Pigskin Paul on the State of the Packers after Preseason Game 2
Time I think, for a bit more PACKERS talk with Game 2 of the Pre-Season in the books and still not a lot to get excited about from their on-field performances overall. Week two started out fairly well until AARON RODGERS went to the bench. Then it got scary and ugly thanks primarily to their lack of a back-up QB.
Itâ€™s not time for THOMPSON/McCARTHY to panic, but they had better be concerned and considering other options effective now. GRAHAM HARRELL ainâ€™t no MATT FLYNN, and shows no signs of becoming him. Heâ€™s been studying under McCARTHY & CLEMENTS for several years and looks no more able to handle things out on the grass than a raw Rookie. He does not look to be able to read the D quickly enough to take advantage of opportunities in a small window of time. His delivery is too deliberate and his arm strength is just not of NFL caliber.
And Iâ€™m gonna question his attitude, at least as it is portrayed by the camera in his sideline demeanor. I donâ€™t want to see a petulant, sullen guy like CUTLER on the Green Bay sideline, but I donâ€™t want a seemingly indifferent, vacantly smiling guy either. Look like it means something to you and get your face into the photo sheet that shows what the Defense was doing against you last possession when you went three and out… again. If RODGERS goes down for any length of time, and HARRELL is the back-up option, this team will be Drafting in the Top 5 next April, just like COLTS this year.
The WR corps looks solid from top to bottom, if/when itâ€™s healthy. But young guys like BOREL & GURLEY have got to be available more than they have been recently. I still wish JAMES JONES didnâ€™t have such a big Cap number (thanks again A-RODGE). He might be tradable to say Miami for MATT MOORE next week. Not so sure I love the JONES to Seattle for T. JACKSON rumors much. But then again JACKSON has some talent (certainly more than HARRELL) and NFL playing experience.
If the SEA HAWKS are signing T..O. then CARROLL must be feeling almost desperate at WR. I am becoming concerned about RANDALL COBB and his lack of ball security. I now flinch every time I see an opponent punch at the ball in his hands. Heâ€™s too explosive not to play, but he canâ€™t fumble once, or more, in every game he plays.Week two sure proved how much he is needed in the Return Game in my mind. Watch out for JARRETT BOYKIN if a vet gets traded and some others stay hurt.Â Heâ€™s not flashy, but he gets open, catches well and can get a little YAC. He could be a slower, but more dependable version of JONES at Rookie minimum wage, with some upside.
D.J. WILLIAMS is starting to show some worth as that H-B, slot guy we thought he would be, but their TE situation is pretty much FINLEY & CRABTREE right now, and FINLEY seems to be off the field as much as on it. RYAN TAYLOR looks to be tripping over yard line chalk too much. Canâ€™t play if you canâ€™t stay on your feet son. Iâ€™d say itâ€™s a safe bet QUARLESS will start he year on PUP.
With NEWHOUSE healthy the OL looks good all the way across. Iâ€™m guessing SHERROD starts the year on a PUP list, and wonâ€™t be back until late October. That could mean depth is an issue unless someone stands out soon. ANDREW DATKO is starting to show a bit, which makes sense if he is finally healthy and regaining strength in his injured shoulder. Remember he started 4 years at FSU unless injured. The coaches seem to like the work and versatility of EVAN DIETRICH-SMITH, but he still looks to me to lack the strength to win enough battles head-up on the bigger/stronger NT types.Â But hey, that was the knock against SCOTT WELLS who just left town for a huge TIMMERMAN-type contract in St. Louis.Watch for them to try to hide GREG VAN ROTEN/OG so they can work with him on the Practice Squad this season. I think vet REGGIE WELLS is quietly earning the team as their veteran insurance policy given his decent play, experience and versatility.
I was glad to see the team sign CEDRIC BENSON last week and look forward to watching him get some carries next game. Heâ€™s not spectacular, but heâ€™s similar to RYAN GRANT, at his best, and cheaper right now. ALEX GREEN shows flashes of quickness, good hands and the ability to block in pass-pro. STARKS is hurt again, and a turf toe could be rough for a RB whoâ€™s not known for his physical toughness. I will not be shocked if the toe injury lingers and he ends up on IR. That may depend on how good BENSON looks and whether or not SAINE shows improvement sometime soon. MARC TYLER, after a solid start, looks too slow to have much of any impact in the NFL to me. JOHN KUHN is JOHN KUHN (i.e a FB), and thatâ€™s a good asset to have in the overall scheme of things, but heâ€™s a FB folks.
