It’s the Monday following a Green Bay Packers game, so that means it’s time for a look ‘Behind the Numbers.’
For those reading for the first time, this is a new series that I’ll be doing this season where I take a look at the numbers or stats that defined each game for the Green Bay Packers.
However, since this is the preseason, and we aren’t concerned with wins and losses, the figures that I’ll discuss are more so focused on specific players rather than stats such as red zone success or third-down percentage, which can largely affect the outcome.
After this past Saturday’s game against the New York Jets, I have eight numbers that are worth taking a closer look at.
According to Over the Cap, that figure is the amount of cap space that the Green Bay Packers would save if they choose to cut Tyler Lancaster–which is something that could very well be in play given the recent performances from UDFA Jack Heflin.
In his two preseason games, Heflin has recorded two pressures, eight total tackles, and four stops–or plays that constitute a loss for the offense, according to PFF. Now, if Heflin were to make the final roster, expectations shouldn’t be that he’s going to be a game-changer; in fact, he’s quite similar to Lancaster. But if the Packers feel that he could fill a similar rotational role, then it may make sense that they choose the cap savings.
“Jack is a great kid,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. “Jack was an undrafted kid that we brought in here, and as a coach, when you look at those undrafted guys, you’re just looking for daily improvement. He’s (Heflin) a kid that’s been here and works unbelievably hard every single day and it’s cool to see him at least from the production sheet really show up. He played well against Houston and it’s great to see that Jack is making improvements from Week 1 to Week 2.”
In between two punts that were either at or near the 50-yard mark was an ugly 21-yard punt from JK Scott. And it’s the inconsistency of that three punt sequence that really sums up Scott’s time here in Green Bay quite well.
Just last week at the first round of cutdowns, the Packers released Ryan Winslow, who was “competing” with Scott. So unless Green Bay chooses to sign anyone new in the next couple of days — which they should consider — Scott is going to continue working through these inconsistencies with Maurice Drayton.
“We just have to continue to build the consistency with JK,” said Drayton. “It’s little things within the mechanics of punting.”
After a very impressive performance against the Houston Texans from Oren Burks, I was very much looking forward to seeing how he would perform the following week. However, Burks was only on the field for 12 total defensive snaps, according to PFF–and no, he didn’t get injured.
What that tells me is that he is going to be on this final 53-man roster, and the Packers had more interest in looking at some other linebackers rather than Burks.
Do the Green Bay Packers choose to keep three quarterbacks? Oftentimes, there really isn’t a ton of value in keeping three quarterbacks on the roster, but if the Packers choose to keep Kurt Benkert, it’s a move more so for the 2022 season than 2021.
We still don’t know what the future holds for Aaron Rodgers, but of course, there is the possibility that he is playing elsewhere next season. If that’s the case, and Green Bay has really liked what they’ve seen from Benkert, then they may prefer to keep in on the team for 2021, knowing that he may transition to a backup role next year.
Given how difficult it is to find solid quarterback play in the NFL, there is the real possibility that if the Packers cut Benkert with the hopes of signing him to the practice squad, he might not even get to that point after putting on a show against the Jets. Benkert was 18/25 — completing a few beautiful passes — for 151 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“I thought Kurt did a nice job, he showed good command,” said LaFleur via Packer Report. “His ability to hang in the pocket, progress, make some off-schedule plays on the first drive — that was a big-time throw and catch,”
That is the number of pressures that Royce Newman has allowed at the right guard position in his two preseason games which have spanned 32 pass-blocking reps. And as a run-blocker? Well, he’s been pretty darn good there as well, creating some big running lanes on the right side, along with right tackle Ben Braden, for AJ Dillon to run through. By PFF’s grading system, Newman has the second-highest run-blocking grade on the team.
For much of training camp, the battle for the two guard openings was between Lucas Patrick, Jon Runyan, and Ben Braden, but after some less than stellar play against Houston, Matt LaFleur decided to add Newman to the mix during practice last week, and he was then rewarded with the start on Saturday.
On Sunday, LaFleur said that Newman “did a lot of good things,” but that “we’re still competing at that guard position, both of them.” However, if Newman can continue playing at the same level that he has been, one would think that the right guard opening is his for the taking.
That’s how many receiving yards Malik Taylor has in these two preseason games. With Devin Funchess, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Juwann Winfree all injured, Taylor had a prime opportunity to build off of his performance against Houston–and he did just that.
Taylor caught four of his five targets, including two excellent grabs down each sideline, and averaged almost 17 yards per catch. In addition to making plays in the passing game, Taylor also brings special teams value as a gunner and has had some nice blocks this preseason as well. He’s making it very difficult for LaFleur to keep him off of the final roster.
“I thought Malik Taylor showed up and did some really nice things,” said LaFleur via The Athletic. He would later add, “Malik showed a lot of energy and made some big-time plays. It’s just consistency but we have seen a lot of improvement from him.”
While I believe Oren Burks being on the field for only 12 snaps was a good sign for him, on the other side of that coin is Will Redmond, who was on the field for just nine snaps before limping off with an injury. Redmond has already missed a good portion of training camp being on the NFI list.
The issue for Redmond is that in his absence, the young trio of safeties in Vernon Scott, Henry Black, and Innis Gaines have all looked very good this summer–both on defense as well as on special teams. And although Scott did not play against New York, Black and Gaines continued to impress, tallying 13 tackles between them, with Black’s seven being the most on the team and Gaines’ six being the second-most.
Hopefully, Redmond’s injury is minor because he already appears to be on the hot seat, and any more missed time is not going to be good for his roster hopes.
17 Special teams snaps
Just as I did last week, I’m going to conclude with which players took the most special teams snaps. As I’ve talked about previously, many of these final roster spots won’t be determined by offensive or defensive contributions but rather what each player can do on special teams. This week, Kabion Ento led the way with 17 special teams snaps. Isaiah McDuffie, Innis Gaines, and Henry Black were in second with 15, and Isaac Yiadom had 14.
Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl.