Sunday, August 30, 2015

Packers vs. Eagles Preseason Game #3 Re-cap...One Word: Ugly!

The Green Bay Packers played their first home game of the 2015 preseason last night at Lambeau Field against the Philadelphia Eagles. The sell-out crowd was treated to an exhibition of offensive firepower. There was total domination of inept and penalty-prone special teams, and full exploitation of a defense that seemed stuck in slow gear. Oh, to be clear, we're talking about the Eagles as the dominating team, winning with a final score of 39-26.

Yes, the birds from Philly took it to the Packers early and often last evening. It was a woeful performance by the Packers' special teams and defense. To be fair, the Packers' first-team offense was not really on display; three of the starting linemen were out due to various injuries, QB Aaron Rodgers was not going to get exposed to injury and wasn't even dressed for the game, and number one wideout Jordy Nelson is of course out for the season with the ACL injury he suffered in last week's game in Pittsburgh.

But the drubbing the Packers' defense and special teams received was only compounded by more injuries besetting the Pack. New number one receiver Randall Cobb sustained a shoulder sprain early in the first quarter and was done for the night. How long he will be out is subject to further tests today. Don't expect to see him back until -- if we're lucky -- the first regular season game against Da Bears in Chicago. Defensive back, Micah Hyde, left the game in the second half with a neck injury of undetermined variety at this point. Even starting right tackle, Bryan Bulaga, wound up with ice on a sprained ankle.

Were there any good moments?
With most of the starters out for various reasons, players fighting for roster spots were on display. The first cut-down date is Tuesday, when the Pack has to go from 88 to 75 players; the second cut date is Saturday, Sept. 5, when the final 53-man roster has to be set. A practice squad of 10 players can be established the next day for those players cut who don't get picked up elsewhere.
Green Bay Packers rookie QB Brett Hundley was one bright spot in the Packers' loss to the Eagles in preseason game #3.
Photo by Evan Siegle/P-G Media/@PGevansiegle,

QB Brett Hundley made a strong case for sticking on the active roster. While QB Scott Tolzein, who didn't play last evening, is the current number two behind Aaron Rodgers, Hundley showed why GM Ted Thompson pulled the trigger on him in the draft. He performed extremely well, starting and playing about three-fourths of the game. He has a quick release, made his reads, scrambled and created plays. In all, he threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns. Not a bad night for a rookie. Even QB Matt Blanchard, from UW-Whitewater, passed for a touchdown and posted a passer rating of 88.1 in his fourth-quarter stint, also showing a strong arm. It would be nice to keep him on the practice squad. Head coach Mike McCarthy likes both of these young QBs.

Wide receivers Jeff Janis, Ty Montgomery and Myles White all had good nights on the receiving end. RB Rajion Neal showed nice receiving and running ability coming out of the backfield...a good third-down type back.

Having said all that...there were still plenty of problems for the Packers coaches to address. Maybe we'll address those in a later post. Let's stick for the moment with what little positives came out of what was othersise a rather lackluster showing for a consensus Super Bowl contender.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Loss to Steelers in Preseason Game #2 is the Least of Packers' Problems

Yes, the Packers lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday in Game #2 of the 2015 NFL Preseason, 24-19.

Big whup.

The only loss that mattered yesterday, on the field, in the locker room, and across the Packersphere was the probable season-long loss of the Pack's number one receiver, Jordy Nelson, to a torn ACL. While the word is not final until the MRI results are reported, the mood in the locker room after the game pretty much said it all, as this article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes.
Photo of Jordy Nelson before Sunday's game
Photo by Associated Press

What now?
With Nelson out for at least an extended period of time, if not the entire season, it falls to Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and, most probably, rookie Ty Montgomery to form the starting trio of the receiving corps. But who will get the fourth spot in the lineup? And the number five backup spot?

Jeff Janis shows so much promise at times and, as demonstrated yesterday, also presents so many questions...the whiffed punt catch being a primary example. The Packers may very well use TE Richard Rodgers in passing schemes more than just as a tight end. Myles White seems to be a likely candidate, his already-good training camp performances and chances now bolstered with Nelson's absence. There's Larry Pinkard and Ed Williams, whom we haven't seen much of and know even less about. The coaching staff and fans alike would love to see Jared Abbrederis get back on the field and make an impact but whether that will happen or not depends upon Abbrederis' ability to stay healthy enough to actually make it into even a preseason game.

Or will GM Ted Thompson go the free agent receiver route as Ron Wolf did when number one receiver Robert Brooks was lost in the 7th game of the 1996 Super Bowl-run season? With Brooks out and Antonio Freeman banged up, Wolf picked up veteran WR Andre Rison to help pick up the slack...and, boy, did he with that 54-yard touchdown reception on the Packers' second offensive play in Super Bowl XXXI. It remains one of the top moments in team Super Bowl history.

Still, the only thing we can be sure of is that as long as Aaron Rodgers is behind center the Packers will be a threat to every opponent and still is an odds-on favorite to make it to the Super Bowl.

So...we have that going for us...which is nice.

Let's hope that Nelson's condition is not as dire as suspected. But if it is, the Packers still have enough offensive weapons to be the envy of many if not most other teams in the league. If you don't believe me, check out this great article by Packers beat reporter, Bob McGinn.

Let's also take a moment to note that starting guard T.J. Lang left the game yesterday with a concussion. He'll be back for the season opener, if not before. Let's also hope LT David Bakhtiari's knee injury from the prior week heals soon; his replacement, Don Barclay -- who is himself coming back from injury last season -- struggled mightily in his first start at left tackle.

