After unimpressive performances in the first two preseason games, the Packers defensive line was finally able to create a noticeable pass rush in Friday night's 17-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The first-string defense was able to keep the big plays at a minimum, and keep Russell Wilson on his heels (besides a 15-yard scramble on the first drive).
The first-string offense looked sharp, but was unable to punch the ball into the endzone for the third straight week. The lack of a run game was alarming, but the Seattle defense is considered by many to be the best in the NFL. Overall, the team looked focused, and played aggressive from start to finish. It was a promising sign in the "dress rehearsal" game of the preseason.
Let's take a look at the grades for this week:
Aaron Rodgers appeared in regular season form on his only series of the game. He extended plays with his legs, and made a beautiful throw to Jermichael Finley on a seam route. Rodgers finished 4 for 7 with 41 yards (74.1 passer rating).
Graham Harrell was released on Saturday, and his performance on Friday night was likely the final nail in his Green Bay coffin. Harrell continued to digress with his accuracy, sailing a pass over James Jones' head, and overthrowing multiple other routes in the process. Harrell's last play as a Green Bay Packer was a two-yard out route to D.J. Williams on third and 18. A fitting ending to an unspectacular back-up career. Harrell finished six for 13 for 49 yards (56.2 passer rating).
Vince Young won himself a back-up job with his performance on Friday night, and proved he still has the ability to make plays. He might not be as fast as he was at the University of Texas, but Young simply makes plays. He showcased his ability to scramble when a play breaks down by leading the team in rushing with 39 yards on three carries. Young also showed the awareness to throw the ball to a receiver who was near the first down marker, when he hit Alex Gillett for a key first down on the touchdown drive in the third quarter. Young now has the ability to take all the second-team snaps, and develop a comfort level with the Packers playbook. He won't have to worry about challenging for a starting job, but if disaster were to strike, I feel much more comfortable with Young leading the team than Graham Harrell. Young finished six for seven for 41 yards and one touchdown (130.7 passer rating).
B.J. Coleman finished two for seven for eight yards (39.6 passer rating). Coleman wasn't exactly working with a great offensive line group, but should have compensated for that, but getting the ball out quicker. Mike McCarthy has made it known he wants Coleman to play faster, and get the ball out quicker, and I didn't see either from Coleman on Friday. I wouldn't assume Coleman gets a spot on the practice squad, his job is still very much in the air. If he doesn't have a good showing against the Chiefs in the preseason finale, he may be on his way out of Green Bay as well.
Running Back: C+
The Packers were unable to establish a running attack on Friday, and while most of the blame can be placed on the offensive line's poor performance, there were a few plays that the running backs missed as well.
DuJuan Harris missed two cutback lanes on the Packers opening drive of the game. On the first one, David Bahktiari created a nice lane by blocking his man away from the play, but Harris hesitated and then ran to the opposite side. The other play was on a delay draw on the same drive. Harris had plenty of room to the outside after both tackles pushed their defenders up the field, but Harris ran right into traffic for a short gain. Harris finished with two yards on three carries, but also had an 11-yard gain on a screen pass. Harris is a playmaker, but missed a couple of opportunities on Friday. Hopefully he will be able to return from his knee injury quickly, and provide a one-two punch with Eddie Lacy.
Speaking of Lacy, the rookie running back was unable to get anything going. His only splash play of the game was called back on a David Bahktiari holding penalty. I'm convinced Lacy would have performed better had he been running with the first-team offense, because the Seahawks loaded the box on the Packers when Graham Harrell was at quarterback. Lacy finished with -5 yards on eight carries.
Alex Green made the most of his limited opportunities, with a 31-yard run in the fourth quarter. Green finished with 31 yards on two carries. James Starks appears to be on the chopping block, as he did not receive a single carry on Friday, and didn't even enter the game until the Packers final drive.
Wide Receiver: B-
Jarrett Boykin (two receptions, 22 yards) and James Jones (two receptions, 11 yards) were the only receivers to tally double-digit receiving yards on Friday, and while the quarterback play wasn't spectacular, none of the younger wideouts really separated themselves. Boykin is clearly the fourth option, and Jeremy Ross didn't record a drop, but preseason sensation Tyrone Walker didn't even record a target (and had one missed tackle on special teams).
Alex Gillett was cut on Saturday, and one has to believe there will be more on the way. I would be surprised if the Packers kept six wideouts this year, especially with the bevy of talent at the tight end position. If Tyrone Walker has a big game against the Chiefs, he could have a shot at making the team, and Johnson and Dorsey could be practice squad bodies.
