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Four Takeaways the Big Takeaway for Packers' D in First Preseason Game

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Four Takeaways the Big Takeaway for Packers' D in First Preseason Game

The difficulty one always has when analyzing preseason football games is determining what you can and can't take away from any individual game. This is especially true in the first preseason matchup of the year, when the teams have barely had pads on for a couple weeks and many of the players on the roster are still learning the playbook.

However, one has to be enocuraged by the defense's (and special teams') ability to make big plays. All the usual preseason disclaimers about who was actually on the field at the time the plays were made certainly apply, but the fact remains that the Packers came away with four takeaways in last night's game against the Houston Texans, a total that accounts for more than 25 percent of the total number of takeaways the team had in the 2018 regular season (15).

Is it a sign of an influx of defensive talent? Is it the defense growing more comfortable under second-year coordinator Mike Pettine? Is it simply a right place/right time situation? Impossible to say in just one game. What's significant here is that it happened, and that the team had multiple players make those plays when the opportunities presented themselves. And that's something you always want to see out of your team, regardless of how "meaningless" the game is.

Ka'Dar Hollman interception

The first takeaway of the game was this interception by rookie defensive back Ka'Dar Hollman.

Backup quarterback Joe Webb (he of the Moon Ball fame from the 2012-2013 playoff game against the Vikings) simply underthrows his receiver here, and Hollman recognizes it in time to get in the path of the ball. Heads up play by a guy who maintained eyes on the ball whlie covering a receiver deep up the middle of the field.

Muffed punt touchdown recovery

Of all four of the takeaways, this one is the one you can most easily chalk up to being luck. But it's still a heads up play by Equanimeous St. Brown here. He reacts very quickly when the ball bounces off of the Texans' Keke Coutee and manages to pull the ball in and secure it with one arm while across the plane for a touchdown. A bit of luck involved, sure, but St. Brown still completed the play with the best possible result.

Strip fumble

My favorite takeaway of the evening. It's the second view of the play that gives you the best look at what happened here. Raven Greene isn't able to make the tackle, but he does stretch in to punch the ball loose. Will Redmond is then fortunate enough to be in exactly the right place--the ball essentially bounces right into his chest, allowing Redmond to take it the other direction. 

This is a fantastic play by Greene, an opportunity he creates for the team simply through outstanding effort.

Sullivan interception

I'm interested to get another angle on this play once the All-22s come out, because on the radio broadcast, Wayne and Larry seemed to think cornerback Chandon Sullivan had actually been covering a different player but let his man go when he saw where Webb was going with the ball. It's just a bad throw by Webb here, throwing up a high floater in a tight window after telegraphing his decision. Sullivan makes the most of it, jumping in to pluck the ball out of the air and take it down inside the Texans' five yeard line. 


Was the Packers' playmaking ability on defense and special teams indicative of what's to come this season? It's truly impossible to say after one game, but it was certainly one of the biggest positives for the team to "take away" from its first live game action of the season.



Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (25) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Old School's picture

Four takeaways is nice. That won’t happen when we play the real Texans.

Nick Perry's picture

Considering the Packers would probably have some combination of Hollman, Alexander, Brown, King (hopefully), Williams, Amos, Savage, and Greene...Possibly J. Jones or any one of the players who made plays Thursday night in the back end. Kenny Clark, Z Smith, P Smith, Keke, M. Adams, Gary, Frackrell, Martinez, Lowry, or Ty "Tackling" Summers playing on the front 7, why the hell not?

I mean you should SO definite when you suggest it won't happen against the "Real Texans"... Well, what about when they're playing the "Real Packers"?

Games like this, even in the preseason gives defenses confidence they can do it ALL the time. I'd expect a little more out of a Packers fan who's been around since the Lombardi years...Just saying...

fthisJack's picture

you're probably yelling at kids to get off your lawn.

Mark Gaedtke's picture

Can't control who they put across the field from you, but you can control your effort. Last night was a good effort. A very ice first step, I'd say.

Mannix's picture

We definitely need more takeaways this year and I think we'll get them. I think this is a top 10 defense if Kevin King can start every game. He's so key to me. We are dominant in pass defense if King and Alexander can both stay on that field. The MN game last year was a great example. They fell apart the second King went down and got roasted by Cousins. Here's a toast to good health for Kevin King as soon as he gets healthy.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Could have been 5 if that LB had caught that one. Glad to see the Packers defense creating turnovers.

