Packers vs. Browns: Film Study Observations (Preseason 2010) All Green Bay Packers All the Time

The following are my observations on the Packers – Browns game after re-watching the game with the benefit of rewind and slow-motion:

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.


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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of, 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


55 thoughts on “Packers vs. Browns: Film Study Observations (Preseason 2010)

  1. I am extremely happy you pointed out that catch by Shields and the lack of Packers for his return, but IMO that is also why Shields had trouble catching the ball, he was looking down field before he caught the ball a real No No.

    1. Certainly, on punt returns, maintaining focus on the ball and not everything else going on around you is the hardest thing to master. It will take time…

  2. This right here.

    This is why I come to your site and read your work, Al. Simply amazing.

    BTW, I have to admit, I liked Lumpkin on the last game. Would like to see Porter and him with the ones, as I’m done with Bjax. He brings nothing to the running game.

    1. Thanks, RS. I’ve so missed this myself. So happy we have football to watch again…

      I’m not saying much about Lumpkin this year. I’m just going to watch and wait. BTW, the best thing Lumpy did to help his chances was seriously improve his blocking skills. And he showed it in the Browns game, as did Porter. Right now, blocking is the main thing keeping Brandon Jackson on this team.

      1. Unfortunately, I will be unable to make the Cheesehead Radio spot, but my compatriot, Robert, will be there and is very excited. Hopefully, sometime in the future we can get both Ranters’ schedules to work, but this time half The Ranter will have to suffice.

        I’m looking forward to listening to the podcast.

  3. Jersey, how do you thing Justin Harrell performed? Also, what do you think the chances of him sticking when it’s all said and done.

    1. Considering it was his first real action in quite some time, I thought Harrell did well. He falls more into the run-stopper category, but I did see a few nice bull rushes, also. If he stays healthy, they will definitely keep him

  4. Good thoughts on Bulaga. After a week’s worth of speculation about the ramifications of a move to LT, I think it’s finally obvious that he IS that good.

    I completely agree on Shields. Why did they keep putting him in on return after return? It’s not like they didn’t have other options. Give him some time to shake it off mentally.

    “James Starks get put on IR so the Packers can keep both of them without having to carry 4 running backs on the roster.”

    I don’t know his health status at the moment, but if it were my call I’de say put him on PUP first and then make the call in week 6. It’s just a ham-string correct? Maybe they’ll be short on RBs by then. That’de be more than two years w/o football.

    I’de like to see more out of Flynn– particularly with the first team. He didn’t do much with the protection he got.

    1. Good points about the PUP list. I’m just wondering if there is some limit to how many guys you can do that with. From what I’ve read, they have to make PUP decision before the cuts to 65-man roster. Haven’t seen anything on limits to how many…

      1. Good point to consider since Harris, Blackmon and Starks could all be Candidates. I know you can have 10 on the active pup list (preseason) but they count against your 80 in preseason. Reserve PUP players (regular season) don’t count against your roster, but I haven’t been able to find a limit. I bet Carriveau would know.

  5. Great stuff Al. This article was truly enjoyable. Thumbs up to the videos as well. It puts a stamp on the points you were trying to make. Keep it up!

  6. Amazing i love how u did point out that the D was playing vanilla D with a few hidden plays that would work example that amazing lee blitz i didnt even notice that. Still excited the packers D is just messing and getting in the groove with this preseason game unlike last year where they went all out in preseason

    1. also if i remember reading another article somewhere the packers brought more than 4 guys only 10 percent of the time compared to the browns who blitzed 70 percent of the time… yet our starters didnt give up one sack

      1. yes, it was good practice for picking up blitzes and they did a good job, overall. Flynn and Harrell took some shots, but Rodgers was untouched.

      2. 4 guys does not constitues a blitz. Or else, every 4-3 team is blitzing almost all the time…

  7. Thanks for a great analysis. It’s nice to get some perspective on the games I’m not able to watch, and your judgements always come with some nice support from film study.

    Interesting take on Shields, and one that I would be inclined to agree with in retrospect. If he doesn’t muff it, though, would you still have come to the same conclusion?

