10

August

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Chargers 21, Packers 13

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers and the first team offense had a rough day in limited action against the Chargers

First things first: the sky is NOT falling.

Despite losing 21-13 last night to the San Diego Chargers in their exhibition opener, the Green Bay Packers are not doomed.  Some fans have a tendency to put way too much stock in the first preseason game.

Still there was some good, some not-so-good and some downright awful things to take from the defeat.

Here’s a look at some of the good and the bad.

Game Balls

Nick Perry

A nonsense excessive celebration penalty notwithstanding, Perry made a great first impression right out of the blocks with a sack on Philip Rivers.  As the game went on, Perry showed flashes of ability in the pass rush that the Packers hoped he had when they selected him the first round of the draft.

In the words of Mike McCarthy, it’s definitely an experience Perry can grow from. While it’s silly to draw conclusions from one preseason game, Perry has gotten off to a solid start in his rookie season.

Davon House

What else is there to say? The man made plays.  House showed hustle and playmaking ability in breaking up multiple passes.  Wherever the ball was, #31 seemed to be close by.  He definitely outperformed Jarrett Bush, who basically was named the starter for the game by default.

Secondary depth was a big concern for the Packers going into training camp.  House injured his shoulder during the game, and if he’s out for any extended period of time the Packers may be in trouble.  Jarrett Bush looked sloppy and House probably would get the start ahead of him should the season start tomorrow.  Here’s hoping House is back in the house very soon.

Tramon Williams

Speaking of Williams, he flashed some of his 2010 form in his limited playing time against the Chargers.  Again, we shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from a single preseason game but when Williams jumped the route to intercept Philip Rivers, it looked like Williams was back in top form after a shoulder injury nagged him for most of 2011.

If Williams returns to form, that is only going to help the Packers’ secondary as Charles Woodson moves to safety and with an unproven (yet promising) House next to him (assuming his shoulder injury is not severe)

Randall Cobb

Cobb finished with four catches for 58 yards and a touchdown.  More importantly, he acted as a sort of security blanket for Graham Harrell as the new backup quarterback tried to recover from a poor start.  With the Packers stacked at the wide receiver position, Cobb may have trouble finding playing time with the starting offense but if he keeps performing like he did last night, McCarthy may have no choice but to insert Cobb into some plays with the number ones.  He’s too talented not to be.

Tim Masthay

Masthay recently signed a contract extension with Packers and if last night’s performance is any indication, then he’s worth every penny.  With the Packers offense struggling to move the ball, Masthay got a workout.  Despite poor field position, he constantly kept the Chargers starting from their own 20 or even further back.   This in turn took pressure off a defense that was trying to gel with many new faces in the lineup.

Lame Calls

Pass Coverage

The good news is that the tackling has improved.  The bad (and arguably worse) news is that the coverage has not. With House’s aggressiveness and Williams’ interception being the lone bright spots, the rest of the defense looked loss in pass coverage.  M.D. Jennings was burned, Bush looked like Bush and Casey Hayward looked like a rookie by not even turning his head on a long floating pass.

Yes, the Chargers have one of the best passing offenses in the NFL but when you make Jarrett Lee look like Rivers you have a problem.  The defense needs to get back to its ball hawking ways if they hope to improve on their dead last defensive ranking from a year ago.

James Starks

In 2010, Starks was nicknamed “Neo” by the fans whom if you have seen the Matrix films is known as “The One.”  Many fans considered Starks “the one” to cure the woes of a running game that was ailing without Ryan Grant and had a struggling Brandon Jackson as starter.

After a poor 2011, Starks was beginning to lose the faith of fans and the faith is probably still being lost after Starks’ poor performance against the Chargers.  On the Packers’ first possession pinned against their own goaline, Rodgers tossed a pass to Starks that would have helped the Packers get out of their own end zone and Starks dropped it.  One fumble and only 16 yards on five carries later, and I (as well as many others I’m sure) wished Brandon Saine was healthy so we could see what he can do.

The Packers need a better running game and it is beginning to look like Starks isn’t the answer.

