Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Take -> Preseason Week 1

Greetings, G-Force.

Annually, I offer you a reminder. My blog is an opinion. I'm not a journalist. I'm a Green Bay Packers fan. And when I write, it's the norm for me to view the Packers as an optimistic realist.

Before I get into my quick hits from the Family Night, I have to deliver an annual rant. As I flipped through the NFL Hall of Fame ceremony, once again, I wondered when LeRoy Butler will enshrined in Canton. He was a member of the All-Decade team in the 1990's. He was 2 interceptions short of becoming the first player in the history of the NFL with 40 interceptions and 20 sacks. Had he not gotten injured, he would have absolutely become that man. In many ways, he changed the way the safety position was played. He could play center field. He could cover the slot. He was terrific in the box. He could blitz with the best of them. He won a Super Bowl. Played in another. He invented the Lambeau Leap. And, importantly, he set the standard for the #36 in the Green & Gold. After Nintendo Nick's performance in the Green & Gold, the #36 for the Packers is akin to the #44 at Syracuse, the #55 at USC and the #3 at Notre Dame. Book it. The only way you can wear #36 in Green Bay is if you're an ultra-talented safety. Vote Butler into Canton.

With more than 55,000 in attendance, Family Night was a terrific success. My recap is a little light as I watched the replay without volume and with a fuzzy picture. Additionally, you can only take so much from a scrimmage in which the #1 offense plays the #2 defense and when the #2 offense battles the #1 defense. But, I like to assess the way people move. I like to see hip movement, angles, leverage, the jump off the ball and how a player attacks contact. Here are some of my quick vibes:

* Exciting to see Aaron Rodgers whipping the ball around. Loved to see him having some fun on the Field. When he seemed to initiate the pre-planned full-on Jump In The Stands, it was great fun and a kind way to show the fans the appreciation they deserved.

* Liked seeing J-Mike running across the middle. Looks buff. Put together. If he stays healthy, he looks prime for a break-out 80-catch season.

* Double D looking youthful!

* Paid extra attention to Nick Perry. I see a lot of promise. Like his burst off the ball. Seeks contact at the line of scrimmage. Gets the edge. Dips his shoulder well, but also has a solid bull rush. Good speed in pursuit. However, he looked a little awkward when he turned to cover. Somewhat uncertain. On one play, it looked like he was smoked on a down-and-in crossing route. Had BJ Coleman looked his way, it could have been the most talked about play of the Family Night Scrimmage. As fans, it's important to remain patient. Perry has played the position for less than 2 weeks in his life. There will be a learning curve. Mistakes will occur. From the little I saw at Family Night, I'm confident that he can grow into a solid bookend to the Claymaker. It'll take time, but I believe he was the athletic ability to make the transition from a 4-3 DE to a 3-4 OLB.

* Thought Ras-House had good coverage. Wish he would have picked off the pass that hit him in his hands. Would have been a highlight of the evening.

* Be Great Jennings finding pay dirt!

* Liked that Casey Hayward got a look on the outside. Happy to see him step up in run support. Hoping to see more of this during the preseason.

* JEREL WORTHY! Sure, it was against the 2nd team OL. An OL that lacks depth. But, still, it was nice to see his cat-like quickness burst off the snap and make a play 5-yards deep. He looks good in Green & Gold. He's going to make everyone on the DL better, especially BJ Raji. It was interesting to see him standing up on a couple of occasions. Bottom line: in 2012, Jerel Worthy will dramatically improve the Packers defense.

* Watching Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy walk Lambeau Field together is an epic reminder that really good things are happening in Titletown, USA.

* Liked Erik Walden's physicality in the run game. But, it looked like he lacked recognition when he was beat down the seam on a big play to Crabtree.

* Big highlight for me was the interior LB play by Jamari Lattimore and Terrell Manning. Had it been full contact, Rodgers might not have connected with Jennings for the TD. Rather he might have been sandwiched by Lattimore and Manning. Both showed a great burst. Quickness in the first couple of steps. Fun stuff!

* Jarrett Boykin looked to have some shake to him.

* Was disappointed in T-Mon's approach towards tackling. With all of the emphasis that's been placed on the topic this offseason, I'd have thought that T-Mon would take a leadership role in that category.

* Need Tom Crabtree to be sure handed.

* Tried to watch Dezman Moses as much of possible, but it was tough to give an analysis. My potentially inaccurate initial assessment is that he seeks contact when he approaches a blocker. He comes after blockers with a head of steam, but he looked slow in space. I know Brandon Saine is fast, but man, Moses didn't even look like he was running when he was chasing Saine. Further, I worry that Moses when he's in a one-on-one situation with ball carrier, he might get caught on his heels.

* Thought there was an instance in which Saine might have missed a blitz pick-up.

This week - it's off to Qualcomm Stadium. On ESPN. To kick off the Packers preseason. The Chargers will provide a stiff test for the depth of our football team. Their 3rd-5th WR's include Vincent Brown, Roscoe Parrish and Eddie Royal. All have made plays in the NFL. They'll be solid competition for the secondary. It'll be a big test for Ras-House. I view Vincent Brown as a highly underrated WR prospect. If House can man up against the likes of Brown and Royal, it'd be an encouraging performance. Wish Sammy Swagga nicked up and with J-Bush's known weaknesses, this Thursday is a HUGE opportunity for House and Hayward to perform.

There is talk that Aaron Rodgers might not play. I'd like to see him on the field. For one series. Short drops. Quick hits. Throw the slant. Quick passes to the WR. I'd like to see the NFL's reigning MVP in rhythm. I believe he'll play. I believe he'll lead the Packers to a TD drive.

It'll be interesting to see Nick Perry potentially having to cover Antonio Gates and Randy McMichael. Two proven veterans against the young rookie.

In limited reps, look for Worthy to be pushing he way into the backfield. Look for Raji to do the same.

It'll be super exciting to watch the nickel and dime defenses. Francois and Smith played well last year when they were called into action, but Manning and Lattimore will surely get their opportunities to impress.

I envision the Packers picking off 2 passes. One by MD Jennings. One by Casey Hayward.

Marc Tyler gets his chance to run. He'll be a straight ahead runner and if our 2nd-3rd team OL can create holes, he'll hit the hole with conviction. He won't run away from anyone, but he'll run hard.

With the uncertainty of our OL, I expect McCarthy to try and protect Harrell. It wouldn't surprise me if he calls play action and rolls Harrell out of the pocket to try and buy time. Harrell will have solid receiving options in Cobb, Gurley and Borel. If Harrell gets protection, there is no reason for him not to succeed.

BJ Coleman should get the majority of the 2nd half. It'll be a tight game and Coleman will shine. He'll put points on the board. He'll find Moss on a back shoulder pass for 20 yards. He'll find Boykin on a hitch route. He'll also find Gilleylen on a crossing route. Coleman will be put in position to find positive results and he'll perform. On the final drive, it's Coleman to Boykin for the game winner.

Packers 23. Chargers 20.

I'm looking forward to my first real glimpse of this team.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

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