Flynn if something happened to Rodgers (God forbid). Because, you know, Flynn could actually work with linemen who can block and receivers who can catch, in that scenario.
After having seemingly everyone doubt him during the offseason/start of camp, Crosby has very quietly rebounded (2-for-2 Saturday, including a 51-yarder, for example). He appears to be getting better and better during the practices, as well. I’m still not sold on him totally and likely won’t be until Sept. 12, at the earliest. But, for now, you have to feel good about the progress he’s made. For me, that’s more than enough right now.
- Question: Who improved their chances of making the roster in this one? Who’s chances were hurt?
Answer: There’s two of each, actually. Outside linebacker Frank Zombo had a really strong night and could push for the eighth linebacker spot. Fullback John Kuhn just continues to show a diversity of skills and is so valuable in goalline situations. The fullback battle is now between Korey Hall and Quinn Johnson.
The biggest player who should now worry is tackle Breno Giacomini. He was beat repeatedly in the game and is starting to wreak of “All Sizzle, No Steak,” at this point. Looking good in practice is nice and all, but it means nothing if you can’t block during the game. This is his third preseason with the team. He should be better, especially against backups.
The second player is Allen Barbre. Okay, so he was likely gone, anyways, but by giving up a sack that got Flynn absolultely popped, it’s really official now.
(Okay, okay, I can’t stop on four questions, because I hate the number four. Hmmm…I need a fifth question…wait, I got it!)
- Question: Did you ever decide on a new jersey, Chris?
Answer: Sure did. I’m going with a beauty: A Rodgers 1929 throwback jersey. I know, I know – I ripped the new jerseys back in March. Since then, though, I’ve really come around on them. In fact, I now love them. Sorry, A.J. Hawk jersey, I’ve just got to move on.