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Cardinals 17, Packers 0: Quick Hit Observations from Green Bay's Preseason Opener

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Cardinals 17, Packers 0: Quick Hit Observations from Green Bay's Preseason Opener

The Green Bay Packers opened up their 2013 exhibition schedule with a 17-0 loss to the Arizona Cardinals Friday night at Lambeau Field.

Here are some quick-hit observations from the preseason opener:

Bakhtiari Shines: The rookie left tackle handled himself just fine in his first live setting as the blindside starter. In fact, the Packers rarely needed to give him help, including on the first series with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.

On a third-and-2 play that saw Rodgers hit James Jones for 50 yards, Bakhtiari kept his side clean despite playing out on an island. Overall, he didn't give up a pressure over roughly 20 snaps in the first half. The fourth-rounder did whiff on one run block early on, but he was otherwise sound in the passing game. It was a strong debut.

Backup QBs Struggle: Struggle might be putting it too kindly. After Rodgers marched the Packers 86 yards on his one and only series, a combination of Graham Harrell, Vince Young and B.J. Coleman all but stunk up the joint. The three backups combined to complete 15 of 29 passes for just 98 yards, which equates to roughly 3.4 yards per attempt. Over nine drives, the trio provided two turnovers (Harrell interception; Harrell lost fumble), seven punts and zero points.

Harrell was the big disappointment, as he still appears to lack confidence in attacking downfield. Despite all his experience in the offense, he's still a dink-and-dunker who struggles to make something happen when the play breaks down. His interception was the result of both a mixup with the route and Harrell staring down his first read. Young ran a vanilla offense over two series but showed some mobility (two rushes, 12 yards), while Coleman looked even more lost during his two series (2 for 7, 15 yards) than he did last Saturday night. By the looks of it Friday, the Packers have three No. 3 or 4 quarterbacks competing to be the team's backup.

Cornerback Depth Tested: Even without Casey Hayward (hamstring) and Tramon Williams (knee) available due to injury, the Packers cornerbacks came into Friday night with capable depth at the position. In fact, cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt, Jr. said this week that he though he had nine cornerbacks who deserve to be on 53-man rosters this season.

However, the Cardinals made quick work of that perceived depth.

Davon House gave up four completions, including a 38-yard touchdown to Andre Roberts, in a disappointing performance. He was also burnt on a double move later in the second quarter. Rookie Micah Hyde proved himself to be a willing tackler, but he too gave up a touchdown pass and was victimized on a handful of other completions.

Overall, the four Cardinals quarterbacks picked apart the Packers secondary to the tune of 16 completions for 270 yards and two scores. Starter Carson Palmer was nearly flawless (4-for-6, 77 yards, touchdown), while backup Drew Stanton gave the Lambeau Field crowd a glimpse at what a real No. 2 quarterback looks like for the better part of two quarters. He completed 8-of-14 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown.

Strong First Series: Those worried about the offense after tonight's performance need only remember the effectiveness of the first drive. Rodgers converted a third down by hitting Jones in stride for 50 yards, while Starks carried six times and appeared to score a touchdown on fourth and goal. The Packers' challenge of the play came back empty, but it was still an encouraging march for the first-team offense. Little did anyone know, the first drive would be as close to scoring as the Packers would get all night.

No Opportunity for the Kicking Competition: Few could have expected the Packers to go a full game without attempting either a field goal or extra point, but that's exactly what happened Friday night. While many teams could go without trotting out a kicker during the preseason, Green Bay can't. As Mike McCarthy said before the game, either Mason Crosby or Giorgio Tavecchio needs to step up and win the kicking job. Friday offered no help to solving that riddle. McCarthy also said that he plans to ramp up the volume of kicking opportunities during next week's practice, but he couldn't have envisioned his two kickers attempting zero chances to open the preseason.

Limited Injuries: First-round rookie Datone Jones played just one snap before exiting with an ankle sprain, but there doesn't appear to be any internal concern over the injury. Other than Jones, the Packers escaped Friday's opener relatively injury free. While this was about as ugly a preseason game as a team could produce, Green Bay can mark this down as a win if Jones' ankle sprain turns out to be minor. No team wants to put on this kind of performance in front of a record preseason crowd, but getting to the second week without a major injury is the focus here, especially for a team that has already dealt with so many early injuries.

Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (48) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I agree Zach.

