Against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday, the Green Bay Packers were held scoreless, bringing their winless preseason record (0-3) to an end with the defeat.
Once again, the Packers rested 31 of their veteran players, allowing backups to make an impression in their bid to earn a spot on the 53-player roster. The Bills, on the other hand, took a more conservative approach, resting quarterback Josh Allen and the rest of the team’s starters for the majority of the first period.
Young offensive linemen who stand out: Royce Newman, a versatile rookie, started at right guard for the second week in a row this week. He didn’t let me down at all. A threat in the run game, Newman didn’t allow a single quarterback pressure throughout the game. It appears that Newman will be the team’s starting right guard for the team’s first game of the season against the Saints. The running game was also highlighted by the performances of left tackle Yosh Nijman and left guard Jon Runyan. Both players will be valuable depth pieces for the team as the season progresses.
Jordan Love was a machine when it came to play-action, as evidenced by an anticipatory throw he made to Malik Taylor on an out route with 5:30 remaining in the first quarter, which was the highlight of the game. Before Taylor could even get to the top of his route, Love threw a perfectly timed pass toward the sideline that resulted in a 15-yard completion and a first down for the Packer’s. Play-action is a cornerstone of coach Matt LaFleur’s offense, and Love appears to have a firm grasp on how to execute it effectively.
Malik Taylor was the team’s leading receiver for the second week in a row against the Bills’ starting cornerbacks (69 yards). It was a contested catch along the sideline on a free play after the Bills jumped offside that he turned into his best play. In addition, he defeated Tre’Davious White in a completion. With 14 catches for 185 yards and three touchdowns in three games, Taylor has had the best preseason of any Packers wide receiver so far.
Efforts by Jack Heflin: Every year, the Packers seem to stumble upon a gem in the rough when it comes to free agent signings. Heflin, a defensive lineman, appears to be this year’s undrafted free agent find, as he has already put in three strong performances in the preseason so far. Every time he plays, you can tell he’s trying his hardest. Green Bay’s coaching staff will undoubtedly be impressed by his high-octane motor, which will be captured on video. Against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday, he made an outstanding tackle for loss on a play in which he raced through the line of scrimmage to bring down a runner in the backfield. As a result, Heflin finished the preseason with six quarterback pressures and four hits, which ranked first among all NFL defensive players. Heflin will almost certainly see action for the Packers this season, and he has a good chance of playing significant minutes.
Young linebackers Isaiah McDuffie, De’Juan Harris, and Ray Wilborn all had strong performances against the Bills, and were the top three highest-graded defensive players according to Pro Football Focus. A blitz was called on McDuffie seven times, and he responded with four pass-rush victories and a sack in seven different situations. He also had the most tackles (nine) and the most snaps played on the team (68). During the regular season, McDuffie should be able to contribute as a backup linebacker and special-teams player.
Jordan the Terrible Love’s method of decision-making: It was only Love’s second time participating in an NFL game, and as expected, the outcome was a mixed bag. He threw an unattractive interception to Micah Hyde in the end zone after throwing off his back foot, which is considered to be one of the cardinal sins of quarterbacking. Later in the game, on third down in the red zone, he threw into traffic. He’ll have to learn to stay away from plays that are likely to result in turnovers.
Isaac Yiadom’s matchup with the Bills’ starting wide receivers: In a player-for-player swap that occurred after the first preseason game, the Packers traded Josh Jackson to the Giants in exchange for Yiadom. So far, the outcomes have been essentially meaningless. Against Buffalo on Saturday, Yiadom was responsible for six catches in coverage, including the game’s first touchdown catch. It is safe to say that his inclusion on the final roster is not a given.
Jace Sternberger’s role in the run game is as follows: He simply lacks the physical strength to maintain his position at the point of attack against much larger defensive ends. For the third-year tight end, the clock is ticking down the road. Is there a compelling reason to keep Sternberger in the Packers’ tight end room given the current makeup of the group?
The Ugly Truth About Open Field Tactics: With the way the Bills receivers avoided tackles, you would have thought the Packers were skating around on skates during the game. Kabion Ento, a cornerback, may have cost himself a roster spot this preseason because of his tackle performance. On a catch and run by Buffalo Bills receiver Gabriel Davis with 0:33 remaining in the first quarter, we see a perfect illustration of this. While Ento had a good opportunity to bring Davis down for a gain of about 10 yards near the first down marker, he missed the opportunity, allowing Davis to run an additional 15 yards down the sideline for a significant gain. The converted receiver Ento is good in coverage, but he can’t be relied on when facing a single opponent in the open field on a consistent basis. Christian Uphoff, a rookie safety who went undrafted, has a similar story to tell. Both players are in danger of being left off the final roster for the season.