Bryan Bulaga is an NFL starting lineman. Right now. Bulaga won his one-on-one battles while at guard and at tackle. He also looked noticeably better than Daryn Colledge. Bulaga was a little unsure of himself at guard on a few plays, which is to be expected. But once he found his mark an locked on to someone, they did not get away. I also saw Bulaga do something I haven’t seen from a Packers guard in some time. This was one of my pet peeves last season. In pass coverage, with Wells on the tackle and Clifton taking a blitzing linebacker, as Cleveland sent a defensive back on the edge outside of Clifton, Bulaga quickly slid over behind Clifton to meet the blitzing DB and stop his rush. Simple, effective, and something I just never saw as I would watch the game films last season. I don’t know if we credit Bulaga or the coaches for that, but either way, it’s a very good thing.
Bryan Bulaga at Left Guard:
In general, the Packers did a very good job in picking up the blitzes, especially the running backs. I observed Jackson, Lumpkin and Porter each make nice pickups, with Lumpkin having the most impressive play, coming all the way from being lined up on the right side to pick up a blitzing linebacker coming off the edge on the opposite side. I now believe Packers running backs coach Edgar Bennett when he says protecting the quarterback is the primary concern for his running backs, even over effective running of the ball.
Speaking of the running backs, I think Quinn Porter is showing enough to make this team. He has some nice moves, and is the type of running back I’ve been wishing for as a compliment to Ryan Grant. He showed me something when running between the tackles, too. While not very big, Porter is a fighter and his legs never stop churning. I saw him make a few extra yards on a few occasions when he appeared to be stopped. If Porter shows any pass-catching ability, and continues blocking well, then I say sign him up. I believe, as others have suggested, we could see James Starks get put on IR so the Packers can keep both of them without having to carry 4 running backs on the roster.
One player that had a big part in Porter’s success at running back was tight end Andrew Quarless. Quarless showed above average blocking ability, sealing off his man on a few occasions as Porter ran off of him. He also pulled in two of the three passes thrown to him and was active on special teams. I think the coaches will be rather pleased with the 21-year old’s performance in his first ever NFL game.
I don’t know why everyone is so outtraged over Sam Shields mis-handling some kicks. Hey, this was a known problem that Shields has been working on in practice. it will, however, take a lot more of that work before he could ever be considered game-reliable. I frankly felt bad for the kid being thrown to the wolves so soon. All this will do is hurt any confidence he’s managed to build up. I understand McCarthy wanting to see what Shields could do in a game, but it was just too soon to expect anything more than what we saw.
While I’ve been steadfast that Desmond Bishop can’t be trusted to be a starter for the Packers, I’m starting to come around to the idea that he can’t do much worse than AJ Hawk. While hawk can be depended on to be in the right place at the right time, he can’t be expected to make the play that is required. While Hawk’s awful coverage on the Brown’s third touchdown was there for everyone to see, other poor plays in gthe trenches probably went unnoticed. On the Jerome Harrison TD run, Hawk met the lead blocker head-on. As he often does in these situations, he loses sight of the ball carrier. He seems content with standing up the blocker, rather than trying shed the blocker and make a tackle. End result is the running back runs right by him and in this case, scores a touchdown. Desmond Bishop played very well in this game. Wherever you saw the ball, you saw Desmond Bishop close by. Sure, Bishop makes errors of over-aggressiveness. But is that any worse than the errors Hawk makes? As I said, I’m seriously starting to re-consider my opinion on this one.
I think even the most casual Green Bay Packer fan can see that special teams play still appears to be a problem. If we want to give Shawn Slocum the benefit of the doubt, it is ONLY one preseason game. Also, according to Slocum, the Packers were throwing a lot of players out there in different combinations, many of whom won’t be here in four weeks. OK Shawn, I’ll give you a pass until after the first cuts. After that, real progress needs to be demonstrated.
I can safely say that whichever punter wins the job (Tim Mathsay or Chris Bryan), he will be a big improvement over Jeremy Kapinos. So on the positive side, that is one area of special teams guaranteed to be better in 2010. On the negative side, blocking on returns and proper kick coverage were not something we saw much of in this game. On Shields’ first punt, which he caught, I counted 5 Browns defenders on top of him without a Packer in sight. I also now understand the real reason Mason Crosby is on this team – the Packers need him on kickoff coverage! Hell, he could wind up as the leading tackler, the way the Packers cover kickoffs.
Finally, as vanilla as Dom Capers played defensively, he did give a few glimpses here and there of things to come. The most interesting glimpse I caught on the re-watch (I completely missed this the first time) was on as play with about three minutes left in the first half. Most of you, as I did, will remember this as the play where Mike Neal made a real nice play sniffing out a screen and making a tackle. A closer look at that plays shows an interesting corner blitz. Pat Lee is on the slot receiver on the right side of the defense. As the ball is close to be snapped, Lee turns and starts running parallel to the line of scrimmage. As the ball is snapped, Lee, Desmond Bishop and Brandon Chillar all blitz, with Lee circling around Chillar and creating a three-on-two matchup. The two Browns linemen go for Bishop and Chillar and Lee breaks through to the QB pretty much untouched. Only the fact that a screen play was the call, prevented a sack. It’s just one play, but hopefully it’s a preview of some more creative things to come.
Pat Lee – Cornerback Blitz:
While I could go on for a few more pages, I’ll end with this thought: Matt Flynn, while still not impressing me much, did earn my respect for fearlessly absorbing some big hits. Whatever he may or may not turn out to be, at least we know he’s not a sissy.——————
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.