Packers vs. Browns: What We Learned

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Jordy Nelson

The Green Bay Packers embarrassed themselves, losing to the Cleveland Browns 35-10 in their second preseason game of the year. There’s plenty to criticize about the game, but let’s all remember it’s still preseason and this is a young team, especially since we’d be here all night criticizing if we didn’t.

Most of the Packers starters played about three series. As has been the theme, 18 guys didn’t play at all.

Here’s what we learned.

There are a few guys who are ready to start the season. Seeing his first action of the preseason, Charles Woodson stripped Montario Hardesty on Cleveland’s first play from scrimmage. Vintage Woodson. Aaron Rodgers, although not midseason-form impressive, hit Jordy Nelson with a touchdown pass three plays later. It was a great pass and a great catch by Nelson. Most impressively, Nelson beat Cleveland’s supposed shutdown corner, Joe Haden, on the play. He actually smoked Haden on first down, but Rodgers overthrew what should have been an easy touchdown. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Jordy Nelson is probably going to be even better this season than he was last season.

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What to say about Graham Harrell? Man… Harrell got plenty of playing time and did very little with it. Last week he was throwing balls all over the place (except at the receivers’ hands). This week, he looked more accurate. That didn’t translate into Harrell moving the offense though. Yes, he was running for his life behind an offensive line that featured Andrew Datko, Herb Taylor and three guys I couldn’t name. Harrell threw two picks — one on a hail mary to end the half and one when Ryan Taylor fell down. The latter, it could be argued, wasn’t his fault. Still, Harrell finished just 12-of-24 for 100 yards, two picks and no touchdowns. Is Harrell Matt Flynn? We’ve got a resounding no for that question. We’re not quite ready to panic though. We’d like to think it would be a different story if Harrell were actually playing with guys who knew what they were doing. Of course, Colt McCoy led a touchdown drive on his only series. Just sayin’.

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We knew D.J. Smith was going to start at inside linebacker for Desmond Bishop. What we didn’t see coming was C.J. Wilson holding down a starting spot at defensive end. He lined up with Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji in the base to open the game. Although Wilson didn’t particularly stand out, his role tells us two things. He’s got a pretty good shot at making the roster and Jerel Worthy hasn’t earned a starting spot yet. Smith, on the other hand, was all over the place. He played the run well (one of the few guys who played the run well) and the Packers even blitzed him. Smith was the only guy we saw get close to quarterback Brandon Weeden, which is fine for Smith, but not real encouraging for the defense as a whole.

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As we all know, James Starks is an injury waiting to happen. He’s the Justin Harrell of running backs. He didn’t play Thursday night and won’t play anytime soon because of a turf toe. New signee Cedric Benson didn’t go either. That left Alex Green to carry the load, or what there was of a load, and he looked at least as good as, if not better than, Starks. Green rushed four times for 16 yards. That’s four yards per carry, but more importantly, Green looked like a guy who could break one at any moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if Green and not Benson (or Starks) is the Packers best running back as the year goes on. By the way, does anyone remember Timmy Smith?

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Who the hell is Jarrett Boykin? I’ll tell ya who. He’s an undrafted rookie receiver from Virginia Tech. Is he going to make the roster? There’s probably no chance in hell, but don’t tell Jarrett Boykin. Next to Jordy Nelson, Boykin was the most impressive receiver the Packers had on Thursday. He caught five balls for 63 yards and almost single-handedly made Graham Harrell look serviceable. Boykin was sure-handed, caught balls in traffic and ran after the catch. This guy might have a future on the practice squad and maybe in the future, on the active roster.

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Two guys stood out on special teams, which is exactly where these two guys need to stand out to make the team. First, linebacker Robert Francois had a nice special teams tackle to open the game. He followed that up later by throwing Josh Cribbs for a loss on a punt return. Not many guys throw Josh Cribbs for a loss on punt returns. Second, Tori Gurley had an excellent block on Otis Merrill‘s 60-yard kickoff return before the half. Merrill’s return would have been about 20 yards if it weren’t for that block. Unfortunately, Gurley didn’t catch a pass on a night when Diondre Borel, his chief competition for a roster spot, was out with an injury.

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A couple final thoughts.

  • M.D. Jennings is frustrating, to say the least. Sometimes he looks lost, getting turned around in coverage. Then he shows up and knocks a pass down. Certainly, he still has a long way to go, but the Packers seem inclined to endure those growing pains.
  • There’s a world of difference between Marshall Newhouse at left tackle and Herb Taylor at left tackle. Newhouse better stay healthy.
  • Jarrett Bush quietly had a decent game, particularly in run support. He’s not the greatest cover guy, but he’s not the worse and that’s a 180-degree turn from where we were a couple years ago.

 

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.

