Division Rivals Game Review: Green Bay Packers Preseason Week One



There are a few qualifiers that need to be thrown out there when discussing this game. The Packers did not dress a large number of their players for this game, so making any judgements about the team as a whole are impossible. Both Aaron Rogers and his understudy Brett Hundley sat out, putting the offense in the hands of undrafted free agent Joe Callahan, who was playing division three college football last season. Secondly they were playing the Cleveland browns offense, which made it all but impossible to judge the defense, because they’re terrible. Terrelle Prior looks like he’s put a lot of work in to becoming a better receiver this offseason, but when that’s the number one receiver for a team, they’re in trouble offensively.

The Packers do not really change their roster all that much in a given offseason. Their losses this year were minor pieces like Andrew Quarless, a tight end who had failed to establish himself as a premier player to the point that the Packers went out and signed Jared Cook, an established receiving tight end, as his replacement. As much as it is difficult to hear, it is quite likely that the Green Bay Packers will be a very good team in 2016.

Green Bay Packers vs. Cleveland Browns

These two teams could not be farther from each other in their prospects for the 2016 season. The Packers consider themselves to be Super Bowl ready, and the Browns likely have internal projections of 6 wins or less this season if they’re being honest about their chances. With the Packers essentially not playing their first team offense, the Browns were not out-gunned entirely to begin with, but it was pretty clear that the Packers were a much better team. As a side note, if you’re in a 16 team fantasy league with 12 keepers and need young running backs, you might want to take a look at Rahim Mostert as the final guy on your roster. He was really the only Cleveland Player that I would say looked good on offense. That’s the deepest of sleeper pick tips.

Quarterback

Their starter and backup were out, leaving Joe Callahan to sling the rock around the field for the Green Bay Packers. He was fine, but reminded me of the twilight of Joey Harrington’s time in Detroit. Check downs and quick hits only, for 5.3 yards per attempt on the game. The Packers were focusing on their running game in this game running the ball 41 times.

Running Back

The Packers look to have a deep backfield. Eddie Lacy looks better than he has in years physically, and was hitting holes with the burst and power that made him a first round fantasy draft pick for every team that lost it’s fantasy league last year. James Starks Showed why he is one of the best backup running backs in the league in his brief appearance before the Packers entirely abandoned playing anyone they might rely on at offensive skill positions early in the first quarter. John Crocket made a strong case for a role as the third down back, with impressive runs after the catch and excellent blitz pick ups, but lacked the instincts in the running game to see the success that his fellow backs were able to manage. Undrafted rookie Brandon Burks also had a good showing with speed and burst that allowed the Packers to eat the clock quite effectively when they were just trying to finish the game and go home without injuries.

Tight End

Led by free agent pick up Jared Cook, the tight end group for the Packers also looked deep and skilled. Cook made some nice catches in traffic before he was given the rest of the night off. Richard Rogers also didn’t see much action, playing the second tight end role in double tight end formations for the first team and then sitting out. Third option, Justin Perillo, led the team in receptions and had a solid night blocking, while Kennard Backman also performed well as a dual threat. More than half of the Green Bay Packers receptions in the first half were made by tight ends. Part of that is a result of the rookie Quarterback, but the tight ends were also consistently open.

Wide Receiver

Neither Jordy Nelson nor Randall Cobb were in the line up so there wasn’t much to learn here. Neither Quarterback was able to make many connections with receivers. and there were no real standout players. Jarred Abbredaris makes some decent catches, and will likely claim the third receiver spot if this game is any indication.

Offensive Line

The Packers do not have a great line and they didn’t test them. They performed poorly even in the assignments given against the Browns defense. Given that their play-calling was almost entirely power runs, three step drops and screens, it’s hard to imagine the Green Bay Packers offensive line being awful, but they were. On several occasions they left players completely unblocked, hanging running back James Starks out to dry entirely for a safety in the first quarter with two Browns almost entirely unblocked in the middle of the Packers line. They were missing their starting center, Corey Linsley who is on the PUP list, but miscues as obvious and awful as this will need to be eliminated if the Packers hope to be successful against higher levels of competition.

How do the Detroit Lions Match Up Against the Green Bay Packers Offense?

Whichever of Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson are not being covered by Slay will likely see some success, if Aaron Rogers gets the time to deliver the ball. If Levy is missing or limited, the Packers tight ends could find some success against the Lions. Additionally, there is a reason that we all hate Aaron Rogers. Unless the corner and strong safety spots turn out better than I expect for the Lions, I think the Green Bay Packers are going to be able to move the ball in the air. The offensive line’s issues blocking leave me with confidence that the Lions defensive tackles are going to be able to make some plays in stuffing the run though. The pass rushing duo of Ziggy Ansah and Devin Taylor are likely to see similar success to what they saw last season with three sacks in their second meeting, and should be able to limit the deep opportunities.

Linebackers

Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews did not play, but the Green Bay Packers outside linebackers did account well for themselves. Nick Perry, Datone Jones and rookie Kyler Fackrell all had success rushing the passer at various points in the game.  The inside linebackers were stifling against the Browns offense, limiting the opportunities in both the running game and passing game inside early. It is difficult to get a read on their play with an offense that is as bad as the Browns at this point in the season. Rookie Blake Martinez, who many mock drafters had as a Lions fit, looked completely out of place close to the line of scrimmage, but was excellent in coverage.

The Secondary

The Packers have one of the best secondaries in the NFL, and it showed in this game. every receiver that the Browns had was over-matched by the man covering him, even pro bowl Tight End Gary Barnidge was unable to find space to work. The Browns really do have terrible quarterbacks, and a new offense with terrible receivers, but it looked like the Packers secondary was also very good, adding to that effect.

The Defensive Line

The Packers defensive line was consistently able to push the pocket in the passing game, and the starters were effective stopping the run. Later in the game the Browns were able to find success running the ball, leading to questions about the depth of the Packers defensive line, but Christian Ringo looked like a player that could give the packers a little more burst than they have had historically from their defensive end position.

How Do the Detroit Lions Match Up Against the Green Bay Packers Defense?

The Packers are one of the few teams that I think can match the Lions personnel in the passing game. With Clay Matthews returning to his natural position on the outside across from Julius Peppers, and great depth to spell them, the Green Bay Packers pass rush is likely to be furious. Combine that with the quality of the Packers secondary and it becomes clear that the match up is very much a case of strength vs. strength. Unless the Lions can figure out their running game, an area where the packers looked a lot less dominant against a terrible Cleveland offensive line, this match up will come down to play-calling and individual battles. These are going to be some interesting games to watch when the Lions have the ball.

So How Will the Detroit Lions Do Against the Green Bay Packers This Season?

The first preseason game revealed almost nothing about what the Packers are bringing to the table this year, making it difficult to say anything of substance on this topic. The Browns were so bad that every Packer looked like a superstar, and as I said, that’s without the Pack even playing their starters. The Packers are allegedly going to suit up a real team next week, so I’ll have to defer until at least week two before making a prediction. How easily they handled every aspect of the Browns offensive and defensive players with half a roster tells you why every pundit in the country is picking the Green Bay Packers to be a very good team in 2016.

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About the Author

Ash Thompson
Ash Thompson is a fanatical football fan, and less fanatical hockey fan despite his Canadian heritage. He is sorry aboot that. His spirit animal is a beaver with a shark's head. He is also known as /u/a5hcrack on reddit, and can be found on twitter @a5hcrack