Packers vs. Bengals: What We Learned

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Aaron Rodgers

The Green Bay Packers got in the preseason win column — for whatever that’s worth — for the first time in 2012, with a 27-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The starters got their most playing time of the preseason, with most guys going a full two quarters. Hell, Randall Cobb even returned some kicks, so you know this was a semi-serious affair.

Here’s what we learned.

Running back Cedric Benson, who was signed early last week, got his first game action and… Cedric Benson is the Packers starting running back. Benson ran six times for 38 yards and caught one pass for 10. Benson also did things neither James Starks nor Alex Green has this preseason — looked fluid, made nice cutbacks, lowered his pads, gained more than four yards per carry and made guys bite on play action. Things can change in the next couple weeks, but we don’t see any reason why Benson doesn’t open week one as the No. 1 back.

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Receiver Greg Jennings returned to action, playing his first game of the preseason after suffering a concussion on Family Night. Jennings didn’t play extensively, but early on he looked a lot like Pro Bowl receiver Greg Jennings, catching two balls for 37 yards. The Packers have been cautious with Jennings because of the concussion, but he clearly looks ready to pick up where he left off last season. He’ll also have some extra motivation since he’s in his contract year. Huge season? Wouldn’t doubt it.

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The Packers much-maligned defense did a nice job against the Bengals No. 1 unit. Quarterback Andy Dalton was only 5-of-17 for 40 yards. He didn’t throw a touchdown. The Packers didn’t give up much in the running game, but we should point out the Bengals’ top two running backs were out. More importantly, the D actually put some pressure on the quarterback. Clay Matthews looked like a force, creating a sack (he got credit for half a sack on the play) and knocking down a pass in the first quarter. Erik Walden also spent some time in the offensive backfield and recorded the other sack. Speaking of…

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Walden looks like a new man this season. He’s playing with mad energy. Nick Perry may end up being the starter at OLB opposite Matthews, but as far as we can see, Walden has played better. He’s not the most reliable guy in coverage, but when it comes to getting after the quarterback, Walden is currently doing a better job than Perry.

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You know who else is doing a hell of a job? Cornerback Tramon Williams. We’ve singled him out before this preseason, but the difference between Williams right now and last season, when he was battling a shoulder injury, is night and day. The Packers put Williams on the Bengals No. 1 receiver, A.J. Green, who’s already pretty good, but is going to be a stud. Williams blanketed Green for most of the night and knocked away two passes.

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And then there’s the rest of the cornerbacks. Jarrett Bush was decent, but the two guys we were really keeping an eye on disappointed. Sam Shields, seeing his first game action of the preseason, didn’t do himself any favors. Yes, he picked Tyler Hansen. The ball was slightly behind the receiver, but Shields had tight coverage. So how does he follow that up? He gets wasted by Justin Hilton, who hauls in a 30-yard pass from Hansen. Then there’s rookie Casey Hayward, who’s been better than expected and we’re sure the Packers would love to hand a starting role. Well, Hayward got turned around and looked completely unaware (much like Bush three years ago) on the Bengals’ first touchdown.

With that, some final thoughts.

  • Marshall Newhouse — remove head from ass. The Packers starting left tackle had two penalties on the opening drive. First, an offsides, which moved the Packers from 3rd-and-5 to 3rd-and-10. Then the holding call, which didn’t matter, but was still a crappy play. Newhouse essentially killed the first drive.
  • Tom Crabtree — whaddup! Crabtree was thrown into the starting lineup because Jermichael Finley was in Green Bay visiting his new child and D.J. Williams was hurt. He came up with two catches for 30 yards, but that’s not the whole story. On his second reception, Crabtree was working down the middle of the field. Aaron Rodgers threw a perfect ball that Crabtree caught a split second before getting wasted by safety Taylor Mays. Two things: this guy has come a long way as a pass catcher and the fact that he made that catch in traffic, took the hit and held on tells you what a tough SOB Crabtree is.
  • Dezman Moses came on fairly early for Matthews. The undrafted rookie generated some pressure, looked solid in coverage and made a team-leading four tackles. It’s probably safe to say this guy is for real.
  • Who earned a roster spot? Probably inside linebacker Jamari Lattimore. He made some big plays early in the preseason and he made another Thursday night, providing the fourth-quarter interception return to cement the Packers’ win.
  • Who hurt himself? Receiver Diondre Borel, who most think is competing with Tori Gurley for the Packers’ sixth receiver spot. Borel dropped a pass and let another go through his hands. Fortunately for him, Gurley only had one catch for six yards. Looking at it objectively, it now seems more realistic that the Packers keep only five receivers, as they’ve traditionally done under Mike McCarthy. Both of these guys will need to impress next week.
  • Oh, and Graham Harrell — 5-of-12 for 26 yards. Draw your own conclusions.

