Thank God that's over. The 2013 Pre-Season will be forgotten soon, but it will go down as the second lowest scoring set of practice games since the NFL reduced the exhibition schedule to four games back in 1981. The Kansas City Chiefs kept the Packers out of the end zone in a 30-8 victory at 90 degree Arrowhead Stadium Thursday night, leaving Green Bay with a 1-3 record and a grand total of 37 points scored. In 2004, the Pack managed only 36 points in four games.
Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley and James Jones dressed but did not play. This was a game for the backups to step up and very few of them were able to against the Kansas City reserves. Third string quarterback Tyler Bray fired three touchdown passes and Ryan Succop added three field goals. For the Packers, Mason Crosby booted a pair from 48 and 45 yards and 7th round pick Sam Barrington sacked Bray for a safety in the third quarter. Vince Young and B.J. Coleman split the first half, alternating two series each. Young went the distance in the second half. Neither distinguished themselves. Coleman's passer rating was 0.0 on 2 of 7 passing for 19 yards and an interception. That came from former Packer Frank Zombo who returned the ball 27 yards. Young was 14 of 30 for 144 yards but he was sacked twice, fumbling twice and losing one. His rating was 61.0. Granted, the former number one pick has been operating on a limited play sheet but Young's throws were badly off-line especially if the pocket was breaking down.
The running game was no help. 24 carries for 61 yards, a 2.5 yard average as a team. Johnathan Franklin had 23 yards on 8 carries, James Starks had the only double digit run of 10 yards, finishing with 14 on three carries in the 4th quarter. Alex Green had 7 carries for 10 yards, a puny 1.4 average and Eddie Lacy gained one yard on 2 carries. Tyrone Walker was the top receiver with 5 catches for 30 yards. In one series, Ryan Taylor hauled in a 24 yard pass from Young and Jeremy Ross caught a 26 yard sideline route, easily the two most explosive plays of the night.
The Pack's defense came up with a couple of picks, Tramon Williams in his pre-season debut, intercepted his on the game's first snap, leaping to snare a toss from Chase Daniel. Brandon Smith got his on a sideline route in the second half. But Smith was victimized on all three Kansas City scores. He lost Junior Hemmingway who broke his route to the sideline for an 8 yard TD catch with :05 left in the first half. In the third quarter, Smith fell down on a double move by Josh Bellamy who strolled in with a 43 yard scoring strike and in the fourth quarter, Smith allowed Frankie Hammond inside on a slant for a 9 yard touchdown. Three bad plays versus one good one will likely result in a visit from the Turk on Saturday for the converted wide receiver. He might have had a better shot playing offense in camp.
The Pack's offense produced only two touchdowns in the four games this month, none from the starting unit. The backup offensive line, for the second year in a row, appears to be a mess. The only backup worth hanging on to is Marshall Newhouse as a swing tackle. Lane Taylor, who had a decent camp, struggled against the Chiefs as did last year's 7th round pick Andrew Datko at right tackle. The Packers had only one series in 15 that recorded more than two first downs, that was three, on the opening series of the second half and one came on a defensive penalty.
So who helped themselves? Barrington for one. He was second on the team with six tackles, a sack for a safety, a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hurry. Ross may have locked up the number five receiving job with three catches, a long look as the return man, and a couple of tackles on special teams cover units. Johnny Jolly recorded another sack and batted away another pass, but he also hurt the Pack with a 15 yard penalty late in the second quarter. Nate Palmer sacked Bray forcing a fumble that Kansas City recovered but Jolly piled on to Shaun Draughn after the whistle that turned a second and 23 to a first and 10 at the Green Bay 48. The Chiefs would score the game's first touchdown 7 plays later. While Franklin couldn't find any running room, he did his job well as a punt cover gunner. Late in the game, the cover units broke down allowing Frankie Hammond to average 17.2 yards per punt return with a long of 36.
There didn't appear to be any significant injuries. Chris Banjo left the game in the first half but returned in the second. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb were on the field for less than five snaps each. At least Tim Masthay is in regular season form, stretching his leg out nine more times, averaging 45.2 yards a punt. Ready or not, here they go, after the cuts and the establishment of a practice squad, the Packers embark on the 2013 regular season in the same park the 2012 season came to a screeching halt, beginning the farewell tour of Candlestick next Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers who will move into their new home, Levi's Stadium, next year.