Beginning this season, I’ll have my new By the Numbers series here at Cheesehead TV, which will follow each Green Bay Packers game.
My goal with these articles is to highlight the numbers, or stats, that defined the game. This could include third-down percentage — good or bad — red zone success — again, good or bad — or maybe there’s a particular player who has a big game. It will all vary week to week, just depending on what takes place.
The big difference between the preseason version of these articles and the regular season is that you won’t see many team stats this time of the year. The reason being, we don’t care if the Green Bay Packers win or lose in the preseason. So the preseason will largely be focused on individual performances.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look back at some key statistics from the Green Bay Packers matchup with Houston.
7 completions on 10 targets for 91 yards
No, unfortunately, this is not one of the Green Bay Packers receivers, but rather Josh Jackson’s stat line. From the very start of the game, it was clear that the Houston Texans were going to target him heavily, regardless of who was at quarterback or who the receiver was.
It’s a crucial summer for Jackson, who is a cut candidate, but he hasn’t had the best training camp up to this point, and his performance on Saturday night was rough, to say the least. The same issues that have plagued him during his first three years are still there, and it could all stem from his below-average speed.
The defensive holding penalties that have been abundant, the extra cushion he provides receivers, and against Houston, we really saw the Texans take advantage of Jackson with comeback routes that he was unable to get to. It’s now or never for Jackson.
2.3 yards per rush
No, the Green Bay Packers didn’t have David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, or Billy Turner, but as offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said, the offensive line play, particularly against the run, was “very bad.”
As the headline indicates, the Packers would rush for only 2.3 yards per carry, and really that figure is inflated by Dexter Williams picking up 32 yards in the fourth quarter. Kylin Hill finished with -2 yards, and Patrick Taylor averaged only 2.4 yards per rush. According to PFF, the Packers’ offensive line would also allow five pressures, a sack, and a forced fumble.
The big battle taking place upfront is for the two guard positions while Bakhtiari is sidelined. During practice, we’ve seen Ben Braden, Lucas Patrick, and Jon Runyan rotating at those two spots with the starting offense. However, those jobs appear to be wide open yet, especially after Saturday’s performance, with Adam Stenavich saying, “nobody has really stepped up and risen above the rest.”
That is Jordan Love’s passer rating from his first career NFL game–not bad. And I think most would agree that this was a solid debut for him. Love finished the game going 12/17 for 122 yards with one touchdown.
As I discussed in Friday’s article, it’s all about the process and less about the results for Love at this point in his career, but the results were decent because Love was solid with his footwork and going through his progressions.
QB coach Luke Getsy would mention on Sunday that Love’s footwork and tempo have been up and down during training camp, but he would describe those two aspects of Love’s game solid in his preseason debut. He was very balanced on many of his pass attempts, found his rhythm on that scoring drive, attacked the middle of the field, and went through his reads.
If there’s one area for Love to improve upon in the coming weeks, it would be that he “let that sucker rip,” as Hackett told reporters, and Matt LaFleur echoed similar sentiments. “As he gets that trust aspect, he’ll be able to pull the trigger more and more. That just comes with time,” said Hackett.
With the sixth receiver spot up for grabs, we saw Devin Funchess and Malik Taylor both have some excellent performances against the Texans. Funchess stole the show, hauling in six receptions on eight targets for 70 yards, but let’s not forget about Taylor, who caught all five of his targets for 50 yards.
We also saw Taylor make two key blocks on wide receiver screens, and he was with the starting special teams unit as a gunner as well.
Receivers coach Jason Vrable would say that Funchess “did a great job,” and that “it’s been there all throughout training camp. I think he’s been winning his one-on-ones.”
There is a lot of inexperience on the depth chart behind Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage at the safety position, but Vernon Scott and Henry Black sure impressed, as they were all over the field on Saturday night. The duo totaled 11 tackles, six for Scott and 5 for Black, and made several of those tackles near the line of scrimmage. Scott would also add a pass breakup as well.
We would also see their versatility on display as both players spent time at free safety, in the box, and even in the slot. Scott and Black have been the primary third safeties on the field during training camp practices.
7 tackles, 2 pressures, 1 sack
I mean, who saw this coming? What a night for Oren Burks. Like Jackson, it’s really now or never for him, but Burks’ first preseason game of the year went in a completely different direction. When it was all said and done, he made seven tackles, forced two pressures, and came away with a sack, along with another tackle on special teams.
Joe Barry utilized Burks often as a blitzer, which allowed him to show off that speed and quickness of his–and he sure did look like he was playing much faster than what we’ve seen in the past. Burks chalked that up to simply trusting what he sees:
“(I’m) feeling extremely confident in this camp,” Burks said via Packers.com. “Focus for me this offseason has been trusting my training and believing what I see and playing fast. I felt like that came to fruition in this game.”
“It’s definitely slowing down,” Burks said. “I feel my playing outside last year helped a little bit becoming a better football player in terms of knowledge and what to anticipate in the run fits and things like that.”
17 special teams snaps
Ray Wilborn and Innis Gaines led the team with 17 special teams snaps each. The reason that this is noteworthy is that many of the final roster spots are going to be determined by special teams contributions rather than what that player can bring to the offensive or defensive side of the ball. If you’re one of the last players on the depth chart, you likely aren’t going to see many snaps on offense or defense, meaning, you better be able to help on special teams.
So after each preseason game, take note of who saw their fair share of special teams snaps, but also those who didn’t. It could provide us with a sneak peek at where certain players stand on the depth chart.
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.