Football is finally back! The Packers took on the Houston Texans at home last night and came out with the win, 28-26. Not that you don’t want to win the preseason per se, but that’s not the important part. When training camp started I wrote a piece on guys who are locks for the roster, battling, and long shots. We’ll use that template to view this game last night and see whose creepin’ up on making the roster, and who lost some steam.
First off let’s go with some overall thoughts, this game is what I think we’re going to see from the Packers early on in the season. A defense that is much improved and going to create more turnovers then they have in the past few years. A special teams unit that is improved from the Ron Zook years, which isn’t that hard honestly, but I’m not sure it will be one of the top units in the league. And finally, an offense that might struggle a bit to open the year. Even with Aaron Rodgers, Adams, and Jones on the field I still feel like there are going to be some growing pains early on. I thought overall, the Packers played pretty well in 2 of the 3 facets but could have looked much better on offense. The penalties to start the game were also awful, I think I might have heard some boos at one point. However this is the preseason and refs do emphasize certain calls to get the players and coaches ready for the regular season. Example A for me is the holding call on Alex Light when Kizer scrambled for about 20 yards. That was a very ticky tacky called that I HOPE is not called in the regular season because if it is, we’re going to have serious problems. And by we’re I mean me, because I was already getting anxiety from the amount of penalties. We’ll break down some guys individually but some groups we’ll only touch on certain players.
- Deshone Kizer: 8/13 102 YDS 1 TD 111.7 RTG
- Kizer played decent at best. He missed some easy, easy throws that you just have to make at this level. I also have a serious problem with him basically giving up on the play one he hits the top of his drop. It seemed like once he got there, he was putting his head down and looking to scramble. Although the opposite of this play happened on his TD pass where he kept his eyes up and hit Darrius Shepherd. Overall I though it was a sub-par game for Kizer and I think he might be in a bit of a battle with Tim Boyle
- Tim Boyle: 3/5 40 YDS 2 TDs 125.0 RTG
- Boyle didn’t play too much but his two drivers were short, and ended in TDs. His second pass to Allen Lazard was a very nice throw. Overall I thought he looked more confident in what he was doing than Kizer did. Will be interesting to see if Boyle gets more playing time as we move on in the preseason.
- Manny Wilkins: 0/3 0 YDS 0 TDs 39.6 RTG
- Not much to say here, Wilkins is just a camp arm and maybe if the Packers cut Kizer and keep Boyle on staff then Wilkins could make the practice squad. He showed some elusiveness which was nice. Don’t anticipate to see much of him if Rodgers plays in the next two games.
- Danny Vitale: 1 REC 4 YDS on 2 targets
- Vitale had a nice one handed catch, Kizer also missed him on swing route that Kizer needs to put on the spot, and on another play Kizer just decided not to throw the ball when Vitale was open and ran it for a few yards instead. Its obvious the Packers really like Vitale.
- Dexter Williams: 14 CAR 62 YDS
- Williams got 6 more carries than Tra Carson but didn’t do much besides a nice 14 yard run. It doesn’t help there weren’t any starters in at OL. The OL didn’t really open up much holes. This will be the same for the other RBS, but I think LaFleur was a little disappointed by this groups performance as a whole.
- Tra Carson: 8 CAR 15 YDS
- Carson did not look good, he only averaged 1.9 YPC. Williams looked quicker and more explosive.
- Darrin Hall: 2 CAR 8 YDS
- Long shot to make the team. Just a body to put in at RB mostly.
- J’Mon Moore had a rough game even with a TD catch. On 4 targets he caught two balls for 7 YDS and TD but he dropped two other passes, and even his TD catch he bobbled. Moore was supposedly having good practices but he didn’t do himself any favors here.
- GMO and MVS were the starters out with Kizer on the first drive. MVS had one target that was an errant throw by Kizer and GMO didn’t get any. I think it’s pretty clear these two are the WR2/3 behind Adams.
- Jake Kumerow helped himself a lot. He ran to very nice deep in routes on a very good CB in Bradley Roby and caught two contested balls for 27 yards. He didn’t get any other action but I think Kumerow is going to make this roster.
- If Moore had a bad day, then Allen Lazard and Darrius Shepherd made some progress in closing in on making this roster. Both caught TDs that weren’t the easiest of catches. I thought Lazards was more impressive on his 27 yarder from Boyle. They are two different WR’s, Shepherd is only 5’11” while Lazard is 6’5″. I would say were starting to see a four way battle for that WR6 spot with Trevor Davis in the mix. The difference could be at ST where Davis and Shepherd both can return punts and kicks versus Lazard and Moore who don’t.
- Robert Tonyan caught a nice 23 yarder. Not much to say here but he’s made the team.
- EQ didn’t make any plays at WR but did recover a muffed punt for a TD in the first quarter.
