Packers Preseason Analysis versus Browns
The Green Bay Packers (0-2) opened up their first action at Lambeau Field this preseason with a 35-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns (2-0) on Thursday evening. After Green Bay started off the game with an early 7-0 lead, the Packers allowed Cleveland to score 32 unanswered points to take control of the game. Let’s take a little bit closer of a look at the positives and negatives from Thursday night.
Green Bay ranked first in the league last season in takeaways and the defense started off its first series of the game with a bang. Charles Woodson ripped the ball loose from Montario Hardesty on the first play from scrimmage and the fumble was recovered by Casey Hayward to set up the first team offense with great field position.
The Packers’ offense executed their first possession of the game to perfection. Aaron Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for a 20-yard touchdown on 3rd and 7 in which Nelson leaped over the smothering coverage of Joe Haden to haul in the opening score in the corner of the end zone.
With middle linebacker Desmond Bishop most likely out for the season, Green Bay will be counting on last year’s sixth round draft pick D.J. Smith to fill the hole in the Packers’ linebacking corps. Smtih, who started three games last season, responded well to being placed in the starting lineup against Cleveland. On the second Cleveland possession, Smith was all over the field and had a hand in nearly all tackles in the series. He also pressured Brandon Weeden into throwing the ball away when he flew the middle uncontested on a second down blitz.
In a night where Graham Harrell needed to show he was able to handle the backup quarterback duties this season, he did not. In three first half possessions with Harrell under center, the Packers’ offense went three-and-out twice and six-and-out once. Routinely throwing behind receivers, Harrell was unable to get into a rhythm throughout the game and was responsible for two second half interceptions and an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone that resulted in a safety.
The entire second-team offense struggled to sustain a drive and move the football down the field, but the rushing offense was especially tough to watch with only two healthy tailbacks activated in Alex Green and Marc Tyler. It is hard to be excited about a rushing attack that gained 69 yards on the ground with 47 yards coming from their quarterbacks Harrell and Rodgers. The Packers must hope Cedric Benson can show signs of being the answer next week against Cincinnati.
There’s no doubting the ability of Randall Cobb to create after the catch and on kick returns, but Cobb’s issue has been fumbles. After struggling as a rookie in that area, he fumbled against San Diego last week and again Thursday after a reception that led to a Browns field goal.