Because of a stalemate in retransmission talks between Time Warner Cable and Journal Broadcast Group, your options for watching the Green Bay Packers’ preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals were limited if you were a cable subscriber living in Milwaukee or Green Bay.
You could have gotten yourself an over-the-air antenna – hopefully something a little more high-tech than the old bunny ears and tin foil.
You could have switched to DirecTV, Dish Network or AT&T U-verse – although that might’ve been a bit drastic to watch a game that doesn’t count in the standings.
You could have tuned into the Telemundo telecast, complete with Spanish-speaking announcers – with 1510 ESPN Deportes’ own Andy Olivares on the play-by-play call – and graphics in Spanish.
Or, you could have just skipped the whole thing, thereby missing the Packers’ uninspiring 17-0 loss to the Cardinals before a Lambeau Field-record crowd of 73,738.
But if you opted to watch the game on Telemundo, Aaron Rodgers’ assessment pretty much sums it up:
“Fue muy mal,” said the Packers quarterback, smiling proudly at the un poquito of español he’d just spoken.
Loosely translated, that means was very bad.
"Tonight's contest obviously not exactly where you would like to start in preseason game No. 1,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy confessed after his first-string offense gained 86 yards in its first and only possession – and the backups managed a not-so-grand total of 137 yards on the other 10 series.
“Everybody got to play tonight. We got a lot of film on a lot of the guys. So I feel like from creating opportunities, focus going into the game, we accomplished that. We'll take a hard evaluation with it in the morning. The players are in at 9 o'clock for lifting. We will grade the tape and go through it.”
What the Packers will see on tape will be some positives (rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari shone brightest), some negatives (an interception and a sack/fumble by No. 2 quarterback Graham Harrell, troublesome coverage from the reserve cornerbacks) and then some blank film (neither kicker, Mason Crosby or Giorgio Tavecchio, got to attempt a field goal). But there was this bit of good news:
“I think the No. 1 thing for myself is I want to be able to walk out of here. So I have that one checked off,” Rodgers said with a laugh. “But second and obviously more important is you want to move the ball effectively. We did a good job with that (with the 1s).”
That they did. Rodgers converted a third-and-1 with a 5-yard completion to Jeremy Ross in the left slot, then hit James Jones down the left sideline for a 50-yard gain on third-and-2, putting the first-stringers in business at the Arizona 6-yard line. But a miscommunication among Rodgers, Jones and Ross led to a second-down incompletion, and Rodgers’ throw on third down to Jermichael Finley across the middle was broken up.
On fourth-and-goal from the 2, McCarthy called a handoff to James Starks, who was ruled short. Replays seemed to indicate that he snuck the ball over the goal line before his knees went down, so McCarthy threw his challenge flag – only to see the call upheld.
“I don’t think my opinion really matters, but it sure looked like (a touchdown) on the replay,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got that beautiful replay board up there, and it seemed that his knees may have been off the ground, and he for sure reached the ball across. But … zero on the scoreboard.”
There was another important zero on offense: Zero hits on Rodgers. That was in part thanks to Bakhtiari, who continued his progression with a strong debut in his first NFL preseason game. Even though center Evan Dietrich-Smith and guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang called it a night after that opening 11-play series, Bakhtiari stayed in with the No. 2 line and played until halftime. He ended up with roughly 35 snaps and didn’t have a single glaring mistake.
“To be honest, I probably had more jitters in college than I did for this game,” said Bakhtiari, a rookie fourth-round pick from Colorado who is taking over for Bryan Bulaga, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Family Night Scrimmage. “Like I’ve been preaching earlier this week, I’ve just kind of been trying to keep a level head and keep a calm mind about it – just playing my game and just playing left tackle. I felt good out there, so I’m going to continue to keep that kind of mindset going forward.
“It definitely makes me feel more comfortable, and definitely makes me believe more in myself. But it’s only one half of one preseason game. I still need to get a full game in and see how I can do through four quarters.”
The Packers certainly didn’t do much through four quarters. Harrell’s interception led directly to a 38-yard Carson Palmer-to-Andre Roberts touchdown to make it 7-0, and his fumble when John Abraham beat right tackle Marshall Newhouse led to the Cardinals’ other touchdown, a 1-yard Drew Stanton-to-Jaron Brown TD.
Even though the Packers offense did move the ball at times with Harrell under center – the fumble ended an 11-play, 45-yard drive, for example – the closest the Packers got to the Arizona end zone the rest of the game was the Cardinals’ 39-yard line on the play before the fumble.
“There were a few plays I’d definitely like to have back – the pick, and then the one sack was on me. But we moved the ball a ton,” Harrell said. “We just couldn’t finish a drive.”
Harrell finished the night 12 of 19 for 76 yards with two sacks, an interception and a 49.5 rating. He gave way to Vince Young (1 for 3, 7 yards, plus two runs for 12 yards) for two series before B.J. Coleman (2 for 7, 15 yards) mopped up.
Defensively, with two of their top three cornerbacks (Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward) sidelined, fill-ins Davon House, James Nixon, Loyce Means and Brandon Smith all had rough patches. Much like Bakhtiari on offense, the coaches kept second-year outside linebacker Nick Perry in the game a little longer than his starting counterparts after he missed most of last season following wrist surgery, while safeties Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings got plenty of work, too.
The biggest defensive disappointment had to be rookie first-round pick Datone Jones playing only one snap before leaving with a sprained left ankle. McCarthy said Jones was being evaluated and that he’d have more information on Saturday.
The coaches figure to have more information about their guys’ performance after watching the film on Saturday, too. But the bottom line Friday night was that there was next to nothing to be excited about, as Rodgers pointed out – in English.