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The Good and Bad from Packers' Preseason Opener

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The Good and Bad from Packers' Preseason Opener

Football is back, and while injury-wise the Packers are worse for the wear after their preseason debut Thursday against Philadelphia, there are plenty of positive takeaways. 
 
But first with the bad. (Assume that injuries are their own category of badness and recognize that there’s not a lot of information yet regarding the injuries.)
 

THE BAD

Eagles win opening qu​arter
Starter against starter, Philly got the nod at 6-0 with a touchdown and failed two-point conversion. The scoring play seemed reminiscent of Green Bay’s defensive struggles in 2016. Unblocked Clay Matthews failed to bring down Carson Wentz, who connected with Mack Hollins. A pair of badly missed tackles from Kevin King and Quentin Rollins gifted the Eagles a score. 

From that point on, largely with reserves and the team’s many first- and second-year players in, the Packers surrendered just three points.
 
Sloppy play hurts all three phases
There were drops. False starts. Special teams mistakes. Missed tackles. Turnovers. While some of the game-changing plays went Green Bay’s way—the Eagles had several turnovers themselves—Thursday wasn’t the cleanest of contests. Ty Mongtomery's fumble came on his best run of the evening. You can bet there will be major emphasis on ball security going forward. 
 
Few answers to questions at running back
The run game Thursday night was a struggle, pretty much across the board for the Packers. What’s more, there weren’t many opportunities given to the rookies. Montgomery didn’t see action after the fumble, giving way to Jamaal Williams for all of four carries. Aaron Jones had just two carries (zero yards) and Devante Mays had none (though he did have a catch). 
It’s hard to be committed to the run when it isn’t working. Hopefully moving forward the execution is there to go with the emphasis, and the Packers can get a better sense of who will be contributing this season. 
 

THE GOOD

Trevor Davi​s returns way to 53-man roster
It’s hard to imagine the second-year receiver doesn’t land on the final roster after his explosive, 68-yard punt return that broke open the Packers’ scoring. The punt was blocked well, but Davis made a few nifty moves immediately after fielding the punt and then used his breakaway speed to do the rest. His second punt return of the evening went 26 yards. After losing Micah Hyde to free agency, punt returner is a position of need and Davis is now the clear frontrunner. 

Hopefully, he can translate that speed to the receiver position, which as it happens is stacked …
 
Receiving corps is maxed out, creating a good problem for Green Bay
Guys who had good nights: DeAngelo Yancey and Max McCaffrey. Each would figure to be the fifth or sixth receiver if kept, and then there’s still Malachi Dupre, Geronimo Allison and Jeff Janis (who had a bad drop but also used a double move for a 20-yard touchdown strike from Brett Hundley). Dupre suffered a scary hit in the second half, so his health is definitely worth monitoring. But overall, this position group is incredibly deep. Roster cuts won’t be easy.
 
Front seven looked the part
Minus Matthews’ whiff on the Wentz-to-Hollins touchdown, he looked good out there last night. Green Bay moved him around, as they should. The roving role should suit him. Nick Perry picked up where he left off last season—only no giant hand cast—and seemed to find his way into the backfield with regularity in limited snaps. He also earned the Packers’ lone sack. Blake Martinez and Joe Thomas also found their way to the ball. 
 
Elsewhere, second-year defensive lineman Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry showed that talk of their offseason improvements wasn’t a fluke. Given the losses of Datone Jones and Julius Peppers, Clark and Lowry—though fit in different roles—will be relied on to provide a spark to the pass rush and the preseason opener was an indicator that they just might be able to. 
 
In all, a front seven that ranked in the top third of the league last year looked the part on Thursday. 
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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (38) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RCPackerFan's picture

Another good to add to the list was Vogel.

His first punt wasn't as good, but the rest of them were. He had a bunch inside the 20 and he boomed one in which the returner had to go backwards for it and then muffed.

Also there were no problems in any of the FG and extra point attempts. Good debut for the rookie Punter.

fthisJack's picture

i thought Perry was good in the short time he was in there and Gilbert got some hurries on the QB. also, some of the rotation guys on the DLine played well.....Francois, Ringo, Lunsford. they all held up well against the run and got some pressure on the QB.
i thought Donatello Brown and Linzy Pipkins and Evans were solid although not eye popping. It seemed like Hawkins was beat frequently.
missed tackles were a huge problem. 3 missed tackles on Phillies only TD. tackling too high and not going low and wrapping up.
Hope the injuries don't start piling up. Go,Pack, Go!