 

About The Author

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

16 Comments on "Packers vs. Bengals: What We Learned"

  1. Noah

    Erik walden over nick perry? no way man! Waldens sack was gifted to him, missed assignment and towards end of 1st half. Perry looked great pressuring the qb every down against the starting o-line. Everybody is giving this kid shit, he’s gonna be a beast opposite Matthews.

  2. Shawn iltarion

    What a difference a week makes.

    Noah, dead on, only thing I disagree with Monty on. Nick Perry was a beast tonight. He twice pressured Dalton when the Packers only rushed 3. He also had a near sack on a regular rush 4, where Dalton had to throw it away. What a difference this guy could make.

    All 3 young safeties for the Packers: Levine, McMillian and MD Jennings all looked pretty good tonight and were really flying around and hitting people.

    Erik Walden’s best play of the night came on 2nd and goal from the 1 following A-Rodge’s pick. He bulled two blockers into the backfield and blew up the run to his side, where MD Jennings and DJ Smith cleaned up.

    After being much-maligned on this site, rookies Worthy and Daniels both made splashes tonight. Like Perry, Worthy also got a pressure on a rush 3 where he split a double team.

    Dezman Moses had a great game.

    Tramon Williams… hahaha… Every pass thrown to AJ Green was nearly picked by Tramon.

    Casey Hayward… oh, disagree with Monty there too. The TD he gave up was a back shoulder throw, perfectly executed. DAMN tough to stop. My only criticism would be why play over the top coverage near the endzone?

    Cedric Benson was an immediate upgrade to the RB core. I am surprised. I didn’t think he would be. I was wrong. Dude is decisive and has quick feet.

    Frankly, the Bengals don’t have a bad defense, but they appeared totally outclassed by the Packer offense. And Finley wasn’t even on the field.

    Greg Jennings and the play where he duped Leon Hall… HAHAHAHA… hilarious.

    Borel??? HORRIBLE. Two HUGE drops on 3rd down plays. I agree. Keep 5 WRs after all unless Gurley shows something.

  3. Au Green

    Good review, Monty.

    GB has a solid RB in Benson and as you pointed out several defensive players put in good performances.

    Harrell IMO is a liability. Moses looked good along with Lattimore.

  4. Vijay

    Where was Jarrett Boykin today? That guy is catching everything in practice and the previous games from what I hear. He should be on the squad, practice squad at the very least.

    That 2nd String line is scary…we need Ray Dominguez, EDS and Datko healthy.

    • Kristofer from Oshkosh

      IMO i think the Packers know they have something in Jerrett Boykin and don’t want to show too much of his talent to the other 31 NFL teams so Boykin can be stashed away on the Packers practice squad.

  5. WhiteLightning

    I think it’s about time TT picks up the phone and throws next years 5th rounder to Cleveland for McCoy. He is worlds better than Harrell who is being outclassed by BJ Coleman any chance he gets..there’s your QB to develop MM.

  6. Shawn iltarion

    Boykin played in the 3 WR set with Gurley and Borel. With both those guys healthy for once, Boykin clearly took a backseat.

    Agree with VJ here. From what we’ve seen, Packers only have 6 NFL caliber OL right now with EDS the 6th. If the Packers suffer two injuries on the OL, they will have a gaping hole somewhere on their line.

    Though they have not been as criticized by the staff, from what I’ve seen, Herb Taylor and Reggie Wells have been complete trainwrecks and should have stayed home washing their tights or whatever they were doing before the Packers grabbed them.

  7. PackerBoB

    Gotta say our second string offensive line stinks. So, it’s hard to rate Harrell. He doesn’t look great but who knows how he’d do with the first stringers.

  8. Wendell

    Jennings looked great for the short span that he was in the game last night. I was worried it might take him a couple games to get back into form, but he looked like he is ready to go now. I thought the Packers defense looked better than it has but their pass protection is still very questionable. I wasn’t able to watch the game live because I was at class, so I set up my Hopper DVR to record it. It has 2,000 hours of recording space so I don’t have to worry about running out of memory when I’m recording all the games I miss during class. I was talking to one of my Dish officemates about how nice it was to see the Green Bay offense show some life during this game. I think Benson had a lot to do with it because he was motivated to play against his old team. Go Packers!

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