The Green Bay Packers first preseason game is in the books, and although we could care less about preseason scores – especially that of the first game – the Packers lost to the Cincinnati Bengals, 20-17, before what seemed to be a full stadium of drunken Wisconsinites. Beyond the obvious questions, I wonder how many people in Green Bay either, 1. called in sick to work today, or 2. are really hungover and unproductive. By the looks of the crowd and the number of Miller Lite bottles observed, my guess is about 20,000.
But hey, win or lose, we’ll still booze!
As for the game, it seemed to reinforce some of the thoughts I had earlier in camp. And so…
No, he isn’t Brett Favre, but other than slightly overthrowing James Jones on a wide-open deep route early in the game, Aaron Rodgers looked very solid. He finished 9-of-15 for 117 yards with one TD and one interception. The interception wasn’t Rodger’s fault, as Chris Francies, doing his best Antonio “Stone Hands” Freeman impersonation, deflected a very catchable ball into a waiting Cincinnati defender’s chest. Francies, you’re cut! Donald Driver also dropped a very catchable ball, so Rodgers’ night could have been even better, statistically speaking.
If there was ever any doubt as to who Packers fans are loyal to, it was resoundingly answered on Monday night, when Rodgers got a standing ovation upon entering the game. Although there were a few pro-Favre signs in Lambeau last night, the majority of the signs and the fans were pro-Rodgers, leaving no doubt we are Packers fans first. It was nice to see that fact reinforced in front of a national television audience.
The Second Coming of Ryan Grant
His name just may be Brandon Jackson, who had six carries for 44 yards, including a 22-yard burst. You can certainly see a difference between Jackson this year vs. last. He clearly understands the system and looks bigger and stronger, now. Those two factors seem to have increased his confidence, as well. Jackson often looked lost on the field last year. From what I’ve seen and heard so far this year, Jackson is running hard, as was evidenced by some of the tackles he broke last night. If I were Ryan Grant, I’d start thinking about getting my ass on the field, unless I want to be splitting carries with Jackson all year.
Is The Defense Better Than Last Year?
Although The Packers are banged up along the defensive line, when healthy, I would suggest that the notion is probable. Al Harris, Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett and several other defensive linemen didn’t play Monday night. Despite that, the defense didn’t give up a first down to the supposedly high-powered Bengals offense on their first three drives. The Packers have obviously improved at linebacker, where Abdul Hodge looks to be developing into a solid backup, Brandon Chillar looks to be a nice addition and A.J. Hawk is looking less like a solid linebacker and more like a bona fide playmaker. At cornerback, Tramon Williams has obviously improved and could develop into Al Harris’ eventual replacement if last night’s game is any indication. He matched up well with Chad Johnson and more than held his own. Each time the ball came towards him in the first quarter, Williams seemed to be in great position. If injuries don’t become a problem, the Packers are going to win some games with defense this year.
It’s Time For a Veteran Quarterback
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If Rodgers goes down, I’m going to be very uncomfortable with Brian Brohm trotting onto the field if our playoff destiny is on the line. Brohm, who did nothing to dispel that feeling Monday night by throwing a pick on his first attempt of the game, looked like a rookie quarterback. He locked onto receivers, he threw into coverage, he made rookie mistakes. While I like Brohm’s potential a lot, along with that of Matt Flynn (who looked decent against the Bungles third team defense, and actually lead a scoring drive), it’s time for Ted Thompson to go out and get a veteran who can manage some games for us if Rodgers goes down. When is Tampa going to cut Chris Simms? I say he’s our guy, and we go into the season with four QBs on the roster.
I’d like to say I will know more about the team after Saturday’s game with the 49ers, but I will be making the trip to San Fran for the game, so you just might be seeing me and my idiot friends waving one of those bottles of Miller Lite around on the telly.