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Packers vs Seahawks: Previews

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by TOPHAT, Aug 18, 2007.


    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007

    5 things to watch in tonight's game

    1. There's ineffective, and there's plain ugly. The Packers' starting offense was the latter a week ago at Pittsburgh, netting 3 yards and no first downs in four possessions. They're slated to get about 30 snaps tonight, and while a four-touchdown performance would make headlines, coach Mike McCarthy probably would be happy with a couple of sustained drives and double digits on the scoreboard.
    2. Atari Bigby started taking snaps alongside starting free safety Nick Collins on Monday, but incumbent strong safety Marquand Manuel has continued to take the bulk of work with the starters in practice. If Bigby hopes to challenge for Manuel's job, he'll have to make the most of his reps behind the first-team linebackers — regardless of whether he's paired with Collins, Marviel Underwood or someone else.
    3. Second-round draft pick Brandon Jackson has the rare luxury of being a no-doubt starting running back in his first two preseason games. But just because Vernand Morency is out with an injury doesn't mean Jackson has the job won. He had 21 yards on his first 12 carries at Pittsburgh and didn't break one for more than 4 yards until midway through the third quarter. Combined with showing consistency as a pass blocker and receiver, the rookie will have something to prove on every play.
    4. Big play or bust? Shaun Bodiford and rookie David Clowney won't make this team with their receiving chops, so they have to grab the spotlight on special teams. They'll be deep together for the first kickoff, and both probably will get a return before giving way to Will Blackmon, whose ability to take back punts and kicks could erase the roster spot for which Bodiford and Clowney are fighting.
    5. Rookie quarterback Paul Thompson, scheduled to play much of the fourth quarter tonight, has shown more arm strength in training camp than he did in June practices. It will be Thompson's first extended game action since Oklahoma's 43-42 loss to Boise State in last year's Fiesta Bowl, in which he was 19-for-32 passing for 233 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. He played three snaps last week but didn't attempt a pass. If Thompson's potential shines through, Ingle Martin better watch his back.


    Seahawks at Packers: Keys to the game

    Play of the quarterbacks headlines Saturday's second preseason game, PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence says. Other areas to watching include the offensive line and special teams. Coach Mike McCarthy’s goal for Saturday’s second preseason game is obvious. Score points, No. 1,” McCarthy said, alluding to the No. 1 offense’s putrid showing last week at Pittsburgh. That’s not all McCarthy — or the fans — want to see. Here are five keys for Saturday’s Midwest Shrine Game against Mike Holmgren’s Seattle Seahawks.


    There’s plenty of intrigue at this position, starting with starting quarterback Brett Favre. Favre wasn’t sharp against the Steelers, and he’s struggled through a lot of recent practices. The customary zip isn’t there yet — though there are a couple weeks of practice yet before the real season kicks off — and he’s struggled with his accuracy and decision-making. “I was as frustrated when I came out as I think I’ve ever been in the preseason,” Favre said of the Pittsburgh game. He’ll get maybe a half against the Seahawks, and it’s important for him and the offense to have at least a decent game and build some momentum. Then there’s Aaron Rodgers, who is coming off an impressive game against Pittsburgh and has generally outplayed Favre through much of camp. It was important for Rodgers to play well against the Steelers, and it will be just as important to show that wasn’t a fluke as he faces another quality defense. The words “quarterback controversy” haven’t been uttered around these parts since Mark Brunell briefly challenged Favre in 1993. What if Rodgers shines while Favre struggles?

    Offensive line

    The Packers’ starting offensive line is young and talented, but it wasn’t up to the task against Pittsburgh. Whether the Packers have a bona fied starting running back is irrelevant if the line doesn’t do its job. It starts with the interior linemen, since tackles Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton are having strong training camps. The Seahawks’ defensive tackles are a lot like the Packers’: not one star but a bunch of above-average players. That group, along with active middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, will test Scott Wells, Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz. While the focus of the Packers’ offense is on Favre, the search for a running back and the hope someone emerges opposite Donald Driver at receiver, no position group on offense is as important as the line. If the line doesn’t start to live up to its hype, the offense has no hope of manufacturing even a modest number of points this season.

    Backup linebackers

    The Packers have one of the best starting linebacking corps in the NFL, but they’ll be in deep trouble if one of the starters goes down for an extended period. A year ago at this time, Abdul Hodge was so impressive there was talk the Packers might shuffle their linebackers to get him into the starting lineup. Due to knee tendinitis, though, Hodge has been practically a nonfactor this summer. In fact, sixth-round pick Desmond Bishop is poised to be the backup middle linebacker and knock Hodge off the roster. He’s worked with the No. 2 defense for most of training camp. He isn’t the big hitter Hodge is, but he’s more athletic. The backups on the outside haven’t been overly impressive, either. The final preseason games will be key for youngsters like Spencer Havner and Rory Johnson to show they not only deserve a spot on the roster, but can contribute if needed.

