Sunday, August 18, 2013

Building The 53 - 2013 Preseason Week 2 - Packers/Rams Review

After a lackluster performance last week getting shutout at home by the Arizona Cardinals in their preseason opener, the Green Bay Packers righted the ship with a strong performance on the road to beat the St. Louis Rams.  The Packers were pitching a shutout for 59 minutes but Brandon Smith got beat on a predictable "go" route to help the Rams avoid their first shutout since 1978 losing to the Packers 19-7.

Player that hurt his stock most - Giorgio Tavecchio
: There has been an "intense" two-way kicking battle between veteran Mason Crosby and Tavecchio.  Going into the Packers/Rams game, Tavecchio held the upper hand but went 1 for 2, missing a 49-yarder while Crosby went 3 for 3 (one was a 48-yarder).  One miss should not mean the Packers cut Tavecchio but since it has been such a tight competition between Crosby and Tavecchio, neither player can afford any misses.  I view kickers much like closers in baseball, ride the hot performance and when they start to struggle, move onto the next option.  It is popular to bash Crosby but I am not sure Tavecchio is the answer either so I support the Packers cutting both in favor of s strong-legged, young kicker.

Player that helped his stock most - Johnny Jolly: There is no question that rookies Lacy, cornerback Micah Hyde, and defensive tackle Josh Boyd looked good against the Rams but given where they were drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft all three are virtual locks to make The 53.  Strong performances by undrafted rookie free agents like tight end Jake Stoneburner and outside linebacker Andy Mulamba make them virtual locks for the practice squad with an outside chance to make The 53 at some point this season.  The inspired play of defensive lineman Johnny Jolly against the Rams made me think we were watching the 2009 version of Jolly, which was a disruptive defensive force for the Packers.  If Jolly stays healthy and continues to play this way, he is a lock to make the roster.

Position to Watch - Backup Quarterback: Heading into the second preseason game the depth chart behind starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers went like this: Graham Harrell, Vince Young, and B.J. Coleman.  Fortunately all three played fairly well against the Rams with Coleman playing the best so there is no real separation between the three after two preseason games.  If I were in charge, I would flip the playing order script to give Coleman then Young and finally Harrell snaps because I actually think Coleman has the highest upside of the three backup quarterbacks.

Final Note: I don't want to overreact to one preseason performance but the spin moves put on defenders by rookie running back Eddy Lacy were some of the most nimble runs I've seen from a big Packer running back in the last decade.  With all due respect to Ahman Green and Najeh Devenport, if Lacy can stay healthy I actually think he has a chance to be better than both.  If Lacy can keep that up, it is going to be fun watching him as the lead back for the Packers for the next few seasons.  At the very least it looks like Lacy falls forward to finish runs, which will give the Packers the options to actually run for a first down on 3rd and 1 or at least provide the illusion that they can pickup that yard on the ground to make a pass in that situation more effective.  I supported the Packers drafting Lacy in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft so when they got Lacy at the end of the second round I thought that was the steal of the draft.  One night does not make a career but if Lacy's power and spin move continues, we might be looking Ahman Green 2.0 sans the ridiculous Batman obsession.

For the second week in a row only one player was injured in the game with tight end Mike Mulligan suffering an arm injury.  Unless the Packers make any significant roster moves before their next preseason game at home this Friday against the Seattle Seahawks, check back next Saturday for my review of how the Packers/Seahawks preseason game impacts Building The 53.

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