Packers vs. Chiefs: Quick Observations from 20-19 Win in Preseason Finale All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Photo from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 20-19 Thursday night after Kansas City’s 56-yard field goal attempt with no time remaining was wide left.

Here are some quick observations from the Packers’ preseason finale:

Twos outplay ones:

The Packers can take a lot of positive things away from their preseason finale. They got an incredible amount of positive film on the young guys who needed more evaluation time. The backups played nearly the entire game at most positions. The Chiefs even helped the Packers out by playing their starters well into the second half, which gave Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy the rare opportunity to see how their backups stacked up against the Chiefs starters. For the most part, the Packers twos and threes didin’t look overmatched. In fact, the defense did a number on Kansas City’s offense for a majority of the contest. Overall, to win a preseason game that should have been so undeniably onesided is certainly something to be proud for players and coaches throughout the Packers organization.

So’oto shines

Vic So’oto had the game of his life Thursday when he needed it the most. Many had already pegged him as a player who had a chance to crack the Packers 53-man roster, but his play against the Chiefs all but sealed it. So’oto had 1.5 sacks, another tackle for a loss, a strip of Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles and a 33-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave the lead back to the Packers. If that’s not enough to make this team, I don’t know what is. It was an all-around impressive performance from the undrafted rookie out of BYU.

McDonald struggles

While So’oto had a night to remember, backup center Nick McDonald had one to forget. His botched snap inside the 10-yard line gave the Chiefs a safety, but he was also flagged for a false start and got beat up in the running game on several occasions. McDonald hasn’t progressed like the team thought he would after a rookie campaign in which he impressed several of the Packers coaches. Despite his versatility to play both center and guard, McDonald played himself onto the roster bubble Thursday night.

Pat Lee, last game in GB?

People will clamor about the fumble recoveries from Lee, but he was abused by Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe for the majority of the night. He clearly proved he can’t cover a No. 1 NFL receiver. Now, there should be very little chance that Lee is faced with that matchup down the road. But why keep a 27-year-old cornerback who has shown very little improvement since being drafted in the second round in 2008? He seems like a lost cause. His value is only on special teams and that might not even save him. As hard as it may be for some to admit, it might be time to turn the page on Lee.

Grant’s flashes burst

Ryan Grant’s 23-yard run on the Packers opening offensive series was an encouraging sign. He hadn’t shown that kind of burst and anticipation since coming back from ankle surgery, and James Starks had looked like a much better back through three weeks of the preseason. The Packers will likely need both this season, so any sign of life from Grant was welcomed. Hopefully he can build on that moving forward as the Packers prepare for the Saints next Thursday.

Rodgers continues to look sharp

It should surprise no one, but Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers continues to look like the kind of player who could have a really special season in 2011. He calmly led the Packers down the field on his only series, capping it off with an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tom Crabtree. In four preseason games, Rodgers was sharp. He completed 37-of-47 passes (78.7 percent) for 395 yards and four touchdowns, which equals out to a 130.1 passer rating. There’s no worries on his end leading into the regular season. Rodgers will be one of the NFL MVP favorites.

Other notes and observations:

Howard Green’s sack of Matt Cassel must have been a scary moment for Chiefs fans. No one wants to see their franchise quarterback get landed on by a 360-pound man in the preseason. You could tell right away that his shoulder took the brunt of Green’s weight. But give credit to Green, who fought through a double team and just eat Cassel up…WR Tori Gurley made a few nice catches Thursday night that won’t hurt his chances of sticking with the Packers. His finger-tip, sideline grab was nullified by a Chiefs challenge, but it was a good showing overall for the undrafted free agent…Graham Harrell didn’t play well, but the entire Packers offense was horrifically stagnant most of the night. I’m sure that’s not how he wanted to finish the 2011 preseason. Did Harrell show the front office enough this preseason to keep him on the 53?…Matt Flynn also had a shaky night. 2-of-12 passing for 12 yards and an interception. That could be the last tape teams see of Flynn before he hits free agency next summer…Andrew Quarless’s kick-out block on Grant’s 23-yard run was the key matchup win on that play…RB Dimitri Nance has had a nice camp. He deserves another shot in the NFL, but it’d be hard for the Packers to keep him. He’s very reliable in pass protection, however…Shaky Smithson fumbled away his last chance at making the team in third quarter on a Chiefs punt…It was disappointing that the offense had such a slow night. None of the receivers or tight ends really had a chance to put anything on display. Most figured we’d get a really good look at the bubble guys tonight but that simply wasn’t the case…The Packers held the ball for just over 20 minutes, running 42 offensive plays compared to the Chiefs’ 86.


Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on


27 thoughts on “Packers vs. Chiefs: Quick Observations from 20-19 Win in Preseason Finale

  1. Offense looked bad and out of sync after the ones. Flynn just had a terrible game, looked indecisive. Playing with a #2 offensive line against mainly starters is not a great way to make an impression though either.

