The first preseason game of 2019 is officially in the books as the Green Bay Packers defeated the Houston Texans 28-26. We saw a lot of ups and downs throughout the game but for the most part, the Packers looked decent in week one.
One thing I try not to do is overanalyze preseason game. For a lot of these players, this is the first exposure they have to playing in the NFL. Others hardly ever see the field, so the quality of the game is going to reflect that. Nonetheless, I was there watching the game with pen and paper in hand, grading out each play. Before I reveal my grades for the offense, defense, and special teams, let me review how I find these grades.
Rather than grading an individual player this season, I’m grading the unit as a whole. This includes offense, defense, and special teams. This year, like last, I’ll be using the +2 -2 system. Here’s how that works:
- +2 is awarded for outstanding plays. This includes a touchdown for the offense, defensive takeaway for the defense, or any big game-changing play.
- +1 is awarded for routine plays. For example, the offense gains 4 yards on the ground on first down. The defense stuffs an offensive run for no gain on first down, etc.
- -1 is busted plays. This could be anything from giving up a big first down to a negative rushing play.
- -2 is for busted plays that could affect the outcome of the game, such as throwing a pick 6, defense gives up a touchdown, etc.
After awarding a grade for each play, I then convert it to a scale of 100 to get a better idea of how the play went. Here’s what I found for preseason game number one:
Offensive Grade: 59
The offense seemed hot and cold all night. The inside zone game could not be established and passes were iffy from DeShone Kizer. As I said, these things usually are to be expected but it did not look good. Things were picked up later in the game, as the offense started to get some fluidity in their play calls and players finally got settled in. The offense only had 16 first downs on 50 snaps (32%) in the game and finally drove the ball past midfield in the second quarter. They finished the game with 237 total yards, 95 of which were on the ground. An encouraging thing that I saw was they ended the game giving up zero sacks. Especially in a preseason game, that is impressive. Another encouraging thing was that they ended the night going 2-2 in the red zone and only surrendering one turnover. It was an up and down game, but ultimately I feel like the offense is heading in the right direction.
Defensive Grade: 62
The defense, like the offense, had its fair share of ups and downs. They ended the night with an impressive 3 takeaways (with one coming on special teams). The thing that concerned me the most was the run fits. I noticed guys out of position several times, mostly from the defensive backfield. If this defense wants to be efficient at stopping the run, the secondary has to get involved and fit up runs in the alley. Again, I know most starters were sitting out, but there were some players in there who could see a decent amount of playing time during the regular season. The defense gave up 29 first downs and 412 total yards. The Texans offense seemed to reel off some big runs and some decent gaining pass plays underneath. I did like what I saw from the front 7. There was definitely a sense of urgency as players were playing sideline to sideline, swarming to the ball to help finish plays. Ty Summers was one player who really stood out to me. He was scraping over the top and had a nose for the football. Overall, I felt like the defense had a pretty good night.
Special Teams: 60
The special teams unit had a pretty good night in week one of the preseason. A lot of these players on special teams are scrappy guys fighting for a roster spot, which is why it is one of my favorite units to watch during the preseason. The first touchdown of the game came at the hands of the punt team, where a muffed return was recovered in the endzone by Equanimeous St. Brown. James Crawford stood out to me on the punt team, as he seemed to always be the first player down the field to make first contact. Kickoff and kickoff return saw little to no action, as most kicks were touchbacks. This is one area of the team which must improve in 2019.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad showing by the Packers in their first preseason game. While there are some things that must improve, I can see the potential with this team.
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