    Bodiford on the bubble

    Shaun Bodiford personifies the many players who are on the roster bubble. Bodiford is the Packers’ No. 1 kickoff returner but no better than the No. 6 receiver. That puts him on thin ice, considering the Packers might keep only five receivers on the final roster. They might be persuaded to keep six receivers if Bodiford has a breakout performance returning kicks and finds a role in the offense in the next couple of weeks, but he didn’t show that type of skill in limited chances last season and hasn’t flashed much breakaway promise this summer. “Nobody is going to be on this football team just to be a returner,” McCarthy said this week.

    Special teams

    Bodiford’s roster battle is only part of the special-teams picture. If not Bodiford or rookie David Clowney, who is just too raw of a receiver to make the roster, who is going to return kicks? Perhaps Will Blackmon, who had one long punt return overturned by penalty and had one of the most exciting minus-4-yard returns you’ll ever see last week, will return kicks and punts. The battle at kicker continues to rage, with rookie Mason Crosby taking a slight edge over incumbent Dave Rayner during the last week but the battle being far from decided. The Packers have so much young depth at so many positions, that special-teams play might decide more than a few camp battles. And that’s not just the marquee spots on the return teams. That includes the blockers and the coverage units, all of which struggled last week. Don’t just watch the returners, but watch to see who makes — or fails to make — the block or tackle.


    Offense will try to get on track vs. Seahawks Can Jackson, Favre find a better rhythm with Packers offense?

    Ray Rhodes and Mike Sherman made us appreciate it. Mike McCarthy is trying his best to instill it. But Mike Holmgren was the only coach who could effectively control Brett Favre’s wild right arm. He harnessed the strongest arm in NFL history into a three-time MVP and a Super Bowl champion. Eight years after his departure, Holmgren’s tutelage can be fully appreciated. Since Holmgren left Green Bay for a head coach/general manager role with Seattle, Favre hasn’t advanced beyond the NFC Divisional playoff round, compiling nine touchdowns and 16 interceptions in six playoff games. In six regular season games against his former coach, Favre has averaged 242 yards/game, while throwing six touchdowns and eight picks.

    Saturday night the duo that reinvented ‘Titletown’ meet again, albeit a preseason game. Unlike the Holmgren era, where Favre could waltz into Toronto’s SkyDome and whip the Buffalo Bills 35-3 for a slight August sweat, this game demands a concerned effort. Four years ago, Favre’s Packers scored on five straight possessions against Holmgren’s Seahawks in a 35-13 blowout. Last week Green Bay’s first team offense went four possessions without a first down. The ‘O’ must find chemistry fast. Saturday is great start.

    In a Favre tribute, are '4' things to watch for in Green Bay’s second preseason game:

    1. Brandon Jackson. Last week Jackson only received three carries with the first team. He couldn’t find a rhythm with his offensive line and Blitzburgh’s 3-4 defense posed major problems to the Packers’ zone-blocking scheme, as Favre later admitted. But Jackson is leaps and bounds ahead of where he was when camp began on July 28. During this week’s five practices, Jackson displayed improved patience for lanes to evolve and a quicker burst once the alley does open. He’s allowing the line to wash down before cutting diagonally. Now Jackson must apply his improvements to the preseason. Vernand Morency and P.J. Pope aren’t returning anytime soon and Noah Herron is entrenched as a potent third down/two minute back. Jackson has a major opportunity tonight to win the No. 1 job outright. McCarthy will give him plenty of chances.

    2. The Linebackers - top to bottom. Green Bay’s linebacker corps has a tall task ahead of them against Alexander and shifty backup Maurice Morris. To prove they’re an elite unit, Hawk, Barnett, and Brady Poppinga must keep Alexander at bay. The real intrigue lies behind this trio. The fight for three roster spots along the team’s backup linebackers is reaching its climax. Can Desmond Bishop and Tracy White build on successful training camps by becoming core special team players a la Lamont Hollinquest? Can Abdul Hodge recapture his 2006 camp swagger and snag a roster spot before it’s too late? And who knows, maybe Spencer Havner or Tim Goodwill can get into the mix with a big play tonight.

