During the Green Bay Packers’ preseason week 2 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, there were a few things that were apparent. For the most part, we got to see the regular season Packers starters, except for Aaron Rodgers who did not suit up or Green Bay. Below re my thoughts on the 26-13 Packers @ Ravens game.
Quick to Pressure
The Ravens ran the ball really well, whether it was with quarterbacks Lamar Jackson or Trace McSorley. Also, several Baltimore running backs had productive outings, including rookie Justice Hill. The Packers defensive linemen and linebackers were just not able to get off their blocks consistently in order to make plays in run-stopping.
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The instances, where the Ravens offense was not successful on first down, Green Bay brought the pressure. During 2nd-and-long situations, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was not afraid to call for 5-man fronts and blitz. This allowed 12th-overall pick, Rashan Gary, to get on the field. It appears as though he will be used primarily as a pass rusher and less as a traditional 3-4 outside linebacker. While Gary did not register any sacks and was putting pressure on opposing offensive linemen. But, as with most Packers pass rushers in this game, the mobile quarterbacks just could not be taken down. Just like during the first preseason game, Green Bay often lost contain and allowed quarterbacks to get outside of the pocket to make plays.
The Packers play best when the defenders can pin back their ears and get after the quarterback. Green Bay will certainly be a better team if they can score quickly and force opponents into more and more passing situations. The run defense looks to be a weakness for 2019.
Kizer Connection (or lack of)
Deshone Kizer had an excellent outing in the preseason opener. However, that was without most of the starter wide receiver corps, and it showed in this most recent contest. It seems like Kizer has not quite got his timing down with players like Davante Adams. On a 4th down play, Kizer threw behind Adams after he had gotten open over the middle of the field. Kizer even had good protections as the offensive line and running back Tra Carson picked up the Baltimore blitz.
After the starters started to get off the field, Kizer showed a connection with one particular receiver. After completing a couple of 3rd down throws to Jake Kumerow against the Texans, Kizer was once again on time with his fellow 2nd-string receiver. It appears as though all of the extra practice time together has allowed Kizer and Kumerow to solidify their timing deep down the field. If ever Rodgers mosses time, perhaps Kumerow will be the receiver to step up in his absence.
Return for the King
The designated returner is an important job on any NFL team. With the potential of an Aaron Rodgers-led offense, having a solid return game to put the team in good positions will be key.
Entering training camp, the smart money would have been on Trevor Davis to be the primary returner. However, he has dealt with injuries of late and in his absence, several players have stepped into that role during the preseason. Most notably, Darrius Shepherd took some of the kickoff and punt returns in week 2 of the preseason. While his punt return average left a lot to be desired (7.5 yards per return), he looked really good on kickoffs.
Furthermore, Shepherd is developing chemistry with his quarterbacks. While he has not gotten a lot of playing time with Rodgers, both Deshone Kizer and Tim Boyle have thrown touchdown passes to Shepherd during the preseason. He even took a short slant route to the house against the Ravens. If Shepherd can carve out a role as a backup slot receiver, and be a valuable member of the return game, he stands a decent chance of making the final 53 man roster. Unfortunately for Davis, that roster spot may come at his expense.
Thank you for reading my thoughts on the Packers @ Ravens game. For more NFL preseason news, be sure to check out Full Press Coverage daily.