I figured that I would write the take for this weeks match-up in Denver as I'm currently taking refuge from Tropical Storm Fay. A bolt of lightning just struck the palm tree outside my house. Pretty crazy. Instant flames and three branches blew wildly in the 50 mph winds.
I'm off to NYC this weekend for a good mate's wedding. Brett Favre and the New York Jets happen to be playing host to the New York Giants. I'll be there with my soon-to-be brother-in-law & dear friend, Joe. Joe is a Giants fan. Therefore, he is gay. He has the '07 ring. I do not. I could not pass up the opportunity to watch the world's greatest entertainer in the world's greatest city against the Super Bowl champs. Do you think Favre will say hi to Corey Webster? 1st play - you know Brett wants the pump and go against Webster.
This take may come off as negative, but G-Force, don't jump off the bridge. Yes, it may appear that the Packers '08 draft was in preparation for '09 rather than playing for '08. And while the final score was intolerable, the performance was not as bad as the final result. In fact, I have light optimism post this completely horrible contest. While it's only the 2nd time we've seen this team play this year, we're getting closer to being able to establish expectations for the '08 season. We're yet to be able to draw conclusions, but slowly, strengths & weaknesses are being identified. Two things are for certain:
1.) Our starters are more than capable. We will compete in most, if not all, games. Our 1st team defense has looked spectacular and we've yet to see Pickett/KGB. Additionally, Hawk, Chuckie, Al, & Jolly have all missed time. If healthy, this should be a top-10 defense.
2.) Our depth at DL/QB/TE are potentially a severe problem.
For the second week in a row, a lack of concentration seemed to swing a game. Last week, it was Lumpkin's fumble which halted a potential game tying drive. This week - Driver & Lee dropped potential TD passes that were perfectly thrown. This team must find their focus.
For the most part, A-Rod played well. At times, he hung onto the football a little too long. Occasionally, he's slow in his decision making process. But, overall, he's displayed intelligence on the field & he's delivered the ball with accuracy. And if Lee & Driver hang onto the football, the skeptics would be sing a much different tune.
But, I warn that Rodgers will struggle at times this year. We've got to understand this & in many ways, we've got to accept it. We're going to go thru the trials & tribulations of a young QB. Road games such as Tampa, Seattle, J'ville & Tennessee will present significant defensive challenges. Couple that with the always difficult Chicago & Minnesota defenses and A-Rod will definitely witness a variety of defensive fronts/blitzes that he's never seen before. Vocally, to many, I've wondered if this could be a 6-10 or 7-9 season. Our schedule is difficult and we have a lot of growing up to do.
I was disappointed when we drafted Brohm. I did not want him. He is an extreme work in progress. He seems to lack down & distance knowledge. When in doubt, he forgets to rely on the TE. Flynn deserves to be the #2 QB in the 3rd preseason game. Brohm has showed a lack of confidence & leadership capabilities.
Our OL has a ton of work to do. Jason Spitz was awful. So was Colledge. Absolutely pathetic.
I did think that Barbre opened some nice holes for Lumpkin in the 4th Quarter and I thought that Clifton was rock solid.
If the Packers keep 5 RB's, does B-Jack make the team? Ron Wolf used to always say that a sign of a good GM was that, at times, you had to admit your mistakes. If a guy could not play on GameDay, Wolf believed that you could not stay married to your draft picks. You had to move on. Is it that time with B-Jack? It might be. If I had to make a roster today and I could only keep 5 backs, they would be: Grant, Morency, Herron, Lumpkin, Hall.
We need Grant healthy. It's obvious. Morency showed solid 3rd down back skills on the screen. Herron showed that he could be slippery at times. Lumpkin is punishing and has shown flashes of good play. Hall is not only the FB, but he's also a solid special teams player. B-Jack looks like a liability. I keep pulling for him, but he keeps letting me down.
Donald Lee will catch that TD pass 49 out of 50 times.
J-Mike is not progressing at the clip I had hoped for. He seems to lack route running skills & separation.
Jordy returning kicks was a thing of beauty. He sees the field and knows how to run with the football. He's not a burner, but he's a smart runner. He could be coupled with T-Mon on kickoffs.
For the most part, I liked the play of our DL. AK-74, Jenkins, Jolly, and Cole were all solid. I liked Muir's effort. Montgomery, Hunter, and Thompson all showed passion, but they might lack the ability to make an impact in '08.
I have no concerns about Barnett. Hodge was active. Lansanah did not repeat his Week 1 performance. I was really impressed with Chillar's desire and attention. Chillar was all around the football.
At DB, man, was it beautiful to see #31 & #21 manning the corner spots. Chuckie looked like a Pro Bowler. So smooth. And boy, does he look determined. But, he, too, lost focus when he was returning the interception.
T-Mon is a solid #3 CB. Willie B. remains timid when coming on the blitz. It's not his role.
I've said it before, I'll say it again - I have seen enough of J-Bush. As a CB, he's garbage. I held out hope that he could have a strong August and then we might be able to trade him. That's no longer possible. To Bush's credit, he's a strong gunner on special teams, but I saw enough of P-Lee as a gunner at SF that I'm confident he can be in the same mold as Bush as a gunner. Additionally, in his limited reps, to my eye, Lee has outperformed Bush at CB as well. His hit in the flat was one of the highlights of the game.
The 3rd preseason game is a dress rehearsal for the regular season. The Packers need a win. It'd be great for morale. It's important for the mentality of the franchise & this locker room. To a degree, the team seems to lack confidence. A win changes this mindset.
Last year, Ryan Grant's coming out party came at Denver. Let's hope for the same this year.
Greg Jennings was a human highlight film at Denver. He turned Dre Bly into Drive By. This needs to occur again.
Matt Flynn could be a Craig Nall style back-up, this year. We've got to give him a chance to win this spot. He should play with the #2 offense.
Kregg Lumpkin should also play against the #2 defense to see how he performs against enhanced competition. He's earned this opportunity.
In Denver, A-Rod plays into the 3rd Quarter. The Packers hang onto the football. The first team leaves with the lead. Once again, James Jones turns Champ into Chump Bailey.
The second unit's DL continues to struggle. With KGB/Pickett either seeing limited reps or not playing at all, the likes of Conrad Bolston & Alfred Malone continue to see increased snaps. Jason Hunter, who is a fine special teams player, also sees heavy reps. The unit wears. The unit tears against the tough Donkey run game.
Look for enhanced P-Lee playing time as J-Bush finds the bench.
Flynn takes advantage of his playing time and leads us to points. He finds Chris Francies for 1st downs.
Lumpkin pounds away for a Packer TD.
It's not overly pretty. But, it's a well fought win. If it does not come this week, we'll probably end the preseason 0-4.
Green Bay 23. Donkeys 20.
Gotta win this one,