Green Bay looked sloppy on offense for the most part and the defense regressed to its old self from last season, a defense that gave up the most yards in NFL history. I understand it is only preseason and I get that most of the starters were out of the game by the end of the first half; however, the regular season is quickly approaching which means the team needs to buck up or the Packer faithful are going to be severely disappointed this season.
The following are five areas Green Bay needs to improve on before the start of the regular season:
Another year, another season the Packers appear to be unable to run block. The offensive line is loaded with talent but for whatever reason they are unable to create holes for the backs to run through. They can pass block all day long and give quarterback Aaron Rodgers plenty of time to create plays, but somehow they cannot get enough push to pick up one yard on third and short. Hopefully, the addition of Cedric Benson will inspire the offensive line to improve their game.
The pass rush is certainly getting better as both Clay Matthews and rookie Nick Perry appear to be getting in the backfield. In fact, in Thursday night’s game Matthews got plenty of push on almost every play. Unfortunately, the interior linemen were unable to get off the line, which made Matthews’ effort pointless and forced Perry to get double teamed. It is great the Packers drafted Perry in the first round, as I believe he was the best player available for Green Bay’s needs at the time. However, unless the Packers can get an interior push the fans are going to be forced to watch the same ordeal as last season. A solid pass rush is a must if Green Bay wants to get back to the promise land.
The pass defense is another area that is getting better but it is still not good enough to defend against the league’s elite quarterbacks. There were too many times in which the Packers defense allowed the Browns to convert third and nines. This is completely unacceptable and needs to be cleaned up before the start of the regular season. Otherwise, Green Bay is going to face the same dilemma as last year. I noticed part of the problem was the interior linebackers were dropping way to far back in coverage, which left the middle of the field wide open for Cleveland to move the chains. The fans know it, the players know it, and the most of all the coaches know this is an area that needs to improve the most, and unless they clean it up the defense is going to be in for another long season.
Holding onto the football
For the second week in a row, the Packers were unable to hold onto the football. It was an area of pride last season as Rodgers only turned the ball over six times while the rest of the team lost only six fumbles. These are very good turnover statistics and something the Packers would like to improve on even more this year. However, Green Bay has already lost four fumbles and tossed four interceptions this preseason, including three interceptions and one fumble against the Browns. Mike McCarthy does not tolerate a lot on his team and the one thing that he will not stand for is turning the ball over. It is simply something a team cannot do in the NFL if they want to be successful.
I understand this is a not a huge area of concern but every team needs a proven backup quarterback and Graham Harrell is a long ways away from that. Hypothetically, if Harrell was Rodgers’ backup in 2010 and had to start against the New England Patriots, would his play have inspired the team to rally the troops and go on to win Super Bowl XLV? Fans have felt comfortable the last few years with Green Bay’s backup situation. This is because they knew even if something did happen to Rodgers they would be okay with Matt Flynn taking over for a game. The Packers coaches have insisted Harrell is their guy, and even though I do not doubt he has potential, part of me has to wonder why Green Bay would not give up a fifth round draft pick to acquire Colt McCoy, who looked sensational Thursday night.