In the end, it was a 38-10 victory for the Green Bay Packers over the New Orleans Saints. In the end, we’re glad the preseason is finally over.
The Packers pulled away from the Saints in the second half behind the once-again very solid quarterback play of rookie Brett Hundley. This guy is going to be the No. 3 QB in 2015, but he certainly looks like he has a bright future.
If not a very solid backup in Green Bay, Hundley may well be a starter somewhere.
But let’s go over the game for a moment.
Very few starters played for the Packers in this one. The only offensive starter on the field was fullback John Kuhn. The only defensive starters were defensive end Mike Daniels, the soon-to-be-suspension-serving Letroy Guion and whomever is starting at outside linebacker between Nick Perry and Mike Neal.
The Packers second-team, first-team offense did nothing and neither did that pseudo first-team defense.
Much like last week, the opposing starting quarterback left the game perfect. This time that guy was Luke McCown, who was 5-of-5 for 82 yards and touchdown in his brief appearance.
While that was uninspiring, we did take note of who was on the field for the defense.
The starting cornerbacks were rookies Damarious Randall and LaDarius Gunter, which would suggest those two guys are ahead of fellow rookie Quinten Rollins at this point. Equally as interesting was that Carl Bradford and Nate Palmer got the starts at inside linebacker ahead of rookie Jake Ryan.
Bradford better hope that means he has a roster spot.
Anyway, we’re really just here to discuss who stood out. So here’s that.
QB Brett Hundley — Really beginning to like this kid. In fact, we can’t remember when a backup quarterback, especially a rookie, moved the ball as well as Hundley has in the past two games. He’s poised, knows when to use his legs, doesn’t make stupid decisions and has a surprisingly good command of the offense. Against the Saints, Hundley was 16-of-23 for 236 yards, four touchdowns and no picks.
WR Jeff Janis — Alright, we’re warming up to Janis. We’ve been riding him, saying all he can do is run a fly pattern. Well, he’s clearly improved the rest of his game. You can see the results on the field over the past two weeks. Janis is learning to work underneath. His 14-yard touchdown in the second quarter came on a slant. Now we just need to hope he can do this stuff against a first-team defense.
DT Bruce Gaston — If we haven’t said so already, we’re giving this guy a roster spot. Every time we look, there’s Gaston breaking through the line, getting a shot on the quarterback. He had two more quarterback hits on Thursday. Who knows what role this guy will have in the regular season, but he’s definitely earned an opportunity.
WR Larry Pinkard — We liked this guy since the Packers signed him as an undrafted free agent. Pinkard got thrown off the Old Dominion team his senior season. He had a 1,000-yard season as a junior, so clearly there was some talent here. He showed that Thursday night, turning a slant into a 77-yard touchdown reception. Now, Pinkard has no shot of making the roster. The wide receiver position is just too crowded. We certainly hope he’s brought back on the practice squad, though.
ILB Joe Thomas — This guy hung around on the practice squad last year after being an undrafted free agent. He certainly has limitations, but you can see his improvement from last year to this. Does that mean he’s making the roster? Probably not, but you could certainly make the argument that Thomas has played better than, say, Carl Bradford. Possibly, Jake Ryan. On Thursday he had four tackles, a sack and a QB hit.
OLB Jayrone Elliott — Give my boy some PT in the regular season, Big Mike! Elliott was a pass rushing phenom last preseason. This preseason you can see he’s developed an all-around game. The guy is just out there making plays. Five tackles, a pass defended and a QB hit on Thursday night. Elliott needs to get on the field for the defense this season.
RB Rajion Neal — Way to solidify your role as the Packers’ No. 3 running back, buddy! Five carries, 20 yards. Four receptions, 20 yards. If Eddie Lacy or James Starks were to get hurt in the regular season, we think Rajion Neal could come in and the offense wouldn’t miss a beat. We’re not suggesting he’s Easy Eddie Lacy, but Neal is an NFL running back.
RB John Crockett — Speaking of NFL running backs, it certainly seems John Crockett is one too. He’s not going to stick on the Packers roster this season, but the undrafted free agent did nothing to hurt himself against New Orleans. Eight carries for 42 yards and a touchdown and four receptions for 49. This guy can play in the league. We’re hoping no other teams realize that and the Packers are able to get him through to the practice squad.
S Chris Banjo — We’re not really sure if Banjo is/was on or off the final roster. The Packers have a lot of defensive backs, after all. If there was a question, then Banjo made it really hard for him to be off with his play Thursday evening. Banjo had five tackles, two passes defended and a pick. Lines don’t get much better than that for defensive backs.
S Jean Fanor — We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Fanor. He’s not making the roster, but he went out and left it on the field Thursday night. Fanor led the Packers with seven tackles and one of those was for a loss. Might well be a guy worth keeping around on the practice squad.
Now, let’s get on with real football!
Fanor and Banjo both definitely looked good, sure tackling and coverage on display by both. Gaston continues to do positive things. Thomas looked good as well, granted he was unblocked on the sack, but I think Jake Ryan looked like the best of the ILB bunch that played today-he was all over the field making sure tackles. Agreed on the RBs, Crockett just continued to get positive chunks even when it didn’t look like much was there; Harris looked decent as well tonight. Props to the o-line they’ve been improving all preseason and tonight was a pretty impressive display. Rip had a couple of nice blocks, can definitely tell he needs to work on his pass catching, granted Hundley should learn to take a little heat off those underneath passes. Randall and Bradford may have started, but neither one seemed all that impressive, particularly Randall. Rollins on the other hand looked pretty good again. Gunter got beat deep, but good to see he has a good bit of recovery speed.
