The Packers were shutout in their first preseason game last night. The score is largely irrelevant, as the team uses these games to see how players battle in their one-on-ones.
Where was the Packers pass rush?
This is an easy one. The 3-4 defense is predicated on creating pressure, but the Packers had little pressure throughout the night. Capers did dial up a few blitzes, but they rarely got home. I wouldn't put much into this though. 3-4 pressure is designed to create mismatched one-on-one rushes (outside linebacker vs a running back) or to create "free" runners to the ball (much more risky as you typically have to disguise very well or create an overload which opens up other parts of the field). The Packers were interested in seeing only one-on-one matchups in this game and they say plenty. The linebackers are rarely going to beat tackles with running back support and that's what they saw most of the evening.
What was with the Packers coverage?
They did not cover well. Davon House had perhaps his worst game I've seen from him. He will need to clean that up if he wants to make the roster at this point. He was reticent to make contact and could not run with players time and again. Other corrections were things the Packers can clean up on film. Micah Hyde gave up a fade touchdown. He played inside leverage on the WR even though it appeared he had inside help. Further, the receiver had lined up way too far inside to give inside leverage (allowing a clean outside release). He needs to realize where the receiver lines up and make the adjustment to where his help is. The receiver might have released inside then and still caught an easy slant but the key is to press the man (Hyde missed his jam) and let him go to your help inside. Again, film study should reveal and clean that up.
How did the Packers O-line play?
I'll get more into this with individual players, but overall they were solid. The line did a good job of getting to the second level. There were some hiccups, for sure, but I thought against a very vanilla defense that the line gave the QB and RB a chance on nearly every play.
Individual Players (Grade per their playing time)
Aaron Rodgers (B+)
Played fast, efficient football. Could have had a TD pass to Finley but was broken up (not a drop as the defender had his hands on the ball). Threw a great pass to Jones down the sideline.
Graham Harrell (D+)
Statiscally, it didn't look good, but he had a fair number of drops. He was pretty decisive on his throws, but he lacked zip on a couple of short check-downs that allowed the coverage to get there and make a tackle for little gain. The fumble was not his fault and the interception looked to be his fault. Even if the WR ran the wrong route, the other route wasn't open either as there were two defenders playing outside and inside on the WR (I believe it was Ross). The ball came out late and probably shouldn't have been thrown.
BJ Coleman (F)
Late on virtually every read I saw. Missed a wide open Gillette on the two-minute drill and instead opted to try to force it into cloud coverage on the right instead of throwing to an open Gillette playing against off-zone on the left. Starting a two-minute drill with a 2 yard over the middle completion is not effective either.
Vince Young (D+)
Vince Young had the unenviable position of being a QB without knowing much of the playbook or reads. It looked like he knew about a dozen different pass plays and the Packers played him in 3rd in the game because they knew he couldn't run the 2 minute offense. He made some decent reads and when his first read wasn't open he tucked the ball down and took off. The WRs didn't do him any favors with dropped balls though. I felt his throws were mostly accurate, but it's tough because it was obvious the Packers gave him a very small amount of plays to work with. His feet need a lot of work.
James Starks (B)
Solidified himself on the roster. Ran decisively and made good decisions when doing so. The goal line carry was a problem, but those carries are not his forte (he runs too high).
Alex Green (F)
Everyone is trumping up Green like he has that burst back that they saw out of Hawaii, but I still don't see it. He makes poor reads with the football in his hands and either waits too long for his blocks or not long enough. At this point, I'd be surprised if he makes the roster.
DJ Williams (D)
Williams made one great catch and then dropped two other routine catches. He did not block particularly well either and was pretty quiet.
Jermichael Finley (C-)
This would have been an A had he hung on to the pass in the end zone that was broken up. It was catchable. He did block better than normal and he also ran good routes. Just wish he would have come down with the one that counted.
Mathew Mulligan (C-)
He is what the Packers thought he was. He's like an extra lineman out there. He's 265 lb and quick enough to get to the second level immediately on run plays. I like him for that, but it remains to be seen if the Packers will get something out of him as a receiver. They need to in order for him to warrant any playing time outside of goal line packages.
Walker put a lot of pressure on the Packers with a good night receiving. The jury is still out if he can play and get open on the outside. He makes a living in the slot and with his height, that might be the only place he can play at this level. He catches everything and runs excellent routes, snapping them off where he should and creating space for him to catch the ball. He seems very aware on the field and looks like he knows the position very well already. Look for him to at least make the practice squad depending on what happens with the two 7th round draft choices ever getting activated.
