18

August

Packers 19, Rams 7: Game Balls and Lame Calls

Johnny Jolly made his presence known against the Rams on Saturday.

B.J. Coleman to Jake Stoneburner.   If you had that as the first Green Bay Packers touchdown of the 2013 season, congratulations on your new found wealth.

For the other 99.999% of Packer Nation, they were just happy to see Green Bay get its first win of the preseason in a 19-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams in St. Louis.  The starting units saw action into the second quarter in preparation for Friday’s “dress rehearsal” against the Seattle Seahawks, and improvement was visible from last week’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Aaron Rodgers was his usual accurate self, finishing 10 for 12 with 134 yards.  The backup quarterbacks improved but still left a lot of room to grow. Defensively, the loathed “soft zone” reared its ugly head again as the Packers gave up chunks of yards but didn’t allow any points until late in the fourth quarter. The “bend but don’t break” defense Green Bay has become known for under Dom Capers seems to still be the name of the game.

As for those who stood out, and those who need to stand down, here is the 2013 premiere of “Game Balls and Lame Calls.”

Game Balls

RB Eddie Lacy

People were closer than they thought when they accused Lacy of being “fat” after an unflattering picture of him emerged from an early training camp practice.

Turns out he wasn’t “fat” but rather “phat.”

The long drought of the Packers not having a powerful and bruising running back seems to finally be over.  Lacy just refuses to go down on first contact. He finished the night with 40 yards on five carries and gained another 11 yards on a swing pass.  His power and spin moves dazzled many Packers fans and have put Lacy at the forefront to be the Packers’ starting running back.

DL Johnny Jolly

So much for Jolly being out of football shape while he was suspended.

Jolly showed what type of player he can be and still is as he made tackles at the line of scrimmage, batted a ball that led to a Jarrett Bush interception and even made an interception  of his own (with a spin move!).

After his interception of a tipped pass, in perhaps the most touching image from a Packers preseason game in years, Jolly was greeted on the sideline by a mob of his teammates and coaches with Rodgers at the forefront.  (Some leadership skills, right?)

It’s clear Jolly has the backing of the entire locker room.  After his battle with drug addiction landed him in prison and away from football for years, Jolly had the potential to be on the most heartwarming stories of the 2013 season.

Thanks to his performance against the Rams, that story should continue into the regular season.

CB Micah Hyde

No Casey Hayward? No problem.

Hyde continued his impressive training camp against the Rams while playing almost the entire game. Lined up in the slot, he was up against speedy rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin and more than held his own.  He did give up a big play, but he recovered quickly from it which is a promising sign from a rookie.

With Hayward still out, Hyde is making the most his opportunities.  He’s displayed play making ability and once Hayward returns, the Packers will have the luxury of having another cornerback to put in nickel and dime packages.

Lame Calls

K Giorgio Tavecchio

The kicking competition seems to be leaning towards incumbent Mason Crosby as he made his field goals while Tavecchio missed a 49 yard field goal.

Tavecchio fought the good fight in camp, but his miss in a controlled environment does not bode well for his chances to make the Packers roster.  Crosby could still go cold, but Tavecchio is facing an uphill battle at this point.

In a battle it seemed like no one wanted to win, Crosby has pulled out ahead much to the chagrin of many Packers fans.

GM Ted Thompson could still bring in another veteran, but that doesn’t seem likely with the preseason at the halfway point.

RB James Starks

After Green Bay drafted both Lacy and Johnathan Franklin to help shore up the running game, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Starks.

Once called “Neo” by fans after his performance in 2010, Starks has done little if anything on the field since.  With the arrival of Lacy and Franklin as well as last season’s emergence of DuJuan Harris, Starks entered camp facing a major battle for a roster spot.

After a solid camp and decent outing in the game against the Cardinals, Starks was his old self (not the 2010 version) against the Rams. He was indecisive and ineffective and at this point has to be considered a long shot to make the team.

Missed opportunities

It’s preseason so it’s not too much of a problem at this point in time, but the starting offense again had trouble finishing drives.

For an offense that prides itself on being near perfect in the red zone, this is highly out of character.  The starting unit will see its biggest chunk of playing time of the preseason against the Seahawks on Friday and with Seattle’s tough defense, this is a golden opportunity for the Packers to make an emphatic statement on offense.

With a kicking situation that is far from ideal, Green Bay has got to get the ball in the end zone early and often.  Until Crosby (or perhaps even still Tavecchio) proves himself, the Packers need to build early leads.

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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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22 Responses to “Packers 19, Rams 7: Game Balls and Lame Calls”

  1. […] Packers 19, Rams 7: Game Balls and Lame Calls (jerseyal.com) […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. Stroh says:

    “For the other 99.999% of Packer Nation, they were just happy to see Green Bay get its first win of the preseason in a 19-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams in St. Louis.”

    Honestly, I could care less if they win one preseason game. I just want them ready for the regular season opener and if that means losing all the preseason games to find a hidden gem or a get some specific situations handled its more than worth it.

    Winning in the Preseason means nothing to me.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 6

  3. Stroh says:

    The Bend but don’t break has only become a staple of the D, since injuries started to hurt the seconday in ’10 and the pass rush disappeared. Its not likely to continue too much. Not if Tramon, Hayward, Shields and House all being much better man CB than zone. With the exception of Hayward and Hyde who are good in both, the rest of the CB’s are best in man. You also have to have a pass rush to compliment man coverage.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  4. Wagszilla says:

    After the Jolly pick:

    “No, I’m not crying. It’s allergies”.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  5. gamer says:

    Just a correction: Eddie Lacy finished the night with 40 yards on eight carries for a 5 yd avg … not on 5 carries for an 8 yd avg. Easy to mix them up! Pound the rock!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. dave says:

    I’d also add to the ‘Lame Calls’ category the OL guy (Taylor?) who looked slow, got burned,and had 2 penalties (holding and the chop-block). Nothing there.

