Week 2 of the Packers preseason wasn’t much better than the first. In fact, it was much worse. When grading out the game I’ll admit, it was hard to watch. The thing with film study though, is that you have to watch the bad with the good. I’m not surprised to see the struggles that we have thus far in the preseason. It’s to be expected. A lot of players are trying to adjust to the NFL and all that comes with it. However, the mistakes that I saw against the Ravens was more than just a new player adjusting to the league. Many of these mistakes were mental errors such as a false start penalty, missed tackles or being out of position.
The grades you will see will probably never be lower than they are during this part of the season (at least I hope not). I’m not grading individual players with the PTTF grades; every grade is awarded to a unit, such as the offense, defense, and special teams. I’m looking for all 11 players to be in position, execute and finish plays. Let’s take a look and see how the team fared against Baltimore in the second week of the preseason.
The offense was hard to watch throughout this game. The running game was practically non-existent. When teams run the ball they have to do so with a purpose. A strong rushing attack opens up every other part of an offense. You’re never going to get a defense to bite on a play-action look unless you are actually affecting the game with the running attack. To me, it didn’t seem like the Ravens respected the running game much. There were times, though, that the offense reeled off some decent looks, but it was sadly followed up with a tackle for loss or stuffed at the line of scrimmage.
The passing game was hot and cold. Both Boyle and Kizer missed some big throws, and others they were right on the money. The RPO game looked decent and both quarterbacks made some good reads. The biggest thing was converting on third down. The offense went 3-12 on third down over the course of the game. An effective offense has to win third down. Due to several false start or holding penalties, it was often an uphill climb for them. I know its only preseason, but this part of the offense has to improve against Oakland.
The defense, like the offense, was hot and cold throughout the game. The one thing that jumped out to me was how many missed tackles there was. Ty Summers especially struggled, which was discouraging after seeing such a solid week one preseason game from him. The front, for the most part, held their own and played their gaps well. Seldom did I see a member of the front seven out of position. They took on blocks downhill and filled gaps when they needed to. The defensive backs struggled at times to come up in run support, but I did notice that they were quick to set the edge if an outside linebacker got washed inside on a running play.
A lot of the coverages played were vanilla. What I mean is, we saw a lot of man coverage with one free safety and a heavy dose of cover 3. I don’t see Pettine calling a lot of split zone coverages or rolling the dice with a zone blitz. Defenses all across the league hold to the same ideas. Simpler coverage calls allow players to play quicker and take the reads out of it. Because of this, the defensive backs were able to play some bump and run coverage and be aggressive out on the boundary.
My biggest knock on the defense was the execution in tackling. Open field tackling, especially, was hard to watch. Players have to be under control when approaching a runner. Coming to balance can be hard when you’re running out of control. Defensive players have a tendency to run as fast as possible and this can get them in trouble at times. I said it before in my previous article; tackling is one of the biggest issues thus far for the Packers defense.
Special Teams: 78
All special teams units looked solid throughout the game, especially the punt team. Players kept decent spacing when running down the field and stayed in their lanes. When the ball was fielded, they were quick to break down and move laterally to make a play on the return man. For a lot of players, special teams are the last shot they have for making the team. That’s one reason why I love watching special teams during the preseason. You know that these guys are going all out in order to make a play to try and earn a spot on the roster. J.K. Scott had some booming punts and decent hang time as well. One player that I think could be a special contributor on special teams is Darrius Shepherd. He is a shifty player who can make guys miss, both on the kickoff return and punt return. He has great acceleration and vision to hit a lane and run. It’ll be interesting to see what he does over the next two preseason games.
With two preseason games left, I’m hoping to see things start to pick up. Players should start getting in a groove and look more comfortable on both offense and defense. The offense is especially concerning, but again, I try to take some things with a grain of salt during the preseason. Let’s hope for things to look up as the Packers prepare to take on the Oakland Raiders this week.
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