Green Bay Packers: Putting Together the Preseason Puzzle

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.



Todd Stelzel, a loyal Packers fan since 1966, is a contributing writer with You can follow him on Twitter at @ToddStelzel for more Packer news.



14 thoughts on “Green Bay Packers: Putting Together the Preseason Puzzle

  1. WINS are a QB stat when the QB’s play is responsible for the end result of that stat. Tolzien was pulled in ’13 after relieving an injured Seneca Wallace against the Eagles throwing a TD but getting 2 INT’s before getting two starts against Giants and Vikings. The results were 0 wins, 1 TD and 5 INT’s in three games. He’s had more time in the system and shown the improvement to get the backup spot. There will be some who see Hundley as more efficient and the better backup but it’s obvious Tolzien has played against better defensive units in preseason and seems better prepared. I’d hate to be McCarthy/Thompson after having to cut so much talent–Crockett got cut and he looked the better option at RB after Thurs game though Alonzo Harris is the better line pounder. Abbrederis got cut, I hope he gets a PS spot, it’s too soon to give up on him especially with Jordy out and Larry Pinckard waived after a shoulder injury. Even IF Thompson should sign Boykin or James Jones as security–putting Abby on PS gives another shot later on. Didn’t see much from Thornton, Palmer, Perry, or Bradford on Thurs nite–they got totally outplayed by Joe Thomas, Elliot and Jake Ryan at the LB position. Hope Thomas gets a PS nod, especially with Perry in final contract season, Pack’s first quarter LB core got dominated against the Saints. Packers fans, Masthay had a 4.5 second hang-time punt that went 52 yds, I hope it’s a sign he’s looking like the punter of two years ago. That kick might save his job. Hope Mitch Henry, Justin Perillo get PS designation if either doesn’t get a roster position, both have talent and Quarless looks lost at times despite his experience in system.

    1. Thanks for the reply.

      No question…I’d hate to be McCarthy and Thompson at this time!

      I was a tad surprised they cut Neal, but when I thought about it…Harris looked to be the better runner between the tackles when running up the gut.

      Like you…I also hope Abbrederis makes the PS. I think there is a good chance he will and perhaps the first one brought back by the Pack.

      I believe GB will bring back one TE for sure, but I’m not sure about two. Perillo would be my choice, but I like Henry too. In other words, a close call.

      For now Masthay is safe and Packers have to hope he has returned to his old form so that they do not have to deal with the disruption of finding a punter during the regular season. It’s a hassle.

      On the matter of “WINS”…I’m not here to quibble about semantics.

      I have always viewed WINS in football (whether a come from behind win or not) as a “QB’s RECORD.” A QBrec is the team record in games started by a QB in the regular season. Tolzien has played in 3 games, starting 2 with a record of 0-1-1.

      Finally, if Nick Perry does not improve his performance, this will be his last year for sure as a member of the Green Bay Packers.

      Again, thanks for the comments and feedback. Good stuff!

      1. Did you catch the PS signings? Abbrederis, Perillo and Crockett are on there, I heard Neal signed elsewhere and Mitch Henry signed with Denver I think it was. I personally liked the production from Crockett and Harris, thought Crockett was the better prospect at this point and expected Harris to get PS designation. I think Harris physical size, ability to pound like Lacy won out. It’s been announced they signed James Jones for WR, I hope this doesn’t end Janis or White’s opportunity–I would NOT give up on either with a one year contract for Jones. Either WR is likely to get signed by somebody, just hate to see them lose one just to shore up WR for this season. Janis speed is something you can’t teach, I’d keep him over White and hope they can stash White on PS.

        1. Thanks for the comments again! Like you, I’m pleased w/the practice squad signings considering there are not enough roster spots to go around and always hate to see a player I like get cut; such as Neal .

          I think Harris won out because he is the bigger back of the 3 who were battling for the #3 RB spot, but other than that lone criteria not much else separated Harris from Crockett or Neal. Very close call and tough decision.

          I’ve read that some are wary of James Jones, but I’m not one of those fans. He can catch the ball, but not real fast. I could be wrong, but since the Pack have 9 and usually go w/ 8, I think an “O” Lineman will be sacrificed, meaning Jeff Janis and Myles White are safe.

          But then watch…TT will go a different route and make me look bad…To that end…all I’ve got to say is he better not!

          1. Myles White got cut–I’m hoping he makes it to PS, it’s tough to lose a player, especially one with experience and some success, albeit preseason, in McCarthy’s offense who still has a lot of time left while Jones is only a short term fix. Jones got signed to give Rodgers some veteran experience behind Randall Cobb and Jones was very productive in this offense, especially in his last season. I think Pack might be better off just cutting Datone Jones and keeping Gaston, Jones hasn’t shown much since being drafted and that saves a player already on roster.

            1. I hope Myles comes back as a practice squad member too. On the other hand, he must be ticked off. If he is disgruntled, I would not be surprised to see him pack up his skill set and move on to another team, if opportunity is available for him elsewhere.

  2. James Jones will we an asset to the receiving corps. He will pay dividends immediately.

    1. Thanks for the reply James. It is appreciated. Completely agree with you…James Jones will be an asset to the receiving corps both on and off the field. While not super fast, he is strong and positions himself really well in front of DBs to make the grab. I think he will catch at least 50-60 balls and maybe even 70, but we will have to wait and see.

  3. I would also like to see Fauria in a Packers uniform. Detroit released him for whatever reason but at 6 foot 7 he would be a huge target for Arod and is better I think then Quarless.

    1. At 6′-7″ Fauria is an interesting prospect…On the other hand more interesting is the Quarless situation. We still don’t know what consequence the NFL will hand down to him for discharging a firearm in public. Did Goodell forget or just too busy with the Brady case? We shall see…maybe as early as today or tomorrow.

  4. I like Jeff Janis also. Jones,Janis and increased production from Adams should provide the stats missing from Jordy. I would also like to see more throws to Rodgers. He has great hands and could add much needed production from the TE position. I think Abbrederis when healthy will eventually break onto the 53 man roster. GO PACK GO. BEAT THE BEARS!!!

    1. I have been pulling for Abbrederis since day 1 and really hope he cracks the 53, but now that Packers have signed Jones it may not be as soon as we hope or think. Time will tell…it’s a long season.

      1. At least they haven’t given up on him, he’s a PS signing right now, who knows, it’s always been next man up should an injury occur and we all know these guys are one injury away from being a roster player.

        1. Yep…One player’s injury is another player’s opportunity. We could see Abbrederis on the field sooner rather than later, if Cobb’s shoulder acts up or someone else pulls a hamstring. Sounds like there is a trust issue between Aaron Charles Rodgers and Jeffery Ronald Janis. This we know…JRJ has speed to boot. If I’m ACR I’d let him fly and see what we got. If Janis is not open…don’t throw it to him…check down and throw to a back in the flat. What’s your thought shavager?

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