It’s the preseason, so it’s difficult to make too many determinations about team potential. After all, teams have minimized their playbooks to avoid revealing too much of what their opponents can expect during the regular season.
Still, I think the fact that preseason teams are very “vanilla” means we can learn a lot about their straight-up, one-on-one ability against the guys across from them. So, let’s take a look at the Packers NFC North opponents and how their number ones look early in the preseason.
In their match up against the Dolphins, the Bears looked…
Repeat that to yourself several times. It’s fun to say. Isn’t it?
The Bears defense got no pressure on the quarterback, gave up a couple big runs, and displayed generally poor tackling. Ryan Tannehill had plenty of time to throw the ball (imagine what Aaron will do with all that time on his hands) and he connected with receivers at will. As the Fins were knocking on the door of the end zone, it was only two holding penalties that kept them out of the end zone and forced them to kick a field goal.
No… wait… they went for it on fourth down and scored a TD on a Bears defense that wasn’t even sure what game they were playing, much less what down and distance it was.
For a Packer fan, the Bears first offensive possession was a thing of beauty. It was a delicious three and out topped with another display of Jay Cutler’s inaccurate passing when his team needed a conversion.
The Vikings’ offensive line gave Bridgewater fairly good protection allowing him to methodically (albeit not like clockwork) move the ball downfield. Bridgewater made use of the TE (something that even Christian Ponder had success with against the Packers) and he made a nice connection with Wright for a big gain.
Still, the Viking offense was stopped on two drives by the Tampa Bay defense. Impressive defense by Tampa Bay? Or, a questionable showing by the Vikings’ offense. I think it’s more of the latter. Of course the Vikings’ offensive rhythm will probably improve by the time the Packers have to face them.
The Viking defense controlled field position early on and gave no room for the Buccaneer offense to move. The Bucs had a couple successful runs but could not convert first downs.
The caveat here is that this was Jameis Winston’s first NFL snaps and he’s clearly not ready to lead an NFL team yet. We’ll have to judge the Vikings defense when they come up against a bunch of ones that aren’t led by a rookie.
The Lions offense looked good on its first drive. Not only did rookie running back Abdullah find seams and take advantage of them, Stafford was able to hit Tate for huge chunks of yardage on crossing routes and they easily reached pay-dirt on their first drive.
The Lions’ defense is returning nine starters this season, but they struggled to stop a Jets offense that was led by Ryan Fitzpatrick as he filled in for Geno Smith. Fitzpatrick was able to connect readily with receivers and the Jets ground game gained respectable yardage. The Lions’ defense tightened up on the first drive and forced a field goal but showed enough weakness to be encouraging to Packer fans.