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Packers vs. Browns Re-Watch: Film Breakdown of Several Key Players

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Packers vs. Browns Re-Watch: Film Breakdown of Several Key Players

The Green Bay Packers dropped their second straight preseason game Thursday, continuing an ugly run of play in San Diego with four more quarters of forgettable action in a 35-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

After a second and third viewing of the game this morning, I broke down several of the players from Green Bay's sideline last night.


Graham Harrell

There's no sugar-coating the fact that Harrell stunk up the joint Thursday night. On eight drives, Harrell scored just three points and gave away nine points to the Browns. He finished 12-of-24 for 100 yards and two interceptions. His passer rating was a paltry 26.4.

It's going to be a tedious process, but I broke down every one of Harrell's passing snaps from Thursday night. It's the only way to get the complete picture without making a lazy assessment. Here's the breakdown:

1. Harrell's first pass is behind an open D.J. Williams, who beat the press coverage and was open. Right read, wrong ball placement. Incomplete.

2. The Browns jam Randall Cobb at the line, forcing Harrell to dump off to Marc Tyler on a swing route out of the backfield. Tyler drops it.

3. Harrell's senses pressure and went to the hot read. It was phantom pressure, however, and Jarrett Boykin never turns around for the ball. Harrell needed to let the four vertical route develop down field.

4. Throws a little behind Tom Crabtree on a 10-yard out. It was a catchable ball, but Crabtree tips it up for interception. Cleveland defender returns it for a touchdown, but neutral zone infraction brings it all back.

5. On 3rd-and-3, Harrell throws short to Cobb on a underneath crossing route. Good coverage, but complete. First down.

6. One of his best throws of the night was his backshoulder to Cobb. Harrell needed to be a little more towards sidelines, but still a good throw. Good play defensively to breakup the pass.

7. Harrell senses pressure, back pedals, then attempts to throw away. The pass is almost intercepted along the sidelines. Packers have to punt.

8. Drive starts at 1-yard line. On 2nd-and-10, Harrell is too slow getting the ball out. He then undershoots Williams as he rolls to his right.

9. Pressure came on third down, and Harrell attempts to hit Cobb on a slant that was short of the first down. Cobb dropped it. It was a good throw ball-placement wise.

10. After Green Bay is awarded great field position for the first time, a screen pass on first down is wayyyyyy too slow to develop. Harrell probably should have thrown it into the ground considering the time situation (under two minutes in first half). Tyler loses a couple and the clock starts ticking.

11. Boykin makes a nice catch on a short slant. Just a short gain. OK throw from Harrell.

12. Harrell steps up nicely in the pocket on third down and scrambles for five or six yards. The run gives Mason Crosby a chance to hit a field goal from 54 yards, but he can't convert.

13. On his last throw of the first half, Harrell is picked off on a Hail Mary that doesn't get to the end zone. Kind of crow-hopped it as he was delivering the ball. Didn't look good.

14. First throw of the second half is a confident one to sidelines. Gets five yards on first down.

15. Harrell feels pressure inside and scrambles to the outside. Nice pocket awareness. First down as Harrell dives to the sticks on the far sidelines. Still not a great athlete.

16. Another easy throw outside to Williams for six yards. He's comfortable making that throw.

17. Harrell rolls right, has a defender in his face and delivers an accurate throw to Ryan Taylor, but the tight end slips. Would have likely been a completion had Taylor finished the crossing route. Instead, the Browns have a pick-six to go up 23-7.

18. Harrell gets immediate pressure off the play-action, then makes a dangerous throw to the outside off his back foot. Somehow finds Dale Moss for eight yards.

19. Once again Harrell hits Taylor on another 5-yard out.

20. Another smart scramble for a first down. Stepped up to avoid outside pressure.

21. Harrell hits Boykin on a bubble screen. Easiest throw of the night.

22. Made the right read on third down, but Harrell throws high to Moss. Liked the decision, not the accuracy (running theme).

23. Has a clean pocket initially, but then has to step up and make a play.He throws left to Moss. Four yards. Holding penalty puts the Packers back inside the 10-yard line.

24. A well-run stunt by the Browns defensive line gets a free rusher inside. Harrell can't escape to his right and he's hit as he throws. The ball looks headed for Tori Gurley down field but the hit allows it to travel just a yard or two. Referees call intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a safety.

25. Harrell again finds a completion when hits another 5-yard out to Cosby.

26. Finally, a big play. Harrell connects with Boykin, who is wide open in the middle of the field. Good ball placement from Harrell. Right on the numbers.

27. Far-and-away Harrell's best throw of the night comes one play later. He again hits Boykin down the middle on a well-thrown ball. Thread the needle between a trio of Browns' defenders.