    So’oto what else can you say. Walden will start the season, but it would not surprise me to see So’oto push him for that starting job. Everyone should be able to breath a little easier when it comes to the OLB spot. Nice to have such a big man to play that spot against some of the power teams in the league like the falcons (i know they run a zone scheme as well, but also run a lot of power) and the steelers. He will play a significant role this year.

    Pat Lee seems like he should be a candidate to move to safety. They probably should have moved him to safety instead of Underwood.

    1. The Chiefs were Dbl. and Triple teaming So’oto nearly the entire second half. If he can continue to improve, and play like that consistently, he will likely surpass Walden, and then who do you Dbl. team, So’oto, or CMIII? I would consider that a big problem for any offense.
      Also, did Gurley do enough? Seemed to me he looked much more relaxed and ‘professional’ than West. West looked maybe “concerned”, and a bit tenuous at times, Gurley played loose, and that makes my decision. We’ll see what TT and MM think.

      1. Well I highly doubt they would triple team So’oto if Matthews was in, that’s 5-6 blockers right there and you haven’t even account for the DL. The good news is that if So’oto can attract that much attention from the starting offense, then C.J. Wilson and Jarius Wynn are going to have a easier time as they aren’t going to get doubled. If So’oto ends up panning out like this, could you image what Jenkins could have done? Scary thought.

    2. Well I think more surprising than 2nd team offense playing poorly is that the 2nd (and even 3rd) team defense managed to keep up with the Chiefs 1st team offense. I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on the 2nd offense, by default they are supposed to struggle. The Chiefs 1st team offense on the hand….


      no terms yets. but signed through 2016. good job TT, keep moving down the line. interesting to see what it took to get him signed. signing a full year early usually provides some good leverage for the Albino.

  2. The backup Oline is BAD! The good news is, we’ll never have to see them all on the field at the same time again. A couple of them have good potential. The rest have performed so bad it’s scary. The sacks must stop. We don’t want AR on his butt as much as he has been in the pre-season. Run blocking? What run blocking? Let’s hope that the left side will catch up with the right side for the NO game.

    So’oto has made the team with pure effort. Love his enthusiasm.

    I was releived to see Wilson out there again. He will be needed if Neal continues to suffer from an injury that he declared “A Ok!”

    Other than that the lock-out created a pre-season that was pretty much evaluative. We haven’t seen the REAL Packers yet. Hope MM can get the 1’s up to game speed by Thursday.

    1. PS – Russel Wilson, White, and Ball were from another planet. The Badger Oline with three lost to the NFL replaced them with three bigger and faster guys.

      TT – keep a scout in Madison permanently. Konz would be a great replacement for Wells.

      Go Badgers!

      1. second team OL did look bad, but it is hard to really evaluate. i have never played OL, but i assume there is a lot of trust between guys and I do not think you can have that with a bunch of rookies and second year guys against mainly a starting front seven. plug newhouse and sherrod in with a starting line and they will not look so bad.

        and yeah, wilson is a beast. only one game but he looks like the best badger QB in the last 15 years (darell bevel is about the extent of my badger QB timeline) the guy has a cannon and can move. pretty acccurate on the move.

        i have concerns about the front seven, but ball is a beast. probably will be the best badger RB of them all in the pros. versatile with good size.

        1. I’d say that you can go back to the 50’s and Jim Huluska. Played with Allen Ameche! He’s the kind of QB that you better not rush too hard. I like his cool and controlled play in the pocket. He’s got a nice touch and gives his receivers a chance to catchg the ball.

          Yep, new DC needs to get the LB’s outside the end and turn the runner in.

          Tolzien had a nice game with SD last might.

    2. Packers will never get any consistency running the ball when they never consistently attempt it. It’s not who they are and, regardless of personnel, may never be under McCarthy.

      Just look around the NFL. I would argue the Packers back-ups are on par if not better. That’s more of a testament to the athleticism and depth on the defensive side of the ball than anything.

    3. Backup are supposed to be bad against starters, or else the backup would be starters. Obviously McDonald probably played his way off the team on his own volition but on the plus side the backup tackles looked pretty decent.

  3. I wouldn’t put too much stock in Flynn’s performance, unless its an early lesson (for him) in playing for his next team. 2’s vs 1’s is a mismatch, especially with our lack of O-line depth.. But when it was 2’s+3s vs mostly 2’s (Harrell in the 4th Quarter) the offense played acceptably. The rst of the lrague has to be salivating over our upcoming cuts. No way will they want to let us have defensive depth like we had last year.

  4. I have a burgeoning man-crush on D.J. Smith. He’s got a ways to go in understanding the defense, I”m sure, but (you may consider this crazy) he has a more instinctive first step than either Bishop or Hawk. Hawk will never be a down-hill guy, and Bishop still gets caught guessing from time-to-time.