I think Pinkard has wrapped up a spot on the PS or IR, he’s made plays this entire preseason, although he has had some drops. Abby looked pretty good on PR, until the fumble, didn’t notice him in the passing game but then again he hasn’t had the chance to get on the same page as any of the QBs, perhaps he’ll get stashed on the PS as well. Good to see the D stopping the run and rushing the passer well again, sans the first 2 drives (which is a bit worrisome).
The thing that stands out to me most, and I’ll explain why it isn’t Brett Hundley, is the outstanding development of the young wide receivers. Now, they haven’t been the biggest thing in the preseason, but in my mind they are easily the most important one.
When Nelson went down, I felt a cold shiver go down my spine. Losing him wasn’t the end of the season, but man I seriously felt like we lost our juggernaut status. Nelson, in addition to everything else, made me feel like we had the edge over the Seahacks for sure! Without him? Man, on paper it’s just not the same anymore! We could still win, but now the Packers have to seriously duke it out which mean the Seahacks have just as much a chance to take us as we do them.
However, if these young wide receivers actually start playing as well as they have in the preseason, or really even half as good, then the Packers might just have dominant passing game again. The Seahacks can still possibly shut down the Packers, but now they’ll have to work real hard for it, just like they would had Nelson still been healthy.
Hundley is easily the biggest story this preseason, he’s proven that he’s more than worthy to be a backup, in fact he may have proven he’s worthy to be the No. 2 QB in front of Tolzien. This guy (or Tolzien) could become tasty delicious trade bait! But as everyone knows, he’s not nearly needed as badly as some other positions on the team.
It may be just me, but the play of these receivers really helped nullify the gloom hanging over me because of what happened to Nelson. The Packers, may, just may, still be the juggernaut of the NFL.
Can’t wait for the season opener to find out! GO PACK GO!!!
-Hundley should be number 2 and Tolzien should get a pink slip, hey its a business right, Hundley outplayed him. Bring back Blanch to the PS squad, basically a younger Tolzien.
-They should keep 6 WR and im including Abby cause he will play ST.
-I cant cut Ripkowski or Kuhn so I keep em both
-God I really want to sneak Crockett on the PS
If only they allowed them to keep 60 players there would be no problem, lol.
Could you cut Starks who is on the last year of his contract, is almost 30, and struggles with catching the ball? If you trust Neal in pass pro and with holding onto the ball maybe you could keep Crockett on the roster and not try to sneak him onto the PS.
Agree 100%. Tolzien works hard and all that but he just never can make plays. He’s not a guy who can win games. If Rodgers goes down, we have a much better chance with Hundley or even Matt Flynn. Tolzien just doesn’t have it. Project is over. Move on.
Blanch would be a good PS guy to have. Gotta go with Rip.
I forgot to dvr the game, but it looks like Hundley has secured a job in the NFL. I don’t get real excited watching bench players and guys that won’t make the NFL and i don’t get too hyped over the 4th preseason game, but…..Hundley seems to have skills way beyond his years. For a rook who supposedly didn’t have a great camp. This guy shows skills in his feet work, poise, and reads, that a lot of back ups should envy. It will be interesting to watch his development with the Packers, or another team. Congratulations to him, well deserved.
Now, finally!!…The 2015 NFL season gets real.
Good health and good luck to our Green Bay Packers!!
No Howard, you don’t cut Starks over keeping Crockett. If Lacy goes down, who’s your power back? You’d trust two unproven in the regular season guys over Starks? I doubt it.
Crockett lands on P.S. more than likely.
Actually V that question was poised to Skinny. My point is you cannot keep 6 WR ‘s, 5RB’s and if Crockett is so great expect him to make it to the PS. You have to cut someone.
You can see from my comment I would have to trust any rookie with pass pro and holding onto the ball before letting them enter a regular season game. I do not believe Neal or Crockett have proven either ability at this point, however maybe they have to MM in practice.
Since you brought it up though what makes you think Starks is a power back? I have not seen him run over anyone consistently for a one or two yard gain when it is needed for a couple of years. Starks is also a liability catching or should I say trying to catch the ball. I do trust Starks in pass pro and not fumbling. Starks is a good change of pace to Lacy, a slasher, and a dependable blocker for Rodgers when needed. I would not put Starks in the catagory as not expendable as you can guarantee TT will not resign Starks to another contract at 30, and that is next year. You can also guarantee TT could give a shit about how nervous it makes everyone having two unproven regular season players at one position when it is fairly clear there will be three unproven regular season players at corner when the season starts. To me in this passing league if you are scared of having unproven players at RB then you must be staying up nights thinking about the potential of having two or three unproven CBs in a game at the same time.
Last night’s game has a Packer Fan feeling good about the upcoming season. Go Pack Go!!!
You must have missed the first quarter.
I’m totally with Howard about Starks. I say keepd Davy Crocket(t).
Last week I spoke of hoping we would keep Hundley now I’m sure we do. Afraid he’s to good to keep him during Arod’s tenure.
Then trade him to some team for a DL or LB?