Most people hate the preseason and so do the players, but it is a great opportunity to get a look at some roster bubble players and the new acquisitions. Then again, we can’t get enough football as it is and everyone likes to see their team out on the field even if it is still summer time. The Green Bay Packers first preseason game was at home against the Philadelphia Eagles. The team came out with a pretty ugly win. It was a sloppily played game that showed how much rust these guys need to shake off before the regular season begins. The Packers had a tough time running the ball and here is why.
First and foremost, it is the preseason. Most teams use this time to evaluate new players and slowly work in more of the playbook. As such, coaches play it pretty tight to the vest. They do not want to show too much of their play calling, adjustments or various ‘looks’ to an opposing defense they may see in the future or put on tape for the entire league to see. This is the preseason, players (starters) are not here to really win. They are here to get a few reps and stay healthy. This is why they do not game plan. Coaches evaluate players on the bubble of the roster and their new signees. With that said, it is obvious why the running game fell short in this preseason opener. The Packers didn’t game plan to run the ball, they simply put out an offense and had them run plays they should know by this point.
The Philadelphia Eagles defense is one of the best in football. They have, arguably, the best defensive tackle in the league in Fletcher Cox. The second greatest rusher in Brandon Graham and a rookie defensive end (first round selection) that broke Reggie White’s sack record at Tennessee and many analysts argue was the best pass rusher in the draft. This is only compounded by their acquisition of Timmy Jernigan a mauler from Baltimore and their formidable linebacker core. A surprise in the game was non-starter Mychal Kendricks ability to rush the passer/backfield and contribute. The Packers running game, which was at the bottom of the league last year, had quite the difficult task ahead of them. Not to mention that the Eagles second and third string defensive line players would be starters for other teams.
Number of Touches
The biggest reason for the lack of a Packers rushing game was the limited number of touches that the running backs were given. Their starter, Ty Montgomery, carried the ball three times for zero total yards. Jamaal Williams carried the ball four times for fourteen yards (long of 5). Aaron Jones carried it twice for zero yards and Devante Mays did not get any touches. In total, the Packers ran the ball nine times in their season opener. The team is clearly a pass happy team, you would be too if your quarterback was Aaron Rodgers, but McCarthy is going to have to find a way to get the ball in his running back’s hands if he wants to have a successful season. This was probably done with a purpose. The team’s third string QB looks really good and the team could be looking to trade second string QB Brett Hundley for a pivotal piece. He is in a contract year and not likely to stay with the team since Rodgers is nowhere near done. Letting him go out there and let it rip is a great way to show the rest of the NFL what he has, that he’s ready to start somewhere else and worth a nice player or solid draft pick.