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Packers vs. Bengals: Film Breakdown of Green Bay's 27-13 Win

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Packers vs. Bengals: Film Breakdown of Green Bay's 27-13 Win

The Green Bay Packers erased eight mostly pitiful preseason quarters Thursday night, beating the Cincinnati Bengals 27-13 in the "dress rehearsal" game of the 2012 preseason. The Packers mostly dominated the first half of play, taking a 17-6 lead with the first-team offense and defense on the field.

After re-watching the game a couple of times this morning, I broke down the film of several key players from Thursday:

Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers wasn't typical Rodgers-sharp throwing the football Thursday night, but his pocket presence is such a weapon for the Packers quarterback. He has a complete understanding of how to manipulate space, either in an attempt to throw the football down field or take off and run. Thursday night was simply a clinic in how quarterbacks should maneuver in and out of the pocket.

When the Bengals got outside pressure, Rodgers calmly escaped the pocket and burned Cincinnati's two-deep looks with his legs. If you're conceding a two-deep safety look to the Packers' offense—and trust me, teams this season will—defensive coordinators better be ready to sacrifice one player to spy Rodgers. No one wants him running all over the field like Thursday (six carries, 52 yards, two TDs), but it's a weapon against a defensive look that the Packers will see a lot of in 2012.

Cedric Benson

Hard not to be impressed with Benson's Packers debut. On at least two occasions, Benson got to the line of scrimmage, stuck his foot in the ground and made the right cut back. Once in the hole, Benson absorbed first contact and picked up extra yards.

He passes the eye test of what an NFL back should look like, especially in this offense. A veteran like Benson could eat up the soft fronts that he'll likely see for most of 2012. Barring some kind of injury in practice, I don't see how Benson can't be the Week 1 starter, and he probably deserves the majority of carries.

Alex Green 

Green started, but he looked hesitant with the football in his hands. The back that showed some explosion to the edge against the Browns appeared slow and indecisive. On the early screen play, Green needed to be more secure with football.

He's a young player, coming off an ACL injury, so there's not much reason for alarm. But given the opportunity to start, you would have liked Green to show a little more than five carries for 10 yards.

Defensive line

The Packers defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the night. Cincinnati got little to nothing running the football (14 carries for 32 yards from running backs), and the the pocket was sloppy for Andy Dalton on most drop backs. In fact, Dalton had 20 official drop backs Thursday night, and I counted at least 10 times where the pocket either got uncomfortable or the Packers applied pressure that directly led to a negative play. That would have been an unheard-of ratio in 2011.

Second-round pick Jerel Worthy clearly had his best game as a pro. Playing mostly in the nickel, Worthy knifed into the backfield a couple of times to flush Dalton out of the pocket. He also whiffed on a sure sack in the second quarter. It was an encouraging appearance for Worthy and the rest of the defensive line.

Nick Perry and Dezman Moses

Both Perry and Moses stuck out on film.

On the Bengals' second play from scrimmage, Perry blew up the tight end on the edge and helped Ryan Pickett bring down the ball carrier for no gain. A drive later, Perry bull-rushed the tight end right into Dalton's lap, forcing a bailout and throw away. Setting the edge on running plays won't be a problem for the powerful outside linebacker, and I'd be surprised if he doesn't get 6-7 sacks this season by simply beating an in-line tight end on the strong side.

Moses simply makes plays. He's all over the field with the second unit, whether it is creating pressure on the quarterback or dropping into space. Moses did them both well Thursday night. On a third-and-4 play, Moses dropped in the middle of the field and laid a whack on the Bengals' receiver running a short crossing route. Cincinnati ended up a yard short and had to punt. He's a lock for this football team.

Tramon Williams

The Williams on display Thursday night was the closest we've seen to the 2010 version in some time. Facing one of the game's best young receivers in A.J. Green, Williams played physical at the line and gave very little space downfield. Green caught just one pass for three yards on six targets. Only a nice throw-and-catch from Dalton to Brandon Tate beat Williams Thursday night.

His best series came during the second quarter, as Williams stayed glued to Green and knocked away two throws that likely would have been touchdowns. He probably should have intercepted the second pass, but the play was impressive nonetheless.

Graham Harrell

There's nothing new to take away from Thursday's film on Harrell. He's still working behind an offensive line that would be backups at the University of Wisconsin, but Harrell again struggled with ball placement.

You have to wonder whether playing behind that line has actually hurt Harrell more than helped him. His footwork in the pocket is regressing, but can you blame him? It's very difficult to evaluate him given the circumstances.

