After a disappointing preseason opening loss against the Arizona Cardinals, the Green Bay Packers rebounded with a 19-7 win against the St. Louis Rams Saturday night. From the get-go the Pack came out with a sense of urgency, and both sides of the ball showed promise. The score of the game is irrelevant to the goals the Packers are trying to accomplish this preseason, but the victory does shed light on the success the Packers achieved against the rebuilding Rams.
So what can Packers fans take away from this game?
1. Eddie Lacy is as advertised
Eddie Lacy was drafted to save the dreadful running game in Green Bay, and so far he looks more than capable of carrying the load this year. After waiting patiently to see the second round draft pick in game action, the rookie from Alabama showed why he was viewed so highly in the draft. The 5'11" 230 rookie RB totaled eight carries for 40 yards and added one reception for 11 yards as well, while also working efficiently out of the no-huddle offense. Lacy displayed great vision and feet on Saturday night, and he was able to bounce a few runs to the outside and make moves in the open field, making him a dangerous weapon on any down and distance.
Last year the Packers' running backs lacked the burst needed to make big plays on the second level and they struggled breaking tackles. Countless times Alex Green, Cedric Benson and James Starks were one defender away from busting a big run, but none of these backs had the ability to consistently make tacklers miss and to break arm tackles. Lacy, on the other hand, hits the holes with force and authority and rarely goes down on first contact. On several plays Lacy broke through countless defenders to make big plays for the Pack. Lacy will be depended on heavily this season and so far he looks like the real deal. It is fair to say that Lacy may be the most talented RB to walk through the doors at Lambeau since the Ahman Green days
2. The Packers will use the no-huddle early and often
The Packers wasted no time installing their no-huddle offense in the preseason. All the quarterbacks, and in particular Aaron Rodgers and Graham Harrell, were fully exposed to the fast tempo offense McCarthy likes to use. Most won't put any importance into the game plan McCarthy utilized this Saturday, and will write it off as an opportunity to practice the no-huddle offense in real game situations, but Packers fans should get use to seeing this attack early and often. The no-huddle offense can be a great way to aid an offensive line that has struggled in the past (92 sacks given up between 2011-2012).
With Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang swapping sides, rookie David Bakhtiari replacing Bryan Bulaga at left tackle, Marshall Newhouse and Don Barclay battling it out at right tackle, and Evan Dietrich-Smith starting full-time for the first time in his career, the Packers line is littered with question marks. Rookies such as Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin and second-year players Jarrett Boykin and Jeremy Ross will also be featured in an NFL offense for the first time. A no-huddle offense can ease the transition for these players. It allows defenses, especially the front seven, to wear out and weaken the pass rush. Expect the Packers to feature a no-huddle offense early in the season to allow the offensive line to gain some momentum and confidence.
3. The kicking competition has just started
Saturday night was the first time Mason Crosby and newcomer Giorgio Tavecchio went head-to-head in live game action, and the Packers have to be pleased with both kickers. Just a few years ago Crosby was regarded as one of the best and most consistent kickers in the game, but this reputation came to an end last season. In 2012 Crosby had his worst career as a professional, totaling career lows in field goal percentage (63.6%) and missed field goals (12). Crosby, 28, did come on strong later in the season going six for six in ther last two games and the two playoff games. Tavecchio, 23, is a lefty who was brought in to compete with Crosby and so far in practices Tavecchio has slightly out performed Crosby.
Against the Rams, Crosby hit all three of his field goals (30, 34, 48) and Tavecchio hit one field goal (38) and missed a longer attempt (49). In an ideal world Crosby makes the team and wins the job over Tavecchio. Crosby has years of experience and is familiar with the harsh conditions that can come across Lambeau. But the Packers can not afford to have another miserable season considering Crosby is the third highest paid kickers in the NFL ($2.4 million). So far Crosby has a leg-up in preseason competition, but expect Mike McCarthy and special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum to keep the kicker competition heated for the rest of camp and the final two preseason games.
Check back with Packers 101 tomorrow for Part Two of the lessons learned from the Packers' win.
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- Green Bay Packers Off to a Rough Start After Preseason Opener Shutout
- Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals Preseason Game Guide
- Green Bay Packers Keeping the Kicking Competition as Balanced as Possible in Camp
- Green Bay Packers Mason Crosby Continues Struggles, Has Poor Family Night Scrimmage Outing
- Green Bay Packers Rookie Watch, Part VIII: Eddie Lacy
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