My thoughts on Preseason Game 1:
1st team D: They got some pressure up front, which was good to see, but the secondary was its usual self and constantly gave up big pass yardage. Offenses are still able to find soft spots in the middle of the field and all of the "we will improve tackling" talk has clearly been just that, talk. Plenty of missed tackles and guys taking bad angles in pursuit. On one play Jarrett Bush was flat-footed and frozen as a Charger wideout made a catch right in front of him and ran by. This is a guy who, just a few days ago, was supposed to be the leading candidate to start at CB opposite Tramon Williams. Chargers ran several screens that were wildly successful. It's becoming clear, in Capers' defense, they they will continue to sell out to get to the QB. If that pressure is stiffled, it's big yardage for the other guys. Hopefully they will "clean that up" as MM typically says after a loss. Yes, the D had 2 INT's but the 2nd was a very poor throw after the starters were pulled. T. Williams' pick of Rivers was the defensive highlight of the day. He perfectly read a crossing pattern and beat the WR to the ball by a half a step. The upside is that starters came out very early in this one and as the game went on would have hopefully continued to get pressure and make that game-changing big play.
The injury to Des Bishop is a concern as he has been one of the rocks on defense the past 2 seasons. Early word is that it's a knee sprain and possible hamstring. Bishop does not heal quickly so expect him to miss a reg. season game or 2 if that is, in fact, the injury. He will likely have an MRI tomorrow to determine the severity. If it's worse and he's out longer, DJ Smith wil assume his role with the 1st D unit. Davon House had a shoulder injury, stating that it "popped out" and X-rays to come tomorrow. Anytime something "pops out" it's never a good sign.
1st team O couldn't establish any sort of run and the O line will need more time to gel. On top of that RB James Starks had a drop and a fumble. He did have a stellar block on a 3rd down that allowed a completion so his game is improving but he should be further along at this point. I expect to see Alex Green and, if healthy, Brandon Saine to get a long look next week. I don't foresee that Starks loses the starting RB slot but the time he shares will be affected if he continues to play like he did tonight. Rodgers looked limber and was forced to run several times when pressure came off the left side. On the INT he was hit and that ball sailed on him. O line wasn't able to protect well on the left side, mostly due to Herb Taylor's having to fill in for regular starter Marshall Newhouse (concussion). With as many starters that were out, hopefully this was just some early-season rust. It's hard to imagine a Rodgers-led squad not eventually settling in and lighting up opposing defenses soon.
Taking a step forward tonight: Davon House before his shoulder injury. Pending those results, I'd safely say he catapulted Jarrett Bush on the depth chart if he wasn't already penciled in as 1st string RCB. He made a great play on a deep pass and with the #31 on his jersey and flowing dreadlocks, was a dead ringer for Al Harris. He also had an incredible tackle in the backfield on a run, something Packer CB's haven't done much of as of late. Diondre Borel started off slowly but shook off the jitters and looked like a WR that has been in this offense for some time. He has room for improvement but it's apparent why he's giving Tori Gurley a run for his money at the 6th WR spot. If he doesn't regress, I expect to see a dogfight between Borel and TG till the end of camp. Nick Perry had a sack on the 2nd snap of the game and despite the unsportsman-like flag that he drew immediately after, this was a very good sign for the team. Andrew Datko wasn't brilliant but he held his own and likely earned himself some more reps. Graham Harrell made some very solid throws and will improve with reps during the season. Matt Flynn looked about the same in his 1st year at this point. BJ Coleman made a few good throws in limited time and will certainly be on the PS if not on the active roster. Lastly was Marc Tyler. He fumbled and wasn't flashy but he certainly has to have the team thinking about keeping him on the practice squad. Given time he could turn into a solid NFL back.
Taking a step back tonight: Jarrett Bush. He was flat-out punked on one pass play where the WR caught a ball right in front of him and ran by him like he was a statue. He's just not good in coverage. How he was in the conversation to start at CB is beyond me. Des Bishop only by virtue of his injury. With several talented LB's looking to crack the roster, his health status could allow one of them to step in and compete for his job. That's exactly how he became starting ILB, when Nick Barnett went down in 2010. James Starks, as mentioned, did not help himself or the team with a costly drop and fumble. He runs hard but often gets stood up at the line and tries to grind it out with his leg strength. This is when opposing D's get in there and get after the ball. Regardless, at the RB position it's about production and in limited time he had 2 big blunders. TE DeMarco Cosby had a huge drop on a 3rd down that went right through his hands. Just no excuse and hopefully the team lets him keep his jersey as a momento of his short time in Green Bay. Lastly Herb Taylor. Thrown into the fire after Newhouse wasn't able to return from his concussion but he was manhandled by Antoine Barnes and whoever else was on his side. He clearly is a camp body and the Pack have to hope Newhouse can stay healthy and that Derek Sherrod comes back.
Just a preseason game, I know, but the same was said last year after game 1. They went on to win 15 regular season games but we all know how the movie ended. They need to get back to work soon and start improving to build some positive momentum heaing into the season.
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