Against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night, the Green Bay Packers showed some great improvements on last season’s squad, but still left fans with a great deal to be desired while Eddie Lacy, Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson all sat out the game as healthy scratches.
On offense, Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien both performed passably. Flynn got the start and looked decent, but was actually outperformed by Tolzien who went 8-for-12 for 124 yards. There were no throwing touchdowns or interceptions. Neither quarterback looked good or bad enough to warrant a serious discussion, but the rushing game looked healthy tonight. James Starks looked great in the first quarter rushing six times for 49 yards and a touchdown. Rajion Neal rushed five times for 39 yards and also looked very solid, scoring a touchdown and breaking some long runs.
Among the receivers, eight different Packers caught passes tonight. Kevin Dorsey, Chris Harper and Davante Adams all caught more than one pass. Dujuan Harris also caught two passes for six yards, and had quite a few rushing opportunities, but only averaged 2.5 yards per carry. On defense, the linebackers and secondary seemed to work well for much of the first half, but really fell apart in the third and fourth quarters when the backups were brought in.
Micah Hyde and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix played well at safety and both proved that they could step up and perform well in run support. Brad Jones looked steady at inside linebacker and Jarrett Bush managed to rack up four tackles and a sack while rookie linebacker Korey Jones came up with a pick off Titans rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger in the fourth quarter.
The biggest problems for the Packers were penalties, fumbles, sacks and special teams. It was a rainy evening, but that is no excuse for two punts and one kickoff being dropped. Adams and Harris were the offending parties there. The final total for fumbles on the day was five, which is a stat that needs to be improved, but is definitely impacted heavily by the weather. The team took six penalties for a total of 62 yards which is also a problem but not catastrophic. Like many teams this season, they must learn to adapt to the defensive penalties on which the officials are cracking down. Finally, the offensive line needs to do a better job protecting the quarterbacks and creating holes for running backs. Four sacks is not terrible, but at the end of the day they lost nearly 40 yards to sacks.
Overall, for a first preseason game, the Packers looked decent. Unfortunately, they could not pull off the win, but it’s preseason and score doesn’t matter nearly as much as simply diagnosing problems. Tonight, a few problems have been diagnosed and can hopefully be improved before the next game.