In the Green Bay Packers’ 21-17 victory over Washington, the three offensive units left a medley of impressions. Quarterbacks and wide receivers performed admirably enough to give several a fighting chance at a roster spot, while the backup offensive line showed it has much left to prove over the final two preseason games. Here is the analysis.
First Team Offense
The offense lives and dies on the arm of Aaron Rodgers and the 13-year pro proved to be in mid-season form on Saturday night. In his only series, Rodgers led a 15-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a three yard touchdown pass - a beautiful fade to Martellus Bennett. None of this would have been possible without Rodgers doing what he does best in drawing an illegal substitution penalty for 12 men on the field on his first third down attempt of the drive. Whether it was running or throwing, Rodgers and the first team had a brilliant, rather up-tempo, opening series.
Rookie Jamaal Williams, getting the start in place of the injured Ty Montgomery, had a fairly lackluster performance. While he finished runs by falling forward and pushed the pile at times, Williams rushed for just 12 yards on seven carries and had a strong tendency to run into his blockers and miss open lanes. Williams must display more patience to be successful in the regular season.
On the receiving front, the first team unit seemingly has endless possibilities with the additions of Bennett and Lance Kendricks. The Packers rolled out a new formation in the red zone, pitting both tight ends on the outside and Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams inside. The formation led to the Bennett scoring play and appears to be a new wrinkle for a potent Packers offense.
Second Team Offense
After watching Rodgers lead an impressive opening possession, the second team offense floundered on its first series. Jason Spriggs opted to block an interior rusher on a stunt, leaving Preston Smith untouched for a first down sack. Then a delay of game penalty pushed the Packers back five more yards before a three-yard loss on a screen pass to Aaron Jones on the ensuing play. The series ended in an ugly three-and-out.
However, it wasn’t all bad for the second team. Brett Hundley had a stellar evening, completing his first six passes for 68 yards and a five yard touchdown to Jones in the flat that capped a five-play, 75-yard drive. Hundley was effective rolling to his right throughout the evening and also found Jeff Janis on a perfectly placed 38-yard strike down the sideline. Although he took three sacks, Hundley finished with a 144.6 quarterback rating and seems to have bolstered his potential trade value.
Speaking of Janis, the bubble wideout led all receivers with three difficult catches for 63 yards and also returned kickoffs in the contest. Janis improved his chances of making the team Saturday, as did fellow second teamers Geronimo Allison and Max McCaffrey. Allison in particular showed surprising elusiveness after each of his two catches, stretching one for 25 yards. It was a good showing for Allison, who has had an up-and-down camp.
Oof, the offensive line. Very underwhelming offensive line play made Hundley’s night look even more impressive. For a second-year pro, Spriggs has had a rough preseason and did not look any better versus the Redskins. In addition to the aforementioned blown assignment, the Indiana product was also squarely beaten by the speed of edge rusher Chris Carter, as well as by an inside swim move from Pete Robertson for two more sacks. As a whole, the left side of the line between Spriggs and guards Kofi Amichia and Justin McCray was worrisome, with missed blocks on defensive stunts leading to sacks and a pounding on tailback Devante Mays.
Third Team Offense
The story of the second half was Taysom Hill. The almost 27-year old rookie from BYU only garnered a 66.1 quarterback rating on 6-11 passing for 49 yards. But it was Hill’s legs that attracted the attention, scrambling six times for 38 yards behind a porous offensive line. Hill’s most impressive run of the evening was a 23-yard scamper for a touchdown that cemented the win for Green Bay with six minutes to play. As Joe Callahan had a less than notable game, Hill entrenched himself in position for a spot on the practice squad.
Running back Kalif Phillips may not make the roster, but he had a fine evening. While the seventh round pick Mays did nothing extraordinary to stand out, Phillips caught two passes out of the backfield and ran with an attitude despite earning just 17 yards on five carries. Phillips also showed physicality as a pass blocker, something Green Bay values in its halfbacks. Though Mays and undrafted William Stanback figured to be in the hunt for roster and practice squad spots heading into training camp, the rookie Phillips may be the one to keep an eye on during the next two weeks.