Preseason Analysis: Green Bay Packers defeat Arizona 44-37

The Green Bay Packers were in control for most of the game, they led 38-10 at the half, but a late rally made the game seem closer than it was. 

The most important thing to watch out for during the preseason is the injuries. From Mike McCarthy:

Q:Can you give an update on the injuries? 
A:Greg (Jennings) had a blow to the head, he did not return. Atari Bigby had a sprained thumb. Mike Montgomery has a broken hand. Brandon Jackson has a bruised shin. 

Obviously WR Greg Jennings is the biggest concern. According to Rob Demovsky, the blow to the head is a concussion. Some athletes have problems with reoccuring concussions, so it's something to watch. DE Mike Montgomery actually has a broken thumb and he can probably play with a bandaged club on his hand, if necessary. We won't know until next week the severity of the injuries to S Atari Bigby or RB Brandon Jackson.

Much, much more after the jump.

Packers vs Cardinals coveragePackers vs Cardinals recapPackers vs Cardinals boxscoreRevenge Of The Birds

Arizona's head coach Ken Whisenhunt speculated that the Packers game planned for the Cardinals, but Greg Bedard said there was no game planning. I've never heard of game planning for a preseason game, so I'd have to go Greg on this one.

Overall this was the 3rd straight outstanding preseason game for the 1st team offense and defense. Not everything is perfect, but the good has significantly outweighed the bad. I had expected a slight let down because it was the best opponent so far this preseason and the first game outside of Lambeau. With a west coast trip added to it. But there was no let down at all, so this game exceed my expectations.

Sure the 2nd team defense didn't look great, but I'm not worried that their practice squad can beat our practice squad. Also, with the slight exceptation of DE Jarius Wynn and LB Brad Jones, the 2nd team defense can't rush the QB. The Cardinals 2nd team receivers did a good job creating some space between them and the Packers 2nd team cornerbacks. But that doesn't prove a fundamental flaw in the defense.

For my game review, I'm using the play-by-play from NFL.com.

First Quarter:

(12:09) 12-A.Rodgers scrambles up the middle pushed ob at ARZ 6 for 34 yards (21-A.Rolle).

What I loved about this run was that QB Aaron Rodgers wasn't taking any chances. He ran because the field was wide open and he got out of bounds before he could have gotten hit. Just another outstanding game for Rodgers who runs when he should, throws the ball away when necessary, and picks apart the opposing secondary the rest of the game.

(11:04) 30-J.Kuhn up the middle for 3 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

If you were following the whole RG Josh Sitton won the starting job from C Scott Wells thing, then this might have shown you why. Sitton has 20 lbs. on Wells and brings more push to the o-line, despite the fact that Wells has probably outplayed Sitton this preseason. FB John Kuhn ran right behind Sitton on the play, although Arizona's defense was completely fooled by the inside handoff.

(9:03) 13-K.Warner pass short left to 85-J.Urban to GB 49 for 9 yards (21-C.Woodson). FUMBLES (21-C.Woodson), RECOVERED by GB.

CB Charles Woodson just makes plays. He terrorized Arizona in this game.

(4:41) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to 42-D.Wynn.

(4:35) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to 87-J.Nelson.

There was nothing there. Rodgers did a good job of just getting rid of the ball and taking the 3 points.

(3:01) 34-T.Hightower right tackle to GB 34 for 23 yards (36-N.Collins).

There's so little redudancy on defense. DE Cullen Jenkins slipped the block, got into the backfield, and missed the tackle. Everyone else was blocked so Jenkins had to make the play. It's a tough break for him, RB Tim Hightower made a nice play to avoid the tackle, but that's how the defense works.

(1:34) (Shotgun) 13-K.Warner pass short middle to 11-L.Fitzgerald to GB 6 for 27 yards (38-T.Williams).

I'm a big CB Tramon Williams fan, but he struggled in this game. It happens, and I expect he'll bounce back next week.

(:04) 13-K.Warner sacked at GB 13 for -7 yards (21-C.Woodson). FUMBLES (21-C.Woodson), ball out of bounds at GB 9.

Woodson is so good at rushing the QB. He did this some last season too when he was 2nd on the team in sacks. 

Second Quarter:

(12:19) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep middle to 80-D.Driver to ARZ 9 for 55 yards (21-A.Rolle). Penalty on ARZ-56-C.Okeafor, Defensive Offside, declined. Penalty on ARZ-21-A.Rolle, Defensive Pass Interference, declined.

(11:08) 12-A.Rodgers pass short right to 88-J.Finley for 3 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Rodgers, WR Donald Driver, and TE Jermichael Finley got all the stats, but the offensive line was great. Rodgers had all kinds of time to throw. Although Arizona had problems getting after the QB even before this game.