11 Comments on "Packers vs. Browns: What We Learned"

  1. Vijay

    Yeah, Boykin actually looks like a legit threat to make that practice squad. Brandian Ross and Jerron McMillian had some night blitzes but Ross got beat by some 3rd or 4th string WO from the Browns later in the game on a sideline toss by Seneca Wallace. Speaking of which, why aren’t we thinking of picking him up instead of Colt McCoy? He’d be a cheaper option and makes better NFL style throws than Harrell. How old is Seneca? Oh, he’s just 32…he’d cost less in draft picks or whatever.

  2. Shawn iltarion

    Two preseason games in and it is like the Packers haven’t really shown up yet.

    Jordy Nelson is going to be a monster. He has it all. Greg Jennings is a DAMN good #2 WR.

    The Packers are fine with Marshall Newhouse.

    Alex Green brought a little burst and some decisiveness to the backfield. Still looking forward to seeing Benson though.

    Actually, CJ Wilson had a very good game. This is a little more of what we were expecting from him last year. He was consistently getting off blocks in the run game, including on Hardesty’s fumble on the first play from scrimmage, and had a hurry that forced Weedon to throw the ball away.

    I am yet to be too concerned about Bishop’s absence because DJ Smith does what Bishop did. He gets to the ball and he tackles.

    Robert Francois made the team tonight on special teams. He twice got off blocks and tackled Cribbs. Look for Terrell Manning to be on the PS.

    Andrew Datko played well tonight. However, Reggie Wells, Herb Taylor and Draheim played so poorly that it didn’t matter.

    I really don’t get the point of playing Harrell for most the game if you are going to put him out there with a bunch of WRs who won’t make the team. When Harrell wasn’t running for his life, he was watching TEs fall down or WRs drop the ball. It also didn’t help that the Packers couldn’t run a lick with the 2nd unit.

    So far, the Diondre Borel vs. Tori Gurley battle has amounted to exactly nothing. Gurley saw limited time and never had a pass thrown his way. I also don’t see how the coaching staff is supposed to decide between these guys when neither ever gets a chance to perform in a game.

    DJ Williams showed up a little tonight. Nice to see.

    Lastly, I still fail to understand what is going on for kick/punt returns. Shouldn’t the Packers have someone fielding kicks who is actually going to make the team? What if Cobb gets injured? I just don’t see how Brewer or Merrill could possibly make this team.

    Probably a worse game than last week. As crazy as that sounds.

  3. Ivomitonvikingfans

    I liked what i saw from Alex Green. He needs to pick up blitzers better than he’s shown, but he doesn’t seem to fuck around when he gets the ball. It was nice to see a Packer RB actually get around the corner and get upfield instead of stringing it out to the sideline. If Benson can still play they should become a nice combo.

    Harrell needs Xanax and possibly laxatives.

    Would still like to see the Defense put more than 2 good plays together in a row. Getting sick of watching them give up long time consuming drives.

    So far, overall, there are just too many mistakes, blown assignments, and sloppy plays. I guess to be expected from such a young team, but Christ, some consistency would be nice.

  4. TyKoSteamboat

    i like Newhouse… but not very much…i’d like to see Derek Sherrod, a # 32 pick come back strong from that knee injury…

    I feel like Alex Green will be like James Starks was 2 years ago. A guy that walks onto the field and produces rite away…while the rest of the country says “who the f*ck is ths guy all of the sudden”

    I also take comfort in the fact that D.J Williams (phisically) looks alot like Patrick Willis…and the fact that Bishop (a fast sideline-to-side line guy) is out for what seems like the whole season…

    GPG

    • peter

      It would be great if it was a knee injury but he’s coming back from a broken leg that almost had to get amputated so my guess is we will probably not see him this season either. Flanagan had a similar injury and it took him 2 yrs to be nfl ready

  5. Phatgzus

    Perry looked pretty decent-he got some pressure on Weeden, pushed his man into the pocket, and was also right there in coverage on a TE on 3rd down when Weeden threw it away.

  6. Jonathan

    Smith was the only guy we saw get close to quarterback Brandon Weeden, which is fine for Smith, but not real encouraging for the defense as a whole.

    Anthony Levine popped the guy didnt he?

    I look at it this way, yes there is a TON of stuff we need to work on. When your 2 QBs are your leading rushers, you have a problem. BUT our first team scored a touchdown in the first 2 minutes AFTER kicking off. That’s how we need to play.

  7. Au Green

    I believe we were not watching the same game.

    Harrell was NOT accurate. He threw behind and too far ahead of the WR’s. He regressed this week against a WORSE defense. Using second & third string WR’s as an excuse for his poor performance is hiding the fact he is not ready to be an NFL back up.

    • Shawn iltarion

      It isn’t just the WRs though. You have a OL that can’t block and a running game that can’t gain a single yard.

      To say the deck is stacked against Harrell is an understatement.

  8. PackerBoB

    “The Green Bay Packers embarrassed themselves, losing to the Cleveland Browns 35-10 in their second preseason game of the year.”

    Please, it’s the preseason. It’s about individual and not team effort. Who writes this crap?

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