When I watch a preseason game I try my best to ignore the final score. One look at the Green Bay / New England game’s fourth down go-for-it plays should tell you that preseason games aren’t about the points. Once I saw a preseason game where the defense ran into the punter on two fourth down punts in the same drive, possibly to chain the opponent’s offense to the field until they finally scored.
Next, I never watch the stars. We all understand that Tom Brady throws exquisite slants to Rob Gronkowski and inside-outside passes to Danny Amendola. These particular skill sets couldn’t have eroded one bit since last February. Nor do I tend to watch the worst camp bodies. Some of these folks have been picked for their upside and might blossom in a year or two, but on this August night they’re penalties waiting to happen.
I watch the second-years. Some of them will start in September. Others will contribute this year.
Dominique Easley caught my eye when I saw him double covered for five seconds. True, the Pats were only rushing three on that play, but Green Bay chose to bottle up Easley. Thereafter I kept my eye on Mr. Easley and I liked what I saw. Green Bay had switched to a 7-step quarterback drop, possibly because a 3-step drop wouldn’t work against the Pats. Easley regularly pushed his guy 4 yards into the backfield and strictly kept his lane against the possibility of Aaron Rodgers pulling the ball down and taking off. The considerably famous Mr. Rodgers finished his night with a 76.0 quarterback rating, plus he was only one for three on fourth down gambles and he didn’t score any touchdowns. On top of the Patriots pass defense, I didn’t see many successful rushes to the left on Green Bay’s part. All of their good rushes were to the right, away from Easley.
James White made at least four guys miss. Please hand him the third and long job.
I discerned a negative slant in Bill Belichick’s halftime appraisal of running back Jonas Gray. Best guess, BB would prefer to start Blount against Pittsburgh if not for Blount’s suspension. As I read the tea leaves, perhaps BB wants us to know that Gray doesn’t quite know how to pass-block or run perfect routes yet. However, on the field we were treated to Gray’s newfound speed when he’s being chased by trees. Sometime soon, Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator will want to replay Gray’s touchdown run over and over, looking for some edge.
Trey Flowers was rated ProFootballFocus.com’s #2 steal of the entire draft. At last night’s coming out party he ripped past his tackle and aimed for the mobile Aaron Rodgers’s shoulder pads. Rodgers wisely hit the dirt a quarter of a second early. Does he want a job or what?
The jury’s still out on Josh Boyce. Jimmy Garoppolo couldn’t hit Boyce in stride all night, and twice Garoppolo hit Boyce’s defender in the hands with seriously underthrown passes.
Mr. Garoppolo himself was so-so, considering. He connected on 67% of his pass attempts. I’ll blame some of Green Bay’s seven sacks on New England’s young and horrid offensive linemen, none of whom are worthy of being named in this column. Keep in mind that the 12-4 Packers lost the NFC championship in overtime last year.