(8:41) (Shotgun) 13-K.Warner sacked at ARZ 22 for -8 yards (21-C.Woodson). FUMBLES (21-C.Woodson), RECOVERED by GB-74-A.Kampman at ARZ 24. 74-A.Kampman for 24 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

I'd like to use this play to give a shout out to LB A.J. Hawk. He wasn't worth the No. 5 overall pick and shouldn't start ahead of either LB Desmond Bishop or LB Brandon Chillar, but he can still play. He came up the middle on a blitz that was picked up by the running back which left Woodson unblocked from around the left tackle. 

This is also a good example of why I'd take Rodgers over QB Kurt Warner any day. Rodgers makes good decisions under pressure and is so careful with the ball, but Warner struggles to avoid the rush and has a big problem with fumbles. 

(5:34) 26-C.Wells right tackle for 20 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Arizona impressed me with their offensive line and RB Chris Wells. Their line did a good job protecting Warner and opening up some lanes for their running backs. Wells really surprised me with his open field moves, he cut right past S Nick Collins on the TD run. But despite his 240+ lb. frame, he's going to use his size to escape weak tackles and not to bowl over defenders.

(5:22) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep middle to 87-J.Nelson for 76 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

I had been noticing that the Packers under new defensive coordinator Dom Capers are using their safeties the same way they did last season. They rarely play close to the line of scrimmage, and instead are playing deep to avoid any big plays.

Arizona doesn't play like that. On this big play, Arizona S Adrian Wilson was close to the line and playing the run. When the Packers ran play action, WR Jordy Nelson used it to get past the cornerback and into an area where there was no safety help deep. 

(2:33) 23-T.Sutton right tackle to GB 42 for 11 yards (21-A.Rolle).

Undrafted rookie RB Tyrell Sutton had been playing great against the opponents' 2nd team defenses in the first two games, but got the chance to play with the 1st string in this game. It may even be a sign he's moved up the depth chart to 2nd string, and ahead of RB Brandon Jackson.

(2:00) 12-A.Rodgers pass deep right to 89-J.Jones to ARZ 26 for 32 yards (29-D.Rodgers-Cromartie).

WR James Jones had another great game, and almost had a TD reception on this drive too. But Nelson got his first opportunity to play with the 1st team offense this preseason, and he looked great too. I don't see how you can put one of these guys over the other. They'll have to find some way for them to share time this season as the No. 3 WR.

(:21) (Shotgun) 13-K.Warner pass deep left intended for 85-J.Urban INTERCEPTED by 29-A.Smith at ARZ 49. 29-A.Smith to ARZ 11 for 38 yards (36-L.Stephens-Howling).

I wasn't too excited about the low cost signing of free agent S Anthony Smith after Pittsburgh let him go. But he's played great this preseason, and has earned the right to be the top backup.

(:07) (Shotgun) 12-A.Rodgers pass short right to 88-J.Finley for 11 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

This is the 3rd strong preseason game by Finley. While his speed is too much for linebackers, on this play he lined up wide right like a receiver, and had too much size for the cornerback. Although he got away with a slight push.

Third Quarter:

(12:13) (Shotgun) 7-M.Leinart pass incomplete deep left to 19-L.Long (33-B.Underwood). PENALTY on GB-33-B.Underwood, Personal Foul, 15 yards, enforced at GB 49 - No Play.

CB Brandon Underwood is better than I expected. He could become a good cover corner, and he appears to be good in run support. But the Packers have some tough roster decisions to make and drawing a personal foul for an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit has probably hurt his chances. It's a stupid mental mistake that coaches hate.

(12:07) 7-M.Leinart sacked at GB 41 for -7 yards (94-J.Wynn). FUMBLES (94-J.Wynn), recovered by ARZ-63-L.Sendlein at ARZ 43. 63-L.Sendlein to ARZ 43 for no gain (90-B.Raji).

(10:04) 7-M.Leinart FUMBLES (Aborted) at GB 26, and recovers at GB 26. 7-M.Leinart to GB 26 for no gain (59-B.Jones).

This half was a very good opportunity to watch QB Matt Leinart in action. It was a pretty good example of why he's not a good NFL QB. When he can sit back or step up in the pocket, he can find the open receiver. But he had problems whenever Wynn or Jones got after him. Fortunately for him, the Packers blitz was usually picked up by his offensive lineman. A lot of QBs look good if their pass protection holds up. 

(10:04) 7-M.Leinart FUMBLES (Aborted) at GB 26, and recovers at GB 26. 7-M.Leinart to GB 26 for no gain (59-B.Jones).

