Packers XLV

What We Think We Know, Halfway Through the Preseason

Posted August 21st, 2018 @ 03:08pm

Two games down, two to go in this interminable preseason and we have a better idea of what the 2018 Packers will look like, but there are still plenty of questions to be answered. Here's what I think we know...

With the return of Aaron Rodgers and to a lesser extent Joe Philbin, the offense should be ready to take off. But a couple of things could slow it down. When healthy, the Pack's offensive line is a strength, with two terrific pass protecting tackles and solid interior play. This obviously presumes the return to health of Bryan Bulaga in time for the opener, as well as left guard Lane Taylor. What the line doesn't appear to have is an abundance of quality depth behind the starters.

This is not a unique trait, as most teams struggle to field five quality linemen at any given time. But if the starting tackles go down, there is a very real question whether Spriggs, Murphy, Bell and Pankey can fill the void. These last two preseason games will gem them plenty of opportunities to show their growth, but for now, the line looks like a fragile house of cards.

The running game is concerning, as neither Jamal Williams nor Ty Montgomery have shown much of an ability to break tackles and put up productive numbers. Part of that is due to the backup linemen struggling to create holes. Aaron Jones has yet to get on the field, but should see his first action Friday night in Oakland. I maintain he'll be the Pack's workhorse back by Halloween, but he needs to show he can stay on the field. Two young backs were brought in over the weekend and if one of them shows something, he'll probably land a roster spot--since second year guy Devante Mays appears headed out the door, either via release or IR.

The crowded wide receiver room has not really come into focus yet. After drafting three of them, you have to believe the team expects to keep six or seven. Three are locks: Adams, Cobb and Allison. After that, it's wide open. Trevor Davis' value as a returner is the only reason he's still in the hunt, since he's been injured. So far, it doesn't appear the team has anyone suitable to replace him. These next two games could reveal that person--if so, Davis could be headed out.

Jake Kumerow has sewn up a roster spot in my opinion, provided that his 'minor' shoulder injury is just that. That would leave two or three spots for the three drafted rookies. The spotlight will be on fourth round pick J'Mon Moore these next two weeks. If he continues to drop passes, I don't know how the team can afford to keep him. The other two rookies have shown that they have the potential to be playmakers down the road, but only injuries would cause them to be factors on offense this season. If they can help on special teams it will surely help their cause.

On to the defense where we know that strength of the unit is up front. Kenny Clark is off to a great start and Muhammad Wilkerson showed in his brief stint that he will be a tremendous addition to the rotation. We haven't seen Mike Daniels on the field yet, but there doesn't sound like there's any concern that he won't be ready when it matters.

Meanwhile, there should be plenty of concern at linebacker. The team is a Blake Martinez injury away from disaster on the inside, with little proven depth behind him. The team is also counting heavily on rookie Oren Burks to be a three down linebacker right out of the gate. I still have to think the Pack will look long and hard at adding a veteran here, if one is  sent packing when teams make their cuts. On the outside, only Reggie Gilbert has stepped up and looked like a legit pass rusher. Guys like Fackrell and Biegel need to flash in these last two games or their spots on the roster could be in peril. The team better hope that Perry and Matthews do the unthinkable: stay on the field for 16 games.

Maybe the most encouraging development through two weeks is the play of the cornerback group. The two rookies appear ready to contribute immediately and Tramon Williams is the veteran leader the team needed back there. Only Kevin King's paper mâché shoulders are the primary concern for this unit. If he can keep them in place, the team could have five solid guys in coverage--something the team will need, especially if the pass rush is less than stellar.

The safety group is concerning as starters Ha Ha Clinton Dix and Kentrell Brice struggled mightily against James Conner and the Steelers. When you see a guy like George Iloka cut by the Bengals, or Eric Reid still sitting by his phone, you just want to shake Gutey and say, 'there's legit help out there.' These next two games will give those guys, along with Josh Jones, a chance to redeem themselves. At this point, I'd have to think the team will consider getting outside help before rosters are finalized.

Rookie punter JK Scott has been a disappointment, but it's too early to panic (Jon Ryan, anyone?). All we hear during the week is how he's pounding them for distance and with great hang time. In the games, he's mostly sputtered. He's young, working with two long snappers and his head is probably swimming. But it sure would be nice to see him get his act together in these final two warmups. And as I mentioned earlier, it will be interesting to see if someone impresses as a returner, putting Trevor Davis out of a job.

We're 19 days away from the opener at Lambeau, and there are still plenty of things to learn about the 2018 Packers. These next two games will go a long way in determining which young guys fill out the back half of the roster--and who might be poised to grab a feature role if needed.

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Comments (13):

THC, I commend you for not mentioning the back up QB battle. We all know the season is probably over again if Rodgers isn't playing. I have told several people that I expect the Pack to win all of their pre-season games. This is mainly due to the experience they have at QB. I will say Hundley looked like he tried to mark the boxes from his failures in the first game. I didn't think Kizer showed anything more on the field. Both relied heavily on their Tight ends. Boyle, the rookie, is the only who seems to regularly be able to hit a wide receiver. I would like to see him in the first half, but I doubt the Pack want to show that. Hopefully they can get him to the Practice squad.

on August 21st, 2018 at 01:40pm

Davy...I like what you said "shake Gutey and say there is legit help out there". See my post on the previous Head Cheese blog. Go out and get Khalil Mack. Amen !! GO PACK GO !!

on August 22nd, 2018 at 07:47pm

But I thought Gutey was a breath of fresh air, and someone who would take risks and sign free agents? Come on Gutey, give Aarons some GD help!

