As is the case with most preseason games, the Green Bay Packers’ tilt with the New England Patriots was decided by guys who won’t even be on the field or possibly even on the team when the regular season rolls around.
In this instance, it was Packers third-string quarterback Brett Hundley who put the nail in the Patriots’ coffin. The fifth-round pick hit undrafted free agent running back John Crockett on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 7:42 left in the fourth quarter.
That provided the final margin in the Packers’ 22-11 victory over the Super Bowl champs.
Now on to what’s really important.
Let’s start with the first teams.
The Green Bay Packers offense, led by Aaron Rodgers for three series, was right back to their old tricks. They moved the ball at will and then bogged down when they got near the end zone.
Rodgers was 11-of-19 for 117 yards, no touchdowns and no picks.
More importantly, the Packers’ first team offense was 1-2 in the red zone, coming away with only three points. They were also 1-3 on fourth down.
While the running game looked good (Eddie Lacy averaged 7.2 per carry), the offensive line was far from midseason form. They allowed two sacks on Rodgers and numerous pressures, with some of the biggest gaffes coming from Mr. Pitch Perfect himself, left tackle David Bakhtiari.
On the other side of the coin, Tom Brady surprisingly played two series for the Patriots. Perhaps just as surprisingly, the Packers’ first team defense, which was without Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Mike Neal, shut Brady down.
On backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s first series, the Packers defense broke down and paid for it when running back Jonas Gray went 55 yards off right tackle for a touchdown.
There was no containment on the outside, as outside linebacker Andy Mulumba got ate up by a blocker and inside linebacker Nate Palmer, who’s play it was to make, failed to get to the edge.
Gray ultimately broke it for a TD because safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix took a craptacular angle and ended up slipping and/or getting pushed down in the middle of the field.
So if you want scapegoats for that play — Palmer and Clinton-Dix.
Now, let’s get on to the guys fighting for roster spots.
Here’s who stood out.
Outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott — last season’s preseason sackmaster looks like he’s serious about securing a regular season role for himself this season. Not only was Elliott the Packers most consistent pass rusher on the evening, he showed a much better feel for the rest of the game. Final line: eight tackles, half a sack, one tackle for loss and one QB hit.
Quarterback Scott Tolzien — we expected Scooter to come in and look like a solid backup QB and that’s exactly what he did. He threw nice touch passes and some rockets when he needed to. He also led the Packers to their first touchdown, hitting Jeff Janis for a 26-yard score with 5:11 left in the second quarter. Scoots finished 10-of-16 for 107 yards and TD.
Now, we’re sure a lot of you want to jump on the Jeff Janis bandwagon too, but he really didn’t do anything special. He ran right by his man at the line of scrimmage on the TD. The corner was so flat footed and unaware, he may as well have been Chris Conte. Janis only had one other catch, which went for five yards. You could see when the Packers tried to work Janis underneath that he couldn’t get any separation from the coverage.
Cornerback Quinten Rollins — you could argue that the Packers’ second-round pick should have had two picks, but we loved what we saw from Rollins nonetheless. He broke up three passes in the first half and caused another incompletion when he drove through a receiver and forced a drop. Rollins demonstrated great awareness and fundamentals for a guy who is supposed to be raw.
Cornerback LaDarius Gunter — you’ve probably heard the name. Gunter is the undrafted free agent out of Miami who has been making plays since he walked in the door. He made another one Thursday night, picking Garoppolo on the first series of the second half. He also knocked down a pass and had four tackles. It’s going to take a huge change of course for the Packers not to find a roster spot for this guy.
Running back Alonzo Harris — hey, we still like Rajion Neal as the third back. We still think Harris is a long shot to make the team. He certainly didn’t do himself any harm against New England though. Harris carried seven times for 41 yards and a touchdown. Granted, there was some Keystone Cops stuff going on by the Pats defense on that touchdown run, but Harris still took advantage of it.
Packers tight ends — seriously. We’re going to give the new play caller Tom Clements some credit here too. Based on this game, it looks like he’s making an effort to get the tight ends involved again. So there were opportunities and they were taken advantage of. Rodgers seemed to look to Andrew Quarless when he got in trouble and Quarless finished with two catches for 21 yards. Third-stringer Justin Perillo was most impressive of the group, though. Not huge numbers, with two catches for 21 yards, but Perillo made something of those opportunities.
Solid performance tonight, good first preseason game.
Bakhtiari looked terrible for a starting blindside tackle, hopefully he learns from it. Barclay was downright awful, I’m afraid that injury might have left permanent damage. Quarless should not be the starting TE but they are most likely just testing him out. Other then the still constant Red Zone troubles pretty par for the course for Pre Season. Good team depth.
Bakhtiari had his bad moments, getting beat that badly by a rookie mainly, but the O-line settled down towards the end of the first qtr.
Aside from run blocking, when wasn’t Barclay terrible. he really looks slow and out of place trying to pass block at this level.
I agree he has never been a very good pass blocker, and I’m sure Rodgers in the pocket can at least make up a bit for the right tackle being off, but even compared to when he was filling in two years ago he looked even more stiff and slow now.
My knee-jerk reactions from this game:
1) GODDAMN!!! it’s good to have Packers football back.
2) the top 3 QBs looked very impressive (esp. the Tolzien bomb to Janis and Hundley’s throw into double-coverage that fell incomplete).
3) Speaking of Janis, yet again makes 1 play and it’s a TD, dude is a bit of an enigma to me.
4) I know it’s preseason, the first game no less, and it’s a vanilla scheme, but we still can’t score in the redzone (including TPCs).
5) I missed the first 10 minutes of the first and 3rd quarters, but Rollins looked damn impressive to me.
6) Anyone guarding B..J. Raji looked like he was a professional roller discoer.
7) Datone Jones can hold his own against second-stringers, oh boy.
8) The pass rush was awesome.
9) The run D was pretty good except for the fact they got burned on a play, that needs to stop.
10) Kickoff coverage was pretty decent.
Tolzien, Rollins, Montgomery are the biggest winners. Goddamn, Rollins can PLAY
I still love Janis, don’t care what anybody has to say
Gunter had that int, but he also got burned on a play. I like him and want him to get a roster spot. but don’t really want to see him starting
The 1st team offense was 0-2 in the red zone, not 1-2. You don’t get credit for kicking a field goal…C’mon man!! Shawn…talk to him.
1. Couldn’t stand the face of McCarthy but with this beard and not play calling he looks mutch better and relaxed.
2. Gunter looks good.
3. Harris looks good. Nice little cuts and then straight ahead.
4. Crocket looks okay.
With those two Starks might getting obsolete.Like Harris over Starks.
5. Ron Zook looks like he hasn’t have a clue. In Dutch is sounds as Ron Zoek meaning Ron is totally lost and looking for it.
But then again it’s the first preseason game but about Zook I’m pretty sure already.
Jayrone Elliot is putting Perry and Neal on notice.
Gunter is this year’s Jumaal Rolle. He’s the best DB but will get dumped because he wasn’t drafted. Goodson sucks but we’ll keep him a gain. That guys sucks. Please drop him already. He’s always hurt and when he plays he sucks.