    3. The return game. It sure is helpful to start an offensive drive at 45, instead of the 25. Still McCarthy doesn’t see the need of a return specialist. For Shaun Bodiford, David Clowney, Tramon Williams and/or Will Blackmon to land a roster spot they need to excel at their traditional position. “Nobody is going to be on this football team just to be a returner,” McCarthy assured. “They’ll also have other attributes that contribute to winning. That always works itself out.” At Pittsburgh, Bodiford reached behind his body for a nifty 18-yard catch from Aaron Rodgers. He has the inside track on the kick return job. The punt return frontrunner? Blackmon, who had a highlight reel punt return against the Steelers. “Bodiford has jumped out at us,” McCarthy said. “I like the number of tackles Blackmon broke. We’ll continue to get those guys reps and see what the other guys can do. We have more individuals in this mix this year than we did last year. That’s a positive.” By Sunday, McCarthy probably hopes that ‘mix’ is minimized with a couple returners distinguishing themselves against the ‘Hawks. Strong performances could give Bodiford and Blackmon job security.

    4. Favre. There is no quarterback controversy in Green Bay. However, it is no secret that Aaron Rodgers has outperformed Favre in practice and the preseason, regardless of who he is playing with and against. Favre admits that he doesn’t trust his entire wide receiver group. His erratic play still lingers. Favre must harness his gunslingin’ as he did under Holmgren a decade ago. He can’t expect James Jones, Greg Jennings, Ruvell Martin, and Carlyle Holiday to be perfect every play. Adjust to personnel. A conservative approach to the game would not only benefit his young receivers, but a turnover-happy defense as well. The entire team would profit. Saturday is a prime chance toward establishing this mindset. Favre won’t dump his style. It’s what makes him a living legend. But in glimpses last season (i.e. 17 of 25, 180 yards, one TD in a 31-14 win vs. Arizona) Favre proved he can lead a winner without throwing the ball 10 times per quarter. McCarthy said he plans on Favre and the first team possibly playing for the entire first half. Goal Numeral Uno? “Score points No. 1,” he said. “We want to get out there, get into a rhythm. Get our timing better. Our execution wasn’t very high. We’re looking at going 25 to 35 reps with the first group on offense and defense. We’ll see how that plays out whether it’s a quarter or two quarters. We just want to continue to grow and find that rhythm and timing that's necessary.”


    Seahawks game: Some of the things to look for in this second preseason game.

    1. I will be holding my breathe, hoping the first team offense can spark a drive. The Seahawks have a good crop of linebackers. Can Lofa Tatupu and Julian Peterson put the clamps on the Packer running game, or will the zone blocking scheme and Brandon Jackson flourish finally?

    2. The Packers defense will be tasked with stopping Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander. If Al Harris and Charles Woodson play, can they stop Deion Branch? Will any of the Packer safeties have a good game? Mack Strong is quite possibly the best fullback in the league. Watch for some collisions between him and Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk and Brady Poppinga.

    3. ...the Packers were ranked 32nd in special teams play last year. The Seahawks were ranked 10th. Let's see how that matchup plays out on Saturday. Green Bay needs to improve special teams, especially the coverage teams.


    Tonight: Packers vs. Seahawks

    Packers' injury report: RB P.J. Pope (knee), RB Vernand Morency (knee), RB DeShawn Wynn (quadriceps) and DE DeVon Hicks (groin) are out. FB Brandon Miree (stinger) is doubtful. RT Tony Moll (stinger) is questionable.


    Catching on

    The Packers severed ties with veteran receiver Robert Ferguson because of the emergence of Ruvell Martin and Carlyle Holiday. Martin caught three passes for 45 yards in last week's preseason opener against Pittsburgh, while Holiday caught a 3-yard TD. Both must continue to play well from scrimmage and on special teams.

    Downright offensive

    Green Bay's first-string offense was putrid against the Steelers, going three-and-out on each of its four possessions. Quarterback Brett Favre completed 2 of 7 passes for 7 yards, justifying his fears about being on the same page with the young players surrounding him on offense.

    Jackson Five (or Fifteen)

    With Morency, Pope and Wynn out again, rookie Brandon Jackson will get another shot at solidifying himself as the clear starter at halfback. Last week, he gained 57 yards on 16 carries, including 16- and 14-yard runs in the second half, but he managed 8 yards on three attempts while the starters were playing. Jackson needs to be more productive when the first-stringers are on the field, and McCarthy plans on getting him 15 more carries tonight to prove himself.

