The Green Bay Packers offense is potent, we knew that, but in their longest outing of the preseason against last year’s AFC champs, they put any doubts to rest.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who I have a hard time believing isn’t on his way to becoming the best player in the NFL, cut up the Colts defense to the tune of 21-for-29, 195 yards and three touchdowns. After some early struggles, Rodgers simply killed the Colts and went 7-for-7 on the Packers final drive before the half, which resulted in a short touchdown to James Jones.
Rodgers did all of this without his No. 1 receiver, Greg Jennings, who was inactive because of back spasms.
Jermichael Finley, meanwhile, was his usual dominant self, catching six balls for 85 yards and touchdown. I haven’t seen anyone who can match up with Finley yet and if this guy isn’t moving up your fantasy draft board, you’re an idiot.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers looked about as good as they have all preseason, despite missing starters Clay Matthews and Brad Jones. Brady Poppinga and undrafted rookie free agent Frank Zombo started in place of Matthews and Jones.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers threw some different looks at Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, but the Packers rarely rushed more than four players. Somehow, they still managed to pressure Manning, which is a very positive sign.
When Capers unveils his full game plan, the Packers defense is more likely to resemble the havoc-wreaking unit from last season, than the lethargic unit we’ve seen in the first two preseason games.
Some interesting notes…
Rookie undrafted free agent cornerback Sam Shields played extensively in the first quarter and throughout the game. Unfortunately, he got beat quite a bit. I noticed him give up at least four first downs. Brandon Underwood opened the game as the nickel back, but Shields replaced him early. Pat Lee, who is currently the Packers dime back, was a non-factor and if Thursday’s game is any indication, the Packers are giving Shields an opportunity to move ahead of Lee.
Fullback Quinn Johnson saw quite a bit of time with the No. 1 unit. This is the first time he’s played before halftime this preseason. Johnson was a guy we thought had a pretty slim chance of making the team, but he didn’t appear to hurt his chances on Thursday. Korey Hall and John Kuhn would appear to have an edge on making the team because of their special teams play, but Johnson isn’t necessarily dead in the water yet.
Tight end Tom Crabtree worked with the No. 1 offense in the two tight end set. He was targeted but overthrown by Rodgers in the second quarter and ended up catching one ball for 14 yards. Crabtree has had a solid camp, but he’s in a logjam at tight end with Finley, Donald Lee and Andrew Quarless.
Speaking of, there was an Andrew Quarless sighting. The rookie tight end caught two passes for 20 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came from Matt Flynn in the third quarter.
Guard/center Jason Spitz looks to be in real danger of getting cut. His primary position was supposed to be center after he was removed from the competition at left guard. On Thursday, Evan Dietrich-Smith opened at center with the No. 2 unit, while Spitz played guard. Spitz’s versatility may help him, but if the guy is the second best center on the team, why isn’t he playing center?
Rookie tackle/guard Bryan Bulaga was inactive with a hip flexor. That doesn’t help him in the competition at left guard, where he’s competing with Daryn Colledge for the starting spot. Something tells me Colledge opens the season as the starter.
The Packers first-team run defense was stout, except for a 48-yard run by Joseph Addai on the first drive. Nose tackle B.J. Raji was blown off the ball and defensive end Mike Neal and linebackers Brady Poppinga and Brandon Chillar also looked like they got abused on the play. Other than the big run, Addai only gained 12 yards on six carries.
Zombo had a nice showing for himself. He generated pressure off the edge, fared well in coverage, and forced a fumble on Manning mid-way through the third quarter. He finished with five tackles and a sack. The five tackles was second on the team. Mark this guy down for a roster spot.
Rookie strong safety Morgan Burnett made some mistakes. He was late giving help on Reggie Wayne’s 38-yard reception in the third quarter after Brandon Jackson’s fumble. That being said, he also made some big-time plays. Burnett broke up a deep pass in the first quarter that he nearly intercepted and he jumped a route in the second and picked off Manning. The latter play made him look like a veteran.
I can’t remember the last time I said this, but kudos to the special teams. The Packers scored two special teams touchdowns — the first when Hall recovered a fumble in the end zone after a muffed punt and the second on a 75-yard punt return by Jason Cherry. The Packers did give up a 58-yard kick return, but they held the Colts No. 1 returner, Brandon James, in check. James averaged only three yards per punt return and 24 per kick return.
Will Blackmon, who is supposed to be the Packers No. 1 punt returner, didn’t do anything to help his case. He averaged nine yards on three returns and muffed one punt before recovering. Interestingly, the Packers didn’t use Blackmon on kickoff returns. It looks like Blackmon’s hold on a roster spot is tenuous at best.
Tim Masthay may have moved ahead in punting competition. He hit his only punt for 53 yards and also held for kicker Mason Crosby. Chris Bryan’s two punts were for 38 and 45 yards.
how are the colts, position by position (at least in the first half or so) different than the Vikings? seriously the Packers have to be the NFC North favorites.
They are certainly my favorite…good observations Monty.
Colts and Vikings are incredibly different. Vikings have a better run defense. Colts have a slightly better pass defense. Both are vulnerable if their ends don’t get to the passer. Offenses are a near push but they go about it in near opposite ways. The Vikings are much more physical at the point of attack and have a rushing attack nearly as frightening as their passing attack. The Colts can take advantage if you forget too much about their running game, but otherwise, their backs are virtually more dangerous out of the backfield than in it. If Harvin is healthy enough to return kicks, or keeps that position now that he is a likely starter at WR, the Vikings are more dangerous on special teams than the Colts.
That all being said, with Rice out at least the first 6 games, Harvin a migraine away from being out who knows how long, and Brett turning 41 in October, I would have to believe that the Packers are the favorite to win the division if the defense can just finish within the top 15 in the league.