    Smith rarely wastes a step, rarely takes a false step. The guy can really diagnose, get skinny through the line of scrimmage and tackle. He’s really a big, big surprise.

    1. i agree on Smith, i use the same adjective for him, instinctive. (is that actually a word)

      he may have a quicker first step in the run game than bishop, but bishop has a tremendous feel for the passing game and usually ends up in the right place. that is where smith can learn a thing or two from bishop. but you are right, smith and bishop are both down hill players. completely different from hawk, barnett and chillar ever were.

  5. IMO, the only weakness on the team is depth on the OL. Sure would like to see an acquisition or two there. They will be cutting NFL-caliber TEs and WRs – sure hope they can find a spot for Gurley.

    Last season, the concern was CB and Sam Shields fell out of the sky; this year, the concern was OLB and Vic So’oto falls out of the sky. It is great to be a Packer fan right now.

    Rookies likely to make a big impact in 2011: Randall Cobb, Vic So’oto, Ryan Taylor, DJ Smith. The rest should get a year to develop their skills.

    1. Packers fans are hopeful for 1-2 acquisitions PERIOD, let alone in one position. I wouldn’t worry two much about it, backups are supposed to be worse than starters.

    2. aaronqb, I agree with most everything you say on who will likely have an impact, but I think you’ve got to keep Gurley! I don’t think he’d make it through waivers to hit the P.S. and I think D.J. Smith will. Hopefully that way we can keep them both.

  6. Packer pluses from last nights game:
    Agree CSS on D.J. Smith.
    Also H. Green has pleasantly surprised me. Obviously So’oto.
    Gurley I think will make the roster.
    The first team O.
    Masthay and Crosby looked good.

    Packer minuses from last nights game:
    Nearly the entire second team O, especially the O-line.
    Nearly the entire second team defensive secondary. Gordy and Lee stunk.
    The only reason the Pack won was because of incredibly sloppy play by K.C.

    1. Gordy and Lee are definitely not ready for Dwayne Bowe, but hopefully they’re never going to get matched up against a #1 WR

  7. Color me impressed.

    Lack of agility my ***, the guy is a playmaker in the mold of the Claymaker. He just knows how to play the ball and is always around it. Having two guys like that on the field is a great boost, even though he lacks in some areas.

    Plus, now he played against the ones of a good team, and he played as well as ever.

    Right now, it may be a lot premature, but I would peg him as the #2 OLB behind Walden, and would move Jones exclusively to be a backup of Matthews. Would only use Zombo against running teams and formations.

    1. i love what so’oto did last night, but lets not get too far ahead of ourselves. he looks like he will be on this team for quite a while, but his int was on a throw that no starting QB in the NFL will make. just a late awful throw. still a good play, but he will struggle in coverage. right now a TE on so’oto is a major mismatch. he will get better, but right now he is a guy that can really bring it moving forward and needs to work on the rest of his game. He will eventually push walden for time…but i think we need to hold off on the second coming of CM3 talk.

      1. Packers may have the deepest nickle/dime personnel package in the league, Capers can easily minimize his coverage issues. I don’t believe it’s an issue, at least not one that teams can isolate.

        He’s a superior option to Brad Jones right now, that’s all I care about.

      2. I really don’t think I made any of the comments you said I did, but maybe you were speaking generally.

        Didn’t say he was the next coming of CM3, just said he has the same knack for the ball. CM3 is much more than just knack for the ball.

        And didn’t say he was ready. In fact, I said it may be a lot premature, but I would peg him as the immediate backup to Walden. But I still believe Walden is the starter.

        If you look at the post Al did regarding So’oto and Lattimore, I said in there that So’oto didn’t have the agility to play in the NFL. still think it’s severely lacking.

        However, what he has shown surpasses the lack of agility.

        He’s not nor will ever be a #1 pass rusher in this league, but I believe he can become a very nice complementary one, specially when we have Clay Matthews on the other side, and Raji up the middle.

  8. Here’s a good one,
    At the end of game, So’oto did what he did at college by going around the stands and giving high-fives to the crowd. If this was his last game, he wanted to make sure the fans knew how much he appreciated them.

    “I don’t know if I’ll be here come Sunday or Monday,” So’oto said. “Kind of my last time here, I wanted to thank the fans for being so supportive and let me ride their bikes every day.”
    I would say “Relax Vic”! There is absolutely NO WAY Thompson and McCarthy want you running around pi**ed off playing AGAINST the Packers!!!!
    So’oto is a lock.

    TT might as well trade some of his mid or late round picks (and maybe a player or two) for some O-line help, he usually does so well with un-drafted rookie FA’s that he really doesn’t “need” those picks.

  9. So’oto reminds me of Ware as far as body type. If he can learn the D and be a student of the game… If only he was around people that knew the game like Kevin Greene…or CMIII…if only.

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