The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 24-3, in their final preseason game of 2012. Thank God that’s over.
As you might expect, backups played most of the game. With that, let’s get to it.
Here’s what we learned.
We’re pretty sure the Chiefs have the recipe for beating the Packers. After handing the Packers their only regular-season loss in 2011, the Chiefs came out in this game and pounded the Packers, running on nine straight plays at one point. For the most part, the Packers didn’t do anything to deter them. The Chiefs two top-of-the-line backs Jamaal Charles (3 carries, 12 yards) and Peyton Hillis (6 carries, 46 yards) did pretty much whatever they wanted. Why? For the most part, guys either couldn’t get off blocks or (surprise!) didn’t wrap up when they were trying to tackle. How long do you have to play football before you get that fundamental aspect of the game down? If the rest of the NFL is paying attention, and we’re sure they are, pound the ball at the Packers defense, control the clock and probably win the game.
Ladies and gentlemen, Graham Harrell! We were wondering what this guy would do if he had more than one second to throw the ball. On Thursday, he showed us. Harrell was 13-of-15 for 223, two touchdowns and no picks. He had two big plays on the first touchdown drive — a nice play to Jermichael Finley (who admittedly made a great catch) for 27 on 3rd and 12 and the long pass to Tori Gurley to set up Alex Green‘s touchdown run. Harrell also had two nice completions to Jarrett Boykin — one on third down with under two minutes to keep a scoring drive alive and another on his second touchdown pass. Most importantly, Harrell made good decisions, showed presence in the pocket and kept plays alive with his feet. Harrell probably just locked up the backup quarterback job.
Jarrett Boykin is the Packers’ sixth receiver. Actually, that probably won’t happen, but can anyone deny this guy deserves a roster spot, if not in Green Bay, then somewhere? For the second week in a row, Boykin was the most impressive receiver on the field. We know that’s not saying much in the fourth preseason game, but Boykin has steadily improved and steadily made plays. On Thursday night he caught five for 82 and a touchdown. The guys supposedly competing for the sixth receiver spot? Tori Gurley had two for 69, but let another deep ball go off his fingertips. Diondre Borel caught two for 27. The Packers may end up cutting all three of these guys, but Boykin certainly has made it interesting and from what we’ve seen, we’d take him over Gurley or Borel. Hell, we’d probably take him over James Jones.
The Packers were looking long and hard at safety Jerron McMillian and cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Sam Shields. McMillian looks like the leader in the clubhouse for the starting spot in the Packers nickel package, at least if you were paying attention to when he was in the game. That being said, neither he, Anthony Levine or M.D. Jennings did anything of note. That is, unless you count McMillian’s blown assignment on the punt team, when he allowed his man to run by him and block Tim Masthay‘s kick. As for the cornerbacks, Shields looked solid for the first time this preseason. He even came up with a pick in the end zone in the second quarter. Hayward was decent and that’s about all there is to say. What does this all tell us? The Packers are going to name someone the starter at each of these positions, but we expect they’ll remain in a state of flux for the foreseeable future. Other than the holdovers — Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams — no one is head and shoulders above anyone else.
What’s up with Terrell Manning? The Packers gave their rookie sixth-round pick a heavy dose of playing time as well and he looked lost most of the time. He was, at times, out of position, getting blocked to the other side of the field, missing tackles or unaware of the ball. It looks like the Packers are going to have a tough time keeping this guy. Jamari Lattimore and Robert Francois look like the clear choices to backup A.J. Hawk and D.J. Smith.
With that, a few final thoughts.
- Brad Jones — not really impressed. At all.
- Erik Walden has been the Packers best pass rusher this preseason and fit the bill again Thursday night. He probably has no chance to start, but hopefully he can carry it over to the regular season as a situational rusher.
- Hey, Packers first-team offense, remove head from ass! On the first series Cedric Benson fumbled and Marshall Newhouse had a false start penalty.
- For maybe the first time ever, we noticed Mike Neal on the field. He actually put some pressure on the quarterback. Mike Neal must have felt like he was playing for his job.
- Most of the time, Alex Green reminds us of Brandon Jackson. When he catches the ball out of the backfield and has space to run, he reminds us of Darren Sproles.
On to the games that count!