Welcome back to Titletown Recap, ladies and gents! It’s so great to be back writing about Green Bay Packers football again. Let’s work the rust off together.
Joe Callahan spent the first 28 minutes of the game pretending to be Alex Smith, and it was absolutely adorable. Running all over the field, throwing dump passes to his 3rd checkdown receiver, lobbing wobbly slowpitch softball passes to guys who were in the same uniform but not really open. It was like he was trying to be Smith for Halloween. I’m surprised his snap count didn’t include “trick or treat” somehow.
When the clock ran down to 2 minutes, however, Callahan morphed into some sort of Matt Flynn/Joe Flacco hybrid and just torched the Browns defense. That was a fun drive to watch, because Callahan was efficient and seemed to finally be putting it all together. He wasn’t exactly accurate with all of his throws, but he was able to drive down the field and put the ball in the end zone for the Packers only touchdown of the game. This ended so much better than the last time I saw a Callahan drive:
Callahan ended the game going 16/23 for 124 yards and a touchdown, which is not a bad way to start an NFL career. I hope he had a post game snack worthy of his performance.
The second half belonged to Marquise Williams, who was able to lead the team to 2 safeties. Williams was exciting to watch, and displayed great scrambling abilities regardless of the condition of the pocket. There were times he had nobody around him but appeared to see a bunny across the field and wanted to chase it.
What Williams lacks in patience, he makes up for with arm strength. After watching Callahan throw checkdowns for half the game it was nice to see a Packers quarterback literally throw caution to the wind and just heave the ball towards a guy in green. Williams finished 6/14 for 55 yards, no touchdowns and a pick, so he wasn’t exactly successful, but he sure tried. However, it’s pretty obvious that Callahan is the current leader in the clubhouse for future practice squad QB.
Eddie Lacy got 3 consecutive carries to start the game, and converted them into 24 yards and a couple of first downs. He appeared to be in good shape, and I really want a cheeseburger now.
John Crockett is energetic and is a threat in the open field. He still needs to work on reading his lanes and hitting the holes without dancing, but if he is able to learn these skills he could be a very nice compliment to Lacy’s bruising style. Another area Crockett will be able to excel in is the passing game. He caught the Packers lone touchdown on a nice swing route out of the backfield. There were also a few screen passes that were one block away from being long touchdowns. Put Crockett behind the starting offensive line, who I will confidently say is the best screen blocking unit in the NFL, and he could run for days.
Brandon Burks led the Packers in rushing with 9 carries for 45 yards, and ran better than Crockett did through the line. He’s not as fast, but appears to understand how to read his blockers a bit better than Crockett. Throw in Brandon Ross, who had 8 carries for 21 yards, and there looks to be a hard fought battle for a roster spot going forward.
Jared Cook had 2 receptions for 8 yards in limited playing time. Richard Rodgers didn’t touch the ball. But a tight end was the offensive MVP of the game. Justin Perillo has been underrated and under valued since last year, and his performance in this game proved why he should be the Packers third tight end. He had 5 receptions for 52 yards, including a few key catches during the 2 minute drive at the end of the first half. Despite being just shy of enormous, he figures out ways to get open and catches anything within orbit of him. Plus he is the best blocking tight end on the team. Kennard Backman seems to be the perennial “upside” guy, but his upside never seems to surface. Perillo has proven himself to be reliable. I hope the Packers see it that way as well.
Oh yeah, we have some of those. I hope we get to see them next week.
News broke on Saturday that Jeff Janis broke at least one bone in his hand and will miss significant time. This is unfortunate for him, as he was trying to secure a spot on the offense. It may be a long shot for him to make it to the roster when he comes back, especially if Trevor Davis and Jared Abbrederris shine. Here’s to hoping that Janis heals quickly and can get back on the field, at least for special teams.
But honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he grew a new hand like a starfish. He has the power.
Micah Hyde decided that his ridiculous interception against Minnesota last year wasn’t enough, so he made this play as well.
Other than a long pass allowed by Demarious Randall on the first Browns possession, the Packers defense played very solid football. The starters who actually suited up only saw one or two series, but their replacements certainly held their own.
Kenny Clark fought through double teams, and although his stat line won’t show it, he was productive. He blew up a lot of plays, and in this respect looked a lot like the player he was drafted to replace, BJ Raji.
Moving Datone Jones to outside linebacker may be the change he needed to contribute at a high level. Jones was in the pocket all night, and even though he only had one sack to show for his efforts, it was apparent that he was playing with a new energy. This is something he will need to do throughout the season. The chip on his shoulder may be a direct correlation to the dollar amount of his next contract.
Blake Martinez looked good in coverage, but he royally whiffed on a tackle, which allowed an extra 10 yard gain. It was nice to see a middle linebacker able to keep up with tight ends and running backs instead of looking for help.
Kyler Fackrell sacked Browns quarterback Cody Kessler so hard that he turned into AJ Hawk and his helmet flew off into the sunset. Fackrell made his presence known in the pocket fairly frequently in the second half, so it was nice to see him rewarded with a sack. He was evaluated for a concussion on the sideline after the play, but appeared to pass all of the protocol.
Overall, the Packers defense held the Browns offense under 200 yards for the game, got 2 turnovers, and scored 3 safeties. Not a bad effort, even for a preseason game against Robert Griffin III and 3 journeyman backups.
Mason Crosby has gray on his head, ice in his veins, and a robot leg. He made 2 field goals of 54 yards, both with plenty to spare. Why his name doesn’t come up during discussions of the best kicker in the NFL, I will never know.
Pete Mortell might be more of a competitor than Tim Masthay was bargaining for. Mortell hit a 61 yard punt that hung in the air long enough to make a grilled cheese. His next punt was a coffin corner that went out of bounds at the 4 yard line. Masthay did a good job holding field goals. This will be a fun battle to watch.
The Oakland Raiders come to Lambeau Field on Thursday. Aaron Rodgers has said he is going to play, and the Packers TV analysts said that Jordy Nelson might play as well. Oakland will have Amari Cooper, Kalil Mack, and one of the Carr brothers. Have a great week!