Two big takeaways from last year’s anemic passing attack were: receivers need to gain more separation, and the Green Bay Packers needs to stretch the field to keep defenders from bunching up near the line of scrimmage.
How well did the Packers address these needs in its first preseason game?
The offense certainly performed well in several statistical categories. The home team nearly doubled the Browns in most offensive categories: total yards (320-172), total plays (80-44), time of possession (39:44-20:16), and first downs (19-11).
The Pack’s third- and fourth-string quarterbacks completed 22 of 37 attempts, with Joe Callahan (16 of 23) having a very respectable 69.6 completion percentage. This is an indication that receivers on the whole were gaining sufficient separation from defenders.
As to the second need, however, the Packers passing play choices were almost never of the stretch-the-field variety.
The Packers had 169 yards of passing, for a paltry 4.3 yards per pass. The longest pass completions were two 18-yard short-catch-and-run plays to tight ends Justin Perillo and Kennard Backman. The long reception by a wideout was to Trevor Davis for 16 yards, and the only other completion of over 10 yards was a 12-yard sliding catch by Jared Abbrederis.
The only attempted throws longer than these were to Abbrederis, who was 20 yards downfield, and to a well-covered Trevor Davis on a 3rd and 10 play from the 1-yard line. The first was tipped away at the line, and the second fell 10 yards short when Marquise Williams was hit as he threw.
Unlike the game against the Browns, long completions have been seen daily during Packer practices. On Sunday, Aaron Rodgers and his backups repeatedly made beautiful deep throws to a variety of receivers.
Regardless of who the Packers have throwing and receiving against the Raiders on Thursday, some deep balls would be a welcome departure from all the dink-and-dunk pass plays that Packers fans had to endure last season.