You hit the QB's head on... I just can't figure it out with Harrell. He knows the offense, but is afraid to throw the ball down field. only going for the checkdowns. I understand his arm isn't very strong. But he should be able to make a lot of the throws. He looks no more improved from last year. I can see why they brought in Vince Young.
Speaking of which. I think he looked 'ok' considering he has been with the team for 4 days. He had some good throws, and made some plays. I believe in 4 weeks he will be the backup.

Also I want to add to your starting offense. This offense was without Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Eddie Lacy, DuJuan Harris. We don't know what Lacy can do yet, but he looked good last week.

I thought Bakhtiari was really good. I think Franklin looked good but didn't really have any splash plays. But he seemed to get everything he could when he touched the ball and seemed to make something out of nothing on more then one occasion.

Great article Zach.

al's picture

I hope they were hiding the good stuff for the opener at 49ers because they looked awfull and that maybe a understatement :(

razor's picture

I'm done with McCarthy - good person - BAD coach.

He protects and wastes time with losers - Crosby, Harrell, Capers, Neal, Coleman, Starks. Is he is confusing loyalty with getting results?

Not aggressive enough with his players and coaches. Is he afraid of being wrong?

Thinks he can flip a switch once the real season starts or the playoffs start. Really?

Talks a lot about correcting mistakes and getting better. Really?

He seems to think having a lot of B players "with potential" equates to A level results.

Can't get the defense back to 2010 level.

Can't get better protection for Rogers.

Wants a better running game. Really?

OK so we are currently riding the hype of a new season with some new players and many of the same losers. Will this season be better than 2011 and 2012?

Are we signing up for entertainment or is winning the only thing?

Cow42's picture

Running game looked pretty much the same, didn't it?

I'm absolutely SHOCKED that taking crappy run blockers and moving them around to different positions didn't result in an improved ability to run... SHOCKED!

This team is going to be exactly the same as last year's... While the D may improve a little (even if Perry just takes up space, he's still got to be better than Walden... Doesn't he?). But the offense is going to struggle even more often than it did last year (the OLine is worse).

It' depressing to think that preferred starters on the line include a rookie, EDS, and either Barclay or Newhouse.

By the way... Franklin looked pretty darn ordinary. Harris is better.

Tommy G's picture

Cow, I see it the other way. I'm truly not concerned about the offense. Sure, the line will suck, but it sucked last year. The last two exits from the playoffs were not due to the offense, they were the fault of the defense. Against NY we had zero pass rush and couldn't stop Eli. Against SF we couldn't contain Kap, and he butchered the D. Our D was butchered again last night. The offense looked the same as last year. That offense is enough to win the whole thing; can the defense keep up?

hayward4president's picture

Will u just trust me Damnit! When I say Franklin is badass ...Franklin is badass! Booook iiit!

Cow42's picture

I don't like that he needs to slow down and use multiple steps to move latterly. Looked like Ryan Grant... No suddenness, no bounce.

Go back and watch is kick return. His change of direction was painfully slow.

Stroh's picture

Cow, moving the OL around wasn't about making the run blocking better! It was about not giving up 51 sacks to the $110M QB, and a lot of that was predicated on Bulaga at LT, not Bahktiari. McCarthy never said anything about the OL moving to improve the run game. He did say the run game would me better, but never mentioned a thing about the OL moving to make the run game better!

Apparently you don't pay attention to the Packers!

Stroh's picture

NO cow, the preferred starters on the OL would be...

Bulaga, Sitton, EDS, Lang, Sherrod!

That's why Thompson used consecutive 1st rd pick on OT. Take those 2 1st rd picks off the OL and of course its not going to look at good! Do you actually pay attention to the Packers? I mean really you follow the 9ers closer than the Packers!

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Harrell still blows for the most part. Seems like deja vu from this time last year. Basically, if #12 goes down, we likely won't win a game in his absence. Luckily, dude's a fuggin pimp and he ain't Missin' shyat.

Very disappointed with the pass rush, subsequently the secondary, somehow though, I felt the unit in between was decent (lbrs) for the most part.

Bakhtiari looked solid, I was watching pretty close, it's waaay early, but I have hopes we may have got lucky with him.

RB's did nothing to inspire, though the likely #1 and 2 didn't play. Can't wait to see Harris and Eddie. Green just doesn't seem to break tackles, rarely gets to the second level, which blows because coming out of Hawaii with that YPC... I was intrigued, to say the least. Starks looks slightly enticing but he's a documented tease.

Jolly, seemed like he played every snap, and he made his presence known a couple times. I'd put cash down that says he makes the team. He's only going to get better.