Tight End: B
Jermichael Finley continues to make plays this preseason, and is showing signs of becoming a reliable run blocker as well. Finley finished with two receptions for 28 yards. D.J. Williams added three receptions for 19 yards, while Andrew Quarless made his preseason debut with a 16-yard reception from Vince Young on a designed roll-out play.
The only reason the tight ends didn't get a better grade was due to Jake Stoneburner's fumble on a potential game-tying touchdown reception. Stoneburner is competing for a practice squad spot at this point in time, and he didn't help his chances on Friday. Brandon Bostick did not record a reception, but was targeted twice.
Offensive Line: C
The offensive line had a tough assignment on Friday, and failed to establish many running lanes. The pass protection was solid, with no sacks recorded until B.J. Coleman and the third-stringers were in the game. The starting offensive line finished with respectable grades according to ProFootballFocus.com:
David Bahktiari (0.3 overall, +1.1 pass block, -1.0 run block)
Josh Sitton (0.5 overall, 0.9 pass block, -0.5 run block)
Evan Dietrich-Smith (-0.7 overall, 0.1 pass block, -0.9 run block)
T.J. Lang (-2.0 overall, -1.1 pass block, -0.5 run block)
Don Barclay (0.3 overall, 1.6 pass block, -1.5 run block)
It's obvious the run blocking needs to be better, but I thought the two young tackles held their own. The second-string line was exposed on numerous plays in the second half. Greg Van Roten, Marshall Newhouse, Patrick Lewis, and Lane Taylor were getting pushed backwards too much.
Defensive Line: A
The defensive line was the biggest highlight of Friday night's game, as the Packers were able to provide a consistent pass rush against a mobile quarterback. B.J. Raji blew up a running play on the Seahawks first drive, C.J. Wilson and Johnny Jolly were also stout against the run, and Mike Daniels and Mike Neal both recorded solid performances.
Nick Perry made some noise on Friday, and showed glimpses of being the playmaker at outside linebacker that Don Capers was hoping for. Perry's tipped pass resulted in a Casey Hayward interception, and added three solo tackles for good measure. The linebacking core recorded three of the Packers four sacks on Friday with Clay Matthews, Nate Palmer, and Brad Jones all getting in the mix.
Terrell Manning added four tackles, while A.J. Hawk and Sam Barrington each added two. The only thing keeping the linebackers from an A grade was the poor tackling shown by Dezman Moses and Jamari Lattimore. Moses took a terrible angle on the Seahawks first touchdown of the game, and Lattimore showed poor effort on a few plays that resulted in first-down runs.
Casey Hayward's interception may have been an easy play off a tipped pass, but Hayward just seems to have a nose for the ball. In his first game back, Hayward also added one solo tackle and above-average pass coverage (1.7 rating from PFF).
Loyce Means had a rough day, drawing two penalties in a row on punt coverage, and getting beat for touchdown pass that should been an interception. Means has potential to be a physical, bump-and-run corner, but lacks the awareness and ball skills to translate that into action.
Micah Hyde was again solid in run support, and is one of the best tacklers on the team, but he continues to get beat in pass coverage. I'm not sure if a move to safety would solve any problems, but Hyde has the potential to be a playmaker on the Packers defense if he can shore that area up.
Jerron McMillian's interception was a sign of the young player's progession. Russell Wilson tried to force a pass into double coverage, and McMillian showed enough awareness to jump the route, and make a play on the ball.
The lone lowlight was Chaz Powell, who recorded a -1.4 rating overall, with -0.5 against the run, and -0.9 against the pass).
Crosby made the only field goal attempt on the night (a 38-yard attempt), and had impressive kickoffs as well. Giorgio Tavecchio was not as impressive in his kickoff, barely reaching the 10-yard line.
The signing of Zach Ramirez could signal the end of Tavecchio's time in Green Bay, and unless Ramirez doesn't miss a kick from now until next week, the job appears to be Mason Crosby's.
Tim Masthay is earning his money this preseason. Mashtay added five more punts to his numbers, recording a 55.6 yard average and a long of 61 yards.
More from Acme Packing Company:
- Packers Roster Cuts: Tracking the Players Released in Training Camp
- Seahawks vs. Packers Winners and Losers
- Report: Packers Release Backup Quarterback Graham Harrell
- Lambeau Stood Loud and Proud as it Welcomed in the Seahawks
- Seahawks vs. Packers Final Score: Vince Young Impresses in 17 - 10 Loss