Week 1 of the 2017 NFL Preseason is in the books! For the Packers week 1 was fairly successful for the most part. Apart from a few injuries and some speed bumps most of the team looked very good and the Packers walked away with a check in the win column! But there’s no time for rest now, week 2 is coming up very quickly. So let’s take a look at this week’s match up with the Washington Redskins.
THREE BURNING QUESTIONS
Can the defense continue to create turnovers?
In week 1 of the preseason the Packers defense managed to take the ball away from the Eagles 4 times. Cornerback Marwin Evans and linebacker Joe Thomas each intercepted a pass. Christian Ringo and Ladarius Gunter also managed to recover one fumble each. This is a very good number for the Packers defense to aspire to every week throughout the preseason and into the regular season. Winning the turnover battle is extremely important to the success of any team, but in Dom Capers’ scheme it is particularly crucial to the success of the unit. The Packers’ defense is centered around disguised blitzes and coverages designed to confuse quarterbacks, make them panic and force them into mistakes.
The biggest question however is whether the takeaways the Packers had were a result of good execution or merely a sign of the Eagles’ offense playing too carelessly with the football. If its the former and the Packers are capable of executing Dom Capers’ scheme successfully this will lead to a much improved performance for the defense in 2017.
How will the revamped secondary look?
There has been a ton ink put to paper chronicling the struggles of the Green Bay’s pass defense, so I won’t get into that too much. This offseason the Packers front office put a lot of effort into trying to improve the 31st ranked unit from the season before. Bringing back Davon House, drafting Kevin King and Josh Jones were just a few ways Ted Thompson attempted to improve it. Last week had a lot of ups and a few downs as well. But this week should be an even better test for the revamped version of the Packers defense. The ‘Skins lost a pair of 1000 yard receivers in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson but still have plenty of talented pass catchers on the roster. They signed former quarterback convert Terrelle Pryor this offseason to go with rising star receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson. And there is always the dangerous Jordan Reed; so Kirk Cousins has plenty of weapons he can target.
This will be a very interesting matchup for the Packers pass defense as it gives them an even bigger challenge than the one faced last week. It should give us a much better idea of where Josh Jones, Kevin King and other youngsters are at in their development. If Davon House plays at all it will be nice to get a look at how he fits into this new secondary as well. Be sure to keep an eye on where these guys end up lining up and how they do with their respective assignments; it could be very telling of the unit performs this season.
Will the rookies improve from week 1 to 2?
The Packers added a lot of intriguing young talent this offseason at nearly every position. There were a lot of bright spots in every position group; however there were also some moments that could cause some worry. There is absolutely no reason to overreact to these young men’s first ever professional football game. It is more than natural for there to be a speed bumps along their way to stardom but as they move forward you hope to see the good plays become more consistent.
Kevin King had some nice moments where he was in good coverage and had did pretty well tackling and helping in run support for much of the game. However he did have a missed tackle that led to a touchdown early in the game and he also got burnt for a large gain in the second quarter. Josh Jones looked very good for much of the game and was actually tied for playing the most defensive snaps of the game for the Packers. He had some tantalizing flashes but he also had a few mistakes in pursuit angles and a few other things. For both of these young players a couple of good plays could lead to higher confidence which will hopefully snowball into even more good plays.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Head coach Mike McCarthy said before last week’s game that much of the focus was to be on the rushing offense. However that didn’t completely work out. The Packers rushing attack wasn’t all that effective and ended up gaining only 47 yards on 18 carries. Ty Montgomery didn’t exactly thrive and none of the rookies performed all that well either. Part of the issue could have been trouble establishing rhythm. Other than Ty Montgomery nobody had more than four carries. With so few carries its difficult to get into a good groove which is imperative for a successful rushing attack. Also for most of the Packers were shuffling offensive lineman in and out of the game. Undoubtedly this would make it more difficult for the young backs to really get going.
Look for this week to be different though. With some of those first game jitters out of their systems expect the Packers’ young backs to come out of the gates hot. Ty Montgomery should play for a series or two but after that look for Jamaal Williams to get plenty of carries. Once they get going coaching staff should be willing to really commit to it for the game.
Expect the emphasis once again this week to be getting lots of snaps to young players on both sides of the ball. Ty Montgomery may get a few series in as the lead back but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the rookie backs ends up leading the team in carries. The Redskins will likely test Kevin King and Josh Jones in coverage early and often but they should be up to the challenge. There will likely be a few big plays for both teams as they are both very offensively centered teams who have had some struggles on the less glamorous side of the ball over the last couple years.
Final Score: Packers 31 Redskins: 20
GO PACK GO