    Kicking himself

    Incumbent Dave Rayner has fallen behind rookie sixth-round pick Mason Crosby in the hotly contested kicking race, but the funny thing about the preseason is you never know how the games are going to play out. Crosby has never kicked at Lambeau Field, and Rayner has. They're slated to alternate kicks just like they did last week, when Rayner made a 32-yarder and Crosby a 52-yarder.

    Return engagement

    The Packers are desperate for someone to jump-start their return units, which have provided next to nothing over the past several years. Right now, wide receiver Shaun Bodiford and cornerback Will Blackmon appear to have the most potential, although special teams coordinator Mike Stock maintains cornerback Charles Woodson is still the team's best punt returner.


    Packers vs. Seahawks Game Preview

    Improvement in the chemistry of the starting offense. The Packers really struggled in their first preseason game by not being able to move the ball with the first team offense. Lets hope for some progress in this game or we might be in for a long year with many low scoring games. (The Starters are expected to play 25-35 plays)
    If the defense continues to play dominating. Last week the starting defense held the Steelers to pretty much no yards. Our defense should improve even more because I think I heard Al Harris and Charles Woodson are playing. If they continue to dominate I wouldn’t be surprised if the packers are a top 5 defense this year. (The Starters are expected to play 25-35 plays)
    The run blocking. Hopefully the offensive line can open more holes in the defensive line so we can get our running game started.
    Brandon Jackson’s blocking and receiving. Brandon Jackson struggled receiving and blocking at the beginning of camp. With receiving he has looked great at times and poor at other times. Hopefully Jackson can continue to catch the ball well. Brandon Jackson was a horrible blocker at the beginning of camp. He is starting to get better and hopefully his blocking will continue.
    The Fullback position. So far in camp no FB has stepped up. Hopefully on steps up soon. At this point it seems like either Brandon Miree or Korey Hall will get the starting job unless someone else steps up. The starting position is up for grabs and hopefully someone steps up soon in order to take the job.
    Wide Receiver Position. There are many things to watch at the WR position. If James Jones continues to play so well he might be able to take the starting job from Jennings. Jennings needs to step up some more in order to fend Jones off. There is also a big competition for the 4th and 5th receiver. At this point the two spots are down to Carlyle Holliday, Ruvell Martin, Shaun Bodiford, and David Clowney. Unless Bodiford or Clowney show something as a returner, I think Holliday and Martin will get the spots.
    The TE position. Will any TE step up? At this point I am really worried about the position. Donald Lee seems to keep getting injured. Bubba Franks looks like he won’t regain his old form. Zac Alcorn catches the ball pretty well but seems to have trouble getting open. Clark Harris keeps dropping passes and seems to not be able to block. Finally Joe Werner (former basketball player) is to raw to actually do anything this season. If none of these TEs step and we don’t pick anyone up we are going to be in a lot of trouble at the TE position.
    The backup CBs. There are two questions here. Who will step up and become the #3 CB? Who will make the team? At this point the #3 CB will probably go to Patrick Dendy, Jarret Bush, or Will Blackmon. Hopefully Bush or Blackmon can step up enough to take the #3 CB spot because I am not comfortable with Dendy being the #3 CB. There is also the concern of who is going to make the team. At this point Frank Walker and Tramon Williams are going to have to show something in order to make the team. Right now I can’t see Dendy, Bush or Blackmon being cut so unless the Packers keep 6 CBs I don’t think Walker or Williams will make the team.
    Starting Safety. Most of camp it looked like Manuel would be the starter at safety. During this last week things might be changing. Bigby has gotten extended time with the starters and it seems like the Packers might make him the starter. In order to get the starting job Bigby will have to play a lot better then he did against the Steelers where he blew several coverages.
    The Kicking Battle. Every kick seems to make a difference in this kicking battle. At this point I think Mason Crosby is going to make the team but if Rayner kicks better then him he could easily get the job.
  2. dhpackr

    dhpackr Cheesehead

    Sep 13, 2005
    I am very interested to see Brandon Jackson's quick burst to run through the gaps created by the zone -blocking scheme, on the wet feild of Lambeau.
  3. vechenzo

    vechenzo Cheesehead

    May 13, 2007
    i cant wait to see how crosby kicks in greenbay (given he gets the chance to attempt some longer field goals) He belted a 52 yarder in heinz field, lets see how he does in lambeau. And i also really hope that the offense gets something going. Another performance like last week will all but convince me that serious changes need to be made. I am still a big believer in morency to get the #1 RB job, i hope we get a chance to see him in action soon. It would help the offense a lot more having someone like him active. He knows brett, the way things work there ad he is a pretty good back.

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