    I’m not too worried about the offense finishing drives. They’re still w/o Cobb and Nelson. In this game, they had a 1st and goal from around the 4 after Lacy’s exciting run to the outside. After watching several times, the holding call on Finley that ruined the drive (and that 1st and goal) can be tossed onto the WTF category of ‘did the replacement refs sneak back into the game?’. Talk about a ghost call. Pre-season for refs too.

    The ‘bend don’t break’ could still be part of the bland defense system being used in the pre-season — where it’s about evaluating 1:1 player matchups than it is about stopping the opposing team. Don’t want to make excuses, but know that the second pre-season game is the last time to fully evaluate rookies to see who has the talent to make the team vs. carrying out elaborate schemes to stop offenses.

    I liked seeing Finley make plays and just get up and go back to the huddle like he’s made big plays a 1000 times; maybe that will help him stay more focused and not get too big on himself. I did say maybe :-)

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  7. Alex Parkhurst says:

    What I saw:

    1) Finley defensive hold on 1st series a terrible call. It was a good block. Finley was great as a receiver – nice to see.
    2) Long pass play by Rams to Givens – not one receiver jammed at the line. Maybe not Hyde’s fault. Hyde was solid after that.
    3) Eddie Lacy please stay healthy. Good running and catching. Franklin looked good too and a touchdown saving tackle on a punt return. Wow!!.
    4) DJ Williams after a drop did well Bostick was solid. He’ll be moved up from PS.
    5) Packers blitzing did ZERO. Not sure why.
    6) Jerron McMillian very quietly made some great plays
    7) Johnny Jolly – Are you kidding me? Where have you been?
    8) OK last one – Nice last drive. BJ Coleman double pumps a lot and has wasted motions. He hits his receiver better when he does a quick release. Maybe he’s learning from Number 12 – The Great One.

    Stoneburner – Very good. Touchdown and good Special Teams play. That helps his chances if not in GB then elsewhere.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    • Lucas says:

      Other sites have that Micah was to have safety help over the top on the long pass play.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      • Stroh says:

        Yeah he should have had some safety help, but that doesn’t absolve him either. His lack of make up speed allowed that completion, where almost every other CB would have gained that step after 50 yds to knock the ball away. That’ll always be an issue w/ Hyde and to some degree w/ Hayward. Both are best in the slot where their quickness is a huge asset. Don’t get me wrong quickness is the most important trait for a CB, but speed at the outside CB would have prevented that play.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

        • Lucas says:

          Any CB expecting help over the top will give up something, if even just a step. Even the top speed guys, giving up a step is enough with a perfect throw. He is slower than other CBs and likely to be exposed time to time. I’m excited to see how he can lock up with a guy one-on-one, knowing he’s on the island. This play, maybe, doesn’t expose his lack of speed.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

          • Stroh says:

            If he was one step faster over that 50 yds of that play, he is able to knock the ball away. He knew he was in man coverage and he got beat, plain and simple. Whether there should have been more help or not he got beat, it was his responsibility in man coverage.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  8. Nopainnogain says:

    I had no quarrel w/ the finley hold. he clearly had grabbed the outer shoulder of the defender, which his textbook holding. refs will sometimes not see it, but when they do, they’ll call it. not that it matters since finley had a good game anyways. the VY td pass that was ruled out of bounds was more of a toss-up call to me & I think the receiver might’ve got the legs inbounds before sliding out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  9. Turophile says:

    Missing one 49yd kick is not very significant for Tavecchio’s chances. Not enough there for a lame call.

    The whole body of work is what will determine who starts as kicker(assuming it is a kicker on the roster now).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Stroh says:

      To this point it is what is separating them. Crosby has moved ahead of Tavecchio based on that missed kick, and Crosby being 3 for 3 in that game IMO.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  10. jtmax says:

    I still like Tavechio over Crosby. What’s the big deal. He just missd a 49 FG. He’s missed less that Crosby and 49 is not exactly a layup.

    If Jolly can stay healthy he can really make a difference to turn this defense around. He just has great natural instincts for the the position.

    I just hope Williams doesn’t come back for Niners game. He’s not a good match up there due to his extremely soft play. We need too put the most physical and fastest DB’s on the field to contain Gore and Kaepernik

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    • PatMc says:

      The LB’s need to contain Gore and Kaepernik (along with DL). Look for both Perry and Neal working the OLB to do that.

      I hope Williams comes back to shut down their top receiver at the line – which I think he will. If he is healthy.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  11. PatMc says:

    A tip by Jolly and BUSH makes the team as ST Captain and 9th CB/S back up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  12. Big T says:

    Anyone else think the idea of just hoping the offense is really good and scores all the time instead of having a decent kicker is kind of silly?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  13. fifteen people not available to play against the rams is quite a few. Didn’t notice if we had any more injuries. I’d say most of the roster slots are pretty much spoken for. would like to see guys like Perry & Neal get a sack now & then.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. Bob Thomas says:

    I have never thought that the Capers “D” was very effective.Mostly, we did nothing to improve pressure on the QB.
    That “O” line better shape up,too. One great thing is that we finally have a running attack. Let’s just hope the line knows where the ball is going.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Oppy says:

      I just commented on this elsewhere a few days ago..

      Were you aware only three other teams chalked up more sacks than the Packers during the 2012 regular season?

      The Packers D does not have a problem pressuring opposing QBs, despite all the hoopla.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

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