Other notes

  • Erik Walden was unblockable during a three-play stretch near the goal line. He pressured Dalton into a throw-away on the first play, blew up the run on the second and then sacked Dalton to finish the stand. As a backup, Walden still has value on this football team.
  • Right before the half, the Packers threw a three-man defensive line of Perry, Worthy and Mike Daniels at Dalton. The rookies each played a role in pressuring Dalton out of the pocket and into a throw-away.
  • Diondre Borel has probably blown his chance to make this team. The opportunities have been scarce, but he has two drops this preseason that would have resulted in first downs for the second-team offense. Can't have that. Tori Gurley hasn't done much to warrant a spot either, but he's hard to grade with the ineffectiveness up front and at quarterback on the No. 2 offense.
  • Jamari Lattimore has secure his spot on the 53-man roster. He's really embraced a switch to inside linebacker, and I think he's beat out fifth-round pick Terrell Manning for the job. Cutting Manning is still very much in the cards.
  • Not much Casey Hayward could do on the backshoulder touchdown throw in the second half. Tough route, good throw.
  • The hot and cold of Sam Shields was on full display. He made a diving interception, then one play later got smoked by an undrafted free agent down the near sidelines. Consistency is not Shield's strong point.
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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (44) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

CheeseheadKevin's picture

Thanks Zach, great job on breaking everything down, enjoyed the article, Hope you can do this during regular season too.

TRVS's picture

I am really glad you made note of the "rookie" three-man rush. I noticed the play right away, but wasn't sure if that was Daniels in there. I know a lot of people hate the three-man rush, but when you see three rookies executing it flawlessly, that is awesome. Just a guess, but I think that was the same play Moses tackled AJ Green before the 1st down, but I'm not sure. Great to see some solid play from out team! Go Pack!

Oppy's picture

TRVS-that's the key to the three man rush:

You're not going to beat five 300 lbs. OL with power, no matter how big and strong your 3 DL are.

You beat five 300 lbs. OL with speed, and with that rookie line up of Perry, WOrthy, and Daniels, you have three kids who are all fast twitch, snakey players, and with Perry and Worthy, quite strong as well.

lmills's picture

Great breakdown. Really enjoy reading theses types of things. Keep it up.

Mojo's picture

Excellent wrap-up Zach. You hit on most of the major points. Definitely more positives in this game than negatives. For me what I took out of this is: the defense has legitimate hope, we may have an instinctual runner for a change, and God help us all if ARod gets hurt. We would go from one of the best teams to bottom third with Harrell in charge(and I was and am rooting for Graham to do well). The Pack needs to see what he can do with the first teamers next week. Then, at that point, either fish or cut bait.

bryce's picture

This was a nice read for an Illinois Packer Backer that didn't get to see the game last night.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

As an ex Illinois Packer Backer who is now a Washingtonian Packer Backer, I can say... C'mon man! Stream it online Bryce, location is not an excuse!

pkrNboro's picture

Most offensive linemen are 300+ pounds -- often 310-325.

A.J. Hawk is listed at 242.

Can anyone help me understand why Hawk always takes these guys 1-on-1 during a blitz? He never seems to avoid them, or dodge/duck while on the way to a runner or passer. He always seems to take the fight right to them -- with predictable results from someone weighing 60lbs less than an opponent.

NoWayJose's picture

Yes. That's what he does, he doesn't have a nose for the football. He just gets sucked into blocks and gets stuck. Has no instincts for making plays.

And GOOD LORD - did you see how slow Dalton made him look on his big scramble???? The Red Rifle is not a speed demon, folks. He ran away from Hawk in embarassing fashion.

That Hawk contract is Thompson's worst work.

pkrNboro's picture

something else he does: he always tackles high.

Hawk will most usually bear-hug or clam-shell a runner, around his upper chest. Since Hawk is (likely) stationary, and the the runner is running(duh!)/in-motion, the whole leverage/momentum/physics thing ALWAYS KICKS HIM IN THE ASS. So with first contact coming after a generously-ceded 2 yds, the runner churns for an additional 2-4yds.

How this remains uncorrected after 5 or so years is a mystery.
Not-so-much-a-mystery: Winston Moss will never be a head coach.

After he was cut, I said: "YES"
After he was re-signed for more/guaranteed money, I said: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Oppy's picture

Sometimes guys in this D are asked to tangle up a blocker so another player has a free gap to shoot through.

Often in the cross dog blitzes, the first LB is asked to do just that- find the free blocker and engage him- so that the second blitzer has a straight shot at the QB.

Was that Hawk's assignment? Who knows.

As far as his speed, it's strange, he was amazing at the combine. I have read in discussions that Hawk's college coach was on the record as saying he thought AJ was playing too heavy in the NFL and it was affecting his athleticism and play-making ability.

pkrNboro's picture

thanks for the reply/explanation, Oppy.

but I have noticed that during running plays, he takes the same approach with a lead blocker.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

I for the life of me cannot wrap my head around how a guy (Hawk) can look so Damn quick, instinctive, sure, and just downright good in college, and then show none of that in the pros!?!? It's not like he was playing scrubs either.

I can't blame Ted for drafting him though, that's the guy I was pining for that year, our Earlicker if you will... didn't quite work out that way.

Mojo's picture

Good point Fitz. I remember watching a number of OSU games with Hawk playing and was impressed by his productivity in a good conference. Did becoming a work-out warrior in the pros take away A.J.'s flexibility? Still wouldn't explain his bad technique as pkrNboro points out. He has been one of the biggest headscratchers in the TT era.

Bearmeat's picture

Hawk is JAG. He's not terrible. He's not great. He's dependable and average in every way.

