Aaron Rodgers could not have said it any better when he described the Green Bay Packers’ 21-7 win over the St. Louis Rams yesterday.
“We scored and we stayed healthy,” Rodgers said. ““That’s kind of a perfect preseason game.”
Rodgers was almost perfect, as he completed 11-of-13 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown. He led the offense on drives of 80 and 86 yards that would have resulted in two touchdowns if not for a David Bahktiari penalty that wiped out a Jordy Nelson touchdown.
As Rodgers said there were no injuries other than what seems like a minor injury to tight end Brandon Bostick, and there were many standout performers. That’s about as good as it gets for a preseason game.
– Rodgers was nothing short of brilliant. It will be tough for the Packers to play at the pace that they were playing at all the time because that pace would give Eagles head coach Chip Kelly a run for his money, but it looks like they will use the no huddle a ton this year. Rodgers’ complete grasp of the offense allows them to do so. The Rams didn’t have defensive tackle Michael Brockers, linebacker James Laurinaitis, or cornerback Janoris Jenkins and played a very vanilla defense, but it’s still hard not to be impressed by that kind of precision no matter what the circumstances were.
– It’s clear just how hard the Packers are preparing for the Seattle game Week one with the no huddle, crowd noise at practice, the non verbal communication and the offense working inside during the beginning of every practice.
– It was funny to see Rodgers’ frustration after his two passes that were incomplete. The guy is such a perfectionist and it’s great.
– Eddie Lacy picked up right were he left off from last year and then some. He was impressive right off the bat on the first play from scrimmage. Lacy could have taken a nine-yard gain and gone out of bounds, but instead he turned up field for a 13-yard gain and trucked the tackler. Even in preseason that’s just who he is. I was more impressed by his two receptions for 22 yards than his five carries for 25 yards. Lacy improving as a receiver this year would help make the offense even more lethal.
– J.C. Tretter has locked up the starting center job through the first two preseason games. Without even looking at his blocking you can tell how well he is doing just by the pace that the offense was moving at. They would not have been able to play at that pace if the center wasn’t prepared for it.
– Likewise, Jeff Janis wrapped up the fifth wide receiver competition. Janis’ 34-yard touchdown in which he ran a drag route and out ran everybody to the endzone was eye-opening. It was so impressive because the defenders had a good angle on Janis and he beat them along the sideline. They probably had no idea about his 4.4 speed since scouting is not really done much in preseason. Also helping Janis’ case was that he looked comfortable returning punts. He did not do anything special there but looked natural doing it, which is important since he definitely has the physical skills to return punts. It will be interesting to see if they give him a chance on kickoffs with DuJuan Harris looking sluggish there. Janis would never clear waivers if the Packers were to cut him.
– Speaking of Harris, he did not have a good day. He had a bad fumble and only averaged 18 yards per kick return. Harris might have to fight for his roster spot if Raijon Neal comes back strong from his injury and somebody else emerges on kickoff returns.
– The Packers should be looking at the waiver wire hard for backup offensive linemen. The second team offensive line gave Scott Tolzien little chance to be successful and he actually played quite well under the circumstances. Derek Sherrod and Aaron Adams were both horrible at tackle. The wet turf in Tennessee last week probably helped them more than we realized.
– However, the starting offensive line was terrific. Even though they weren’t blitzing, Robert Quinn, Chris Long and Aaron Donald are more than capable of generating pressure without doing so. Rodgers had all day to throw on seemingly every play.
– Andrew Quarless made his case for the starting tight end spot just when it appeared that he was falling behind Richard Rodgers and Brandon Bostick. Quarless caught four passes for 58 yards. Rodgers did not have a catch and Bostick had one for nine yards before getting injured.
– Any talk of Randall Cobb having a bad camp was proven to be nonsense. Cobb looked sharp catching three catches for 34 yards and a touchdown. There is no question Cobb will have a big year as long as he stays available.
– The run defense from Green Bay’s first team defense was terrific. St. Louis had just 30 yards rushing on 12 attempts in the first half. Mike Daniels and B.J. Raji really controlled the line of scrimmage.
– Raji is making a case to be on the field in nickel situations this year with his play so far in camp. Datone Jones was more active yesterday, but he still did not have the splash plays you expect from a first round pick.
-The pass defense was not nearly as good. Sam Bradford completed nine-of-12 passes for 101 yards and one touchdown. Sam Shields allowed a 41-yard completion to Brian Quick and would have allowed a bad touchdown if not for his pass interference. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix looked indecisive in open space against the pass. It might be best to play him in the box early this season.
– Julius Peppers looked much more active. He dropped Zac Stacy for a two-yard loss and had a near sack of Bradford.
– It’s not a question of if Mike Pennel will make the team anymore, but just how much of an impact he will have. You would think that a man of Pennel’s size would mostly be a run stuffer. He proved that he can do more than that when he spun out of a double team to get a sack.
– Sam Barrington looks like he could have a say at having some significant playing time this season.
– Not to take anything away from Jayrone Eilliot, but the Packers should get him in earlier in next week’s game to see what he can do against better competition. That left tackle he was facing seemed particularly incompetent. Three sacks in four plays is impressive no matter what though.