Herb Taylor

Many a cheesehead cringed at the thought of Taylor protecting the blind side of the reigning league MVP with Marshall Newhouse sidelined, and those thoughts quickly became a sad reality.  The last pass Rodgers through was an interception after he got decked by Melvin Ingram and the rest of the night didn’t get any better for Taylor.

While right now it would be too cruel to compare Taylor to Allen Barbre, it’s at least within reach.  Depth at the left tackle position was an issue heading into training camp and it definitely was exposed last night.

Turnovers

Everyone expects some rust in the first preseason game, but it’s unlikely someone expected quite the turnover epidemic the Packers (and to be fair the Chargers too) had on display last night.  Four turnovers are inexcusable, especially for a team that went 15-1 last season.   Three fumbles by Rodgers, Starks and Diondre Borel and the interception by Rodgers arguably proved the difference between a win and a loss.  Yes it was a meaningless preseason game but dismissing such a performance would be foolish by the Packers

The Packers forced three turnovers but when you still finish minus 1 in turnover ratio, its’ not a good sign.

Officiating Crew(s)

To be fair I am not singling out the crew working the Packers/Chargers game. The crew at the game in Canton messed up the coin toss.

Bottom line is the NFL needs to act and get their regular officiating crews back on the field ASAP.  It’s painfully obvious if the replacements are allowed to work into the regular season that more than half of the 32 head coaches may fall over from a heart attack out of sheer anger. I can’t say that I blame them.

The call on Perry’s “celebration” after his sack was a joke and the crew took way too much time debating what penalty to call after the flag was thrown.

Fix this, Mr. Goodell. Now.

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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9 Responses to “Game Balls and Lame Calls: Chargers 21, Packers 13”

  1. James david Marsh says:

    Most of the OL did not play well. Therefore I did not expect anything from the RB position. I lioked WR’s Cobb and Borel. I liked CB’s House and Williams. I also saw some good and bad things from CB Hayward. Perry and D J Smith will br fine. As a side note LT Nate Solder akmost got QB Brady killed last night.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Oppy says:

    nit pick:

    James Starks was -not- nicknamed “Neo” by those fans who thought he was the messiah RB to lead the Packers to the holy land by ground attack.

    He was sarcastically nicknamed “Neo” by the fans who thought it foolish to place that much stock in a rookie RB who, at the time of the nick-naming, had not taken a single snap in a regular season NFL game, and in fact, had not played football in about a year-and-a-half.

    It may have been Jayme Joers who dubbed him Neo, but I’m not sure, and it was both appropriate and hilarious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Ron LC says:

    Poorly prepared, poorly played. Much work ahead. It’s game #1, it’s pre-season, and who cares about the game. I just hope they get enough data on the individuals and put 53 players on the field who know the basics.

    It should also be the time that Capers gets his scheme embeded in the heads of every player on the D. 3 games left to accomplish that Dom.

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  4. Manitou says:

    They may want to think about moving Lang to Tackle (he did OK when he played there) and letting EDS play Guard.

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  5. Chad Lundberg says:

    In my opinion you guys all are way too harsh with James Starks. No offense.

    He hasn’t been fantastic, but he has so much potential. I deeply feel like everyone is giving up on him far too quickly.

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  6. JohnBlood27 says:

    Game Ball – Vic So’Oto

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  7. Turophile says:

    Ron LC. The “poorly prepared” comment may fairly be directed at the players, but I believe the coaches have been working very hard to improve just that.

    This is a message that will be repeated with increasing emphasis as camp continues. McCarthy was not happy with what he saw, so you don’t expect the unusual time and effort directed at ball security and tackling to change anytime soon.

    Manitou. I agree that short term Lang is probably the best option as replacement LT, even though I can also understand not wanting to move him. If Newhouse were out in the regular seson (with Sherrod still not fully fit), then I’d expect the LT, LG, to be either Lang, Wells or Lang, EDS.

    As Kris Burke said, its the first preseason game, no need to get bent out of shape. If we are this bad in preseason game 3, THEN I might have more concern.

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  8. Nerdmann says:

    Stark’s nickname was The Secret Weapon.

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