After 2 games I am disappointed that DOM CAPERS is still showing so much of that cursed 2-man DL of his on passing downs. I want to see more 4-man fronts given the new talent base in the DL group. The overall DL rotation looks pretty solid right now with RAJI, MUIR, WILSON, PICKETT, WORTHY all making plays.They donâ€™t seem to get much extra pocket pressure with extra LBs out there and that middle of the field, underneath is still incredibly vulnerable because the LBs canâ€™t drop deep enough, and the Sâ€™s seem to be slow in responding to coming up to contest the catch. That has been the Achilleâ€™s Heel of CAPERS D for some time now. And the absence of NICK COLLINS just seems to exacerbate the situation. Iâ€™m hoping the BISHOP injury is not permanent for 2012, but unless the NFL finally defines the in-season IR issue one has to wonder if DESMOND is not gone for the season. D.J. SMITH is a tackling machine, but not much in pass coverage, and most of his tackles are in pursuit not at the point of attack. I do expect him to get better at that though with more playing time.
TERRELL MANNING can barely get on the field for plays from scrimmage, and RFA DEZMAN MOSES is still a pleasant and promising, but gets lost at times, while he learns to play standing up. FRANK ZOMBO is about ready to inherit JUSTIN HARRELLâ€™S permanent hot tub in the Training Room. I like NICK PERRYâ€™s progress opposite MATTHEWS, but it could be mid-season before they form a dynamic pass-rush duo on a weekly basis.VIC SO-OTO has made a few nice plays, but Iâ€™m hearing heâ€™s still not assignment sure enough for the Coaching Staffâ€™s liking. Can you say Practice Squad for VIC now that heâ€™s kind of under the radar to other teams?! If BISHOP is out for as long as we all think, and ZOMBO canâ€™t get out of the Training Room depth could actually be a problem in the LB group, which might force CAPERS hand with his DL groupings. It looks to me like trying to find a niche for MIKE DANIELS is being made tougher because heâ€™s still not 100% healthy. He could be an IR guy if he gets dinged again and loses more practice time in the next two weeks.
The secondary is looking better than I thought it would without both COLLINS & PEPRAH. The move to line up WOODSON at S,Â most of the time is overdue and a good one. He and BURNETT will be a strong and improving duo as they play more together. That also allows for a promising Rookie like JERRON McMILLIAN to learn the pro game without being forced into the line-up too often, too soon. The nicest surprise to me is the CB work of CASEY HAYWARD and the seeming return to form of TRAMON. If they play like this ongoing we can rest easy that BUSH will be coming off the bench not starting.
If DAVON HOUSE can get, and stay healthy, (which appears to be asking a lot) SAM SHIELDS, and all his speed, may be looking for another team to play for. He just has not progressed much since his Rookie year. Whether itâ€™s a lack of football acumen, or concentration, I can tell you for a fact that PACKERS Coaches are getting frustrated with his lack of accountability in their schemes. If a guy like BRANDON ROSS continues to play well on Special Teams and progress some as a CB , SHIELDS could be a former PACKER come September. And may I add that even though itâ€™s not stellar yet their tackling has been better overall in the secondary to date.
The kicking game looks solid, but I sure wish they would stop messing with MASON CROSBYâ€™s head with theÂ 50+-yard FG attempts. From that distance he does not trust his leg and swings too hard, thus causing those pushes to the right. Heâ€™s better than the League average once he gets within 45 yards, so please MIKE work a little harder to get him those 40-yard opportunities.
The Wild Cards in some of this is the group of guys that I did not mention because they face suspensions to start the season. ANTHONY HARGROVE/DE is still facing a half season suspension and Mr. GOODELL doesnâ€™t appear to be backing off that. MIKE NEALÂ faces a 4-game sit down to start the year. Letâ€™s hope he doesnâ€™t get hurt fighting for tub time with ZOMBO. Even ERIK WALDEN will be out when the regular season starts. But his is a short penalty period and with BIHSOP out the team will surely welcome him back with open arms. Did I miss anyone? I hope not. One way to look at the suspensions is that by the time guys like NEAL & HARGROVE are due back they may look like welcome reinforcements for players who have gotten hurt early in the regular season.
The team is 0-2, but itâ€™s only pre-season, which doesnâ€™t matter much, record wise. But the Coaches need to see some progress in certain areas, from certain players in the almost â€˜sacred Week 3â€™. How about if I just say, I am not in a panic, but I am concerned that they have looked pretty flat much of the time through two weeks of game action. Time to kick some serious butt with their overall play this week.
I will not do a roster projection at this point, but I will give you my 9-man Practice Squad based on current roster, which is even crazier, but what the heck.
WRÂ Â Â ANDREW BREWER
QBÂ Â Â B.J. COLEMAN
OLÂ Â Â TOMMIE DRAHEIM
OLÂ Â Â Â SAMPSON GENUS
DEÂ Â Â LAWRENCE GUY
WRÂ Â Â DALE MOSS
SÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â MICAH PELLERIN
LBÂ Â Â VIC SOâ€™OTO
OGÂ Â Â GREG VAN ROTEN
Note: You can read moreÂ from Paul on the Packers and the NFL Draft on his website,Â Pigskin Paul’s Place.
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He is a PFWA member who can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.