Rak47's picture

I loved the effort and strip by Greene. Great play and confidence builder from a young man the defense is going to depend on this season.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Me too. I really like Greene and Hollman. With those guys the top backups I am happier with the secondary than I have been in a long time.

Branden Burke's picture

I don't get him needing to see a different video on the Sullivan pick. He was in zone covering the flat and simply slid over for the INT. You can see it in the video he posted.

murf7777's picture

Nobody is giving credit to our punter who boomed it 55 yards in the air with good hang time. Here’s to you Scott!

Branden Burke's picture

Scott looked really good in warm ups too. The dude has a leg. He usually kicks a perfect spiral

Coldworld's picture

He looked good this time last year, but then became erratic mid season. Also had problems with touchbacks. This season so far he has had better touch, but he was all over the place in his first for punts in the second Texans practice and then great on the next 4.

He had one long low kick that set up a return (net 30) on Thursday. Other than that he was good without doubt. I think he is progressing, and he certainly has the leg strength. Promising thus far in year 2.

BoCallahan's picture

I’m still concerned about STs. The 1st play of the game was a kick return. The Pack got called for a block in the back and got moved back half the distance to the goal. Not a good way to start (which was then followed up by an Offensive penalty on the 1st play). The 2nd ST play was the fumble recovery for a TD which causes us to forget the 1st ST play. The 3rd special teams play of the game was a simple extra point attempt. The Pack got called for an Illegal Formation. In 3 ST plays, the Pack had 2 penalties. You might say, “It was 2nd & 3rd string.” They are still PROFESSIONAL Football Players & have been around the game their entire lives.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Go watch any other team's 1st preseason game. STs are a wreck penalties on almost every play.

Old School's picture

Stop returning the kicks you don’t have to.

BoCallahan's picture

Regarding the Greene strip of the football. As I watched it, he could have gone low for a good tackle. 36 shed the block with plenty of time to square up to the RB. Instead of going low, he went high and bounced off the RB like a super ball. I could be wrong in my perception of the play but that is how I see it. The RB gashed the Pack for 12ish yards on that play. FORTUNATELY 36 was able to poke the ball out. I see Greene going for a high tackle rather than a good form tackle. 21 went low and dropped the RB. (Watch 44 on the play.) The play was well executed by the offense, minus the fumble. I’m glad for the end result, but the defensive execution was poor.

Branden Burke's picture

The way I saw it, green Bay was getting gashed on multiple plays and they got lucky forcing an easy fumble after another big run.

murf7777's picture

I think you could say most turnovers have some luck to them. The reality is all great D’s tend to get a lot of them. So, is it luck or skill?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

What am I watching 44 for? He got blocked by a big ugly and couldn't shed. The ball is already out when Jamerson (21) comes up and the RB isn't lowering his shoulder since he is looking for the ball and has already collided with Redmond.

I also don't think Greene had plenty of time to square up on the RB.

murf7777's picture

I think he went for a ball strip. One I’m hoping our defense is being trained to do. Watch the Pats play and you see them going for strips a lot. Tackles are important but turnovers change the game.

Coldworld's picture

Rewatching there is no doubt in my mind that he went to punch. I don’t believe he would have been able to wrap up due to angle taking other arm largely out of play. Made something out of nothing in my view. Good thinking to try the longer odds move rather than just miss a tackle.

Lare's picture

Considering this was mostly 2nd, 3rd & 4th stringers it wasn't bad for a defensive effort. Looks like they have some promising depth on their roster for a change.

Branden Burke's picture

They forced 4 turnovers and were still outgained 412 yards to 237 yards. 29 first downs to 16 first downs. And 71 plays to 50 plays. It's just one game, but that's both bad defense and bad offense. The turnovers are what saved the game. They were beat in all 3 phases minus the recovered TD. But it's just week one of the preseason.

And the Texans did that with their 3rd string QB and no name running backs.

holmesmd's picture

It seems like everyone is excessively critical after one pre-season game. There is plenty to be optimistic about and plenty to work on. Did you guys watch the Bear’s game. They sure didn’t look better than the Packers and they lost at home. Pre-season is about talent evaluation and getting in a groove for the real season. Patience!

Lphill's picture

What this game proved was that Ty Summers should have been gone before the 7 th round , he is going to be a big part of the defense.

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