Sunday, August 22, 2010

Packers - Seahawks preseason post-game review

The quick take: Packers 27, Seahawks 24. The Packers pulled out the win in the 4th quarter. Junk time, really.

The good
Let's start with the offense. The first unit has had four possessions in the two preseason games and have scored four touchdowns. Both of the first unit's touchdown drives last evening were for more than 70 yards. QB Aaron Rodgers has been outstanding, being decisive and on target with his throws, including the bombs. TE Jermichael Finley is clearly going to be one of the main weapons on offense this season. The Packers lined him up in several spots last night. The receiving corps will give defenses nightmares. The running game was adequate. Ryan Grant seemed to recover nicely from the concussion he sustained early in last weekend's game and had a few nice runs. Brandon Jackson also ran with authority and scored the game-winning TD late in the game. The offensive line, at least the first unit, never let anyone get near Rodgers. Backup QB Matt Flynn also acquitted himself nicely with the second unit, looking very sharp on his throws. When third and fourth stringers came in in the second half, well, any quarterback would have had problems. The starting defense, despite being short seven starters from last season, also held up...sort of. They did give up two scores to Seattle's starters (who also played much longer than did the Packers' number ones). But some of that can be attributed to shorter playing fields resulting from poor kick coverage.

Which brings us to...

The bad
It is clear that if the Packers have to rely upon some of their backup defensive backs much this season the offense will need to score a bunch each time out. Brandon Underwood, in particular, looked overmatched at every turn. There is also still not much of a pass rush, but remember that there has also been a decidedly vanilla approach to the defense so far.

Other bad news continues to be on the special teams. Punt and kick coverage was generally miserable. And finding reliable returners still seems to be a work in progress. It is clear that undrafted rookie Sam Shields is not ready for prime time. He may be the fastest man on the roster. And he may have picked off a pass while on defense. But his attempt at handling a kickoff was horrendous; he allowed the kick to bounce, didn't get on it fast enough, and the result was a kick recovery by Seattle. Terrible. He looks scared and confused for two weeks in a row.

One of the other bad aspects of the game last evening was the ongoing reminder what a bonehead move it was to cut punter Jon Ryan just prior to the start of the 2008 season. He was booming punts and stopping the ball inside the 5-yard line with almost pitching wedge-style spin. The best that can be said is that at least this year's punter -- whoever it may wind up being -- will not be as bad as last year's. But he also won't be as good as Jon Ryan.

Final Thoughts
The Packers at least were able to chalk up a win, even though it doesn't mean much. The parts of the team we thought would be working well are, so far, and the parts we felt might be problematic are, as well.

Thursday the Colts come to Lambeau for the unofficial warm up to the regular season for most of the starters. Will be curious to see what happens and what adjustments the coaching staff puts in place, particularly for the linebackers and defensive backs if injuries continue to play a part as they have so far in camp. It will also be especially interesting to see how the special teams get their acts together before things count. A lot of work needed there.