In closing, Crosby blows, couldn't even hit an extra point, let alone a FG :-). We'll be fine.

Mark in the montain's picture

Isn't McCarthy suposed to be this QB development genius. Three years of Harrel's potential, and so far zippo!

Give MM a buy-out to go open his full time QB school for the 3rd teir. We need a coach who isn't 50% brain dead.

Stroh's picture

You cant make fudge out of Shit can you? That's what Harrell is and always was in the NFL. McCarthy can dress it up as much as he wants, but Harrell is still Shit! He hasn't got the tools to be an NFL QB. Not physically and not mentally. I just pray they finally realize it and get rid of him! Would rather have Coleman as a backup, at least he has some tools to work with and from all accounts is a good leader, even if he isn't ready for the NFL game yet. Hell it took Rodgers into his late 2nd or 3rd NFL season to be ready for the NFL and he was a 1st rd pick!

nick perry's picture

I'm with you FITZCORE, especially with Harrell and Green. I wish I could find where I read it but Green never broke a tackle last year. While that sounds impossible for a man his size after watching him last night, and games from last year on rainy days, I have yet to see him break a tackle. He was rated as a 5th or 6th rounder at best and so far has never impressed. Harrell is concerning. Backup QB should have been addressed in the off season. It wasn't and knowing Ted and M.M. it won't be. Maybe Vince young all of a sudden grasps the offense but man, Harrell just doesn't belong in the NFL.

Stroh's picture

Its hard to run on one leg. Figured Green would be better this year, but from what I read, he's still having issues w/ his knee.

razor's picture

In regards to Mason Crosby, check out this link. Either one of these two kickers would be better.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Oh, and Walker looked like a find. Kid impressed.

Tommy G's picture

Walker is going to be a Packer for a while!

aNEWpackersJERSEY's picture

After I read the comment about Bakhtiari I got so excited that I bypassed the rest of the article (til I'm done writing this) to write about said excitement. I always think about how good Rodgers would be if he wasn't the most sacked quarterback over the past 3 years. I mean consider that Blaine Gabbert got sacked 22 times last year.

Stroh's picture

Gabbert has MJD in the backfield and never throws the ball downfield. When you combine those things it adds up to few sacks.

Mark in the montain's picture

Me thinks something's rotten in the state of Packerdom. No not Dom, maybe one level up.

This is only PS1, but this really was a smelly bit o shite.

Maybe we lull SF into complacency based on our Laurel and Hardey preseason and camp antics.

Maybe we're all brainwashed.

calf21's picture

I'm sure SF is scouting GB based on their preseason games.
Either that or someone has broken into my dad's supply of poopy flavored lollipops!

Mark in the montain's picture

By the way Zach, a very good overview of a quagmire. Good journalism.

calf21's picture

BTW, what is a "montain"??

nick perry's picture

I just don't see many opportunity for the kickers to do their thing with Harrell at the controls in the preseason. Rodgers looked great, but threw that 1st and goal pass why to soon but Jones still should have been ready for it and caught it. It was there. I'm really concerned about House. If he was considered a candidate last year as a starter, what the hell happened? He made Carson Palmer look like Aaron Rodgers. Encouraging 1st series for Rodgers. Especially without Nelson, Cobb, and Lacy. Last season Rodgers seemed to struggle the whole preseason an carried into 1st few games. Newhouse has got to be nothing more than a backup. Either that or trade for a tackle if it's not Barclay. One more starter goes down and the Packers are in a world of sheet.

Idiot Fan's picture

Don't give up on House just yet. I remember Woodson's first preseason gave with us. Abysmal would be too kind of a word for it.

Idiot Fan's picture


lebowski's picture

unfortunately, this ain't House's first game with us

Idiot Fan's picture

I know, but he has shown signs of quality in the past, and it's the first game of the year. If he looks like that in a few weeks I'll be a bit more concerned.

Stroh's picture

House will be fine. Palmer is a pretty F'in good QB if you give him time (he threw for 4K yds w/ crap for recievers last year). His arm skills are outstanding. And that TD throw was "MONEY". Nothing any CB could have done w/ that throw.

Bomdad's picture

Did that south end zone expansion make Lambeau into some kind of FG kicking vortex?

The TKstinator's picture

How many of you are still grading the film? I am.

Morgan Mundane's picture

I think I have Mac figured out, its the mold factor.
They went to smallish O linemen and passed on the Cahill types because in his mind, the mold was to have small mobile O linemen that could, so call, zone block. Whatever that really is no one knows.

