Thursday, August 22, 2013

Packers Preseason Game 3: Seahawks come to Lambeau Field

In their first meeting since the infamous "Fail Mary"game last September, the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks will meet Friday night in Lambeau Field. That "loss" in the regular season -- with replacement referees (one in particular) making mind-numbingly dumb calls -- had implications for both teams in the playoffs. Replays clearly showed that Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings had intercepted and had possession of the ball. Somehow, someway, a replacement official failed to see what the rest of the universe did. But, as head coach Mike McCarthy was quick to point out, to his credit, after the game, the final result should never have come down to that one play. There were other opportunities for the Packers to leave Seattle with a win. Never should have gotten to a judgement call by a ref incapable of making a competent decision about a close play.

OK, there...venting is good. Let's move on...

Going into this third game of the preseason, several things are clear:
  • The Packers are nowhere near ready for the start of the regular season...but are getting closer.
  • Special teams is very much in flux, particularly at the critical positions of kicker and returner. The rest of the unit will be filled out, as usual, with those who will primarily make the roster through their special teams play and as backups to the starters on both offense and defense.
  • Speaking of kicker, Mason Crosby continues to have his ups and downs in camp. Despite a fairly good performance in last week's game, his sessions this week in camp reportedly have been spotty. Giorgio Tavecchio, Crosby's camp competition, seems to match Crosby's inconsistency. Several veteran kickers became available through cuts this week but the Packers -- if they had any interest -- didn't move quickly enough and each was signed by another team. Be worried, Packer very worried.
  • The backup quarterback position is still in flux. Coach McCarthy is still waiting for one of the three candidates -- Graham Harrell, B.J. Coleman or Vince Young -- to claim the number two spot. Harrell is going into his fourth year with the Packers and still doesn't inspire confidence. Young, signed after the start of camp, may or may not have anything left in the tank after being out of football for a year. He certainly hasn't had a chance to fully learn the Packers' offensive scheme. Coleman perhaps has the best arm among the three, certainly better than Harrell, but is still raw. If things can start to click for him sooner rather than later, he'd likely be the best long-term backup option in case something happened to Aaron Rodgers. In the meantime...pray for Rodgers' well-being.
  • D-lineman Johnny Jolly -- a long shot at the start of camp to make the team -- now has a very good chance to do so and resume playing a key role on the defense. I hope you're rooting for him...I am.
  • Rookie CB Micah Hyde, while not a speed burner, just seems to make plays and be around the ball more often than not. Yes, he'll still make rookie mistakes, but it looks as if he's a keeper.
  • We haven't had a chance to see much of what rookie DE Datone Jones can do thanks to an ankle injury, which was re-aggravated earlier this week. Whether he sees action Friday night or not is uncertain.
  • We also haven't had a chance to see much of rookie RB Johnathan Franklin. There are a number of talented backs in Green Bay this year; this is a situation the Packers haven't had to deal with much in recent years. Coach McCarthy has said he's anxious to see what penciled-in starter DuJuan Harris shows Friday evening. He knows what rookie RB Eddie Lacy can very dangerous. Alex Green looks to regain his explosiveness and be part of the mix. James Starks may wind up being the odd man out, assuming the Packers actually retain four running backs on the roster rather than three. If it's three, which is the likely scenario, Alex Green may also be looking for work elsewhere. In fact, reports a week ago were that the Packers were shopping Green around for a possible trade.
  • OT David Bakhtiari appears to have won the battle for starter at left tackle with his solid play. Right tackle, however, still seems to be a bit in question, although reports are that Don Barclay has the edge on Marshall Newhouse.
Oh, Seattle...well, yes, they'll play and give the Packers a very good effort. Coach McCarthy has said repeatedly this week that this is the time for players to step up. Those who do, will likely make the team; those who don't...well, cuts will be coming soon. Very soon.

There are many other observations to be made, but time runs short. So this will have to do as the pre-game post. Check back this weekend for post-game observations.

Go Pack Go!!