Packers Young Defensive Backs Standing Out

The Green Bay Packers didn't win their preseason game against the Denver Broncos on the scoreboard this past weekend, but that's not always what the preseason is about.

For the second-straight week, the Packers young defensive backs turned in a good night.  Of the Packers' six passes defended, four came from their young core.  Kevin King and Kentrell Brice had one each and Marwin Evans had two.  

Brice's came on an interception on a badly thrown ball by Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian.  Brice's coverage hasn't been his forte lately so the big play came at an ideal time for him to continue to improve.

King made a nice diving play on a ball in the end zone that would have otherwise been a touchdown.  King's athleticism is becoming more and more apparent as the preseason goes on.  He has quite a learning curve ahead of him, but the tools seem apparent.

Evans, in his second year with the Packers, has had himself a very nice summer.  He's broken up three passes in three games and always seems to be around the ball.

Rookie corner Lenzy Pipkins took a step back from his solid play over the first two games and had his struggles in coverage against Denver.  He will seemingly need a stand out performance in the preseason finale this week against the Los Angeles Rams.

With the issues that the Packers had at cornerback last season, things are looking up for the defensive backfield this season.  Damarious Randall returned versus the Broncos after missing last week's game while recovering from a concussion suffered in the first preseason game.  Morgan Burnett had a pass break up against Denver as well.

With the abundance of talent in the secondary, it's certainly an area the Packers could decide to stack more heavily than usual this season.  

With the lack of production coming from the outside linebacker position, the secondary may be called upon to pick up the slack.  Asking any defensive back to cover an NFL receiver for an extended period of time is always a tall task but it appears as though the Packers crop in 2017 may be up to the task.

 

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (56)

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GBPDAN1's picture

August 28, 2017 at 06:22 am

"With the lack of production coming from the outside linebacker position, the secondary may be called upon to pick up the slack. "

I see the Packers have scheduled recently released Ahmad Brooks for a visit on Tuesday. I hope they sign him. I also hope they find a backup OT to bring in that is better than Spriggs and Murphy . There's got to be a Tackle out there that would only give up one sack a game instead of 4 sacks a game?

And speaking of secondaries, has anyone heard an up date on House? It's unfortunate that he missed the whole preseason so far.

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NickPerry's picture

August 28, 2017 at 07:00 am

As soon as Brooks was released I was hoping Ted would bring him in. Unless he want's an absurd amount of money, there's no way Brooks should leave without a contract. This IMO is a no brainer...Sign him!!

House was involved in warm ups before the Denver game so I guess he's really close, maybe there already but the Packers aren't taking any chances.

This secondary as long as it stays healthy will keep improving with each week they play together. Secondaries like Denver's and Seattle's have all been playing together for years and they KNOW exactly what the other guys are thinking or how they'll defend a play. The longer these guys stay healthy and play together the more cohesive they become.

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GBPDAN1's picture

August 28, 2017 at 07:32 am

Thanks NP for the update on House. Hopefully he can go for the opener and get some reps in the game. Get him ready for ATL the following week. It would also be nice (obviously) to have Perry, Bulaga, Lowary and Elliott ready.....and HaHa CD.... I was surprised he was a scratch for the Denver game?

So looking forward to the opener. It's going to be fun watching Daniels, Clark and Lowary destroy Seattle's interior OL

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dobber's picture

August 28, 2017 at 09:01 am

I thought HHCD was a healthy scratch.

What else does he have to show?

Remember also that Seattle just lost their starting LT for the season. They're scrambling to find a warm body to play out there at this point.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 28, 2017 at 08:21 am

Brooks has had 6+ sacks in each of the last 6 seasons. And has 5+ sacks in each of the last 8.
If they do sign him, I think he would provide a similar or upgrade from what they had with Datone Jones. He would be more of a natural fit at OLB, and would be a good rotational guy and backup. Similar to Francois, Brooks could provide the depth they need.

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chugwater's picture

August 28, 2017 at 04:02 pm

Saw a report the other day that Datone might be on the bubble in Minnesota.

I would love for TT to pick him back up if he's cut. He had the most pressures last year, and played well against the run.

His addition along with Brooks would ease my concern for depth at OLB. I just have zero faith in Fackrell and very little in Elliott at this point.

http://www.1500espn.com/vikings-2/2017/08/datone-jones-bubble/

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rdent's picture

August 28, 2017 at 10:36 am

If GB wasn't so thin at OLB, I believe Fackrell would be cut, looks like a wasted draft pick.To bad Biegel missed so much time, with the health of his foot still up in the air it may force GB to keep Fackrell

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Finwiz's picture

August 28, 2017 at 12:12 pm

I agree completely - Fackrell is a wasted pick. Not sure what he's good at if he can't rush the passer, because he sure isn't a run stuffer or a cover LB.