on August 23rd, 2018 at 07:34am

There's going to be a considerable element of "work in progress" about the Packers this season. New defensive coaching, a different offensive coordinator and new and younger players on the roster in many key areas. It's going to take some time to see how the pieces fit together and gel. Hopefully the "work" won't set the team back during what looks like a favorable first half schedule. The asset side of the ledger is obviously Aaron Rodgers. The known receivers Adams, Cobb, Allison and the new tight ends Graham and Lewis. The starting o-line and defensive line. Hopeful questions are the new young wide-outs and secondary and the rookie punter and long snapper. Still real concerns are runningback and linebacker. Injuries, as always, will be the X Factor but already Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery are getting tweaked and lord only knows how things will be if/when Matthews and Perry get hurt as they usually do. Depth for the o-line also looks thin again. Look for the Packers to get active on the waiver wire once the cut-downs begin to fill in these areas.

on August 25th, 2018 at 07:27pm

Dave on Kfan this morning shooting his mouth off about Jimmy Graham week 2 vs vikings. except Dave forgets High school home coming games and parties are coming. so Jimmy will most likely be in Jail by week two I am as sure of this that another alter boy has been abused in Green Bay by then.

on August 25th, 2018 at 08:46am

well, I always wanted a lb from Florida that could run. ladies and gentleman we GOT EM. Antonio Morrison from colts , traded cb pipkens for him, great trade. he had 109 tackles last year. we need some depth there for sure with all these damn injuries again. now if we can get a back up tackle of the heap of dropped players would be nice. there has to be somebody then Murphy out there. vikes will be looking too. same ol problems with vikes on the kicker. wide left twice. lol, a year when your supposed to go to super bowl. you draft a rookie kicker that has never had any pressure, idiots. speilman has made so many mistakes. walsh, patterson (4 for 1) wr treadwell, cb alexander, and of course, ponder. surprised he has a job yet, yet Paul Allen. thinks he is God. Packers just need to stay healthy and I will take my chances with this group. we will have the most speed on D we have had in along time. Go Packers

on August 26th, 2018 at 12:58pm

So LDF, you don't like the trade or do you?

on August 27th, 2018 at 03:38pm

It's good to hear Larry likes a trade. We have had some dramatic rule changes this year, and again they seam to favor the offense. That said, I really do think it is which ever team figures out earliest how to make those rules work for them, that team has the edge. I hope it can be the Pack and with a renewed emphasis on the tight end, I think that is a step in the right direction.

on August 27th, 2018 at 11:25am

Well, I get to continue being wrong. Hundley is gone and at least they got something for him. What I really want to point though is Tysom Hill. The Saint plucked him up before we could get him on the practice squad last year. He seamed like quite a good prospect. I haven't watched him at all this year, but the Saint just trade for Teddy Bridgewater from the Jets. However high I , or anyone else was on Hill last year, he wasn't able to secure the back spot to the point that the Saints were comfortable. I write this mostly to help remind myself that Boyle isn't necessarily going to be suitable. Regardless of what happens, or best case scenario is that next year come this date, the Packers are Trading either Boyle or Kiser for a player of need or draft pick and we are tantalized by another 7th round/undrafted Qb whom we can again turn into a commodity. Best case scenario.

on August 29th, 2018 at 03:48pm

Yeah Larry, I'm totally fine with the trade. I don't think we gave up anyone "special" and got an area of need. Totally cool with it. I would have been more worried about the trade if you would have thrown your hands up in the air in disgust. I just read about the some of the Player the Packer might be able to deal before the cut down. I couldn't help think that most of them should probably just be cut by Sunday. I would seriously consider cutting Kendrick, Rollens, and Kiser. Everyone says Kiser has more upside. I haven't seen it. Boyle has looked better to me. If they want a project QB, I would start with Boyle. Hundley can man the clip board until Boyle beats him out. I think it wouldn't take too long.

on August 29th, 2018 at 09:15am

i/m with you on Rollins, I was completely wrong on him, I thought he would be perfect slot cb. I see hundley just got traded to Seattle, so sorry Kizer is the man I guess, Boyle does look good but Pre- season. let's hope Fackrel is Gone, I was right on that one. said in archives , Schoebert was there , Why not him? now he leads browns in tackles and 3rd in league last year. they better not keep davis just to return and cut Kumerow.

on August 29th, 2018 at 09:39am

The countdown to final roster cuts is on. The first 32-33 places have already been known since the start of camp, if not earlier so that means there's really only 20-some questions remaining. 1) Remembering the Taysom Hill case last year, do the Packers risk Tim Boyle on the practice squad or keep him on the roster and consequently lose a spot at another position for someone else. Remebering Hill, just what has he gone on to become since being snatched last year? 2) With only so much ball to go around how many receivers and tight ends should the Packers keep? They have the main 5 but do they give up this early on any of the 3 draftees; particularly to keep Kumerow and/ or Davis? Is Trevor Davis that good on returns - or the team so lacking there - that he warrants a spot for that since he has shown so little as a receiver for several years. Is Kumerow for real or is he a bubble player who fared well against 2nd,3rd & 4th stringers in preseason games? Does it make sense for the Packers to keep 3 or 4 tight ends when only Graham & Lewis will matter? 3) Will the Packers comb the cuts of other clubs to add quality depth to the o-line and the outside linebacking. And move on from Mark Murphy, Kofi Amichia, Kyler Fackrell & Vince Biegel? 4) With Pipkins traded do any of the other UDFA corners the Packers tried to play with the past few seasons have any chance with Williams, House, King, Alexander and Jackson locked in? Time to cut the wasted pick on Rollins?

on August 31st, 2018 at 09:01pm

Oakland trades away their best player Khalil Mack ...... Meanwhile, Green Bay foolishly trades away THEIR best player .... Brent Dudley .... what is this world coming to ....

on September 2nd, 2018 at 10:47am

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