David Bakhtiari (B)
He held his own and blocked well. I thought on running plays he did a good job shielding his man from making the tackle (his guy only assisted on a single tackle all night), and he got to the second level well too. He is nimble out there and looks strong enough to play. We will see at some point once teams start running stunts and bull rushes or bring combination/overload pressure to his side. We might not see that much this preseason though, but expect a lot of it in the regular season. The thing I noticed the most is that I never saw him off his feet the entire time.
Marshall Newhouse (D)
Newhouse looked much improved on the run, especially on the right side, but he failed to get a proper kickout and get his hands on the rusher in a play that resulted in a fumble that took less than two seconds to happen to Harrell. That will get your QB killed. You need to get a piece of him and hold him in that case if you don't.
Don Barclay (C-)
He moved around a lot. From the tackle position, he seemed responsible for two bad runs. Still he mostly held his own and didn't get his QB killed.
Greg VanRoten (C+)
He moved around the three interior positions and really solidified himself as the top inside back up. Had one marginal snap.
No grade as I didn't watch him much, but I did see him do a really good job on a running play once from the guard position, so there's that I guess.
Johnny Jolly (A-)
Jolly looked excellent. He got good push, held his point when he needed to hold outside leverage on run plays, and battled well with his hands. He got a pressure on a bull rush, and was pretty much never off his feet (which is amazing considering where he plays). I really liked what I saw from Jolly and believe he'll be a contributor this year. I think he makes the team for sure.
Alex Daniels (D-)
He got some pressure from the right side, but when he was at LDE, he got sucked in over and over (flashbacks to the 49ers playoff game), was off his feet regularly, and didn't hold the point. This was a bad game for a guy that is very tough to block one-on-one. I just don't think he is the right guy in a 3-4 alignment. He's a Kevin Williams type of a guy that can shoot gaps and there is no place for that with his lack of size in a 3-4. I like the guy, but outside of playing in a sub situation, he's not doing it for me. They ran at him repeatedly. When comparing his play to Jolly snap to snap, Jolly completely dominated the performance.
No grade, he barely played after tweaking his ankle early. We'll see what the prognosis is for him in a couple of days. Ankles are very important for his position.
No individual ratings here other than to say that the entire unit needs to wrap up better. They let DREW STANTON break tackles on them. That is a symptom from the 49ers playoff loss. Wrap up and hold on. When they blitz, their bodies seem rarely in control (outside of Mathews) and that leads to some pretty awkward-looking missed tackles.
Davon House (F)
He had a terrible game. His strength has always been in zone press coverage, and he played an awful lot of off-man in the game. Still, WRs regularly got behind him or in front of him or to the side of him. He allowed completion after completion. He was not physical either. The shoulder may still bother him or he just isn't that good. The key is that he would probably be just fine as the Packers dime defender (with Hayward, Shields, and Williams the other three). This way he can play to his strengths much better.
Micah Hyde (C)
He gave up some plays but he was physical and showed why he was the Big Ten CB of the year last year at Iowa. I thought he showed some quickness but had poor form on the fade TD that he gave up. That is correctable in film though. He could steal House or Bush's position for sure. If the Packers like what they saw, expect to see Bush get more 1st and 2nd team reps in the next game to see if he can play as well as House (which opens the door for Hyde)
No grade as I didn't see much of him, but what I saw showed he wasn't very solid in coverage
Same as Nixon. They were garbage time minutes, so it was hard to evaluate.
Again no ratings here as I focused on the DL and CB with this game, but they certainly didn't stand out. On the early big completion for a TD off of House, it looked like House was playing as if he expected safety help and didn't get any (or he was just beat, I couldn't tell - in any regard that play was a good pass, but you expect good QBs to complete those passes, one reason why the Packers get lit up by good QB play).
Masthay mishit two kicks and only managed to pin the Cardinals around the 10 yard line on his punts inside the 20. He needed at least one booming kick and didn't have any. I'm going to hold my breath and hope that he corrects this by next week.
We got shut out so they kicked off one time (Crosby) and he kicked it through the endzone. Can't do much to advance the kicker battle here other than to say that the Cardinals appear to be in no better situation than the Packers. both of their kickers struggled mightily.