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Packers: Breaking Down the Good and the Bad From Washington

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Packers: Breaking Down the Good and the Bad From Washington

The results of NFL preseason games don’t really matter, we all know that. So the fact that the Green Bay Packers are 2-0 in the silly season is of little significance.

Even though the overall results don’t matter, what happens on the field still does, especially for those trying to earn their way onto Green Bay’s final 53-man roster. In that sense, there were some important developments in the Packers 21-17 win over the Redskins in Washington, D.C. Saturday night.

The preseason is about giving young players a chance to prove themselves and last night, Josh Hawkins did just that. He was given a chance to play with the No. 1 defense and the second-year corner, didn’t disappoint. He notched five tackles and broke up three passes. There is still work to do, but he definitely helped himself.

Another guy that really helped himself against the Redskins, in my opinion, was Jeff Janis. He caught three passes for 63 yards and made a nifty 38-yard reception. The ball came in over the shoulder of the corner and Janis, who doesn’t have the reputation for having the greatest hands, came down with it. With his special teams prowess, at this point, it’s hard to see how he doesn’t make the team.

On the other end of the spectrum, none of the backup offensive lineman did much to help themselves. Don Barclay didn’t play due to injury and as crazy as it sounds, he was missed by the second unit.

Jason Spriggs, the third tackle on the depth chart, was horrid. He gave up a sack early that might have been due to miscommunication, but as the game wore on, he was beaten repeatedly and at times, he looked plain awful. Outside of Kyle Murphy, who I thought held his own at right tackle, there wasn’t much to be excited about.

Hopefully, Spriggs will come around. Murphy can play tackle, but he’s better suited as a guard, so Spriggs is pretty much it if there is an injury to one of the starting tackles. If Barclay is healthy, the depth inside will be a little better, but Ted Thompson might need to seriously consider adding another veteran to the mix.

While the backup offensive line was porous, the starting group played well. For the second straight week, I liked what I saw from Jahri Evans, who I played close attention to. He’s not a road grader in the run game anymore, but he gets in front of people, and he still knows how to pass protect. He’s no T.J. Lang, but he will be fine.

Yet, the one concern I do have with the offense and the offensive line is the running game. As a whole, the Packers rushed for 110 yards, but when you take out the quarterbacks, Green Bay gained just 56 yards on 20 carries.

Obviously, the struggles of the second-team offensive line played a role, but even the starting unit had its issues opening holes. Jamaal Williams did get five carries for 15 yards on the opening drive, which wasn’t bad, but it’s still an area that needs improvement.

Another thing that was disappointing for the Packers Saturday, was a lack of sacks. The defense managed just one and it came in the second half at the hands of Reggie Gilbert. Yet, even though Green Bay failed to show it in the stat sheet, it still was able to generate pressure, which is why judging the pass rush solely on sack production can be a mistake.

Clay Matthews and Nick Perry didn’t stay in the game for long, but when they did, they both were able to pressure Kirk Cousins and helped force some early punts. Kenny Clark was an animal inside and in addition to dominating against the run, he also forced Cousins off his spot and generated pressure. 

The Packers were probably hoping for more from Kyler Fackrell, but overall, he wasn’t awful. Jayrone Elliott did some good things, as did Gilbert, who keeps making the case for a roster spot.

Green Bay had to be happy with surrendering just 17 points and only 10 to the Redskins first-team offense, which played the entire first half. But an even more impressive statistic, was a run defense that gave up just 64 yards on 22 carries or 2.9 a carry.

The Packers may not play their true base defense much this season, but when they did against the Redskins, it looked pretty stout, especially with Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez manning the middle.

Of course that personnel group won’t be used as much and the play of some hybrid players will likely have a bigger impact on the overall play of the defense. Yet, a stout run defense is always important and at the very least, it looks like the Packers have that.


Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (31) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

chugwater's picture

Just loved the sweet moves Allison made to open up the third quarter. Nice demonstration of field vision and body control.

Not bad for a guy who ran 4.67 in the 40. I'm anxious to see how much of a step forward he takes in his development this year.

Nick Perry's picture

I agree. That 25 yard reception was sweet. He snatched the ball out of the air with his hands and really made a nice run.

PatrickGB's picture

I was unable to actually watch the game. So I rely on the news to report it. Thanks Cheesehead, for no fluff coverage. Right now Fackrell and Spriggs are major disappointments based on their draft statis. Gilbert and Hawkins look great for being UDFAs. This may be a good year to not hang on to disappointing players just because we drafted them relatively high. I would also like to see TT be active in trading this year. At this point even a low draft pick for the underachievers would make more sense and ease the logjam at other positions before cutdown time.

