No Huddle Looks Phat; D-Line Looks Thin In Win Over CardsPosted:Aug 21st, 2011 1:33 am
We're less than three weeks away from the season opener and here's what we know, halfway through the preseason schedule:
1. Expect the Pack to use the no huddle liberally this season. Aaron Rodgers has been perfect running the hurry up in the first two games. It allows him to call plays at the line, a la Peyton Manning. And Rodgers understands the offense well enough to find the mismatches and make defenses scramble to cover the Pack's numerous looks. Against the Cards, Rodgers was 5-5 for 62 yards, hitting Jermichael Finley three times before cashing in with Greg Jennings on a ridiculous back shoulder throw and catch. Imagine catching a gassed defense after a quick turnover. Lots of quick strike potential.
2. The defensive line is a scary place right now. The loss of Cullen Jenkins figured to be the biggest one for the defending champs and the loss of Mike Neal this week to a knee injury further depleted the unit. The prognosis is still murky on Neal, who is said to be day to day. Starting to worry about his durability. C.J. Wilson, last year's 7th round pick got starter's snaps but left late in the first quarter after a blow to the head and did not return. After the game Ted Thompson said he was comfortable with the depth of this unit. I expect him to peruse the waiver wire very closely on August 31st, looking for a veteran 3-4 end who might come available.
3. The offensive line has looked a bit sluggish and out of rhythm. With Chad Clifton on a pitch count and the Pack experimenting with Lang and Sherrod at left guard, you'd expect some issues. The unit had given up nine sacks, a couple can be blamed on the QBs. Sherrod is not ready and that's to be expected. It's a lot to ask of a rookie offensive lineman to step right in, when they were robbed of a typical offseason schedule. Though the Colts don't take these games too seriously, we should get a longer look at Clifton and Lang on the left side of the line Friday night in the most meaningful game of the preseason.
4. Nice to get a look at Finley and rookie Alex Green. Finley still looks like a beast and a complete mismatch against safeties. Green had the second most significant offensive play of the night (behind the 97 yard bomb from Flynn to West). He took a screen pass 25 yards to the two, showing patience and vision and waiting for his blockers to set him up. He scored two plays later and showed that if he's a quick study on pass protection, he could be a much more dangerous version of Brandon Jackson.
5. TV announcers Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon (what a great team, by the way) couldn't get over how high the coaching staff is on rookie inside linebacker DJ Smith. Dom Capers went as far as to compare him to former Panther stud Sam Mills, similarly a short, sturdy linebacker who was overlooked early. Smith is wearing Mills' number, so we'll keep an eye on him. With the Packers very thin behind Bishop and Hawk, Smith may have a chance to move up the depth chart.
6. I like the fact that Josh Gordy is #40. What a perfect fit. I don't like the new Packer sideline hats with the stripes.
7. Seeing promising rookie Ryan Williams' rookie season end before it started with a torn patella tendon reminds us that the key ingredient in a successful preseason is staying healthy. Tough break for Williams and the Cardinals, who are suddenly thin at a position where they were strong a few weeks ago.
8. I'd sure like to see third round pick Davon House get on the field. There is a real opportunity for playing time and a shot at the fourth CB spot. It appears Pat Lee's days are numbered--maybe Bush too. But House needs to get healthy or Gordy will remain ahead of him on the depth chart.