The third week of the preseason is upon us! This week is often viewed by many as the most important week of the preseason as it is seen as the final dress rehearsal for the starters. Although Aaron Rodgers and company looked like they were a well oiled machine against the Redskins; it wouldn’t be surprising if they are in for multiple series. Now how exciting is that?! So, let’s get to it and breakdown what to look for in this week’s game against the Denver Broncos!
THREE BURNING QUESTIONS
Is Jeff Janis finally for real?
The Jeff Janis preseason hype train is reaching historic levels. Which is really saying something as he has been known to make a splash in August every year. But this year has seemed different. He’s still making terrific special teams plays and when on offense he actually looks like a competent receiver. This could be an illusion caused by playing against mostly second-teamers. Or he could be realizing his potential. I personally am very skeptical because I have been down this path before; only to be let down by the hope of Janis reaching his potential.
This week, however, could be very interesting. The Broncos have what is probably the most feared cornerback duo in the NFL. Chris Harris and Aqib Talib are two of the most talented defensive backs in the league. It isn’t likely that either of them will be matched up with Janis often, as he will mostly play with the second team offense and they will be with the first team defense. But there may be some overlap in which Janis plays some snaps against this dangerous secondary. If this does happen keep a very close eye on him. It will tell us a lot more about his development than any game has thus far.
Is this defense legit?
In last week’s game against the Washington Redskins the Packers defense didn’t allow the opposing team to get a first down until the final play of the first quarter. In the end it took 6 drives for the Redskins to score more than a single field goal. And even that field goal was a gimme for Washington after Trevor Davis muffed a punt deep inside Packers territory. Even with that the Redskins first team offense only managed 10 points throughout the entire first half even though much of it was against the Packers second team defense.
The ‘Skins offense is known to be a particularly competent group, so for a combination of Green Bay’s first and second team defense to hold them to only 10 points over a half is a very encouraging sign. The secondary looked pretty solid even without Davon House or Damarious Randall. Kevin King appeared to build on some successes from week 1 and had a solid all around game. But the star of the night for the Packers defense was Josh Hawkins. The 2016 UDFA from East Carolina has been turning heads lately. He came up huge with two passes defensed in the end zone against Washington including one beautiful break up on a pass intended for Vernon Davis which would have been a lock for 6 points. Watch for Hawkins and the entire defense will look to continue the strong play heading into the game against the Broncos. The Denver offense, while not as explosive, is still a very well coached unit and will be a very good test for the up and coming Packers defense.
Will the run game come around?
In week 1 the Packers run game was largely ineffective but we hoped it would rebound in week 2. However that wasn’t really the case. Ty Montgomery was inactive last week which left Jamaal Williams to take snaps with the first team offense. Hopefully Montgomery isn’t out long but even if he is look for the run game to improve plenty this week and moving forward. This Broncos defense is very good, but mostly because of the secondary and the pass rush. This unit is fairly vulnerable on the ground though. This could work out very well for the Packers stable of young running backs. Against a not so solid run defense they can get some good reps, carve out some positive plays and grow their confidence going forward.
That isn’t the only reason to remain confident in the rushing offense moving forward though. So far this preseason the offense has been pretty bland as far as play calling goes, especially so in the run game. Most of the rushing offense has consisted of base blocking schemes and the back just finding what he can. McCarthy still might not open the playbook up too much during the preseason but moving forward expect the run game to pick up when he does. When these young backs get a chance to run behind pulling guards and tackles along with more varied selection of where each play is intended to go there should be a definite up tick in their production.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The first team offensive line looked very solid last week against the pass rush of the Washington Redskins. However the Denver Broncos’ pass rush is another animal entirely. Even with the loss of Demarcus Ware to retirement, Von Miller is still one of the three most feared pass rushers in football. David Bakhtiari is one of the top left tackles in the league and Bryan Bulaga is the picture of consistency in pass protection. Those two are the real anchors of this offensive line but the starting 5 is solid all the way across. However after the starting 5 things start to get a little less positive.
Jason Spriggs whom the Packers traded up to select in the 2016 draft has not looked like a player who has made a second year jump. Transitioning to playing tackle in the NFL from college football is no small task but you hope to see some noticeable improvement after a year of NFL coaching and practicing. Unfortunately that has not been the case so far. Which is part of what is concerning when looking at the depth of this offensive line. After the starters came out the offensive line did not look good at all. If this does not change during this week’s game against the Broncos that could spell potential trouble for the Packers down the road.
Hopefully we’ll get to see the first stringers of both teams square off for multiple series in this weeks matchup as it should be a good one! The Packers high octane passing offense squaring off against the potent pass rush and secondary of the Denver Broncos should be a lot of fun to watch. Expect the Packers to try to pound the ball forcing the Broncos to play honest. Look for a balanced run and pass attack to keep the Broncos defense guessing all game long.
When the Packers are on defense, the Broncos will likely try to pound the ball to keep pressure off of Trevor Siemian. Unfortunately for them the Packers rush defense has been extremely stout so far. This should force the Broncos into some third and longs where hopefully the secondary can continue its strong play leading to the Packers continuing their winning ways!
FINAL SCORE: Packers: 27 Broncos: 13