After the Green Bay Packers dismantled the New Orleans Saints in the final exhibition game 38-10 there remains a few puzzle pieces on the table.
Many NFL players and fans consider the preseason to be a “meaningless” time of the year. On the other hand, in order to assemble and organize their 53 man team NFL management and coaches believe there is a need for the exhibition games.
So should the number of preseason games be 2, 3 or 4? After watching Jordy Nelson go down for the season in week 2 some Packers fans would agree with Aaron Rodgers that two games is plenty.
On the other hand Packer Nation has also heard Mike McCarthy say that these preseason games are important because there are certain game situations that can’t be simulated in practice like the 2 minute drill or the 2 point conversion play.
Exhibition games are good for the less experienced 2nd and 3rd stringers, but proven veterans have already exhibited that they can get it done in an NFL regular season game. In other words, guys like Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Eddie Lacy, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers could “shake the rust off” in practice, without the risk of injury in preseason games.
Also puzzling, in comparison is the fact that high school football teams in Wisconsin play only one scrimmage game before they open the season and the Wisconsin Badgers football team plays just one Spring Intra-Squad Scrimmage game in April.
There is no reason in the world why Aaron Rodgers and company can’t fine tune things in practice, which can be risky enough whether during the regular season or not. That’s why the quarterback in practice wears a red jersey—the untouchable color.
If nothing else, next year the NFL should at least experiment by keeping the season at 16 regular games and having each team play in only 3 preseason games. By the way, the NFL Hall of Fame Game should be counted as one of the three so that teams are not faced with playing one more exhibition game further risking injury. The key here is baby steps.
In an effort to reduce the number of players on the roster the Green Bay Packers cut 5 players from the team on Monday, August 31. None of these cuts were shocking or surprising, since all were considered long shots to make the team.
What is puzzling is 3 of the 5 players, LG Vince Kowalski, DT Lavon Hooks and ILB Josh Francis did not receive signing bonuses and thus will receive no salary for their off season and training camp efforts, per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Imagine working your tail off all summer and not receiving at least $2,500 for all of your hard work.
Given the rash of preseason NFL injuries, some fans are wondering why NFL teams are not allowed to keep three more players on the squad, since three players, the punter, kicker and long snapper, take up valuable roster spots but do not play all that much.
Another future puzzle piece that needs to be examined is the quarterback position. A few Packers fans called in to a sports radio show suggesting that Green Bay trade Scott Tolzien for a 4th or 5th round future draft choice, because Brett Hundley had a few good preseason games. Good idea, but wishful thinking.
Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy will likely stick with Scott Tolzien (at least for this year) as the #2 backup for the same reason they went with Matt Flynn last year. Tolzien has NFL regular season game experience, but zero wins. However wins are not a quarterback stat.
Finally, it might serve Mike McCarthy and company well if they take a page out of the Seattle Seahawks offensive playbook and utilize the old high school Wing “T” formation once in awhile. If executed properly this puzzle piece can be deadly.
From this offensive formation you can pass or run. If the play is a run it could be a counter, trap or power sweep. Heck, if the Packers are feeling real confident from this formation they could get fancy and use the ½ back option pass.
So, now that Jordy Nelson is a missing puzzle piece for the entire season it may be time for the Green Bay Packers offense to veer away from some of their tendencies and improvise, in order to overcome and win without the team’s #1 go to guy.
Given the way the preseason unfolded, the 2015 season picture on the cover of the jigsaw puzzle box has certainly changed; the Packers now need to put new pieces together to create the predicted winning season that stakeholders and fans are banking on and looking forward to.