The Green Bay Packers lost to the San Diego Chargers in their first preseason game of the year by a score of 21-13. As with most preseason games, it was a boring game filled with miscues and guys who aren’t going to be on an active roster in a few weeks.
The Packers’ starters played minimally. Seventeen injured players didn’t play at all.
Here’s what learned.
Herb Taylor is not the answer at left tackle. Yeah, he was only in there because both Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod are injured, but it was pretty apparent why Taylor has only started one game in his NFL career. On consecutive plays Taylor was tossed aside by Melvin Ingram and called for holding, and then whipped by Ingram again. The second time, the rookie hit Aaron Rodgers as he threw and the pass was picked.
Graham Harrell is, uh… not real accurate. Harrell was 15-of-27 for 135 yards and a touchdown. Those aren’t bad numbers and Harrell did move the offense at times, but he also made a lot of throws in front of, behind and over guys. Maybe we’re spoiled by watching Rodgers throw, but Harrell needs some work.
Guys not named Clay Matthews put pressure on the quarterback. Nick Perry had a sack in the first quarter (after which an absurd unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called). His backup, or the guy competing for the same job, depending on who you believe, Erik Walden was also got in the quarterback’s face on a couple occasions.
The Packers seem like they’re planning on giving the running game more than a passing glance this season. That is, if their backs can handle it. James Starks carried five times for 15 yards, fumbled and dropped a pass. That’s not a good start. We were ready to praise undrafted rookie Marc Tyler, who ran hard (13 carries, 32 yards) without much blocking help, but then he fumbled on the Packers final drive after catching a pass. That ended the game. Actually, maybe we should thank him for that.
The Packers still have some work to do in the secondary. We’ll just say it was a mixed bag. M.D. Jennings got abused by Antonio Gates on the Chargers’ first touchdown. Tramon Williams came back and made an interception a short while later. Rookie Casey Hayward was good and bad. He played tight coverage most of the time and made a nice play to break up a pass. He was also called for a holding penalty and gave up a long pass when he wasn’t looking for the ball. Davon House looked solid and even made a tackle for a loss, but he didn’t wrap up on any of the tackles he made, which brings us to this…
The Packers still don’t know how to tackle. When is the coaching staff going to get these guys to wrap up when they’re trying to bring someone down? Too many guys, especially the defensive backs, are just running into guys.
Desmond Bishop might be injury prone. After missing games because of a calf injury last season, Bishop showed up this year and promptly failed his physical. Balky calf again. Thursday night he hurt his knee while making a tackle on a running play. Bishop had to be carted off. It’s not the end of the world though. D.J. Smith came in and played well in his absence, just like he did last season.
What’s going on with Randall Cobb? We know the Packers want to expand his role in the offense, but they said he’d remain their primary returner. Cobb led the Packers with four receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown on Thursday, but wasn’t back on returns. Instead, the Packers took a long look at Diondre Borel as a return man. He fumbled a kick return and almost got killed on his only punt return. The Packers also tried Shaky Smithson as a punt returner. He also fumbled, but at least he recovered his muff. In all likelihood, the Packers are protecting Cobb for the regular season, but they could also be looking for someone competant to replace him so they can use him more on offense.
That’s all for now. More fun and excitement to follow!