With all that said ... Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Insights from Preseason Game #1: Packers vs Patriots

Now that the dust has settled a bit from Thursday evening's first Packers preseason game against the New England Deflators, er, sorry...Patriots (a-hem)...what did we see?

A few observations of note...or decide:
  • Undrafted DB LaDarius Gunter displayed the kind of performance we heard about early in training camp: he seems to make plays...of the interception kind, to be exact. Supposedly not a speedster, but rather with long arms, Gunter may be the next Sam Shields and go from an undrafted unknown to grabbing a spot on the final roster. There's a long way to go yet, but the young man shows promise.
  • Rookie CB LaDarius Gunter grabs an INT vs. the Pats.
    Photo by Associated Press

  • Another undrafted free agent rookie, RB Alonzo Harris, went from a "Who?" type player to a "Who the heck is that?!" type player, as he carried seven times for 41 yards, including a great 25-yard touchdown run. With Eddie Lacy and James Starks ensconced as the number one and two running backs respectively, Harris is likely in a battle with Rajion Neal and rookie UDFA John Crockett for the number three spot.
  • The number one offense moved the ball up and down the field seemingly at will...except for that troublesome redzone area...reminiscent of last season. They have to get that sorted out.
  • The linebacking corps still needs work. With Clay Matthews on the sidelines, there often seemed to be a bit too much "give" in that area of the line up.
  • In addition to LaDarius Gunter's performance, rookie CB Quinten Rollins makes us feel confident about the defensive backfield. There is a lot of young talent there...and the emphasis is on talent.
  • We see why head coach Mike McCarthy has been raving (in a good way) all spring and summer about back up QB, Scott Tolzein. The former Badgers standout (Go Badgers!) put improved presence and performance on display in relief of Aaron Rodgers. He had a great fade route TD pass to Jeff Janis that the uninformed might have sworn was a Rodgers' pass to Jordy Nelson if you didn't pay attention to the jersey numbers. Great to see.
So, Packer fans, those are just a few observations from the game. Will be interested to see the progress from last week to this in the upcoming game versus the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday. Who'll get playing time and who won't? Who will see more opportunities and who will see fewer? It's a fun time of the year for fans...probably not so much for players trying to make an already deep squad primed for another Super Bowl run.

Go Pack Go!!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Packers are back...and so are we!

Hello, again, Packer fans!

After an extended offseason, the Green Bay Packers are now into their second full week of training camp. At, we've also had an extended hiatus. Hey, when the Packers aren't playing, or drafting, or training, or trading...well, life is rather dull, isn't it? So we've been kicking back, getting ready for the preseason and the regular season. But just so you know, whether we're actively posting ourselves or not, you can always view our Amazing 2nd Page just by clicking its link at the top of our page. That page will always give you about as real-time coverage as you'll find anywhere. Yes, really. Give it a try.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers during Saturday's Family Night game at Lambeau Field
Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Takeaways from the Family Night game
The first takeaway, of course, is that Saturday evening's Family Night game wasn't a game, it was a practice. And yet, the Packers turned out about 70,000 fans for that practice. It's always fun to see other teams get excited over pulling "record" crowds of about 21,000 for similar events (e.g, Arizona Cardinals). Puh-leze. You aren't even in the same league as the Packers.

And that may not be too far from the truth. As you no doubt know by now, many pundits -- as well as Vegas oddsmakers, if you are into such things -- are picking the Packers to play in Super Bowl 50 (what's that Roman numeral again...?). So many other teams really aren't even in the same figurative league with the Pack. Let us rejoice and be glad!

Sorry for the digression...back to the observations from Saturday evening...

The Packers, first of all, made it through that enhanced scrimmage without any major injuries. We saw some of the young players that are already getting attention in training camp display their talents under the lights and in front of perhaps the largest crowd they've ever played in front of (poor grammatical structure there, but you get the meaning).

We were curious to see rookie receiver Ty Montgomery. The Packer had him returning kickoffs as well as part of receiver sets. He looks big and fast, a great combination in a receiver and returner. The draft-time comparisons of him as being "a bigger Randall Cobb" seem on target. Lets hope he has the hands and smarts to go along with that size and speed.

Another veteran receiver has also been getting attention during camp: Myles White. He has apparently been making some nice catches during camp and he also had a few Saturday evening.

As for other takeaways...? Well, QB Aaron Rodgers looked sharp, although he did have an early interception and was off-target on a few throws, although that might have been more on the receivers than Rodgers. Backup QB Scott Tolzein buttressed head coach Mike McCarthy's comments from the OTAs and this camp that Tolzein has really stepped up his game. He looks to have a lot of arm strength and is sharper on his throws and decisions.

But an enhanced practice is one thing, a game something else. We'll get to see a bit more of what the Packers have in the cabinet, so to speak, come this Thursday evening when they play at the New England Patriots. (Hope they keep the balls inflated there.)

A Few Other Quick Notes About the Weekend
Congrats to former Packers Executive Vice President and General Manager, Ron Wolf, on his enshrinement in the NFL Hall of Fame this past weekend. Well deserved for helping to resurrect what was at the time a moribund franchise. Thanks, Ron, for bringing the glory back to Green Bay!

We also want to note the passing yesterday of NFL Hall-of-Famer and broadcasting great, Frank Gifford. Gifford was a great athlete in his day, one of the last players who played both offense and defense. He spent his entire 12-year NFL career with the New York Giants. He then went on to join Howard Cosell and "Dandy" Don Meredith as part of the Monday Night Football crew that did so much to advance the popularity of the game on television. Rest in peace, Frank.