Dom Capers could be on to something with this 3-4 defense thing.
After the Packers preseason victory over the Cleveland Browns in which the new defense held the Browns to just 191 total yards, all systems look like a go. While defensive stalwarts Charles Woodson, Al Harris, and Nick Barnett did not play along with rookies Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji, plus Jeremy Thompson, the defense still looked good, limiting the Browns running game to just 59 yards on the ground.
The Packers offense was also hitting on all cylinders, as the first-team put up 14 points in the first quarter on a 53-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to Donald Driver on a third down, and a two-yard run by Ryan Grant late in the first quarter. The running game put up an astounding 230 yards behind a thought to be suspect offensive line. Rookie running back Tyrell Sutton paced the team with 91 yards on 18 second half rushes. Kregg Lumpkin, who snuck onto the team in 2008 before suffering a season-ending injury, also have a productive night with 8 rushes for 48 yards.
Granted, this is the preseason, and this is the Cleveland Browns we’re talking about, but last night was a success. The players are becoming more comfortable in the 3-4 scheme and it showed results (although it was against the Cleveland Browns in the preseason). The most impressive part is the rushing defense. Fifty-nine yards is impressive no matter the circumstances. At various junctures of 2008, the Packers were just gashed by opposing running backs, so to see Jamal Lewis held to 17 yards on 7 carries.
The pass defense also held as well. Brett Ratliff, an Eric Mangini favorite from the New York Jets, was harrassed all day, as he was sacked three times and only completed 7 of 13 passes for 84 yards and two picks. Brady Quinn was 7-11 for 68 yards and a pick, while his main competition Derek Anderson was 0-2 with one interception. The 3-4 held against an offense it should have held against. Tramon Williams, Charlie Peprah, Anthony Smith, and Desmond Bishop had the interceptions for the Packers.
The most disconcerting aspect of the game was the fact that after two scores by the first team in the first quarter, the Packers didn’t score again the fourth quarter. Brian Brohm did not play well at all, as he was 3-10 for 18 yards and two picks and a fat passer rating of 0.0. He is looking more and more like trade bait for a veteran if he doesn’t keep improving. Matt Flynn was solid, however, completing 5 of 6 throws 50 yards, although he couldn’t find the end zone.
Sure, it’s preseason and you’re playing with second teamers, but you’re playing second teamers (the Cleveland Browns’ second teamers at that). There should be some offense generated by the offense that does have depth in the running game and the wide receivers. Where’s the production from Flynn and Brohm? Both are thought to be capable quarterbacks, but Brohm, who was projected as a high first-round pick had he left school after his junior year) has yet to live up to his potential and Flynn is playing like a third or fourth-round pick, as opposed to the seventh-round pick he is, which is a bit of a plus for the Packers. Could veteran leadership help solve this issue? Maybe. But then again, we’re talking about scoring points in the preseason against the Browns, so it could be a moot point.
Anyhow, the Packers have Terrell Owens and the Buffalo Bills this Saturday, and we’ll have to see how the defense reacts to a team thought to have a potentially explosive offense and see how the offense reacts to a defense that isn’t Cleveland’s.
Topics: Aaron Rodgers, Al Harris, Anthony Smith, B.J. Raji, Brady Quinn, Brett Ratliff, Brian Brohm, Buffalo Bills, Charles Woodson, Charlie Peprah, Clay Matthews, Derek Anderson, Desmond Bishop, Dom Capers, Donald Driver, Eric Mangini, Jamal Lewis, Jeremy Thompson, Kregg Lumpkin, Matt Flynn, New York Jets, Nick Barnett, Ryan Grant, Terrell Owens, Tramon Williams, Tyrell Sutton