August 21, 2017

Preseason Week 2: Packers at Redskins ICYMI

Good day Packer Nation!

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers rushes past Washington Defensive End Ryan Kerrigan in Saturday's 21-17 victory
After kicking off the preseason with a 24-9 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field, the Packers hit the road for a week two match-up in Washington D.C. against the Redskins; a place Green Bay has come to be rather familiar with over the last three seasons. The Packers ended Washington's season two years ago in a NFC Wildcard match-up in D.C; in the 2016 campaign, Green Bay fell to Washington's potent offense in a week eleven match-up 42-24, which prompted the infamous "Run the Table" comments from Pro-Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Week two's preseason match-up between Green Bay and Washington certainly did not pack the punch of importance that the teams' previous two match-ups provided, but nonetheless there were a number of surprises from both teams at the conclusion of Green Bay's 21-17 victory Saturday Night. Arguably the biggest surprise from either team came in the form of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers getting the nod to start in the contest, a move that has been unprecedented in the Packers recent preseason history. What came to no surprise was Rodger's play, which was seemingly in mid-season form. After a Trevor Davis muffed punt prevented the Packers from starting their first drive of the evening, the defense was able to hold Washington to a field goal, putting the ball into the hands of Aaron Rodgers for the first time this season. Rodgers extended the Packers first drive on a number of occasions, catching Washington with twelve men on the field after a failed 3rd down and 5 conversion. Later in the drive, Rodgers showed his top-tier athleticism by rushing for 13 yards on 3rd and long. To Packer fans jubilance, Rodgers capped the drive off by placing a perfect 3 yard fade in the hands of newly acquired tight end Martellus Bennett for a touchdown. Rodgers finished the contest with six completions in eight attempts, for 37 yards and the touchdown pass to Bennett.

Aaron Rodgers participation and performance certainly set the tone for the Packers offense, showing Green Bay's commitment to controlling the tempo of the football game. Rodgers and the Packers dominated the first quarter time of possession, holding the ball for nearly eleven of the fifteen first quarter minutes. More importantly, this allowed for the young, developing Packers defense to remain fresh, as they were tasked with stopping Washington's high volume quarterback, Kirk Cousins. Cousins played the entire first half for Washington, along with most of the first team offense, for a unit that struggled mightily in the 2016 season in nearly all offensive categories.

The Packers young defensive unit showed glimpses of brilliance and a concerted effort towards becoming a more consistent unit from top to bottom in the 21-17 victory. Until the final seconds of the first half, Green Bay had held the Redskins offense to 3 points, which was a result of a short field at the hands of Trevor Davis'  muffed punt. The young defense seemed to have figured out a way to get stops on key third down situations, something last years' unit struggled with all season. The Packers ranked 26th in the NFL in opponent third down conversion rate a season ago, allowing a staggering 45% conversion rate. Consistent pressure from second year man Kenny Clark and veteran Mike Daniels eased the pressure on the secondary to make plays, and Packers defenders, from line to secondary, swarmed ball carriers at the point of attack. The most impressive play of the night on defense came early in the second quarter, when the Packers stalled a Washington drive on Green Bay's 30 yard line. The Redskins passed on a 47 yard field goal attempt and tried to pound the rock on 4th and 1, only to be stopped by a pair of Packers defensive specialists, Jayrone Elliot and Kenny Clark.

With veteran corner Davon House and second-year man Damarious Randall sidelined with injuries, young players in the Packers secondary took full advantage of their opportunities. Former undrafted free agent Josh Hawkins stood out in a crowded pack of young DBs vying for positional relevance on the Packers roster. In 37 plays of action, Hawkins tallied 5 tackles, and two pass break-ups on would-be touchdowns for the Washington offense. A position that plagued Green Bay's Super Bowl hopes a year ago now has a fresher, younger feel at the defensive back spot. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy says he feels good about the mix of young players at defensive back, and he is hopeful that third-year players Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall are able to make significant jumps in order to contribute to a Super Bowl run. With the veteran addition of Davon House and a star studded back end at safety, it looks as though the Packers secondary is ready to leave its performances of last season behind.

Next week the Packers head to mile-high Sports Authority Field in Denver, CO to take on the Broncos in week three of the preseason. Aaron Rodgers, along with the first team offense, is expected to eclipse the two possessions of playing time up to game three, and get significant reps against a testy Denver defense. Stay tuned for our next podcast and don't forget to share, like, or comment ArmanTitleTownTalk on Twitter and Facebook!

August 13, 2017

Podcast #2 - Arman Three Pack Preseason & Position Battles

Good afternoon Packer Fans - Arman Titletown's second podcast is here to kick off the 2017 season, where Adam, Shane and Mitch discuss impressions from the first Packers preseason game (a 24-9 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles) and position battles they are most intrigued by. Give us a listen, share and comment with thoughts of your own and thanks for listening! Arman's Titletown Podcast (episode two) embedded into the post below.