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GBPDAN1's picture

August 28, 2017 at 02:11 pm

I agree. I heard Fackrell hardly ever won a one on one pass rushing drill in camp. I think he was 0-24 at one point. Let's sign Brooks and nab D Jones if Minnesota releases him

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Allan Murphy's picture

August 28, 2017 at 01:55 pm

I'm with you sign Ahmad Brooks now and your pass rush goes from bad to good .......

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croatpackfan's picture

August 28, 2017 at 07:33 am

"I see the Packers have scheduled recently released Ahmad Brooks for a visit on Tuesday. I hope they sign him."
I disagree with you. I would like Packers to sign Ahmad Brooks only if he has something left in the tank - otherwise it would be mistake...
On Packers.com there is information that House was in uniform and participated in warm up of the Denver game...
I believe that tackle situation will be OK. I worry more on back-up center...
EDIT: I see there is others who knows that info... ;-)

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 28, 2017 at 07:03 am

I like our DB's. Our Safety position is deeper then ever. And our young CB's are really playing well.

It was great seeing Brice get the Interception against Denver. He brings the knockout hits, but we haven't seen the turnover plays much with him yet.

One of the best plays by the DB's came from King. That full out diving play to knock the ball away showed his athleticism.

I thought Randall had a really good game. If he can play like he did against Denver, our CB's will be much better this year.

This last game could decide who makes the 53.
At CB right now we know that House, King, Randall, Rollins are locks at CB. I think the next spot goes to Hawkins. I would say that the 6th spot is between Gunter and Pipkins. Gunter had the better game, but it could be decided in this next game.

Safety spot I think its safe to say that we have 5 locks. Clinton-Dix, Burnett, Jones, Brice and Merwin.

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dobber's picture

August 28, 2017 at 09:04 am

"Safety spot I think its safe to say that we have 5 locks. Clinton-Dix, Burnett, Jones, Brice and Merwin."

I just don't see how they put any of those guys on the street at this point. It might force them to keep only 5 CBs.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 28, 2017 at 09:16 am

I think they will likely keep 6 CB's, But it is possible that they only keep 5.

The top 4 are locks with House, King, Randall and Rollins. After that, I think Hawkins is a near lock.

After that? Gunter? Pipkins?

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rdent's picture

August 28, 2017 at 10:30 am

Imo, Pipkins has more upside than Gunter, nearly all the young CB's do

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Finwiz's picture

August 28, 2017 at 12:08 pm

That's not saying much. Pipkins didn't look too good against Denver. He looks like a midget CB. People were touting him around here last week, so I watched him closely. Nothing special.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 28, 2017 at 12:43 pm

Yeah, I don't disagree with that at all.. Up until the 3rd preseason game, i thought Pipkins had a good chance of making it. But then he struggled. I think this next game could determine who makes it and who doesn't.

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rdent's picture

August 28, 2017 at 10:39 am

GB appears loaded at saftey

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Packer_Fan's picture

August 28, 2017 at 07:40 am

So we haven't gotten out of preseason and the three areas with the most questions are already having injury issues. DB, OLB and OL. The Pack is bringing in veteran help for OLB. They should consider also the OL and DB. Yes, where is House? Will he be back for the season?

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

August 28, 2017 at 08:04 am

Lots of talent at CB, though it's really green. I expect some tough growing pains.

Our big problem is OLB. Ahmad Brooks might help somewhat, but he's no savior. That is just a really bad group overall.

Josh Jones is the most explosive looking edge blitzer I've seen in ages on this team. He makes Leroy Butler look small and slow--seriously. I wonder if we could move him outside on some passing downs. Anything to add some semblence of burst.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 28, 2017 at 08:32 am

Lots of talent at CB. Just comparing it to the end of the year last year when Gunter was our #1 CB, now he could realistically be our #5 or 6 guy, or possibly not even make the team.

I disagree with the OLB position a bit. The problem for me is the health. If Mathews and Perry stay healthy they are a very good duo. I personally really like Elliott, and I think Fackrell can provide a pass rush. Biegel we have yet to see what he can do in the NFL, but I think he can provide help once he gets playing.
The problem is if there is injuries and we already have 2 guys hurt and Biegel has yet to play. I think if Brooks does come he can fill in nicely.

I love Jones. I think Capers is holding back on how he plans on using him. I think against Seattle we may see a lot of him. I'm not sure if he will use him as an OLB, but I bet he will be used to come off the edge.