Nice play by DT Anthony Toribio to get into the backfield and create the fumble. I don't think there's room for him on the 53 man roster, but I expect he'll either play for another team or get an invite to the practice squad.

(6:46) 7-J.Kapinos punts 52 yards to ARZ 23, Center-61-B.Goode. 19-L.Long to ARZ 30 for 7 yards (30-J.Kuhn). PENALTY on ARZ-23-W.Fontenot, Illegal Block Above the Waist, 10 yards, enforced at ARZ 25.

Kuhn is still starting ahead of FB Quinn Johnson, and he's also great on special teams. He won't be cut, and the Packers won't keep 3 FBs, so I expect Johnson will be released at some point.

(2:13) (Shotgun) 11-B.Brohm sacked at GB 25 for -8 yards (93-C.Campbell).

Arizona's offense rarely got off the field in the 2nd half, so there wasn't a lot of opportunities to watch QB Brian Brohm. I'm still a big fan of his because he looks so much better now compared to last season. The Packers would be OK if he had to start a game, although he's still behind QB Matt Flynn on the depth chart. But taking a sack on 3rd down in FG range is a big mistake. 

Fourth Quarter:

(15:00) 7-M.Leinart pass short middle to 36-L.Stephens-Howling to ARZ 47 for 8 yards (58-D.Lansanah). FUMBLES (58-D.Lansanah), RECOVERED by GB-94-J.Wynn at ARZ 47. 94-J.Wynn to ARZ 47 for no gain (82-L.Pope). Arizona challenged the fumble ruling, and the play was REVERSED. 7-M.Leinart pass short middle to 36-L.Stephens-Howling to ARZ 47 for 8 yards (58-D.Lansanah).

With all the praise for LB Desmond Bishop this preseason, when Bishop is on the field, LB Danny Lansanah is the other LB who plays alongside Bishop in the 4-2-5 alignment. If it weren't for Bishop, we might notice Lansanah more. On this play, he almost took the running back's head off. The Cardinal player actually suffered a concussion. Lansanah rocked him.

(14:25) 7-M.Leinart pass deep middle to 39-D.Byrd pushed ob at GB 8 for 45 yards (24-J.Bush). PENALTY on ARZ-80-E.Doucet, Unnecessary Roughness, 15 yards, enforced at GB 8.

Unfortunately, on the next play, the Cardinals tight end blew past Lansanah in coverage and was left wide open for a big gain. His inability to cover receivers will probably keep him off the 53 man roster.

(4:33) (Shotgun) 11-B.Brohm sacked at ARZ 30 for -10 yards (59-W.Davis).

Hey, another sack of Brohm in field goal range. A 38 yard FG becomes a 48 yard miss. Although in his defense, on this sack, RB Kregg Lumpkin completely whiffed on the block and the blitzing linebacker came in unblocked. 

1-N.Rackers kicks onside 16 yards from ARZ 30 to ARZ 46. RECOVERED by ARZ-1-N.Rackers. PENALTY on ARZ-1-N.Rackers, Delay of Game, 5 yards, enforced at ARZ 46.

Special teams coach Shawn Slocum admitted the special teams players were too far apart. They left the middle of the field wide open for K Neil Rackers. But what the hell was Arizona doing risking their kicker at the bottom of a scrum in a meaningless preseason game?

(:59) (Shotgun) 7-M.Leinart pass short middle to 31-J.Wright to GB 11 for 21 yards (58-D.Lansanah).

This was a rare 2nd half play for big yardage. The 2nd team defense had trouble stopping them on 3rd downs, but Arizona had to slowly work their way up the field. It was all short passing stuff. 

1-N.Rackers kicks onside 9 yards from ARZ 30 to ARZ 39. 82-R.Martin for 39 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Making a big play on special teams gets players noticed. It's been a quiet preseason for WR Ruvell Martin, but showing up big on special teams will help him stay on the 53 man roster.

TWO-POINT CONVERSION ATTEMPT. 23-T.Sutton rushes left tackle. ATTEMPT FAILS.

It was an interesting opportunity to see how Sutton did in a power situation. He only had one man to beat, and he got stood up by the linebacker right at the goal line. If he made it, he's a lock for the roster. Now the coaches have to figure out whether he has enough strength to succeed in the NFL.

(:12) (Shotgun) 7-M.Leinart pass incomplete deep right to 87-S.Morey.

This pass was a dropped INT by CB Trevor Ford, and a good indication of how lucky Arizona was to get back in the game. Leinart had one INT and at least 3 fumbles, all recovered by Arizona. They could have easily had 5 turnovers in the 2nd half alone. They got lucky that the fumbles bounced their way, but they can't expect to be that sloppy with the ball and win.

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