    Also, I’d ask about your thoughts on Lumpkin, since he seemed to have a nice running day, but I noted your comment about about him, so I’ll save my questions.

    1. Well, if Shields doesn’t muff one, he probably doesn’t get a mention, but that doesn’t change that going in, I was concerned about throwing he and Porter into the fire. I know preseason is the time to do it, but it just seems like they’re still too new to it, especially Shields.

  8. Didn’t notice that it was Neal who got to that screen play. Really nice to see him in pursuit of a play away from the line which seemed to be the main knock on him from scouts. The stuff about A.J Hawk not shedding blockers is spot on! It’s soooo 2008…

  9. Nice catch on the Lee blitz. I actually saw it the first time. Reminded me of something you see people do in Madden…but it if works it works!

  10. Thanks Al! Keep it coming was a good article/analysis. Rodgers looked very sharp and the line did a great job I felt. It looked as if he was getting rid of the ball a hell of a lot faster too.

    1. Funny, I said the same thing on the CheeseheadTV live blog and some troll says “how can I tell that after only a few plays?” Um, well, because I have eyes and I’ve been watching football for over 40 years, maybe?

  11. Rodgers knew exactly where he was going to go with the ball sooner than he ever has. He looked very, very confident on pretty much every pass, from the snap to the release of the pass. I’m really giddy about what kind of year he and the team can have if he can maintain this attitude until February.

    And Al, please do go on for several more pages!

  12. Hawk is a decent player but played TERRIBLE vs. the Browns. And once again, Bishop was active and made positive plays all over the field. Good observation on the goal line play of Hawk vs. Fullback. Lost leverage and was not physical at all. I was much more pleased with Shields in the return game than other people. It was the right decision to run up and make the fair catch call…he just has to start catching the ball consistently. For as confident as Porter is supposed to be, he chickened out of CATCHING the ball TWICE in that game. At least Shields was a gamer.

  13. My main concerns is that the Packers don’t have an explosive running back on the roster. Unless James Starks shows something, we are without one again this year. Porter is average, Jackson is hesitant, Lumpkin is not a starter, and Ryan Grant is just steady. I know that Ryan Grant has had back to back 1200 yard seasons….but he misses a lot of big plays. All I can do is hope we pick up a fast young guy or that Starks works out. McCarthy said, “I like big backs.” An explosive speed guy would be so dynamic in this offense with the way our passing game spreads out defenses. Can you imagine a CJ Spiller or somebody like that one on one with an EJ Henderson in the flats? I just got goose bumps.

    1. I think you are underestimating Porter. I think he develops into a real nice change of pace back. it may not be this year, but I like what I see and he’s got a great attitude.

  14. We have no outside pass rush without Matthews, and he’s going to be on the radar this year. Chillar, Jones and Poppinga were given A TON of snaps, and some were against the 2nd string players of Cleveland, and they never sniffed the QB once. Can we trade for Shawn Merriman or SOMEBODY please?? We picked up some guy from a Wisconsin Arena League that has NO CHANCE of contributing….aren’t there better options TT???

    1. Simpkins pickup was just to get a warm body with the LB injuries, not to solve anything. Face it, the DL has to step up and be more of a threat rushing the passer to free up some lanes for the LBs.

  15. Shawn Slocum is a complete JOKE!!! Don’t make excuses for this bum. “Well, it’s only the 1st preseason game…most of these guys aren’t used to seeing NFL Action and won’t make the team anyway.” WHAT DO YOU THINK THE PACKERS WERE GOING AGAINST?? THE BROWNS HAD A BUNCH OF INEXPERIENCE OUT THERE AS WELL!! The difference is that it looked like their returners had been coached how to catch a ball, their blocking units looked like they knew how to open holes and where to go, and they played fast and physical. Have the time Slocum doesn’t have enough guys out there and is screaming for different personnel to come on and off the field. We had ATHLETES last year on offense and defense…yet his units were dead last in the NFL. He should have been fired, but now I have to watch our Special Teams suck again under Slocum. We stuck with Sanders for a year too long, and we are doing the same with Slocum. We haven’t looked good on special teams since 1996. GET SLOCUM OUT OF HERE!! We also don’t have a punt returner on our roster. If Blackman can’t go…we’re hosed. Porter is afraid to make the catch, and Shields just isn’t ready. We need to find an Allen Rossum in a BAD WAY!!!

