Sydney Speaks! Breaking down preseason opener

An August night in the Tundra with raining falling down and not an empty seat in Lambeau Field. I realize I'm not the only one that welcomes football back, so what did we really see?

Offense
Brett looked like he was in mid-season form. We all know he's worked out more this off season and came into camp 14 pounds lighter. It showed as he avoided rushers with ease. He looked like he was having a lot of fun spreading the ball around to all his receivers. Heck, he even included the TE's David Martin and Ben Steele, hitting Martin on a deep corner route. Favre's TD pass to Donald Driver was an example of the chemistry between the two. Brett threw it behind him so he could slow down and adjust to the ball as the defender overran it.

The offensive line did a respectable job against the Chargers' pass rush but then again San Diego didn't blitz like the Bills did in the Aug. 5 scrimmage. Aaron Rodgers, Craig Nall, and J.T. O'Sullivan didn't do anything to write home about but Nall really didn't have a chance.

Those were the good things from the exhibition game, now for the bad. I won't be too hard because this was the first game but the running backs put the ball on the ground way too many times. Ahman Green has to stop putting it on the ground. It's time to stop the excuses. But it's not just Green. Tony Fisher and O'Sullivan fumbled as well. The run game was inconsistent at best, only averaging 2.9 yards a carry. People thought Wahle and Rivera wouldn't be missed. I'll stop missing them when someone on the line makes me forget them.

As usual William Henderson catches a ball in the flat and makes the first guy miss to get a first down. Nick Luchey can't seem to make anyone miss when he catches the ball, and where has that bone-breaking blocker gone? But a WIN IS A WIN!

Special teams
Welcome to the NFL Mr. B.J. Sander! If you continue to punt like you did in the preseason game you might finally earn your keep, which would be a good thing. Sander showed his ability to pooch punt with hang time when needed as well as boom it when he was backed up. His performance is welcomed.

There's nothing more anyone can say about Ryan Longwell. He is without a doubt the best kicker in the game. The other thing that was nice to see was the effort on the coverage teams. They did a great job hustling to the ball. An all around good job!

Defense
I did see signs of some improvement in some areas such as rallying to the ball. There always seemed to be several people around the ball against the Chargers. I found that very encouraging. There also seemed to be very few mental mistakes. Guys looked like they knew where they were supposed to be which, believe me, is a sight for sore eyes. And we got to get a glance at a few people that may have caught the coach's eye, such as Michael Montgomery and Cullen Jenkins. They played hard and fast on the defensive line. Hats off to them because everyone else on the line was average. Kabeer didn't do anything against the run so as you can see the D-Line is what it is.

I thought the linebackers played very physical, starting with Nick Barnett. On a couple of plays, Barnett got blown up and knocked around, but he again showed his ability to run side to side. I was impressed with Ray Thompson and Roy Manning. They seemed to always bring the heat, which I love to see in linebackers.

As for the secondary, it needs a lot of work. Al Harris got lucky because he was beat on a go route that was just overthrown by inches. This unit just isn't good enough. Yes, Nick Collins got an interception but it wasn't because of what he did. It was more of what the Chargers receiver didn't do, like finish the route. I know he got excited about getting his first NFL pick, so that's why I'm not going to be too hard on him for running it out from 9 yards deep in the end zone.

Like I said, a WIN is a WIN whether pre-season or not. But the best thing about it all is that FOOTBALL IS BACK IN THE AIR.


Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Harry Sydney's is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers.


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