What typically is considered the Dress Rehearsal for the regular season, the 3rd preseason game should offer the longest look at the starters prior to week 1 (Sept 10th v Seattle).  In the first two preseason games, the Packers have shown their depth as their 3rd and 4th stringers have been playing well versus Philly’s and Washington’s 1st and 2nd string units.  In Landover, all of the quarterbacks seemed sharp – especially Rodgers and Hundley, the ones you’d expect.  Taysom Hill was able to move the ball down the field and ultimately get the game-winning TD, but he’s quite raw and needs a ton of more snaps before he’s ready.

Keeping with the QB theme, this should be a good test for Hundley as Denver boasted the 4th overall defense last season.  Should Hundley play well, as he has this entire preseason, look for him to cement himself as a legitimate NFL backup QB with the potential for the Packers to trade next offseason (keep in mind Thompson traded UP to select Hundley in the 5th round of the 2015 draft), meaning there could be tremendous return if flipped for a 3rd or possibly 2nd round draft pick.

Other players, positions to watch is the highly competitive Wide Receiver…position…  With the play and production of Jeff Janis so far this preseason, hopefully he’ll get a shot v Den’s 1st unit to see how effective he truly can be.  Talent and ability has never been an issue with Janis, however understanding the playbook and (one of my favorite phrases) knowing how to get open, has.  If Hundley continues to show he’s healthy and productive that may lend a roster spot to the WR corps – the Packers may only keep 2 QBs on the roster, unlike last year where they kept 3.  Even with keeping 3 QBs last year Green Bay held on to 7 WRs, which is where I think it’s trending currently.  It’s a deep position and if there’s no trade value worthy of actually pulling the trigger to make a trade, look for this to be the most-competitive position for the remaining 8 days (roster cuts need to be made by Sept 2).  My prediction for the group (as of Aug 25) is:

  • Jordy Nelson
  • Davante Adams
  • Randall Cobb (I’d cut or trade him, likely won’t happen)
  • Geronimo Allison
  • Trevor Davis
  • Jeff Janis
  • Max McCaffrey

The rookie wideouts (Dupre and Yancey) also seem to possess quite a bit of talent, hence why I’d be OK with moving on from Cobb ($12.6M this year).

Other groups to watch may be the punter Justin Vogel and Brett Goode (long-snapper).  Goode has been with the team for quite some time, but was just recently brought back to the team last week…it’s not a vital position until it is.

The defense, especially the D-line, needs to continue to show progress and speed.  Keep in mind neither team is scheming against one another, but fundamentals don’t scheme those are always in play.  Dean Lowry sure gave us a scare last week and he’s showing to be a true difference-maker for this defense.  Hopefully he can turn into an Aaron Kampman-type which would give this defense a much-needed boost.  If the Packers can produce a top half defense (ranked 16th overall or better), what would be the reason for failure if another Lombardi trophy eludes the Packer trophy room?

Finally, Football is Back!

The tease of football has reached us, finally!  For those addicted to football, or just eager for something besides a market correction to our Brewers, what we saw this past Thursday at Lambeau Field was both encouraging and depressing.  Let’s start with the depressing part, shall we?

Without major change, once again at any of the 3 key factors (General Manager, Head Coach, and Quarterback) it’d be insane to expect a different result than the last 6 years.  Now that that’s done with, on to the encouraging portion!

Overall team speed was addressed in the draft and it showed on the field v Philadelphia.  The first pick, Kevin King, flashed a few times coming up to make an instant stop after a short completion.  Something that may go unnoticed, but makes a monstrous difference over the course of a season.  That could be the difference between a 3rd down stop and a drive that continues and possibly breaks for a long gain (see Julio Jones in the NFC title game).  With the good was some bad; King was burned on a deep pass down the right side against the 2nd string.  I’m not sure if it was blown coverage by the safety, or if King was just beat, but either way that was happening in years passed without the tackling, so that’s a plus!

My favorite (yes, way too early to tell) player in the draft, Josh Jones, didn’t really make too much of an impact.  He overran a couple of tackles, but at least got there – which also has been lacking.  If he can mature and get the fundamentals down he could be a really nice player, for a long time.

The standout player for me, yes all on defense, was Dean Lowry.  Lowry generated a constant push which sets the tone for the play, by getting pressure up the middle – regardless of run/pass – it disrupts the entire play and increases the difficulty of execution for the offense.  As any quarterback will tell you, the worst type of pressure is that of which comes from the middle (between the tackles).  #94 wasn’t running free to completely beating his man, but he was pushing him in the backfield and if there’s a smidge of additional pressure from anyone else, it will help this team immensely.

Nice to see: Trevor Davis get an opportunity and make the most of it on punt return.  Much-welcomed speed at a position which requires speed and agility.  The speedster in his 2nd year from Cal showed solid vision and wasted little movement taking a punt return 68 yards for a TD on his first try.  Hopefully he’s secured his spot as a punt returner and I’d love to see him on kick returns full time too.

For next week- keep an eye out for the 1st team offense to actually hit a rhythm- it’ll be important for Brett Hundley to showcase his talents, not only for the Packers’ cause, but for his own as well.

Missed the Deadline?

Considering it’s been over 2 months since my last entry- I figured this to be a good time to catch up!  The Brewers continue to win me over as there were no major moves made in the trade deadline…at least no major moves to improve today.  I believe the system has shown to be working, and a superior of mine once said “Don’t deviate from a great long-term plan because you’re seeing short-term success.”  I don’t believe truer words could be spoken, especially when it comes to rebuilding.

The Brewers (as of 7/31) find themselves at 55-52, 2.5 games out of first in the NL Central.  The Cubs came in and took the series this past weekend and are showing why they’re the top dog in this division.  I understand why fans are frustrated about this team dropping in the standings, but if Milwaukee is this good now just think how good they’ll be when Stearns and Co. actually planned on the “window” opening.  For the remainder of this baseball season, of course root for the Brewers to win the division (as always) however, by no means should anyone be upset by season’s end.  The upcoming core of young talent has shown such promise and is a major reason the Brew Crew seems to be ahead of schedule.

Take a look down south in Houston, where David Stearns cut his teeth, they’re one of the top teams in baseball, are stocked with young talent, and possess a top 5 farm system….STILL!!!  This is the path the Milwaukee Brewers are on, and while experiencing early success the Crew (unlike Houston) did not make a major deal to shoot for the playoffs like the Astros did in 2015 by giving up 4 prospects (Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips being two of them) for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers.  That 2015 Houston team, very much like this 2017 Milwaukee club had no real shot at winning anything major – instead the Brewers held on to all of their young talent that projects to help come 2019 and beyond.

Many fans and local radio personalities tell me to “just enjoy the ride,” well without a doubt I can say “I have so far.”