28. Put the ball in the only place it could be to Andrew Brewer on a 6-yard out.

29. Harrell's final throw sums up his night. After Brewer's double move left the cornerback trailing, Harrell's pass sails well off the mark. Brewer was wide open for an easy touchdown. It was similar to Aaron Rodgers' miss of Jordy Nelson earlier in the game, but a worse overall throw.

Sorry that got long, but it helps illustrate the point here.

A couple of things:

  • The only time Harrell looked comfortable in his drop was when he had a guy on a quick out pattern.
  • The ball placement is still a mess. For a guy with below average arm strength, accuracy and placement are so important. Through two games, Harrell doesn't have it.
  • Pressure was abundant Thursday night. The Packers second-team offensive line is a rag-tag group. Hard to get a completely accurate assessment of Harrell in that sense.
  • The Browns first-team defense did a nice job of disrupting routes. Plenty of times you see Harrell watch his first read get jammed and then hurry to find his next progression. That transition didn't go smoothly.
  • The turnovers simply weren't his fault.
  • Overall, he still has a long ways to go. He needs reps and a lot of them, especially in live games. Is there enough preseason left for him to get them?
  • Even if the Packers aren't satisfied with the position, time is running out to get a veteran backup into camp. The staff still sounds confident in Harrell's development.

Alex Green

From a running perspective, Green had an impressive showing Thursday night. He was explosive to the edge, and you can just see that he's going to have a handful of runs this season where he attacks the edge and then makes one cut up field to spring a big gain. Would have liked to see a screen or two designed for him, but that's getting greedy. He ran four times for 16 yards.

In pass protection, Green was only so-so. He put himself in the right position each time he was asked to pass-block, and there was one or two times where Green shifted himself across the line to pick up an overload blitz. But once he got to his man, the technique was missing. He failed to stick his guy. On the Packers' third offensive series, Green was in position but whiffed on a blitzing linebacker, which caused Rodgers' to step up and eventually run. The NFL MVP then got clocked on the back end of the scramble. That's a no-no. Once the technique gets cleaned up, Green should be a sound pass protector.

Jarrett Boykin

Boykin really stuck out when re-watching the game. He's not a fast guy by any means, but he understands coverages and how to get open. Once the ball is delivered, he catches it. Simple as that. Boykin finished with a team-high five catches for 63 yards. If the Packers lose Diondre Borel to another 53-man roster, or keep him on their own, stashing Boykin on the practice squad doesn't lose that unit much. He's a player.

Andrew Datko

After struggling for most of camp, Datko looked improved Thursday. He played all his snaps as the second-team left tackle. The feet were much quicker, which allowed him to handle most of the speed rushes he saw. At times Datko lost ground on a bull-rush, but he kept the pocket mostly clean. For a guy that Bob McGinn was ready to write off as a Ricky Elmore-type bust, I thought Datko gave himself a chance to be this team's backup tackle if Derek Sherrod's recovery spills into the regular season.

Casey Hayward

Hayward was simply in the right place at the right time for a fumble recovery on the first play from scrimmage. He stayed with the play and had the awareness to fall on it, which counts for something. From there, it was a mixture of good and bad.

He was beaten badly on a 10-yard post after he gave way too much of a cushion early. Easy pitch and catch for the Browns. Later, Hayward played the cushion right and jumped a 10-yard hitch. He undercut the route much like Tramon Williams has mastered over the years, but he botched the catch. There's no doubt Hayward takes the pick for six points if he corrals it.

On the Browns' fourth series, Hayward got turned around on a comeback by Greg Little, but then blanketed him on the next play as Weeden looked his way initially. It was a hot-and-cold starting debut for the Packers second-round corner.

Marshall Newhouse

Newhouse did a strong job in his return. Facing Browns RDE Emmanuel Stephens, Newhouse had little to no issues. On at least three passing snaps, Newhouse did a textbook job of pushing the rusher wide of the pocket during a speed move. He was light years better than Herb Taylor last week.

Jerron McMillian 

McMillian was one of the bright spots Thursday night. He brings a physicality to the safety position that the Packers really haven't had since Atari Bigby. In fact, McMillian throws his shoulder around much like the former Packers safety. He knifed into the backfield to drop Brandon Jackson in the first half, then delivered a lick after a short run one play later. The fourth-rounder from Maine doesn't look scared playing near the line, and the Packers even had him at cornerback on a few snaps. If he can figure out the complexities of playing on the back end, McMillian can push M.D. Jennings for a starting spot. Jennings has been iffy at best in two games so far.

