Checking out the first units of Saturday’s Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams preseason match-up, there were a few exceptions, but otherwise not much to worry about for the Packers.
The team played with some spunk. In a way, we saw Eddie Lacy take off like somebody lit his pants on fire, in setting the tone for this game.
He was focused and determined, tearing the turf behind him, almost beyond himself. This was the same spunk missing last week for Green Bay. However, this week the Packers handed St. Louis the meaning of the word “dominate.”
Aaron Rodgers orchestrated a touchdown on the first drive of the day, and then on the third possession they sputtered in the red zone because of a couple of penalties to kick a field goal.
The first unit and Aaron Rodgers took a seat with the clock moving to just under 8 minutes left in the second quarter.
Ted Thompson‘s rebuilt defense moved from an economical hybrid to a high-powered hemi this season, and Dom Capers did the driving, along with a host of new quality talents up and down the Green Bay stating lineup.
For the most part, the game was a trade-off of new plays, formations and players, coming together with typical second game preseason mistakes.
That isn’t real bad, since it’s only the second game. The defense showed its unity with 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter. With a couple of errors, St. Louis managed to move the ball on a 35-yard pass play getting the Rams close to their red zone. Penalties at untimely intervals allowed St. Louis two sets of downs to move up between the 10- and 15-yard line, where Green Bay traded a good stand defensively with impish penalties.
Julius Peppers gave a glimpse of what he’s all about while chasing the quarterback down to hurry the third down pass out of play, followed by a careless penalty, giving the Rams its second free set of downs. Trading good defense with sloppy giveaways every other play, the Packers fans had a glimpse of what to expect during the season, take away the lack of focus, and yellow litter (flags) on the nice green grass.
Up until that drive, which resulted in giving 7 to St. Louis, the Packers defense really looked like they were in command, minus the early season flags. Capers will hand out some stiff penalties of his own during this week’s practice, to get rid of this relaxed mental state that will be instituted to bring in disciplined focus, eliminate the flags and blown coverages.
Defensively, the backfield put things together much better than last season at this time; in fact much better than many of last season’s games. The fourth quarter brought out many of the soon-to-be dismissed players, making it mostly non-impressive.
In comparison, the toys were all thrown out of the box last week. This week, the toys were mostly put together for the Packers, prepared much farther than we would
have thought one week’s practice would allow. Chase Rettig came in to mop up, and Jeff Janis gets the honors for play of the game with a 34-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.
The second half
Green Bay held onto a 10-7 lead at the half, and played well showing their debt, while St. Louis held onto most starters for the first half. Not only did the offense offer the most complicated operation in the NFL, but Dom Capers’ defense came together into the mold he envisions for a winning team. Sure, the little mishaps and blown assignments were still there, but holding this St. Louis power scoring machine to 7 points was a feat only a championship level team could accomplish.
Stay tuned for more of the same during the next 20 weeks or so. This Packers team is going super. What we are witnessing now in preseason is a phenomena that is the byproduct of a decade in its building. As an heir of the Ron Wolf method, a dynasty of its own, the Packers coaching staff, scouts and management teams have created a “brand” that turns the page on the Vince Lombardi era. Many of Lombardi’s methods as well as basic human character has been imported into this team’s makeup.
In past seasons, coach McCarthy or Mike Holmgren, and even Lombardi teams have come out slow to start their seasons, playing up to par, but not for two or three games into the season.
The start of Saturday’s game had me wondering if it wasn’t a few games into the season already. Well, then the floor dropped out from under me.
Twenty-two penalties wore the yellow off the flags but then again it’s only the second preseason game. The most impressive news and the same news I spent the past couple months tallying, was that the talent level on this year’s version of the Green Bay Packers was going to be one of the best we have seen since forever, and I am pleased as punch to be able to say, ‘this is it folks.’
We got a taste of it today. The Machine Ted and Mike made is running the highest octane ever put together, and it’s going to be a great year to be a Green Bay Packers fan – once again. The best judgment of a preseason game comes at the start. First unit versus first unit tells the story.
What we saw today was a team that refused to slide along waiting for a mistake to come their way. We saw a team making its own breaks, at least for the starters. Don’t judge the final score or the later part of this contest. The true guage comes only on the starting unit’s play.
The Rams are coming off a 7-9 season. That in and of itself is no championship level. Then again, the Packers are coming off a season with only two game’s difference.
This Rams team is a well-organized and disciplined effort. The Packers, last week, began without the much-needed togetherness we saw Saturday.
All of what was set to tick, ticked.
Sure, we had some breakdowns, and costly errors and that is expected at this stage of the season. But today after the dust clears and the teams go home to work out their remaining shortcomings seen today, there’s not so much to worry about.
Rodgers is on and his receivers are together to put out this year’s changes. The defense looked like a big league defense again, after a few years hampered with injuries and undeveloped youth, they have aged as well as matured through a few key moves to bring in a higher level of talent, which in turn puts this team back in command of its own destiny.
This will be a year to remember, with or without a few lucky breaks.
The Pack is back.
Enjoy the ride – it kicks and just keeps on kickin’.