Some additional points for the game: AJ Hawk played with the 2nd team defense. It is conceivable Chillar has replaced him. Chillar has been known to cover better, but he hasn’t exactly distinguished himself this preseason at anything.
Tim Masthay also kicked off in the 2nd half and might have helped the cover unit have a better half.
This game showed better than the first 2 how dangerous the Packers offense is with the emergence of Finley and the continued development of A-Rodge. With Greg Jennings not playing, the Colts late in the 1st half began to crowd the line of scrimmage to disrupt the Packers’ timing offense. However, this allowed Finley to operate in the middle of the field against one-on-one coverage, which the Colts couldn’t stop. There truly is no good way to stop this offense now. Play off or zone, and the short passes will kill you. Play tight man-to-man and you can’t match up with Finley. It is a true lose/lose situation. The best defenses can do now is hope the Packers run the ball, commit penalties, or simply fail to execute.
Great observations Shawn and Monty. The key to the offense potency really starts up front with the protection. As long as A-Rod has time and assuming the injuries don’t take a toll, this offense is tops in the league. It’s going to be a fun team to watch because they are so athletic at all positions and are very opportunistic on both sides of the ball. If the kicking and coverage units play better than last season – watch out NFC!
I was impressed with the windows that Rodgers was fitting the ball into. One throw to Finley would have been picked off if the defender was looking.
My take on Hawk with the 2nd teamers had more to do with matchups than a demotion. True Dallas Clark did not play, but their second TE (Brady Eldridge?) is supposed to be pretty good, too.
I don’t know what ot make of the secondary. I thought Williams was abused a little bit, but then again it was Reggie Wayne who is exceptional. I don’t think Lee or Underwood did much of anything, either.
I’ve got to say that Zombo impressed me a bit. It’s been a while since I saw Jones play, but that seems to be a push – but I could easily be wrong.
Inconsistencies are what was driving me nuts. The big return and the big run were just plain wrong.
I hope we don’t loose Carbtree. Not only does he play well on special teams, but he’s one of the best run blocking TE’s I’ve seen recently. He made 1st round pick Jerry Hughes his bitch on that stretch run TD in the second half.
Im convinced this is the deepest and most talented team the packers have had in my lifetime at least. Im 28. Yea, we’ve heard the same bullshit for years about being so young and talented. But, I think the packers have never had a team like this not even 1996. This offense will score more points than the 98 vikings on the way to the super bowl.
‘Let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks just yet.’
Holy Christ! We almost need Kornholio back. I don’t think I can tolerate the three jokers in the booth for Monday Night Football. I’m sure this isn’t just me.
I am going to have to Tivo all the Monday night games so that I can make it through the telecast without putting my foot in the TV.
I like Jon Gruden, personally. How can you be a Packer fan and not? But as a commentator, having him and Jaws in the same booth is almost as bad as having two Joe Theismans in the same booth, which is the broadcast equivalent of crossing the streams.
How much ass-kissing must we tolerate for 3 hours? Have either of these guys ever said a bad word, about anyone? Every QB is a rock star in Jaworski’s mind, and Jon Gruden is on happy juice or something. He is in love with everybody. He just wants to get everyone together in a hot tub and throw in a toaster. My God, man!
I am a huge Packer and A-Rodge fan, and yet, I could hardly stomach the Mount Everest of praise endlessly lauded on this guy. I was nearly convinced Peyton Manning, A-Rodge and Bob Sanders were the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and that the next camera shot of the booth was going to show Jaws and Gruden in Pope hats.
These guys might have been worse than listening to Brent Musburger announce a Michael Jordan game, Pat Summerall announce a Dallas game, or Tony Kornholio doing a game with Favreu in it.
Maybe not that bad.
Listen to Wayne Larivee on the radio.
I gotta admit Bob Sanders is a beast…I couldn’t believe a guy his size could lay out grant like he did…as a football fan..that was cool. Now I could do without the cheap shot to Fineley but last year that would of be legal..so I guess he has to learn.
Those hits are why he’s on the field less than half the season.
LOL. Funny stuff Shawn.
may i interject? i watched part of the game with my father (because he’s a fan and…he’s my father). your Packers look very good, as did AR. but i agree with Shawn – i mean, Gruden saying AR’s a “legend”? 2 years starting?perhaps he WILL become a legend, but AR is not a legend. honestly, who disagrees and why?
I don’t disagree…..he’s still got lots to prove. Gruden is too fond of blowing smoke up everyone’s @$$.
Wow, thanks Jeff, lol how the hell did you become so nice all of a sudden? and yea, we all know Rodgers is a beast but Gruden saying that shit it is stupid. if the Packers win a Superbowl in the Rodgers era, which they will, then it will give more leeway for people to start calling Rodgers a legend. but a SB doesnt cut it thought, Rodgers needs to break some passing records as well. and thanks for watching the game Jeff, and listen to your father!!! hes a true fan!!! lol.
ps- im nice if your nice :)
Jeff I’m starting to think your a closet fan with a grudge..lol
i’ve always been nice, Packer dudes. my dick comments were only in retaliation for your comments. hey – i know i really shouldn’t be on this board – which is why i’ve been laying low. and i know there’ll be more Favre posts, blah, blah, blah. we’re on different sides of the fence. i like the Pack, but not the management. you guys like the Pack but not Favre. i won’t follow two teams, so i followed the guy in the trenches – Favre. that simple. i don’t hate the Packer players. i just hate how IT all went down. and i lay a higher percentage of blame on TT and everyone else than i do on Favre.
and PFINFL – i do have a grudge, ;)