THIS game officially closes the books on the 2016-2017 season and turns our collective eyes to the 2017-2018 season. In this first pre-season game, we get our first look at how the new additions will fit, and whether or not we’re better for now having them here. Winning or losing isn’t the point. This is an evaluation tool for the coaches and a tune-up for the players. Nothing more.
This is the football equivalent of your elementary school music teacher, expecting you to strike that flat bell sounding thing with the mallet, when they point to you.
It’s pretty basic shit, and so there’s no excuse for screwing it up out there.
Since winning serves no purpose at this point, it will serve us best to get a DEEP look at the roster. Since everyone will be doing basic stuff, it should serve as a solid measuring stick as to who is and who isn’t fundamentally sound as a player.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to look for versus the Packers:
1) Which WR has QB Carson Wentz’s eye: There’s a good chance that WR Alshon Jeffery will be held out of this game, while he nurses a minor shoulder issue. We know that Jeffery will be the primary target when the games count, but when he isn’t on the field, which WR does Wentz look for?
2) Covering our bets: Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz told the world that he’d be blitzing more in 2017. That means the CB’s will have to either play more man-press or force WR’s to the sideline. (That’s because inside releases will undercut any blitz attempt.) The cushions we played with last season… they have to disappear to make the blitzes work, and these young CB’s need to practice what they’ll actually be doing this year.
3) Timmy, Timmy, Timmayyyyy: It may be unfair to expect so much from a new player, but DT Timmy Jernigan is lining up next to DT Fletcher Cox, so I expect to see the Packers unable to get anything done between the Tackles. I don’t care about Screens and Shuffle-passes, or Jet Sweeps and QB scrambles. It’s all the bread and butter stuff, that I expect to see taken away.
4) Getting carried away: I want to see RB Corey Clement end the night with 5 carries for 24 (or more) yards, with at least one run of 10 yards. I’d like to see him before the fourth quarter. Preferably sprinkled in, off and on all night. Testing him against 3rd stringers won’t tell us if he can help us during real NFL season
Again, the point of this game isn’t a win. If we win this game 1000,000 to 0, it won’t mean a single thing towards our playoff push. It won’t add an inch to our ****s or a dollar to our bank accounts. We need to expose our youth to some “live fire” and test their mettle. The sooner we can separate the chafe from the wheat, the sooner we can focus on truly putting 7-9 (and 7-9) behind us.