As a whole I think our Defense will be improved.

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dobber's picture

August 28, 2017 at 09:06 am

From my perspective, the safeties have all played so well that I think it will limit Jones's snaps. I have a hunch they'll have the luxury of bringing him along more slowly than we expected.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 28, 2017 at 09:20 am

I think we will see Jones playing more LB roles early. Possibly in certain packages. With the depth though, they do have the luxury of bringing him along slowly. But I do think they have have a role for him.

I think Capers really isn't showing as much right now. Jones could be a guy they try to utilize more when the regular season starts.

I do think he could be one of the guys that plays a lot more as the season goes on, and not play as much early.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

August 28, 2017 at 09:24 am

Actually, we don't disagree much, since health is also my biggest concern at OLB. Though Fackrell looked much improved against Denver, he's still firmly on the bubble.

But Matthews can't stay upright, Perry's already nicked, Elliott has back issues, and Biegel's development is set way back. It's a mess.

Ahmad Brooks is no savior. Should we sign him? Sure, with this roster. But even if we do, we're a long way from good shape at OLB.

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Finwiz's picture

August 28, 2017 at 12:18 pm

So now Josh Jones is perhaps better than Leroy Butler, a Packer HOF member? He of no sacks, passes defensed, and limited tackles in the preseason? Put down the green and gold kool-aid, it's too early to be drinking. You can talk about Jones being explosive when he gets to the QB. And remember, he's been playing against 2nd and 3rd string talent.

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WKUPackFan's picture

August 28, 2017 at 02:43 pm

So have you been watching Josh Jones as "closely" as you claimed to have been watching Pipkin? It wouldn't matter anyway. You could have your face pressed against the screen and still have no clue as to what you're seeing.

Please, tell us one thing that you know about playing CB or safety in the NFL. Just one.

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Finwiz's picture

August 28, 2017 at 02:57 pm

You first, since you're triggered??
Send me the video of Josh on a safety blitz where he DOESN'T run wide, and get anywhere near the QB - like ALL THE REST of CAPERS blitz schemes.
But he runs wide FASTER than all the rest!
Joke.
I'll be waiting.

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WKUPackFan's picture

August 28, 2017 at 05:08 pm

You're the person claiming to be the expert on every player based on "watching them closely", not me. Obviously your power of observation is off the charts, as you are able to form opinions (all of them negative) on every player based on a few seconds of television viewing.

You wouldn't understand a blitz scheme if Capers spent eight hours diagramming it for you. If triggered means being opposed to idiots having uniformed opinions, guilty as charged.

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Bearmeat's picture

August 28, 2017 at 08:04 am

It is good to see our coverage ability improving week to week. That is a harbinger of good things to come for the season.

We NEED a pass rush though. Right now Perry and Daniels are all we can count on, and Perry's already hurt. Brooks would be a big help.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

August 28, 2017 at 08:09 am

I'm not confident Brooks would help that much, but I hope I'm wrong.

Lowry will help a lot when he returns, completing a terrific 3-man front. We desperately need more explosiveness from our OLB's, though.

I think Capers will just do lots of blitzing, risking open zones and big plays. He has little choice at this point.

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Bearmeat's picture

August 28, 2017 at 10:54 am

I think that's exactly what's going to happen. And that it WILL get us torched by good QBs - usually in a pivotal game late in the season or in the playoffs.

The only other option is that the DL provides push up the middle. That, at least, is within the realm of possibility. As opposed to our OLB rotation - which, let's face it, sucks.

The DL is what I'm hoping for. Grasping at straws here....

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

August 28, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Grasp away. I am.

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Since'61's picture

August 28, 2017 at 08:45 am

I think if they remain healthy we're going to be OK in our secondary. House, King, Rollins, Randall, Hawkins and maybe Pipkins??? TBD for #6 CB. Safety Dix, Burnett, J. Jones, Brice and Evans gives us a solid group. OLB is an area for concern, even more so if Perry is out for a while.
I think we're OK with Martinez and Ryan at ILB but I wish we had better depth than Joe Thomas. DL is coming along, we need Lowry back. On offense we watched what life would be like without Aaron Rodgers and it wasn't pretty. Hundley played with 1st, 2nd and 3rd stringers as the night went on. It looks like MM has settled on Hundley as the #2 and that he wanted to see how Hundley would handle an entire game, playing with a lead and then trying to bring the team back at the end. I'm guessing that Thursday evening's game will be the final battle for the #3 QB between Hill and Callahan. I thought Rodgers departure was quite sudden. Not sure if MM made the switch or Rodgers took himself out or if it was planned or concern over the OL protection. I think he only played about 10-12 snaps. The RBs had a good night despite the numerous OL issues. Need to get past Thursday with no more injuries. Thanks, Since '61

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

August 28, 2017 at 09:28 am

I think Pipkins versus Gunter is a real battle to watch this Thursday, both in coverage and on Special Teams.