Couch Cleats's picture

Good - Max Mcaffrey. He looks to me like a professional receiver. Love the way he reaches and snatches the ball. No body cradling catches for that guy. I see much more potential in him to become a starting caliber receiver than say Janis or even Allison.

Packers have enough receiving talent for two teams right now. I don't know how we keep the extras on the Practice squad.

Bad - Not enough run calls. It seems like evaluating talent at practice is easier for receivers than it is for running backs. I think the full contact games are the time to test all the backs and back up O-lineman. Hope to see more running next game so we can see what we've got.

MarkinMadison's picture

McCaffrey is quite a bit faster than Allison and has far better hands than Janis. I still think the Packers need to find a legit deep threat to replace Jordy on the outside. McCaffrey has too much potential to let him go.

dobber's picture

I'm not convinced that the lack of run calls wasn't more about getting Hundley and Callahan work than it was about evaluating WR. Besides, when you're running almost exclusively behind the #2 and #3 OLs (especially in the first game), there's not going to be a lot to look at aside from piecemeal OL play on film.

Spud Rapids's picture

Good

Receiver Talent - They are deep! It's going to be a fun preseason watching the bottom of this roster spot. I think that's we saw the Packers throw so much during this game.

Physicality of the Secondary - Yeah there was some busted coverage and missed tackles but I see a secondary that is going to come up and lay some wood. Brice/Jones are both big bodies and Rollins/King/Gunter weren't afraid to hit.

Vogel Punting - I'll chalk the first one up to nerves but he's the real deal and if he improves and works at his craft he can be really good

Bad

Ball Security - I won't get too worked up over this since it's the first preseason game but this needs to improve.

Injuries... enough said

Missed backfield tackles - Matthews sack was bad but he owned it on the sideline interview. Couple of the safeties missed too but at leas they were filling the holes properly

MarkinMadison's picture

Vogel - The Packers have certainly gone into the season with worse.

Running Game - The Packers threw a bunch of darts at the wall in this draft assuming that Monty is legit and that one of them would emerge. Hopefully things get better quickly.

Handsback's picture

The Packers didn't try to build a running attack last night. They had some run plays, but they looked ugly. Last night to me was all about the receivers and who would shine. As well as the defense in who could man-up on those WRs from Philly.

Nick Perry's picture

The lack of even practicing the run showed up big time in the game. The running game will get better each week that passes as the Packers practice more and more with pads on.

Duke Divine's picture

True dat brother.

Yooper's picture

How many touchdowns did the Packers score and who scored them????? Whom did you say were the stars of the game last night......Let's show a little love for Jeff Janis..... along with great punting and the return game and a field goal.......Oh and did you notice the excitement and speed our 3rd string QB brought to the game last night - 80 yrd drive nice ........#gopack!!!!:^)

sonomaca's picture

Assuming he's OK, Dupre will probably miss enough time that he'll be sent to PS. I think that increases McCaffery's chances. So, assuming Nelson, Adams, Cobb, Davis, and Allison, probably looking at McCaffery and either Clark or Yancy.

dobber's picture

Remember that Allison is going to miss at least game 1, so that opens the door for someone (maybe another WR) to extend the dream for at least one week.

sonomaca's picture

I think Janis may be gone.

Ernie Ernie's picture

No mike saw him make one play so he will be kept.
I gave up on the guy last year. no reason for him to be on the team. He is taking space

porupack's picture

agreed. Too much upside with Yancey, McCaffrey, Dupre and Clark. I'd roll the dice on any of those 4 over the known quantity of Janis....to fill out the bottom rotation. At the top of rotation, I'd go with known quantity. But bottom of rotation, you go for potential.

PETER MAIZ's picture

It seems the new punter will be the real deal. I agree with the above statement that Janis won't be among the final 53.

Grandfathered's picture

Davis making the team as punt returner is jumping the gun a bit. Cobb can return punts, and I bet there are other backups. If Davis can't get off the line of scrim then his speed is useless as a receiver. I think that the best receivers win the roster, not a sole punt returner.

