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Reserves leave plenty in question

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by pack4life, Aug 28, 2008.

  1. pack4life

    pack4life Cheesehead

    Aug 13, 2005

    Getting one more shake
    Reserves leave plenty in question
    Posted: Aug. 28, 2008
    Green Bay - The Green Bay Packers closed the exhibition season with a longer list of questions, more injuries and a different quarterback than they did a year ago.

    Ever the optimist, general manager Ted Thompson wasn't ready to say Thursday night that this team still might be better than the one that advanced to the NFC Championship Game.

    "We'll have to wait and see," Thompson said at halftime of the Packers' 23-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Lambeau Field. "That team last year was 13-3 in the regular season."

    Asked how good he expected his fourth team in Green Bay to be, Thompson replied, "I don't know, and I don't think you ever know. We've got a pretty strong core of players here. I think we have a good team."

    The fact that the Packers were beaten by the Titans in the 59th annual Midwest Shrine Game basically was in the cards based on the philosophies of coaches Mike McCarthy and Jeff Fisher.

    Under Fisher, the Titans own a 5-1 record against Green Bay in the last six exhibition finales, and four of the victories were by 14 points or more.

    Fisher played his No. 1 defense for a half and stayed with his No. 1 offense through the first series of the third quarter. On the other hand, McCarthy yanked his starting offense after Greg Jennings hauled in a 68-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers on the opening play.

    Minus five starters on defense and seven overall (the Titans were missing two) because of injury and coaching decisions, the Packers removed their No. 1 defense after the first series.

    "Our No. 1 priority for the first group was to come out of the game healthy," McCarthy said. "We felt like our body of work answered the questions that we have. This game was about the evaluation of younger players."

    Although teams schedule their own exhibition games, Thompson said he wouldn't necessarily try to find an opponent in 2009 that takes a more casual approach to the final game.

    "We'll see," Thompson said. "It's great experience for our young guys."

    The Packers finished 1-3, giving them a 4-8 exhibition mark under McCarthy. Tennessee is 3-1.

    Ten days from now, Rodgers will make his first regular-season start against the Minnesota Vikings as the Packers open their 90th season.

    "I feel pretty good," Thompson said, referring to Rodgers. "It's an unknown but we've been around the kid for a while. It's a team thing."

    Rodgers closed with a passer rating of 103.6. He registered 39.3 as a rookie in 2005, 48.2 in '06 and 98.3 in '07. Matt Flynn finished at 100.2 and Brian Brohm at 45.2.

    When Rodgers exited, the late-to-arrive and early-to-leave crowd of 69,744 contented themselves watching Brohm and Flynn joust for the No. 2 job. McCarthy alternated them every two series.

    Clearly, Flynn had the better game, and probably the better exhibition season and training camp. However, McCarthy wouldn't say who the No. 2 would be, and Thompson wouldn't rule out the acquisition of a veteran via trade, waivers or free-agent signing.

    Brohm seemed overwhelmed by the might of the Titans' pass rush in the first half and was sacked four times in all. He held the ball far too long on one sack, had no chance on two others and suffered a fourth when the ball slipped from his grasp without contact.

    The second-round draft choice from Louisville also fumbled three times, losing one on a sack and recovering twice himself after a faulty center exchange and a sack.

    In 19 series (86 snaps) in the four games, Brohm generated merely three points and 16 first downs. By comparison, Flynn produced 28 points (four touchdowns) and 16 first downs in 13 series (66 snaps).

    It was Flynn's ability to make something out of nothing that put the Packers a two-point conversion away from forcing overtime. Executing a 2-minute offense with third-stringers, the seventh-round pick ran for 21 yards on third and 17 and then, as time expired, evaded the rush and threw a strike on the run to Jake Allen in the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown.

    Flynn's two-point pass to Johnny Quinn in the left corner was caught but the free-agent wide receiver could get only one foot down before being legally pushed out.

    "We knew Flynn was the more mobile one so we schemed accordingly," said Titans cornerback Nick Harper, an eight-year veteran. "Brohm might have the better arm but when you're on your back there is not much you can do."

    McCarthy's decision to bench his offensive starters after one snap means running back Ryan Grant will enter the regular season without being tackled since January. Playing his first game after a lingering hamstring injury, Grant exited with the other starters.

    "Maybe in a perfect world, yeah," Thompson said when asked if he would have preferred that Grant had contact before meeting the Vikings. "But he (McCarthy) didn't want to leave him out there after he took all the offensive linemen out."

    With Rodgers on the field, the Packers ran the ball 25 times compared with 62 passes in the four games. That's a run rate of 28.7%, an extremely low number that obviously cannot continue in the regular season.

    When the Packers did run, they averaged 4.3 yards per carry (98 carries, 423 yards). Last summer, they rushed for 348 yards in 110 carries for a paltry average of 3.16.

    McCarthy saluted the play of linebacker Desmond Bishop (seven tackles) and the entire backup defense, which held the Titans' starters to two field goals in the first half.

    "I was very pleased with them," he said.

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