Chris Peterson's picture

I still have hope for both. Fackrell did have a few sacks last season and Spriggs wasn't terrible when he started last year. But both are not having good camps or preseasons so far. It is troubling. But yes Gilbert and Hawkins both helped their case a lot for the 53.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

If you are suggesting trading Spriggs and Fackrell for some low round draft picks, say a 5th and a 6th, respectively, I am against it. Now, RR on the other hand...actually, I have to think about that. Not for a 6th anyway.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

I don't think Fackrell is a disappointment at all. I'd make that draft pick again.
Spriggs, on the other hand, looks awful, still. Just like we saw in Dallas last January even he caused Montgomery to lose 5 yards on a key play late.

Spriggs looks like Tarzan. Still plays like Jane.
He needs to learn from Bakhtiari to MOVE HIS DAMN BIG FEET & keep his balance.

We have 8 or 9 WRs who deserve NFL roster spots.

Nick Perry's picture

Funny thing is Spriggs was the guy with the great combine who looked like he had great feet. The Packers are very close this year but they HAVE to have an alternative to Spriggs at Tackle. I don't trust him even for a few plays. With ALL the comp picks the Packers have next season they need to start looking TODAY and make a damn trade for someone who wouldn't get Rodgers killed. The longer they wait for him for the light to come on, the harder it will be to get another player ready. Right now Spriggs light is burnt out it seems.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

This is wholly unrealistic. Is there a team with 4 serviceable LTs so that they can afford to part with one? Teams are starting Alan Barbre.

Branden Albert now is looking for a paycheck, I hear. I am against that too, because he won't play for back-up money, but at least he's available. He didn't want to play out the last year of his contract that called for $8.9M, he wanted a long term deal, so he retired and then un-retired.

Nick Perry's picture

Maybe but maybe they don't have to be a LT but one who could pay Tackle in a pinch. It just doesn't seem it would take much at all to improve on what Spriggs offers at this point. Spriggs scares the crap out of me, he looks worse than he did as a rookie. He doesn't move well and that seemed to be a strength in all those combine drills. He did well in the bench press too yet looks weak as hell. If not by trade then they better look long and hard at those who are cut and HOPE they can claim one and get him up to speed quickly. Spriggs against say Seattle or Atlanta if even for a few plays would be a bloodbath.

cheesehead1's picture

Not sounding good for Spriggs. Hope he can turn it around. Injuries are inevitable on the OL so I hope TT can provide us with some more depth.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I for one am thrilled to see guys like Hawkins and Janis continually develop their strong physical gifts. They're both locks.

As for Spriggs, the spotlight shining on him the final 2 weeks of preseason would fully counteract Monday's eclipse.

daveh's picture

Packers better find a running game or there in a of trouble. The problem is the offensive is more adept for pass blocking than run blocking

dschwalm's picture

The Pack will always be more adept at pass blocking because, in spite of what MM says, he doesn't care about the running game......and it has been like this since he got here. Oh well, it worked for one SB.

egbertsouse's picture

We're seeing again why Janis is known as "Mr. August." He looked good but he needs to carry that into Sept., Oct. Nov., etc.

Spriggs Is just plain awful; a lack of strength, speed and desire. He reminds me of the post-roid Tony Mandarich. The ball is snapped, give your man one push and look to huddle up for the next play.

The 1st string O and the defense looked good overall.

lou's picture

In reference to Janis, hands have not been the problem, tracking the long pass is what he has problems with in the past (see Colt's game last year when he started when Cobb was down). Last week a comment was made comparing him to Billy Schroeder who blossomed late, time will tell. He obviously is getting off the line quicker and becoming a better route runner which was his original issue coming in from a small school. A key is getting the running game going the next 2 weeks. in the past you could always count on James Starks until his off year last year, that solid veteran #2 is no longer present. Sprigg's was so bad that he made Newhouse look like Joe Thomas in comparison and Newhouse was run out of town, 1st-2nd-3rd team defenders at Sprigg's up, multiple times Harlan said after he was beaten, "last year this guy had little pass rush". Backups at center and tackle are the O-Line issues now.

LayingTheLawe's picture

I always thought Bill Schroeder was more a testament to how bad the receivers were in that part of Favre's reign. He was Favre's number 2 receiver which meant he got around 65 catches and 1000 yards per season but he wasn't anyone you really thought was a great receiver. He just had a great thrower getting it to him. But as a guy who kicked around a few years, didn't seem to get it, went to NFL Europe and came back to have a couple 1000 yard seasons maybe he can be a model.

By this point we know Janis is never going to be a star receiver. But he is certainly a guy who can be a threat and provide excellent special teams play. This makes him a roster guy that rounds out the team.

