Seven Points: What We Noticed Against Colts

There was plenty of good — but also a couple of troublesome notes — from the Packers' 24-21 victory over the Colts on Friday night. Leading off is the accidental discovery of what could become a staple of the offense.

In what's considered the most important preseason game, the Green Bay Packers beat the Indianapolis Colts 24-21 on Friday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Here's what we learned:

What we liked

No-huddle offense: The no-huddle is a great alternative because the traditional offense has gone nowhere. With Aaron Rodgers at the controls, the offense has punted on all four possessions with a huddle. With Rodgers leading the no-huddle, the offense has three touchdowns, a field goal, a missed field goal and a punt.

"I think it's got to be a big part of every week, the possibility or running it," Rodgers said of the regular-season game plan. "Now, different teams and their schemes will kind of determine whether we use that one series or three series or no series. But I think it's definitely going to have a role."

Funny thing is, the no-huddle might be an accidental discovery. Coach Mike McCarthy turned to it mostly to get the starting offense more plays and improve the unit's conditioning given the constricted lead-up to the regular season.

Whether it works in the regular season — when opponents will be prepared — remains to be seen. The Saints' defense is anchored by two veterans: coordinator Gregg Williams and middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

"Aaron's doing a great job," McCarthy said. "A lot of production with the no-huddle. It will be a part of what we do."

Matthews' return: After missing last week's game with tight hamstrings, Clay Matthews returned. He played in two series, and while he was partially to blame for Joseph Addai's 19-yard run on the second play of the game, he looked in midseason form with a sack.

"It felt good," Matthews said of his performance. "Obviously, we're getting closer to the regular season, especially with me only playing four reps against Cleveland and not playing against Arizona. ... I thought I did some good things. There is always room for improvement, there is no doubt about that. We will just build on this, myself personally and as a defense, and just keep continuing to progress for that Sept. 8 opener."

Woodson in form: After a quiet start to training camp, Charles Woodson made his presence at camp last week with at least four pass breakups during team periods. He was a big part of Dom Capers' plan on Friday. On the Colts' second possession, he blitzed from the slot and deflected the pass. His blitzes forced third-down incompletions on the Colts' next two series, as well.

Talented tight ends: Jermichael Finley is the headliner, and he delivered four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown in which he didn't beat linebacker Pat Angerer by much but Rodgers threw a pinpoint pass and Finley made a terrific catch.

"It was two guys on the same page," Rodgers said. "It was nice to have that nonverbal acknowledgment of what we were trying to do. I liked the matchup and threw it to the spot I wanted. He's going to be a big part of our offense."

Ryan Taylor added three catches for 24 yards and the tying touchdown and two-point conversion, Andrew Quarless had a 16-yard catch on a bootleg and D.J. Williams had an 8-yard catch that set up the Packers for the winning field goal — giving the position group nine catches for 89 yards. About the only black mark was Williams' drop in the fourth quarter.

Young outside linebackers: With Frank Zombo out indefinitely, the Packers likely will keep one of their three young outside linebackers to join Matthews, Erik Walden and, presumably, Brad Jones. It won't be an easy decision because of the play of undrafted rookies Frank So'oto and Jamari Lattimore on Friday. So'oto had a a sack-strip to start the third quarter — plus forced another fumble, though it was overturned on a replay review. Lattimore had a sack and added a quarterback hit.

What we didn't like

Aaron Rodgers gets drilled by Pat Angerer.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Sacks, sacks and more sacks: In eight preseason series (not including a handoff to end the half on Friday), Rodgers has been sacked six times — including four against the Colts. That's a horrible sign considering offensive coordinator Joe Philbin has said his goal is to cut the regular-season total to 24 after yielding 38 last year.

Left tackle Chad Clifton had a terrible night by allowing two sacks and a pressure while getting flagged for holding to eliminate a touchdown, reliable Josh Sitton allowed a sack for a second consecutive week and Bryan Bulaga — arguably the team's most improved player — barely got his hands on Tyler Brayton on a third-down play. The Packers are all but begging James Starks to be the third-down back but he's at least partially to blame for the second of Clifton's sacks by being out of position and not chipping Dwight Freeney.

"I'm not worried about Chad," Rodgers said. "It was good for us to do so much no-huddle tonight because I think we got a little tired out there. We showed we need to make sure we're ready to go by the time the season starts. Guys are sweating a lot, a little bit tired and the fundamentals kind of went a little bit. They've got two great ends, Freeney's one of the best in the business, and we've got three big-time guys in our division with (Chicago's Julius) Peppers and (Detroit's Kyle) Vandenbosch and (Minnesota's) Jared Allen of course, so we're going ot need to protect a little better."

Or, a lot better.

Pass defense

If it was Peyton Manning, that would be one thing. Instead, it was Curtis Painter, the Colts' starting quarterback on this night but their third-stringer once Manning is healthy and ancient Kerry Collins is up to speed.

Heck, Painter didn't even have two of his top three receivers, Anthony Gonzalez and Austin Collie, at his disposal.

Still, after a slow start, Painter lit up the Packers for 11-of-21 accuracy, 171 yards and two touchdowns. On the first touchdown, impressive second-year safety Morgan Burnett blew coverage and allowed Reggie Wayne to stroll 57 yards for the score. The second touchdown came against Jarrett Bush, who had replaced Woodson, but was set up by a long completion against Tramon Williams and Nick Collins.

It was nice to see Matthews, Walden and So'oto put some pressure on the passer against the Colts' starting line, but the Packers have got nothing from their defensive line in three games. That's a big, big problem with Drew Brees and the pass-happy Saints coming to Green Bay in 13 days.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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