Well, that happened. It was Christmas in August for the Arizona Cardinals as the Green Bay Packers defense became the gift that keeps on giving and the Packers offense acted as if allergic to the end zone.
The Packers, for all their tough talk about wanting to take out their aggressions on an opponent, forgot all their nasty intentions as soon as they stepped between the white lines. The Packers failed to show up in any phase of last night’s preseason contest against the Cardinals, losing 17 – 0 before a packed Lambeau Field crowd.
Packers statistic of the night: eight. Any time you end a game with eight consecutive punts, you’re making quite a statement for futility. To be fair, punting was the symptom, not the disease.
Offensively, the four Packers quarterbacks that took the field failed to generate much in the way of yards. Aaron Rodgers managed a respectable 62 yards on 3-of-5 passing in his only possession, but failed to score when Green Bay’s drive stalled at the 1. The Packers turned the ball over on downs.
The Packers backups then took quarterbacking futility to a new low. With extended playing time, current No. 2 Graham Harrell turned in an error-prone performance that included an interception, a lost fumble/sack, hesitation in his throws and off-target passing. In short, he squandered his opportunity to separate himself from second-year quarterback B.J. Coleman and new veteran import Vince Young.
Coleman, in his first appearance since his poor showing in last Saturday’s Family Night scrimmage, did little to enhance his standing. He produced only 15 yards on two completions out of seven attempts as the fourth quarterback in.
Vince Young’s Packers debut went about as you would expect for a player that had his first practice with the team on Tuesday. In his limited package of offensive plays, Young completed one pass for seven yards and scrambled twice for 12 yards. He brings the mobility and willingness to run — enhanced, no doubt, by his lack of comfort with the offense — that Harrell and Coleman lack.
On the day after the game, the Packers backup quarterback situation looks like a mess. The arrival of Young, thought to be a catalyst to raise the performance of the backups via increased competition, had little visible impact in this area. It’s too early to panic, but right now, the Packers cannot feel good about their backup quarterback situation. The opportunity remains for any of the three to step up and take the job.
One bright spot on the offense was the performance of undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Tyrone Walker. Walker led the Packers in receptions (5) and targets (6). Said head coach Mike McCarthy via Packers.com, “Tyrone Walker obviously had a productive night with his performance, with the five catches. I think he’s an excellent example of the whole wide receiver group. They’ve gone out competitively every day and performed. I thought he definitely took a step tonight.”
On defense, the biggest story of the night may be the ankle injury to first-round draft pick Datone Jones. The defensive end exited the game after one play with an undisclosed ankle injury that Clay Matthews alluded to during an in-game interview. “Datone Jones has an ankle sprain. Like a lot of those injuries, I think tomorrow (Saturday) will be a better indicator,” McCarthy said after the game to ESPN Wisconsin.
The Packers’ secondary turned in an abysmal showing, allowing receivers free releases and wide-open targets on passes from all four Cardinals quarterbacks. The Cardinals top three quarterbacks posted ratings of 149.3 (Carson Palmer), 105.4 (Drew Stanton) and 104.2 (Ryan Lindley). Those types of ratings are hard to accomplish if you’re just playing against air. The Packers offered little resistance against any element of the Cardinals’ passing attack.
The Packers travel to St. Louis next week for a preseason match up against the Rams. It will be interesting to see how the team bounces back from last night’s debacle. The only way to go is up.
Julian Rogers is a freelance writer and communications consultant. Follow him on Twitter (@mrturophile), or connect with him on Facebook and Google+.
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