Then again, with loaded WR, Safety, and Defensive Line groups, maybe we only keep 5 CB's and hold Pipkins on the Practice Squad for depth.

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Since'61's picture

August 28, 2017 at 01:53 pm

ALP - agree that the Pipkins v. Gunther battle will probably be determined on Thursday evening. From my perspective (as opposed to the coaches) we know what Gunther can and cannot do at CB. Pipkins, although he needs work, offers a lot more upside. Gunther played hard but we've seen everything that he has to offer during last season. Pipkins, even as the #6 CB, offers the opportunity to improve our CB depth. The scenario with 5 CBs and Pipkins on the PS is another very viable alternative. That would enable the Packers to keep an additional OL or OLB where it looks like we are going to need plenty of depth. Or we can keep an additional weapon at RB or WR for Rodgers. It won't be long now before we know. Thanks, Since '61

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Spock's picture

August 28, 2017 at 01:53 pm

Since '61. I agree. We've seen what Gunter can/cannot do. I like Pipkins. The one 'elephant in the room' here is that the Packers value "availability". It doesn't matter how talented you are; can you suit up for the game?! Gunter has shown that. You and I have differing opinions on Gunter's usefulness, but he's been there when the other CB's haven't been on the field. Is that enough to keep him over a clearly more talented CB? I don't know. If it's just on talent: he's gone. If it's he's been there every game, maybe he sticks as the 5th, 6th, CB. God help us (and I'm an Atheist) but that is truly ( I believe) a trait that may keep him on the 53.

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PatrickGB's picture

August 28, 2017 at 08:55 am

While the young backs did stand out this game it remains to be seen just how good they really are when the real games take place. There IS a lot of raw talent there. But will they be good enough for NFL Caliber receivers? It's a steep learning curve for the players we have. Still, it's a good sign of improvement. My hope is that Capers knows how to use that talent in real game situations. I expect a few lumps and bumps as the young defense adjusts to better competition and tougher game plans. Yet hope springs eternal.

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cheesehead1's picture

August 28, 2017 at 09:25 am

Hope we sign Brooks for some much needed depth, as injuries are almost a given. Also hoping TT brings in some OL depth for the same reason, injuries. Looking forward to the Seahawk game and give them a repeat performance from last season.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

August 28, 2017 at 09:31 am

If we sign Brooks, I hope we just keep Biegel on PUP to let him heal 100%. The kid is too valuable to rush back and re-injure him.

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dobber's picture

August 29, 2017 at 03:03 pm

Except if you put him on PUP, he can't practice for six weeks...and if he's on PUP he can't have practiced in the preseason. I just don't know how much you expect to get from him in that case...

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Allan Murphy's picture

August 28, 2017 at 02:00 pm

Ahmad Brooks insurance ...............

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Spock's picture

August 28, 2017 at 02:25 pm

Finally, got to watch the game. This weekend was a tribute to my wife. Yesterday was our 40th wedding anniversary. Yes, you can congratulate me and (perhaps) give your condolences to my better half :). I found my love mate on New Year's Eve. Asked her out and proposed 3 weeks later. Now, 40 years after August 27th, I can't believe how lucky I am to have found my soul mate. Not a lot of good is going on in my life, but I'm SO fortunate to have found the one!! Love truly makes everything wonderful. Sorry to deviate from football, but sometimes you just need to comment on life. Having a fantastic partner makes the 'game' of football pale in perspective. I hope that:
1) the Packer's have a "kickass" season
&
2) You are fortunate enough to meet a partner as "kickass" as mine
:)
p.s. I love the way CHTV allows us to share our stories. Still, IMHO, the best Packer fan website on the internet. Sorry, to digress from football, but what the heck, 4 decades of having an amazing spouse needs some recognition!
Go Pack Go!

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WKUPackFan's picture

August 28, 2017 at 02:46 pm

Congratulations Spock!

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Spock's picture

August 28, 2017 at 03:27 pm

Thanks, WKUPF. To put things in perspective: as a new teacher (Industrial Arts/English), my pay in 1977 was $8,500 a year, paid in increments over 12 months. I actually made almost half that at my summer job at American Can as a grunt who just moved cans around. My wife and I got married the year the FIRST Star Wars movie came out and I actually bought a brand new car off the show room (granted, it was a Datsun B210) one week before our marriage for (wait for it....) $3,700. I loved that car; it got (why can't they do it 40 years later?) 52 miles per gallon on the freeway! Fun memories! Thanks for the comment.