- Big question mark here as no starters but Lane Taylor played which was a big tell. That LG spot is up for grabs between Taylor and rookie Elgton Jenkins it looks like. Taylor played well as did Jenkins. This battle may come down to the end although Jenkins played the game at RG and C. We’ll see if Jenkins gets some snaps at LG in the next two games.
- I mentioned this in the opener but Alex Light had a BS penalty on him. With Spriggs gone Light probably has a the best chance to be a backup to Bahktari and Bulaga. Although if either of those guys goes down I think Billy Turner goes out to one of those spots.
- Cole Madison got his first football action in almost two years which is good. He’s a 5th round pick that is battle for a roster spot at G.
- Justin McCray and Lucas Patrick played all over the line. Those two guys have good chances to make the team because of their versatility. I think McCray is on this team.
- Overall Thoughts: Wasn’t the greatest performance but the offense still put up 21 points, in large part thanks to the defense for getting them short fields. The run game needs to be better especially inside the 5 yard line. The Texans stuffed the Packers multiple times before a penalty on 4th down gave the Packers new life, and then Boyle hit Moore for a TD. Not much to take in here because there were no starters but some interesting movement for those fringe roster guys, especially at WR.
- The DL played great as a whole. Keke, Adams, and James Looney all played very well. Keke and Adams are going to make the team and Looney could make things interesting if he keeps up the good play.
- Tyler Lancaster is going to be a big player for the Packers this season but he had some misses tonight. Lancaster made a good move at the goal line and had a shot to tackle the RB in the backfield, instead he whiffed the Texans scored on that play. The Packers haven’t been tackling in training camp and overall it showed. Lancaster is going to be the main guy the Packers look to for a replacement to Mike Daniels.
- Ty Summer played 66 snaps which might have come out to the whole game. He was all over the field and looked very good, totaling 10 tackles. He looked a little tired at the end but thats expected for his first NFL game. With the unknown injury to Oren Burks, Summers made a big name for himself with this performance.
- Curtis Bolton is a long shot to make this team, he only had 2 tackles and one pass deflection. With Summers performance, I think Bolton’s shot got even longer.
- James Crawford and Brady Sheldon didn’t show much either. Sheldon actually dropped an INT.
- Oren Burks only played 6 snaps before he got hurt. Depending on the severity of the injury, this could be huge for him. He’s going to make the team but this opens it up for Summers to take his job opposite Martinez.
- The biggest name on Packers twitter last night was Rashan Gary. It seems like 90% of Packer fans have already decided that he fucking sucks because they saw him jogging on a few plays where it was clear he was: 1. gassed and 2. not going to catch Joe Webb. I thought Gary played well. He showed off his quickness and athleticism and got some pressures on the QB, although he didn’t record any sacks or QB hits. People need to calm the fuck down, I’ll leave it at that.
- Two standouts were Reggie Gilbert and Randy Ramsey. Both guys recorded sacks and were all over the field, especially Ramsey who was constantly in the field.
- Fackrell played 33 snaps while newly signed Markus Jones played 24. Neither guy did much. It’ll be tough for Jones to make this squad.
- Ka’dar Hollman is a nice player. He had a good INT early on and was constantly playing tight coverage on the Texans WRs. I think he’s got a very, very good shot at being the last CB to make the team.
- Chadon Sullivan and Kabion Ento both played very well as long shots to make the team. Sullivan also recorded an INT and made some nice tackles while Ento had a good PD.
- Darnell Savage only played 9 plays and din’t see much action.
- Raven Greene started opposite Savage and forced a fumble and played very good overall. Greene is making this team as the #3 S behind Savage and Amos. I really like the jump he’s made from last year.
- Natrell Jamerson played 55 snaps and didn’t help himself. He missed a few tackles
- Will Redmond played some CB and S and looked good playing both. He recovered a fumble and recorded 4 tackles.
- Overall Thoughts: Holy shit do the Packers need to work on tackling, it was pitiful. I know LaFleur doesn’t wan’t to get guys hurt in practice but man was it bad. Joe Webb is a more mobile QB than the Packers will probably face all year but he was constantly slipping out of tacklers, the Texans WR & RBs were doing the same. Other than the tackling, I thought the defense played very well. The DL looked great and got constant pressure on Webb, the DBs played good coverage for the most part, and we already highlighted Ty Summers play. Also, the 3 turnovers were refreshing to see after last year.
- Crosby and Ficken both made their XP’s attempts and Ficken kicked off three times to Crosby’s one. I think this is Crosby’s job to lose, he’ll have to have a really bad preseason for that to happen.
- J.K. Scott looked great and that muffed punt was due to the great hang time on his kick. He also did a good job a flipping the field once or twice. Hopefully he punts like that once it gets cold out.
- What needs work is the return units and penalties. I mean penalty right out of the gate and the Texans had some good returns. Anything is better than Ron Zook though.