Yeah, so I may have overreacted to watching the Packers on TV. That is, the game was pretty underwhelming, and except for Justin Harrell, virtually no one the Packers put on the field for the last quarter will make the team.
However, there were some things to be taken from the game--
(1) Our passing game is in trouble.
It turns out that acquiring Randy Moss might have been a good idea. The first ten minutes of the game were Favre and the first-string offense, and Brett only completed two passes, both dinks. The Steelers' first team corners were draped all over our guys, including Driver, who is due to lose a step any day now. James "From Here to Eternity" Jones looks like he has good hands, but he doesn't seem particularly fast. Jennings didn't catch a pass. Donald Lee is a league average tight end at best. Bubba looks fitter but dropped the only pass that came his way, even though it hit him right in the hands. It just doesn't look like there's much talent there. I hope I'm wrong, but I think the Packers are going to have difficulty throwing the ball this year, unless Jones turns into more of a player, and Jennings develops. I predict another mediocre statistical year from Brett, as he gets frustrated with the younger guys.
(2) The running game looks better but still isn't good.
The line was holding its own on the run against the Steelers, who have several Pro Bowlers in their front seven. It wasn't cleaving big holes, but three and four yard gains were there pretty consistently. Right now, Jackson appears to be adequate. Reasonable speed, pretty good cut back ability, solid vision. But he doesn't look that powerful. That combination of blazing speed and power is hard to find, and having that combo was the big reason the old Ahman was so unique. I bet Herron takes over as a short-yardage back, being a bigger guy, unless Wynn makes the team. I also want to see Morency out there. Heal up, Vernand.
(3) The defense should be solid.
Lets consider what the D has going for it: (A) another year in Bob Sanders' system and another year with almost exactly the same coaches and personnel, meaning more comfort, quicker reactions, less confusion; (B) many hardworking, talented players who are young or in their primes-- Barnett, Pickett, Kampman, Hawk, Poppinga, Collins, Jenkins; (C) Cullen Jenkins potentially emerging as a problematic match-up for other teams-- someone who other teams need to focus on, and who opens up opportunities for other players; and (D) excellent depth where it makes the biggest difference: along the D-line; this includes includes Harrell, who looked impressive against the Steelers second and third strings, and Corey Williams, who is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year and is playing for his financial future.
(4) Our back-up cornerbacks aren't bad.
I don't know if anyone noticed, but Al and Woodson didn't play. I don't think Nick Collins did either. And still, besides two broken plays by our back up safeties, Pittsburgh couldn't move the ball via the pass. And their first string didn't do any damage through the air. I know it's early, but Roethels-cheddar burger is a pretty good QB. I also specifically recall seeing Jarrett Bush make a nice tackle, and Blackmon making a good play to break up a pass. Blackmon, if he can stay healthy, looks like he could be a good player.
(5) Get ready for more low-scoring games.
Since the Packers can't really pass, can sort of run the ball, but look to have a solid defense, the final score of Saturday's warm-up (13-9) could end up being pretty typical. Ah, well. Just win, baby. This might mean I have to stop making fun of Bears fans for having a boring team.
(6) The Packers definitely look like a deeper team than in previous years.
See the comments about the D-line and Al and Woodson not starting above. Also, our back-up O-Line was usually beating their back up D-Line. That won't mean much in the end, but it does indicate our depth. So does Pittsburgh's inability to score in the second half.
(7) Rodgers looked alright.
Aaron will never be Favre. He'll never throw as hard, he'll never be as inspiring, and he certainly will never look as manly or cool. In fact, I think he's goofy looking, and the idea of him being the Packers' quarterback and seeing him play every week is just bizarre. But he moved and threw very well on Saturday. There were a few errors-- an early pass that was close to being intercepted, overthrowing Ferguson on a scramble, and chucking it to a closely guarded Jones in the corner when he should have thrown it away. But he avoided sacks well, a totally underrated skill, and often made something positive happen during broken plays and scrambles. For example, he fired a nice first down pass to Jones along the sidelines after one scramble, and completed a TD pass to Ruvell Martin after another. (The latter was overruled when the refs determined Martin had stepped out of bounds first. To me, it looked like the defender shoved him out.) His TD pass was a nice little fade, taking advantage of a corner who didn't have time to turn and look for the ball. This all resulted in a QB rating of 95.7. Reverse a Bubba drop of an on-target third down pass, and the Martin TD decision, and Rodgers would have been well over 100. It's a good feeling to see your back-up QB perform well, even against another side's second string D. Lets hope he keeps it up.