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Mike Vandermause column: Sloppy Packers have a long way yet to go

Aug. 17, 2012
 

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Green Bay Packers cornerback Brandian Ross (39) tries to catch Cleveland Browns receiver Owen Spencer (17) after Spencer made a catch in the fourth quarter during Thursday's game at Lambeau Field. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette

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To put it politely, the Green Bay Packers aren’t anywhere near peak efficiency. To put it bluntly, the Packers stunk in a 35-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

The Packers can be thankful that August is not the time to display midseason form. They aren’t even close to acceptable preseason form.

With the exception of the first minute, the Packers were brutal in the first half when they fell behind 16-7 to the Browns, considered one of the worst teams in the NFL last season. And it only got worse in the second half when the Browns’ reserves continued to dominate as a disappointed crowd of 68,201 started heading for the exits early in the fourth quarter.

Aside from an Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson touchdown pass in the first minute, the starting offense turned in a bumpy performance. One drive was halted by a turnover, and another got stopped on downs.

The starting defense forced a fumble on the first play from scrimmage but then, minus some key playmakers, gave up three consecutive Cleveland scoring drives.
The Browns owned one of the worst offenses in the NFL last season but behind rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden showed signs of life against the Packers.

In fairness, Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews departed early in the first quarter, so the defense at least had a good excuse for allowing the Browns to rack up 102 first-quarter yards.

And the offense will benefit greatly when receiver Greg Jennings and tight end Jermichael Finley return from the injured list.

This is no time to push the panic button with more than three weeks remaining until the regular season begins. But the Packers have their work cut out for them if they want to live up to predictions that have them contending for a Super Bowl berth.
In two preseason games, the Packers look like anything but a top-notch NFL team. Instead, they give the appearance of a disjointed, rag-tag bunch struggling to find its way.

Their No. 1 units have blown too many assignments and committed too many mistakes.

There were also some worrisome performances by the backups. Quarterback Graham Harrell went 3-for-11 for 10 yards in the second quarter for an abysmal passer rating of 1.7. Then incredibly, things got worse to start the second half when David Sims picked off a Harrell pass and returned it for a touchdown.

To be fair, Harrell didn’t get much support from his teammates. The backup offensive line didn’t provide the best protection, and his receivers made a habit of either dropping passes or falling down. Plus, Harrell and the Packers’ No. 2 unit were playing against the Browns’ defensive starters for most of the second quarter.

Still, Harrell has yet to prove he can adequately fill in for Rodgers if necessary.

Preseason results are mostly meaningless, and this lopsided loss in all likelihood soon will be forgotten.

But two consecutive shaky outings should be a growing concern for coach Mike McCarthy.

In polite terms, the 0-2 Packers aren’t sharp. To be blunt, this team needs to play a lot better than it did against the Browns.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
573 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
853 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1011 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1268 votes

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