Other notes:

  • Randall Cobb has to be better in ball security. The touches are going to be there this season, but fumbling at the rate he has early in his NFL career is unacceptable.
  • D.J. Williams is going to have a role in this offense. He's night-and-day better than the guy who disappeared last preseason.
  • RB Marc Tyler is just a guy. Would like to get a look at Du'ane Bennett before the preseason is over.
  • First-round OLB Nick Perry sets the edge so well in the running game. He's a far cry on the right side from Erik Walden on the left last season. Still, when the Packers asked him to drop into coverage Thursday, Perry looked lost. By my count, the Browns completed at least two throws when Perry didn't handle his zone. The feel for that will only come with more experience playing the position.
  • B.J. Coleman single-handedly ensured there wouldn't be an in-house competition for the backup role when he threw his first pass right to a Browns defender for a pick. A miscommunication, clearly, but it was an ugly end to an ugly contest.
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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (24) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Harrell sucked, period. O line... Scrub WRs... Don't care. Many QBs before him have made the most out of preseason in similar circumstances. I guess I can live with that though, we'll chalk his terrible play up to "learning". What does irk me however, is when the camera pans to the sideline with 59 seconds left, Ol' Graham is all smiles, yucking it up with his peers. WTF? You just stunk up the joint, in front of your home fans... And that doesn't bother you? He doesn't have "it". A QB with "it" is sitting by himself on the bench after a dismal performance like that, dejected, mad... NOT IN THE MOOD FOR SMALL TALK, because he knows he's capable of more, and PISSED he didn't show it. Maybe Graham thinks that kinda play is ok... It's not.

Just my take.


pkrNboro's picture

I watched a stream, so haven't had the benefit of hi-def, or re-watching the game.

But, it seems like Harrell had his feet too close together and his body wasn't aligned correctly on some of his throws (some of his passes almost looked like free throws). Maybe this affected his accuracy? Maybe the lack of protection prevented his normal delivery? I can't understand why he couldn't get a series (or two!) with the starters, to get a better idea of what we've got if AR goes out. I also can't understand why he was all-smiles on the sideline, at the end of the game.

Again, I was watching a stream, but it seemed like the entire oLine, particularly the interior, just collapsed at the snap on most every play. I thought it might have been Draheim, but "G,B,&U" seemed to point the finger at Sampson Genus?

I thought last year, that we had some up-and-comers with people like Genus/Rodriguez, Borel/Gurley, MD Jennings/Guy. Seems like these guys haven't made the next step, and there's nobody pushing them. Granted some of these guys might be injured, but beyond the starters the cupboard seems a little bare.

Sure it's pre-season, but I'm not seeing a team that looks like a SB contender, based on pre-season-pundits/rankings/etc.

woodson4president's picture

McMillan looked like Bigby for sure! Loved his intensity!

I bleed green more's picture

I liked his play also, there was some good plays and some really horrible plays. The running game looked plain sick, the O line seems to be stuck like glue and can not open a hole up.

GBFaninCA's picture

It could be nice having that kind of physicality back there again, but hopefully he will play smarter than Bigby tho

Nerd's Laptop's picture

Marc Tyler is a FB in a HB's body. He's too slow for HB, but he's got potential if they bulk him up and play him at FB in a Kuhn style role.

jeremy's picture

John Kuhn has excellent vision. Marc Taylor does not.

Jay's picture

It throws me off how all these RB's don't have vision, its more head down first and bull straight up and threw into, well, nothing trusting, ever. Throw me in there man.

Nerdmann's picture

I thought Tyler looked good last week.

Oppy's picture

Tyler = JAG

I hope Du'ane Bennett gets healthy so we can see what he can do with live reps.

He out shined Tyler in practices from a physical standpoint.

People are too enamored by Tyler's "#1 prospect in the Nation coming out of HS". He underwhelmed in College. He is not going to turn it around now. He is what he is, he isn't what he was projected to be all those years ago.

Mojo's picture

Zach, thanks for the recap. You should get some type of post traumatric stess disorder compensation for having to watch that game three times.

Lucky953's picture

Zach, thanks for the excellent breakdown. Your analysis feels right to me. I wish you would have commented on our #1 run defense because they were gashed good. The interior guys seem to be taking on the blockers like they should. It seemed to me the linebackers just weren't taking good angles to the ball carrier, especially everyone's favorite whipping boy. What did you think?

Chip Soup's picture

There's definitely something slow about how the 'backers are stepping up and filling holes. Almost seems like they are content to sit back and give up 4 on a lot of runs. I had my eye on everyone's fav whipping boy ready to pile on if he resembled last year's version. Actually I think he's the exception. To me he seemed awake and maybe even inspired. Someone is pushing him, and it's not DJ Smith because he's in there for Bishop. Francois? Manning?

