Five things learned: Packers' offense struggles without Aaron Rodgers
AUG 29, 2013 11:50p ET
1. No Aaron Rodgers, no offensive success
With Rodgers getting the night off, it was time for Vince Young and B.J. Coleman to show what they could do. Well, neither performed well in Kansas City. Not leading any touchdown drives and coming away with just six points, Green Bay's offense had no rhythm with Rodgers watching from the sideline.
In six of the Packers' offensive possessions, they gained only a combined total of 16 yards. That was on 19 plays, resulting in a 0.84 yards-per-play average in those drives. That was the first, third, seventh, 10th, 12th and 14th series.
Young started the game and played the entire second half. He completed 14 of 30 passes for 144 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions (61.0 passer rating). Young also fumbled twice, both times happening on a play in which offensive tackle Andrew Datko was beat.
Coleman wasn't on the field as much as Young, but the second-year quarterback finished just 2-of-7 passing for 19 yards. Coleman was also intercepted by former Packers linebacker Frank Zombo.
Rodgers ended up only playing five series and 45 plays this preseason. Green Bay's coaching staff obviously had enough confidence in the former NFL MVP that Rodgers didn't need a lot of action in order to be ready for the regular season.
2. Jeremy Ross among bubble players who helped themselves
In a game in which Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson played only two snaps, there were plenty of chances for the second-tier wide receivers to make plays. And it was Ross who stepped up the most. Ross led the team in receptions (3) and yards (50) and was also second in targets (6). He also had one kick return for 16 yards.
Ross was on the bubble heading into the preseason finale, and he is still likely at that uncomfortable spot. However, Ross may have won himself a job on the 53-man roster with his strong performance against the Chiefs.
Safety Chris Banjo also helped his cause to be the Packers' fourth safety with a sack, two quarterback hits and two tackles. He left the game temporarily with an injury but returned. Coach Mike McCarthy did not list any new injuries after the game, so Banjo -- as if his return to the field didn't make it obvious -- is medically fine.
Johnny Jolly likely finalized his improbable comeback bid to make Green Bay's roster with a batted pass at the line of scrimmage (his specialty), a sack and two quarterback hits. Jolly did commit a personal foul with a late hit to negate a 13-yard loss, but it didn't seem like he did much to warrant the flag.
Rookie outside linebacker Nate Palmer was the one whose sack was wiped out by Jolly's penalty, but he showed on that play why he might deserve a spot on the active roster.
McCarthy, who let offensive coordinator Tom Clements call the plays, just observed the game and watched for players like Ross, Banjo, Jolly and Palmer to step up.
"To sit there and watch the game live, watch the communication and interaction, watch the Jumbotron for the great reviews, it gives you a whole new perspective that you don't get in a normal game," McCarthy said in his press conference. "Great opportunity for me to get a grasp on the individuals that are on my board trying to fight their way onto the 53."
3. Mason Crosby solidifies his job for the regular season
The Packers brought in two kickers to battle Crosby in training camp. After Giorgio Tavecchio and Zach Ramirez were released, Green Bay restructured Crosby's contract late this week to a base amount that was one-third of what he was scheduled to earn. The one final obstacle in Crosby's way of being Green Bay's kicker this season was this game in Kansas City. And Crosby delivered.
Crosby made both of his field-goal attempts, connecting from distances of 48 yards and 45 yards. That capped off a strong final week for Crosby that included him making all 14 of his field goals (or 13-of-14, depending on the vantage point) in Tuesday's practice.
So, pending a last-second change of plans for the Packers' front office, Crosby fought off his NFL-worst accuracy rate from last season (63.6 percent) to retain his job for a seventh year.
4. Tramon Williams must be healthy and ready for Week 1
Tramon Williams played one snap in preseason. The result was an interception in the first quarter of Thursday night's game. After missing 16 practices and the first three preseason games with a knee injury, Williams showed in that one play that he's ready for the regular season.
With a Week 1 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers back in the stadium where Green Bay was eliminated from last year's playoffs, the Packers are certainly happy to see Williams back. Sam Shields has locked up one of the starting cornerback jobs, and, with Casey Hayward recovering from a hamstring injury, Williams will likely step right into the starting lineup when Green Bay's defense lines up against Colin Kaepernick on Sept. 8.
5. Don Barclay wins the right tackle job … or does he?
It's been obvious for a few weeks that Barclay had beaten out Marshall Newhouse for the starting right tackle spot. Barclay had been almost exclusively working with the first-string offense while Newhouse subbed in at right tackle and left tackle with the backups.
After Thursday's game, McCarthy said "that's the direction we're headed" when asked if Barclay would be the starting right tackle to begin the regular season. But McCarthy didn't stop there. He then mentioned Newhouse and starting left tackle David Bakhtiari and said that he feels good about a three-man offensive tackle rotation. So, just when it seemed like there was an answer, McCarthy added another question.
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