The Green Bay Packers started their 2017 preseason with a bang as they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 24-9. The Packers started off slowly and were down by six points after the first quarter before scoring 17 straight points in the second quarter thanks to strong quarterback play from backup quarterback Brett Hundley.
As for the second half, it was rather uneventful. Out of 10 total possessions, six of them resulted in punts and two of them resulted in turnovers. However, the Packers did manage to score late in the fourth quarter due to a touchdown pass to Michael Clark with nine seconds left in the game.
Although it is just a preseason game, there are several positives that the Packers can take away from this game which can help the team succeed in the regular season. Here are three examples:
1. Trevor Davis will play a huge factor on Special Teams
With 11:50 remaining in the second quarter, Trevor Davis took an Eagles’ punt and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown. Davis provided the spark for the Packers’ comeback after the Packers’ offense came out flat in the first quarter. Davis’ return was a huge momentum changer and helped propel the Packers to a win. Last season, Davis returned nine of the team’s 26 punt returns which ranked second on the team behind the now-departed Micah Hyde.
However, it might be wise for the Packers to use Davis as their official special teams returner instead of relying on key players like Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery to tire themselves out on kickoff and punt returns. That extra rest could drastically reduce the amount of snaps both players can potentially miss on offense which would make the Packers offense more potent as a result.
2. The Packers have a solid group of backup quarterbacks
Although this positive will only become important if Aaron Rodgers gets injured, it is always good for a team to have quality backups that can step in and keep the team playing at a relatively high level. Backup quarterbacks Joe Callahan and Taysom Hill looked extremely solid in their 2017 preseason debuts. Callahan completed 10 of 16 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown while Hill completed 80% of his passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. As for second string quarterback Brett Hundley, he was extremely bad in the first quarter but picked up his level of play in the second quarter where he completed a 20 yard touchdown pass to Jeff Janis. All three quarterbacks looked solid overall in the first game of the season and all three quarterbacks can potentially step in to salvage the Packers’ season if Rodgers gets injured at any point.
3. The Packers’ 2017 draft class looks ready to contribute immediately
In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Packers selected cornerback Kevin King with their first selection with the hopes of him being able to fix some holes within their secondary. Last night, King looked more than ready to do that. King made five tackles against the Eagles and seemed to settle in as the game progressed. However, King was responsible for the first Eagles touchdown as he got torched by Mack Hollins for a 38 yard touchdown. The bright side is that this was his first career NFL game and he will definitely improve with more reps.
In the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Packers selected running back Jamaal Williams. He is expected to be Eddie Lacy’s replacement and can use his six foot frame and 213 pounds of weight to pick up first downs in short yardage situations. On Thursday night, Williams only got four carries for 14 yards. The Packers, throughout the entire game, seemed committed to the passing game and rarely relied on the run. Against the Eagles, the Packers ran 36 passing plays and only 18 running plays. Therefore, Williams’ pedestrian statline was not really his fault. Williams looked good in limited work and should be a solid contributor once the regular season is in full swing.
In the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Packers selected receiver DeAngelo Yancey from Purdue University. At Purdue, he was a big play receiver and was selected with the hopes of being a serious playmaker on offense. On Thursday, Yancey proved that he was up to the task. Yancey caught three passes for 67 yards including a 46 yard reception in the fourth quarter which led to a touchdown later that drive. One can not be certain as to where Yancey will start the season on the Packers depth chart. However, one can easily infer that he moved up a few spots with this preseason performance.