Kinda like Charlie Peprah was. Except Charlie Peprah was undrafted (Ithink?), and his contract didn't guarantee like 20mil. That contract and his draft status is the ONLY reason Hawk wasn't replaced long ago. He's a bust compared to what he should be. I miss Bishop (6th round)

(Me slamming head into table repeatedly)

bill from trenton's picture

fitz,cannot agree more.hawk ran a 4.59 forty at combine at 248lbs,not slow at all.WHAT HAPPEN?????? he looks to bulky now.looked trimmer in college at 248lb. also had a 40 inch vertical....WHAT HAPPEN??????.....great read zack

mike pancheri's picture


woodson4president's picture

It was a great throw for the td, but id love to see casey turn n look for that ball! He shows signs of a real woodson like player and then he shows some signs of "Bushness". I hope he improves.

PackersRS's picture

It's his first taste of the NFL game, in one of the hardest positions to excell at. No coincidence the last one to make defensive rookie of the year was Charles Woodson, in 1998.

You take away the positives. If he can't correct the negatives by year 3, then be worried.

This is not the last season to be played in the NFL.

PackersRS's picture

Was I the only one that thought the bengals didn't maintain any kind of lane integrity throughout the game?

Williams looks completely healthy. It makes the world of difference for our secondary. 2010 was no fluke, he's a top 10 corner in this league.

woodson4president's picture

I know he will be better by yr 3, but he might be starting in 2 wks. Our pass d cant wait 3 yrs.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

We may have to live with 'on the job training'. Worse things have happened.

woodson4president's picture

He will get good as he matures, but i really think house will be better when hes healthy.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

House was looking good, I hope he's a quick healer.

woodson4president's picture

Havent heard anything about the extent of his injury, you would think since im a stockholder they could at least gimme a call.

Jack's picture

Benson looked great last night, clearly better than Green. My observation though is that they used them pretty differently. Green seemed to get more stretch plays to the outside and was looking for a big cutback lane which is why he looked hesitant. Benson got a lot of inside runs where he could just go. Not sure if Green would benefit from that type of usage or if he just needs to lower his expectations and take what's there, or maybe if our OL struggles more with those longer developing outside plays. Just my 2 cents

Oppy's picture

In this system, all of the backs would stand to improve drastically if they just would take what is there. That's how the system is designed- read it quick, take it quick, there should more often than not be around 3-4 yards on any given play. Everything after that is gravy.

Searching for the homerun is costing precious time and getting these young backs corralled and tangled up for loss or short gain. They need to let the game come to them.

Bearmeat's picture

The D will be improved from last year. That is clear. And if the run game is better with Benson - watch out.


FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Yeah Buddy!

pkrNboro's picture

Is Dezman Moses > Nick Perry ?

Bearmeat's picture

No. Perry's got much more physical skill. Moses has played OLB before and has had an easier transition as a result.

It would take Perry flopping for Walden/Moses to get a real look. Perry has looked better and better as the preseason drags on, so this probably won't be an issue. Moses looks like a good backup.

pkrNboro's picture

Isn't it nice having two guys -- not one, but two! -- that are better than Kampman, Obiozor, Thompson, Zombo, Brad Jones, So'oto,

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Yes. Yes it is. Moses is quality man.

Fish/Crane's picture

...and that's a wrap on Thursday night.

Bearmeat's picture

Bearmeat likes this comment.

Oppy's picture

I am contractually obligated to make this statement when the the topic arises:

Kampman was not playing poorly as an OLB.

He was actually playing the position pretty damn well, and could have gone on to be a very good OLB with more time.

He was near the top of the league in pressures and QB hits (though not sacks) and while he looked "awkward" in coverage, he did not give up many completions when he dropped.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Get out of that contract.

Oppy's picture

Fitz, if I did, I'd be an agent of ignorance

Ben's picture

QB: Rodgers, Harrell
RB: Alex, Benson, Saine, Kuhn
WR: Jennings, Jordy, Cobb, Driver, Gurley, Borel (Jones traded)
Oline: Sitton, Bulaga, Lang, Saturday, Newhouse, Sharrod, D-smith, Datko, Barclay
TE: Finley, DJ, Taylor, Crabtree
Dline: Raji, Worthy, Pickett, Daniels, Merling, Neal, Muir
OLB: Clay, Perry, Walden, Moses, So’oto
ILB: DJ, Jones, kittyhawk, lattimore
S: Burnett, McMillian, Richardson, Bush
CB: Tramon, Woodson, Davon, Shields, Hayward,
K: Crosby
P: Masthay
LS: Goode
Practice Squad: QB: BJ Coleman, RB: Marc Tyler, WR: Dale Moss, ILB: Terrell Manning, WR: Jarrett Boykin, G: Greg Von Roten

Oppy's picture

Whooooop! whoooop! whoooop!

Man the battle stations, we've detected a hypothetical James Jones trade situation!

packsmack25's picture

lol Gurley and Borel on the 53, that's rich.

PackRat's picture

Who do you think gets cut to make 75?

woodson4president's picture

I know a wr or two that better start packin up.

petr's picture

Did Boykin get many snaps against the Browns, I didn't see him much. Are we trying to hide him so that he makes the practice squad without being claimed by someone else?

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