He also has the mold of drop back passers. Rogers of course works but Flynn and Harrel are identical in size and type of throwers. Flynn looked horrible in Oakland last night and reminded me of Harrell, again in size, arm strenght etc.

Mac gets it in his head that if he keeps things the same its easier to coach. That's why I believe someone like Kuhn stays on the team. Hawk also. Mac don't like changes.

Stroh's picture

We don't get the chance to draft the Kalil (again that K A L I L) types! They go in the top 12 picks and K A L I L went in the top 3. We have to wait for the OT at the end of the 1st, like Sherrod and Bulaga. When was the last time the Packer drafted in the top 3? Hell they've only drafted in the top 10 a handful times in the last 20 years!

Ma Linger's picture

You would think after three years Harrel would show something. Don't know zilch about Coleman other than he looked highschoolish in the scrimmage, looking at the reciever he was going to throw to come hell or high water.

I understand you can't just wish for good back up QB's. They don't grow on tree's but someone is evaluating this troupe and what they're seeing is beyond my understanding?

If you put either of them out to pasture not one team would grab them.

Ron Forit's picture

Ironic how most of our so called tremendous, can't miss safeties and corners, all were late round picks available why? How did we get so lucky that 31 other teams passed on these guys?
I'm tired of hearing the word potential. This team gave up record passing yardage the past two years.
The little I saw of the Vikes, they made stops almost immediately once the reciever got the ball and there were always guys around to make the tackle.
I do not get the wide open spaces our db's leave.

The TKstinator's picture

Clearly every single db on the Vikes is WAY BETTER than any of GB's db's. Plain to see.

Stroh's picture

Vikes play zone and give up reception easy, so they can make the tackle right away. Do you understand the difference between zone (vikes) and man coverages?! It doesn't seem you do...

The TKstinator's picture

You talkin to me?
I said, you talkin to me?

Stroh's picture


The TKstinator's picture

So, without the dripping sarcasm this time:
"What little I saw of the Vikes"....

If you watch Eric Torkelson carry the ball one time and he gains 6 yards, and then Walter Payton carries once and he gets stuffed at the line, do you conclude that Eric is great and Walter sucks?

What I object to is taking this microscopic sample size and then extrapolating these generalizations. Sheesh.

Lucky953's picture

Maybe we can sign AZ's 3rd string guy (Lindley) off their PS. Kid made some excellent throws.

The TKstinator's picture

Maybe we could trade Rodgers for AZ's 2nd AND 3rd string QB's. that way we'd have crazy depth, yo!

Lou's picture

Good observation about Harrell not looking to go down field (dink & dunk) which was just the opposite for the Cardinal's QB's. His arm strength has always been the big question and that was why he was passed over in the draft. The opposing coaches realize his limitations and prepare accordingly. I remember when Favre hurt his ankle and had to come out against the Redskin's at Lambeau several years ago and Pedersen came in. The DB's and LB's on his first play all moved up several yards from their normal positions (it was so obvious even to a casual fan) because they knew he could not throw deep and they played that way the rest of the game. With a below average arm, Harrell needs to show that he has total command of the offense and is a leader which after three years has not been evident. It can be done, Ty Detmer proved it.

Runn Fouret's picture

Got to watch part of the game today on cable.
I can say one thing without any hesitation:Neither Harrell or Coleman are quarterback material at any string. Neither would make any other team in the NFL if released today.

Actually I was shocked at how much Harrel and Flynn resemble each other. Weak arms, smallish, poor mechanics, poor field management.

Stroh's picture

Well 2 out of 4 isn't bad. Harrell is all those things. Flynn has good mechanics and a better arm than Harrell, tho still not big. But Flynn had very good mechanics and field mgmt! Flynn is a leader and a winner (Natl CHamp at LSU) so his field mgmt is excellent!

Lou's picture

Agreed, a QB that can win under the biggest spot light like Flynn without proto-type skills understands the game, his own limitations, and is a leader. Starr, Griese, Kilmer, Thiesman,Layne etc didn't fit the mold but were consistent winners of big games. When Ron Wolf (who had more success drafting QB's than anyone) was asked what was the 1st thing he looked for in a QB he said "leadership".

treg's picture

I know he probably won't make the team, but I thought Lewis played a heck of a game at left guard!

treg's picture

Sometimes I think it becomes a situation where a coaches ego gets in the way and he thinks he can develop a back up QB when he really doesn't have much to work with...

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