LayingTheLawe's picture

If you're the number 6 receiver on the team you make the team based on your special teams play. Janis has done it for years.

porupack's picture

You might be right, but if you account for the draft getting a lot more speed, it diminishes what Janis brought. If MM was willing to monkey around the Oline and get rid of Tretter and Lang (reliable I'd say), and take his chances, what makes you think Janis is safe. Looking at the depth, I'd roll the dice on new blood, and stake my reputation on P-P-Po-tential..

dobber's picture

Pretty much spot on. Once you get past that third WR, ST ability is pretty important. We beat on Janis for not being the dominant outside WR his testing would indicate he would be, but he's (at least) a very good gunner, and--used in what he's good at which is short to mid-range crossing routes and reverses--he can get you some production at WR. Unless they find someone who is at least close to him in ST ability, he's coming back.

RobinsonDavis's picture

Agree Dobber. Janis had 3 steps on his man, so I would say the "route running" may (key word) have improved. What a lot of people seem to miss is not only his gunner play on special teams, but his blocking on the Davis touchdown. Albeit Davis made the play, but Janis had his man stymied 15 yards down the field from where Davis fielded the ball....and he stuck with him! Imagine if you had that with 9 other guys all the time. I thought Janis may be on his way out this year too, but also believe we are looking for contributors for THIS year, not down the road.

Last, Davis and Allison (and I think Yancy), dropped balls too. Davis should have had his, and Allison, instead of coming back to the ball, gave ground giving the defender time to disrupt (high-school mistake). I like ALL of the young receivers battling for a position currently, including McCaffrey, DuPre, & Yancy, but believe one has to be honest about where there are contributions and where there are mistakes if you are going to compare.
Admittedly, many plays we just do not see without replays and game films.

Ernie Ernie's picture

My two cents. Yes sloppy, expect that. Pass coverage was again non existant. Why our guys drop back and give the receivers the room to make catches is beyond me. They must be coached this because its a new group of guys doing the same old. Way too many eagle receivers with no one on them. Big problemo mike.
Missed tackles. Missed tackles and trying to tackle the neck and shoulders. Piss poor, first game or not.
Not impressed with the overall effort

Colin_C's picture

Good:

Run D was phenomenal all night, starters and backups alike.

Dupre and McCaffery looked great, and I think both will find their way onto the 53, even with Dupre's concussion.

I've been saying it for years, Hyde was not a good return guy (or Janis for that matter). Just didn't have the speed. Davis should 100% be our return specialist going forward. He has a chance to break one every time.

The safety group will be league top 5 this year, no doubt in my mind. Our backups right now are so much better than the starters from a few years ago it's not even funny. Ha-ha, Burnett, Brice, Evans, and Jones are going to be a ruthless centerfield group to tangle with.

I thought Callahan was the best QB out of the 3 tonight. That kid is going to surprise people if he gets the chance I think.

Bad:

Run game wasn't given much chance, but everything from blocking to ball control was bad. Good thing we have 12.

Pass D was so-so at best. Could have been worse, but I already see improvement from last year with this new group of players. Pipkins looked solid.

The Oline was horrible. Enough said.

Tackling technique and execution was very sloppy all around.

Injuries. Just why.....

porupack's picture

All nine are spot on, C_C.

Injuries, why? Certainly because of Affordable Care Act.
Just totally playin.
We can be grateful its early preseason, and key guys aren't lost for the season as in 2015, or guys lost in the first game, and then options are even more limited. could happen, but not quite ready to run screaming down my street.

dobber's picture

"I've been saying it for years, Hyde was not a good return guy (or Janis for that matter)."

The last two years, Hyde was nothing more than a guy who could secure the catch and fall forward/get what was blocked for him. 2013 and 2014, he was very good, averaging over 10 yd/return--even if you remove his long return--with 3 TDs. He didn't put the ball on the ground and he rarely lost yardage. That sounds like a pretty decent returner to me...I have a hard time reconciling 2015-2016 with 2013-014, though (except for Ron Zook taking over ST).