Mike's picture

None of you know what your talking about but it's cute you guys get so worked up watching this shit. Wait for the real season to begin. Per season is just relief for idiots who watch CFL. Your welcome.

Jamie's picture

Harrell wasn't THAT bad. Someone compared him to, or said he was worse than, Brohm on another post. No way. Brohm was TURRIBLE.

Flynn looked as bad or worse than Harrell at times in his 1st/2nd preseason.

And I could give two chits if Harrell is joking around after playing pretty bad in a meaningless game. Shows he has perspective...unlike many here.

Tommy boy's picture

I remember thinking Flynn looked decent, especially for a seventh rounder to start. In his first preseason game he was 12/21 for 97 yds and a td. In his second game he was 5/6 for 33 yds.

Game 3 - 2/2 for 2 yds (okay, this one doesn't add much to my argument)

Game 4 - 8/13 For 77 yds and 2 yds.


Game 1 - 5/6 for 50 yds

Game 2 - 1/2 for 13 yds

Game 3 - did not play

Game 4 - Did not play

Are these all star number? Do these numbers tell everything? No. But Flynn never turned in performances as poor as Harrell's. He didn't even have a pick through two years of preseason games...not bad.

Jamie's picture

I don't find historical preseason stats to mean much. If they did, Flynn would actually look like he was regressing.

Of course we all know Flynn overall outplayed Harrell to this point, but Flynn was no stalwart either...very similar at similar stages in their QB training IMO. A comfort level in Flynn didn't come until the end of 2010. To be fair, that's the end of 2013 (two QB schools, and two training camps) for Harrell.

It's easy to revert to revisionist history in this case, because the sample size is so small for each, and Flynn performed well in 2 of 3 real games. But being totally honest, we really didn't know what we had in Flynn until the 2010 NE game.

Tommyboy's picture

I certainly agree that Flynn was no all-star out there. He was okay. I would say we will have to agree to disagree on Flynn being as bad or worse than Harrell, though. I never thought Flynn looked as clueless as Harrell has.

To be clear, I'm pulling hard for Harrell. I'm hoping the Packers give him some more opportunities, perhaps with the 1's/2's over the next couple weeks and that he shows improvement. By all accounts, he's a team-player and has worked his tail off.

Oppy's picture

The end of this camp will mark Harrell's third training camp. The Packers signed him May 19th, 2010. This will be his first FULL offseason program, however. 2010 he was here early enough to do some of the off season program (no strength and conditioning program, no rookie orientation but he wasn't really a rookie anyways, but most of if not all of OTAs he would have been present), but not the QB school, and of course, there was no off season in 2011. So this is his first QB school, but his third training camp.

Just a note- "Quarterback School" is a Mike McCarthy thing, it's his deal. Other young QB's elsewhere in the NFL do not have it.. Keep that in mind when looking at Harrell's performance compared to other young back up QB's across the league. Not having QB school hasn't hurt them any more than it's hurt Graham Harrell.

NoWayJose's picture

Nice post, Zach. It's great to see the result of such a close review (I could barely watch that game live).

I may disagree a bit on Green though. I don't recall his performance running the ball being any more than pedestrian in limited action. I have yet to see anything special in his game...

GBFaninCA's picture

He hasn't had any "splash" plays yet, but he is getting limited action and slowly getting it back. I totally agree with Zach's breakdown, he has shown nothing but potential coming back from his injury. I feel his blocking is only going to get better as he gets more playing time,still a young guy. Could become a vital part to our team come mid-season

Barutan Seijin's picture


Brohm was indeed terrible, but how is Harrell any different? He's shown us nothing -- same as Brohm. 3 years and nothing. He's 27, same as Brohm. He's at his physical peak. There isn't going to be any further development; he is what he is. I don't know if Coleman is any good, but GH is a write off. It's not worth investing any more coaching resources or playing time in him. A game Harrell starts is a big fat L anyway.

Brohm had a brief stint in Buffalo before dropping out of the NFL. (He may have got the benefit of the doubt as a second rounder.) Would anyone sign Harrell? No one signed him off the Packers' practice squad & he's already flunked out of the CFL.

Jamie's picture

We'll see. I'm not privy or qualified enough to say what the team will/should do with him.

Just pointing out that IMO, and apparently the opinion of MM, Harrell hasn't been terrible, and IMO not much different than Flynn at the same point in training with the Packers.

marcopo's picture

We saw what we saw and Harrell is what he is. Forgetting the stats, remembering the time spent on him, he's a lost cause without the intangibles that are necessary. Get rid of him. The sooner, the better.

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