It was a bizarre scene as the Packers took on the Raiders in the third week of the preseason in Canada. From the moment the teams took the field for warm-ups, things were already going wrong. The game was almost cancelled due to poor field conditions in the end zone. Instead, though, the field was shortened to 80 yards and kickoff was eliminated. I hated to hear this, specifically for the players who were on the fringe of making the team and got a majority of their snaps on kickoff team. Nevertheless, there was still some good that could have come out of this game. Both the offense and defense improved in their grades this week, and the rushing game seemed much better, which was something I was critical of last week against Baltimore. Due to the shortened field in this game, I will not have a grade for special teams. To me, it just threw everything off when grading them. I felt like the grade wasn’t a true indicator of how they did.
Here’s how the team graded out:
The offense was night and day difference from their showing last week against the Ravens. Tim Boyle looked especially good, as he threw for two touchdowns and nearly two hundred yards. He looked comfortable with his 3 and 5 step drops and delivered well timed throws to his receivers. DeShone Kizer took a step back in the position battle for the number two quarterback. I felt like Kizer had “happy feet” and broke the pocket too frequently, whereas Boyle seemed to go through his progression much smoother.
The wide receivers had a great game, especially Trevor Davis. Davis is starting to make a believer out of me, especially as I was about to give up on him. His crossing routes, out routes and blocking were all solid. Jake Kumerow was another receiver that had a great game. There’s no doubt in my mind the Kumerow makes this team. He has played too well to not make it. Kumerow is a fun player to watch. He has a nice acceleration and a quick burst off of the line. Again, he has got to make this team.
The thing that excited me the most about the offense was the rushing attack. Tra’ Carson and Dexter Williams looked smooth running the football in Matt LaFleur’s zone run scheme. When a fullback was in the game, we saw plenty of lead concepts. Both backs hit the gaps at full speed and was able to gain necessary yardage when needed. I was so worried about how the running game would turn out against Oakland, especially after such a poor showing against the Ravens. This was the thing that I really liked to see.
The defense, like the offense, had a tremendous turnaround this week. The defensive line did a great job winning the battle at the line of scrimmage and found themselves in the offensive backfield. Keke could be a key contributor to Mike Pettine’s defense this fall. I love the way he plays with full extension and explosion at the snap of the ball. He has been the most impressive player to me during the preseason this year.
The defensive backs had a solid showing. They had several key pass break ups on third down that force a punt from the Raiders. Jackson and Hollman were impressive in their press coverage and ran step for step with the wide receivers. The Packers played a majority of man coverage, which worked in the benefit of the defensive backs. With less reading involved in the scheme, Pettine could turn them loose and let them play aggressive football.
It was hard to focus on the inside linebackers after the injury to Curtis Bolton. You hate to ever see a player go down in the preseason, especially at a position with little depth. With Bolton and Burks now injured, you should expect the Packers to make some moves to bring in an inside linebacker before the season begins. I feel like Pettine has to play with two inside linebackers this year as opposed to one. Last year he used primarily Martinez with 5 players on the line of scrimmage and the defense was vulnerable to the cutback run every game. Regardless, there was some decent things shown by the inside linebackers in this game. James Crawford made some decent plays against the run and Ty Summers looked much improved in his tackling. All in all, the defense looked much more focused and driven in this game. This was a big improvement from their grade last week.
The Packers have one more preseason game to go as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau next week.
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