IMO, punt returns are all about quickness, vision and anticipation since they work in close quarters and not so much about speed. Hyde wasn't fast, but he had reasonable COD. I would argue that KO returners benefit more from straight-line speed since they catch the ball in the open field and have room to get up to speed.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

The number one attribute of a punt returner is securing the ball consistently. The second IMO is can the PR make the first guy miss. As you indicated, that is primarily lateral agility/change of direction. That said, speed is always nice, but it definitely is third on my list.

4thand1's picture

good ,1st game
bad, 1st game.
officiating sucked
This game was all about the QB's both teams stacked the box.

Nick Perry's picture

I didn't watch all of it (Watching full game as I type) but from what I saw it was pretty much what I expected after being off 6 months, only having a small number of padded practices, and mostly 2nd and 3rd string players playing.

The Packers didn't even bother running the ball till pads came on this summer so I expected the run game to look like that. I would have expected a little better blocking but I'm more willing to blame the lack of practicing it as the main reason it looked so awful.

I thought King did okay. Yes he gave up a long pass, but he came right back and made a few nice plays afterwords on the same drive.

Did Josh Jones play much? I'm watching a replay right now and he's not in and it's barely the start of the 3rd quarter.

I loved what the defense did especially early. Matthews missed but he won't miss many like that. He makes that play on the team probably gives up 3 points all night.

PLEASE go find a Center Ted, maybe a Guard and Tackle who get cut later too. The O-line depth is a huge concern, no matter if this was preseason game one or not.

Spriggs looked like he didn't work out all winter...UGH! Just watched a run play where his block was on a LB who went right through him like he wasn't there and tackled Jones for a loss.

dobber's picture

Spriggs is confusing to me...supposedly he put on 10 lbs this off-season and there have been good things said that he's still quick, but he really looked like he's had 6 months off (as you said). We'll see if he takes a leap in game 2. He's going to play a lot of snaps in this preseason so my hope is that he picks up some momentum as it progresses.

I couldn't agree more on the interior OL. Mangold is still out there, and my guess is that he'd rather be on a roster than sit out 2017. He could double up at G, too. With a guy like Linsley who's missed almost as many games as he's played, I'm hoping for a better insurance policy inside...whether it comes from someone new or from someone developing.

RobinsonDavis's picture

I think the lack of contact in practice has also affected the Oline and fumble situations amongst other areas of the game. I understand the want and need to limit injuries, but I believe a lack of situational awareness can add to injuries as well. The One on one drills are fine, but they are conducted in a confined space. Putting players in a game situation without full-field contacts drills, is like allowing a person who hasn't driven for a year, navigate the Chicago expressways the first time out.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Josh Jones and Pipken tied for most snaps played on defense with 43. Josh Jones came in early, I think right after Randall left. Other than missing a tackle badly, he didn't really do much, but he played a lot of snaps.

egbertsouse's picture

Watching Spriggs made me long to have Barclay on the field. Spriggs lack of strength is only exceeded by his concrete feet. However, TT obviously has a man-crush on him so we will be stuck watching him another 2 years.

4thand1's picture

If he's out there and AR gets leveled a few times, we won't be watching him for long.

Ernie Ernie's picture

I was expecting a much improved team this year with fat ass eddy gone and a couple of other losers let go. New bigger db's to help out. Wow I hope I'm not disappointed.
The defensive play seemed awfully familiar with db's playing way off the receivers and having to come up after the catch to make a play rather than being on top of guys. That didnt work last year (32nd in pass d).

sonomaca's picture

Hate to second guess, but TJ Watt had 2 sacks and 5 tackles. Also, Mixon was a beast. I know corners take awhile to develop, but...

dobber's picture

Who?

...and who?

4zone's picture

Without AR and Jordy it was hardly 1st team vs 1st team in the 1st Qtr. The game announcers keep highlighting that Barclay has played all positions on the OL but don't mentioned he gets torched at each position. Maybe he can survive at center if he doesn't have to move laterally.

Only got to watch 1st half so only saw Hundly and he did not look good to me. Threw a good fade to Janis but not many good throws otherwise. And almost got his head taken off from a rusher coming from his front side. Horrible pocket awareness. Pack may be able to resign him cheap if he doesnt improve, but then why would they want to?

Lots of missed tackles but also some real hard hitting from Jones, Brice and one from King.

Overall, a lot of raw talent on display. Some guys showing improvement but I get a lingering feeling I've seen this team before... and not a good memory. Hope I'm wrong.

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