The Packers Week 2 preseason game against the Steelers was hectic. Especially early. There’s a 10% chance you might’ve gotten up to grab something out of the fridge at the beginning of the game and it was tied at 14 by the time you sat back down. The game started by with a pick-6 by Tramon Williams and the Packers didn’t really look back. But as nice as it is to get a win, the preseason isn’t as much about the Ws as it is getting an evaluation of the team going forward when the Ws and Ls matter. So here’s a run-down of what went on:
Packers 51, Steelers 34
All eyes were on Aaron Rodgers. He looked fine, though Mike McCarthy was (rightfully) pretty careful. Rodgers finished 2-4 for 35 yards. He was under a bit of pressure (more on that in a bit) but managed not to take a sack. The highlight though was a touchdown connection with Jimmy Graham. That won’t get old anytime soon.
Elsewhere, Davante Adams had a catch for 27 yards. Ty Montgomery showed a flash of how he could have a Swiss Army-type role with four carries and two catches. But with all the chaos early, and the nature of preseason football, the first stringers were in and out in a flash.
Outside of Adams and Cobb, the makeup of the receiving corps is relatively unknown at this point but is also endlessly entertaining to watch. Jake Kumerow had three catches for 114 yards. One catch went for an 82-yard touchdown. If he doesn’t end up on the regular season roster, there may be a revolt in Whitewater. In total, 11 Packers had at least one catch.
It’s pretty interesting to see the juxtaposition of the tight end group against the receivers. The TEs are supremely experienced with Graham (31-years-old), Marcedes Lewis (34), and Lance Kendricks (30) atop the depth chart. At receiver, Randall Cobb (27) and Adams (who’s still only 25, and actually younger than Kumerow) are the elders. That mix could make a ridiculously good pass-catching unit. Even though J’Mon Moore (no catches on two targets) and Equanimeous St. Brown (one catch for 12 yards on five targets) came back down to earth after impressive debuts.
Tim Boyle threw a few good balls again, but he only had seven attempts. DeShone Kizer finished a nice 7-12 for 149 yards and two touchdowns. No quarterback threw an interception.
The running game was pretty meh. Joe Bouagnon had 11 carries for 40 yards, mostly because Devante Mays and Aaron Jones didn’t play and Jamaal Williams left early hurt. The Packers ended up with 77 total yards on the ground, some of which was tacked on by scrambling quarterbacks. Speaking of which …
No matter what unit was on the field, the offensive line continues to look too leaky. Of course, David Bakhtiari is working his way back from what looked like a serious injury on Family Night. Neither Bryan Bulaga nor Lane Taylor played, and Justin McCray left early in the second quarter with a calf injury, which didn’t help matters any, but still, I wouldn’t blame you if you sacrificed a personal belonging to the offensive line gods hoping for health and good fortune this season.
Obviously, we could preface just about everything here with “it’s the preseason,” but it feels most appropriate to use that qualifier when discussing the secondary. At one point this past offseason, it was absolutely appropriate to wonder what the heck kind of plan the Packers had to cobble together a secondary around HaHa Clinton-Dix. What they did has been very impressive.
Prodigal son Tramon Williams looks like he feels half his age … which would put him more in line with the average age of the rest of the cornerbacks on the roster. And there’s really nothing more Josh Jackson could have done thus far. He’s looked fantastic. Jackson also added a pick-6 to go with Williams’.
(The caveat, however, is that Pittsburgh was already down to their third-string quarterback to start this game. So getting interceptions off of Steeler quarterbacks this game was kind of like Ryan Braun hitting a home run off of a double-A pitcher.)
Reggie Gilbert continued to be a menace as an edge rusher with 2.5 sacks. He just keeps busting through whatever ceiling was put on him.
The backup cornerbacks gave up a few big plays. That’s a concern, especially as it relates to the overall depth of the secondary. We won’t call anybody out (yet?), but considering Kevin King and Jermaine Whitehead didn’t play, it might be safe to say the players responsible for the big plays either don’t see the final roster or are moved further down the depth chart.
Green Bay’s secondary showed they’re capable of being a really good unit. As long as Blake Martinez can hold down the middle linebacker spot (especially important with Jake Ryan shelved for the year), even though Oren Burks appears ready too (he finished tonight with six tackles, one of which he blasted through the line to get the Steeler ball-carrier for a loss. The rest of the defense is pretty mix-and-match with some high-caliber players. The Packers appeared to make it out of the game relatively clean on the injury front, and that’s really the most important thing.
Pittsburgh put up 34, which isn’t exactly ideal, but given the helter-skelter nature of this particular game, it’s actually kind of impressive. The defense buckled down some after the 14 early points.
Mason Crosby looked good. JK Scott sort of struggled but even on his short kicks had plenty of hang time, which is encouraging.
Green Bay seemed to hold an audition for returners though tonight. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Ty Montgomery, and Quinten Rollins all returned kickoffs – one of which Montgomery had a costly fumble on – while Josh Jackson and Rollins each returned punts. Jackson’s 41-yard punt return was the most noteworthy.
In all, sure, it’s the preseason, but 51 points still feels pretty good.