Nick Perry's picture

Love the run D right now. Just like the offense they didn't get to practice much against the run till the pads came on but you sure can't tell. They're flying to the ball, plugging up lanes, and getting an excellent push each time.

The sacks are a little concerning but Chris is right, they did seem to get some pressure pretty quickly when the starters were in the game. Cousins didn't do a thing against the Packers D for the first 5 series of the game, running or passing the ball. Hell they didn't break 100 yards until their 6th drive of the 1st half IIRC.

The lone drive Rodgers was in was a thing of beauty. 15 plays, 75 yards, 7 first downs and almost 8 minutes off the clock, caught em with 12 men on the field AND they scored 7 points.

Vogel's net average was 44.4 with 2 inside the 20 on 7 punts.

LayingTheLawe's picture

So far watching Spriggs play this preseason has meant watching him sprint after the guy who just went past him. I got the game on the internet with the Washington announcers so I turned off Joe Theisman and listened to it streaming from WTMJ. Larry McCarren said he still thinks the guy has all the talent in the world but he's waiting for that switch to throw in his head that tells him he needs to play like its life and death on each play. Let's hope he can find that switch because thus far second and third teamers are making him look awful.

PETER MAIZ's picture

I didn't see the game but I'm surprised Janis is coming around in the passing game. I was pretty sure he wouldn't survive even given his special teams excellence. I hope Ted gets rid of Spriggs. In the draft, sometimes you win, sometimes not. Can he admit a draft mistake? That's the big question.
The last thing I'll say is that apart from the tepid running game, the rushers better show up and pressure opposing quarterbacks. It's really the O line that worries me in case someone is injured. If Green Bay is to be a true meritocracy, than Spriggs may have to go.

pilot67's picture

I could not watch game. How was Vogel punting?

LayingTheLawe's picture

His average is good but most of that is due to one that rolled for 58 yards. The others were decent, some good hang times mid 40 yard punts and only one that was a low 40 yard liner that got saved by good coverage. Overall his stats will look good with like a 47 yard average for 7 punts.

Ferrari Driver's picture

I thought Taysom Hill looked good behind center, especially for a rookie with limited reps and time with the club.

At this point I think he may ultimately be the Packers choice for the 3rd string position either on the roster or first off the practice squad if needed.

Bedrock's picture

The part concerning me with Spriggs is GB being in "regular season mode" in preparation for games. That means Spriggs watched game tape of guys he'd play against, etc. I try to keep in mind the coaches intentionally put guys into difficult situations to see if they can play. As many know, there's actually not a huge difference between "looks horrible" and "quality backup". He's gonna figure it out. Patience.

carusotrap's picture

"Ted Thompson might need to seriously consider adding another veteran to the mix.*

That's adorable.

I think Ted is still breathing into a paper bag on a regular basis because of his off-season FA signings. I don't think he's got it in him to go all Dan Snyder in the middle of training camp.

4zone's picture

OL is definitely a vulnerability past the 1st team. We can't expect to go the season without someone needing rehab time. Most other positions on the team are looking pretty good so far.

flackcatcher's picture

I am not surprised with Spriggs struggles in pass pro. I mean, this is only his second year actually using that technique at this level. Indiana does not teach pass pro basics, Most teams teach the fire-out punch, it easier to practice with most colleges running some version of the run-shoot or option game. Wisconsin teaches pass pro, they are one of a relative hand full who still run an two back set, play pro offense. Spriggs main problem is his weight has shifted downward. Or to put it simply, he got heavy. Because of his weight gain, he is having trouble getting his set low. In college, he never ran a pass pro set, so his body set was high in contact. In other words, he was forever run blocking. Pro pass blocking is an whole another set of skills Spriggs rarely used. Getting use to his body, and learning is going take some time. While Spriggs looks clumsy, he is a fine athlete who is under going the difficult transfer to the pro game.

Tundraboy's picture

Finally an insightful comment. Thanks

Donster's picture

TT won't cut Spriggs into just his second season because that would show that he made a mistake drafting Spriggs in the first place. He also used two draft picks to move up to draft Spriggs. Another reason he will give him more time.

Tundraboy's picture


mnklitzke's picture

I really liked what Geoff or is it Jeff Gray did. Guard who played in the Canadian league. Every play that they pulled him he was crushing people. Yes it was in the 4th quarter but still I would like to see him get some snaps with at least the 2nd team Be a nice replacement for Evans next year?

Klincker's picture

Its Geoff Gray, and he played for the University of Manitoba Bisons. I've been tracking him since he was signed by Green Bay. I thought he would be one of those "camp bodies" because he is an undrafted pick, and coming from Canada. But I was wrong, happily, wrong. He is playing well. I hope he gets a shot with the twos vs the Broncos on Sunday.

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