    1. One thing to remember. The Browns special teams were #1 last year. packer next to last. I would then expect that the Browns were doing a lot less experimenting out there than the Packers were. For the Browns, it’s “don’t rock the boat and lets maintain what we had.” For the Packers, its “lets throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.”

  16. I love Ryan Pickett, but I would like for him to just back up the Nose Position with Raji. I think Neal showed a great burst off the ball and was the only interior lineman to bring pressure. Raji, Jenkins and Neal would be a great starting unit with Pickett rotating in with different packages. Also, Mr. Ted Thompson, please don’t give Jenkins an extension yet. He needs to show that he can finish a few more plays. He’s a good player but hasn’t been GREAT yet in his career. Injuries have happened and he always seems to be CLOSE to making plays but just never finishes. (See Last Drive Of Steeler Game in 2009). Please make him earn his money.

    1. I think you will see more of Neal (especially in Nickel)as the season goes on. He’s a lot more capable of getting a push towards the QB than Pickett.

  17. James Campen….if our offensive line doesn’t start opening some decent running lanes I am going to go nuts. I think we could give you the 2010 NFC PRO BOWL SQUAD and you would still have a hard time getting the group to reach its full potential. We can’t run the ball at all. Also, if you screw up Bryan Bulaga, I will personally drive to Green Bay and verbally attack you until you wet your pants. I am ready to move away from the zone blocking scheme. Hey McCarthy, Sherman was a fat moron, but he understood that BIG AND STRONG offensive linemen are GOOD…cause they could move BIG AND STRONG DEFENSIVE LINEMEN to places they didn’t want to go. I still miss the years when Ahman Green was running behind Wahle and just pounding on teams. I feel like we have the running game of Lindy Infante. We just run the ball to keep the other team honest.

    1. Can’t disagree much here. McCarthy has been trying to go bigger, that’s why they handed Spitz the center job last year. And now Bulaga at guard. I agree that Campen is most likely not doing a great job with these guys.

  18. Believe me Jersey Al, I WANT Porter to be the real deal, but so far I just haven’t seen the EXPLOSIVENESS that I want to see. He had a chance for a big gainer in the 2nd half…after a great block by Quinn Johnson on the left side of the line. He got to the second level after being untouched and was going full speed….and then a member of the 2nd level defense just made a routine tackle. Ryan Grant would have gotten the same yardage. I WANT to see something special out of a running back. A broken tackle, a burst to the outside after a hard cut…SOMETHING. To tell you the truth, Ahman Green had some of the best runs last year in his limited time and opportunities with the Packers. Give the ball to Brandon Jackson as many times as we gave the ball to Ryan Grant last year, and I would be willing to bet that the yards per carry and total yardage wouldn’t be that much different. Our backs don’t get much more than our line provides, and that’s frustrating. I need more from Porter…and Starks needs to get on the field ASAP!!!

  19. Numerous thoughts so here goes,3-4 defense is as good as the front 3 then the 4lB’s and the secondary.Starters missing in secondary and LB’s which makes the big 3 moot.A reverse order of dissection.Still no 3rd and short in run game and need Starks to try to play now and not waste time as in Kampman senario.MAKE A DECISION.Special teams is well…not special again.Super Bowl or DIE!!! Is it me or does each aspect of this team take turns not playing.

  20. Al, RE: Field position after KO/Punts
    With your obvious propensity for tape review would you think that a good hard look at what exactly made the 96 team as successful as they were warrant a review? Think back, ave returns ended at at least the 30 yard line consistently. What were they doing that made them so successful and how can a review of this tape be implemented in a team that seems to have close to the same potential. LEARN FROM PAST SUCCESS HISTORY.

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