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WKUPackFan's picture

August 28, 2017 at 05:19 pm

You're welcome. I had a Datsun B210 also, 5 speed, great car. I'm a few years behind you ('78 high school grad, proud '82 WKU grad), so I was able to pull down a sweet 10K a year as bank loan officer in my first job.

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Steve Cheez's picture

August 28, 2017 at 05:13 pm

With this group, I'm surprised you didn't get any dislikes on that...

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WKUPackFan's picture

August 28, 2017 at 05:30 pm

Those dislikes would come from the Finwiz's and Ernie Ernie's of commenters. They're too busy with brilliant analysis such as describing MM as the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

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jasonperone's picture

August 28, 2017 at 08:07 pm

Cheers to you and your other half, Spock! I appreciate your continuous visits to the site and support. My first car didn't come until '92 and was a Pontiac Grand Am. $6,500. Totaled it 6 months later and on the robust $4.25/hour I was pulling, all I could do was hope the insurance company was feeling generous!

Go Pack Go!

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Spock's picture

August 29, 2017 at 01:32 am

Jason, the B210 was my second car. My first was a "gently used" 65 Plymouth Fury 111. I bought it for $950 and sold it for $750 after putting on nearly 60,000 miles. Best car I ever owned! No way I'm trading in my first spouse LOL.

Jason, My first car was a '65 Plymouth Fury. It was a 'gently used' car (seriously; the owner was actually a 'little old lady' who had a bug screen over the radiator) with less than 10 K mileage. I bought it for $950 and sold it 5 years later for $750. Best car I ever owned.

4

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marpag1's picture

August 28, 2017 at 03:14 pm

Maybe I'm just seeing what I've been conditioned to see over the years, but if the Denver game was an indication, the Packers will once again be entirely unable to defend the shallow middle. Checkdowns, shallow crossers, middle screens, whatever... mark it down as eight yards and a new set of downs.

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Finwiz's picture

August 28, 2017 at 03:36 pm

@Marpag1 - you watched the same game I did I guess. I agree 100%
It's the SAME defense - just a couple of different players they HOPE will make a difference. Over/Under will be 400 YPG allowed. Place your bets.
Trust me - I DON'T LIKE IT! Hurts me to say this.
I don't like the pain of Sunday's watching that D.

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marpag1's picture

August 28, 2017 at 03:44 pm

My very novice opinion says that it has a lot to do with the lack of pass rush. Opponents get into a third and long situation, they snap the ball, the backers take their drops, the corners are well downfield... but the pass rush doesn't get home. The opponent slips a RB out of the backfield into the wide open green spaces and voila... first down completion over the middle.

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Finwiz's picture

August 28, 2017 at 03:51 pm

What kills me is even "No Blitz Fritz" could dial up a package scheme and get Evans or Butler through a clean gap to the QB. It's like every damn time Capers dials up a blitz they're all swallowed up in the protection package and they never get there. Sorry guys - that's all SCHEME - it ain't the players you think are sooooo bad.

What perplexes me is WHY they still keep this guy around. Somebody with no stones to tell the Pillsbury dough boy to fire him? I just don't get it.

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dobber's picture

August 28, 2017 at 04:05 pm

"What kills me is even "No Blitz Fritz" could dial up a package scheme and get Evans or Butler through a clean gap to the QB."

There's a pretty big difference between the guys up front occupying blockers for Fritz and the guys up front here. Reggie, Sean Jones, Santana Dotson and Gilbert Brown?

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Finwiz's picture

August 28, 2017 at 04:27 pm

OK you got me on that one I guess. The only conclusion to draw is, there's nobody that requires a double team anymore to confuse the protection.
So we're screwed it seems?

Still you would figure once and awhile they would see a flaw in the protection on film, a weakness they can exploit to get somebody free once in awhile. I think it happens less than 5X per year with the Packers D.

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marpag1's picture

August 28, 2017 at 04:08 pm

Well, to be fair, "No Blitz Fritz" had Reggie White on the field every year that he was in Green Bay (not to mention Santana Dotson, Gilbert Brown, Sean Jones, Gabe Wilkins etc). Reggie by himelf had a way of creating more than a few "clean gaps" here and there... even when he didn't get to the quarterback himself. I wouldn't say that it's "all scheme," and the players certainly have something to do with it.

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