For the second straight week, the Green Bay Packers looked less inept than their opponents, beating the Las Vegas Raiders 20-12 at Lambeau Field.
The home crowd anticipated a better game than last week thanks to getting to see a quarterback this week who will actually make the roster. Brett Hundley made his preseason debut, and with a lot of help from Eddie Lacy and company, the Packers’ starting offense looked the part.
Apparently, Mike McCarthy wasn’t blowing smoke when he said that the running game would be a focus this preseason. Even with his solid backup quarterback in the game, McCarthy leaned heavily on the run to get the offense in gear early. Eddie Lacy looked lighter on his feet while still running with power. His 20-yard run on his first carry of the game set the tone for his one series of the game.
All the Packers needed from Hundley was one third down conversion on an out route to Davante Adams, which was a good throw and catch against tight coverage, and one slant to Jared Cook that set up the Packers with 1st and goal from the 6. Lacy rolled over the pile three plays later to give the Packers a 7-0 lead.
After a three and out on their second possession, Hundley had the Packers on the move again during his third series. A 20-yard run by James Starks where he weaved through traffic off the right side was followed by a 31-yard back shoulder catch by Davante Adams up the sideline. Unfortunately, on that same play, a somewhat late and low hit by Khalil Mack re-aggravated Hundley’s hurt ankle, knocking him out of the remainder of the game and possibly the remainder of the preseason.
If you picked that time to stop watching, we wouldn’t blame you.
However, you would have missed some fairly good defense from the Packers, who stymied the Raiders all night long, even when the Raiders kept their starters in until halftime. Even with that being the case, the Raiders only had three points going into the fourth quarter. Rather than it being the much hyped new Raider offense under Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, it looked like the old Raiders with dropped balls and penalties in key moments.
With that being said, it is hard to tell if the Packers have some really stellar depth and athleticism on defense, or if the Browns and Raiders are just offensive midgets. The one thing I can tell you is that the Packers have been steadily building speed and athleticism on defense since the debacle of getting embarrassed by Colin Kaepernick in the playoffs four years ago, and this year’s defense looks like the ripened fruit of that strategy.
The inside linebackers, including Sam Barrington, who started, were flying to the ball all game. Perhaps due to injuries to other players, Joe Thomas got a ton of snaps and continued his excellent preseason. Blake Martinez flowed well to the ball even though he had no standout plays. And Carl Bradford once again made his presence felt.
The Packers also once again got an excellent performance from their young secondary. Raider receivers had a hard time getting open all night, and the secondary even helped the offense out with a couple returns off of interceptions. The defensive line essentially remains the one question mark on this defense, though they held their ground tonight.
Kenny Clark and Kyler Fackrell both had increased playing time, including on the second unit. Neither really stood out for good or bad reasons. Still, since the Raiders played their first team offense until halftime, both got to play against starters for once.
Peter Mortell once again won the punting duel, which seriously raises the question of whether Tim Masthay could be in trouble after all. It still seems like a long shot, but Mortell took another step forward.
In the vein of long shots to make the team that impressed, safety Kentrell Brice stood out again and I believe is the consensus pick to make this team as an undrafted rookie. Receiver Geronimo Allison also had a good game, and could be difficult to part with when it comes down to cuts.
That is two preseason games (or three if you prefer) in the books. We hold out hope that we might actually get to see Aaron Rodgers in the third.