Packers vs. Patriots: What to Watch
Yeah, it’s only preseason, but at least some form of Green Bay Packers football is back. The Packers will face the New England Patriots this evening in Foxboro.
Some people will tell you it’s a rematch of the best game of the 2014 NFL season, but don’t believe that hype. This game means nothing. Tom Brady likely won’t be on the field for New England and we’d be surprised if Aaron Rodgers gets more than three series for the Packers.
There will be plenty of interesting things to watch for the Packers, though. Despite returning just about all of their offensive production, this is a new team. A different team.
Here’s what to keep an eye on tonight.
You’ve probably heard — about 800 times — Mike McCarthy isn’t calling plays anymore. Clements is the guy who will be calling plays. We expect there to be no discernible difference in the Packers’ offensive attack, but we’ll just see won’t we? This game should give us some insight into how Clements is planning on handling the offense.
Who likes backup quarterback play?! Well, weather you like it or not, you should expect plenty of it tonight. For the Packers, that means a large dose of Scooter Tolzien. We tend to think old Scoots is ready to be a really solid backup. He’ll have to go out on the field and prove that again though, much like he did last preseason. He should have ample opportunity to do so. To lesser degree, we’re also interested in seeing what Matt Blanchard and Brett Hundley look like running the offense. The expectations aren’t quite as great for those two guys, however.
The Packers have 12 receivers on the roster at the moment. Maybe six of those guys will make the team. These are the moments when guys in a battle like that need to get noticed. There appears to be a dogfight for a couple roster spots between Jeff Janis, Myles White, Jared Abbrederis and the crop of undrafted rookies brewing. These guys would be wise to make the most of their opportunities tonight.
Hayward is pretty much being handed Tramon Williams’ old starting spot at cornerback. Or maybe you could say he’s being given every opportunity to earn it. Either way, Hayward is probably going to have to do something awful to lose the starting job. Thing is, Hayward has been primarily used as a slot corner since being drafted by the Packers. The question has always been, can he cover on the edge? We imagine that he can, but we’d like to see him do it. And so here we go. It will also be interesting to see how rookies Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and LaDarius Gunter perform.
Draft Picks on the Fence
Defensive lineman Khyri Thornton and linebacker Carl Bradford were third and fourth-round picks last year. Both of them were disasters in the preseason. Neither of them played a single down for the Packers in 2014. That’s an awful beginning, but this is a new year. Thornton has supposedly shed some fat and Bradford was moved from outside to inside linebacker. We haven’t really heard much from either guy yet, but here’s the bottom line. If these clowns don’t start to show something soon, they’re going to be out of a job and Ted will have wasted two draft picks. Tonight is as good a time as any to make an impression.