Packers v. Bills: Behind the Numbers

It's time to go Behind the Numbers with a look back at the Green Bay Packers final preseason game against the Buffalo Bills.

The Green Bay Packers 2021 preseason is in the books. Tuesday by 3:00 CST is when final roster cuts have to be made, and then September 12th is Green Bay's first regular-season game against New Orleans. But before we look ahead, let's look back at Saturday's performance with some of the numbers and figures that you need to know.

10

According to PFF, this was the number of missed tackles that the Green Bay Packers defense had in Buffalo--and honestly, this seems a bit low. Innis Gaines and Kabion Ento appeared to have the biggest issues in this area, but Ray Wilborn and others got in on the action as well. 

To some degree, this is to be expected when you have a young and inexperienced defense on the football field--especially when they are up against the starting-caliber offense that Buffalo has.

$1.975 million

With final cuts right around the corner, Lucas Patrick is a popular veteran cut that many have discussed because of the interior depth on this offensive line but also due to the fact that Green Bay can save $1.975 million in cap space by cutting or trading him, according to Over the Cap

But did you see Jake Hanson at center on that final drive before half? There was the low snap, and then the delay of game as Jordan Love desperately called for the ball. Sure, Patrick isn't the only backup option at center; there is Elgton Jenkins, but if he's at left tackle, I doubt that Green Bay will want to move him inside. Jon Runyan has taken some snaps at center as well, but he's a college tackle who played guard all last season, and there's likely to be a learning curve with him.

Yes, the Packers can save some cap space by moving on from Patrick, but to me, it's not worth it at $2 million. Even if he's a backup -- although he still may be the starting left guard -- there is still plenty of value that he can provide with his versatility and experience. 

148 v. 77

One of the more difficult roster decisions that the Green Bay Packers will have to make -- if they decide to keep a fifth safety -- is between Innis Gaines and Christian Uphoff. Neither player really did themselves any favors against Buffalo, but Uphoff seems to be the popular pick for that final roster spot. 

However, I do want to point out one thing, and that is each player's snap counts. According to PFF, Gaines was on the field for 148 defensive snaps this preseason, while Uphoff was out there for only 77. Maybe this means nothing, but it could also be very telling with Green Bay trying to get a longer look at Gaines, who they may have more interest in. Gaines also had 35 special teams snaps to Uphoff's 20. 

0

Speaking of snap counts, that's the number of snaps that Ty Summers played against Buffalo since he was on the inactive list--and I don't believe he had suffered an injury, or at least not to my knowledge. 

I thought this would have been a big game for Summers, who is seen by many as a fringe roster player, but if he was in fact a healthy scratch, does that mean he's a roster lock? I tend to lean that way because it really doesn't make sense for Green Bay to not play him if he's healthy, then turn around and not put him on the roster. If that's the case, then why not cut him earlier in the week when rosters were being trimmed from 85 down to 80 players?

1

That's the number of pressures that Yosh Nijman has allowed the last two games, according to PFF. Admittedly, it was a rough debut against Houston, but to his credit, Nijman rebounded very well and did so at both tackle positions. With the uncertainty around Dennis Kelly's health, it's hard to imagine Niman being left off this roster.

“Yosh has done a good job,” said general manager Brian Gutekunst via Sports Illustrated. “I think he’s gotten better each year. A lot of credit to him for his work ethic and patience, and resilience. I think he’s playing his best football right now, and I’m excited to see where he goes. Obviously, he’s got a lot of physical traits that we look for, he’s played a lot of left tackle the last two games, which is really good to see, and I think he’s had a nice training camp so far.”

4

On the flip side, four is the number of pressures that Jack Heflin totaled against the Buffalo Bills. We also saw him make some plays against the run as well. This preseason, Heflin's six pressures were the most on the team, and his six tackles were the second most along the interior defensive line, behind only TJ Slaton. 

With Tyler Lancaster injured, I'm not sure how the Packers could leave Heflin off this final roster.

"Jack is a great kid," said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. "Jack was an undrafted kid that we brought in here, and as a coach, when you look at those undrafted guys, you're just looking for daily improvement. He's (Heflin) a kid that's been here and works unbelievably hard every single day, and it's cool to see him at least from the production sheet really show up. He played well against Houston and it's great to see that Jack is making improvements from Week 1 to Week 2."

2

That's the number of "teachable moments" that Jordan Love had on Saturday. While overall, I would consider his performance very encouraging once again as he looked in control, comfortable, and led the Packers' second and third-string offenses down the field against Buffalo's starting defense, there were some learning opportunities as well. 

On those two aforementioned drives that put Green Bay either in or very close to the red zone, they both ended with some poor decision-making from Love--something that we saw at Utah State at times. After stumbling over one of his offensive linemen and finding himself with a defender in his face, Love heaves a pass to the end zone that is intercepted. A similar play would ensue later on, but fortunately, the pass fell incomplete that time.

These types of plays and mistakes are going to happen early on with a young quarterback, but the Packers have the luxury of Love being able to work through some of these issues during the preseason. And moving forward, the important thing is that he learns from these mistakes. 

“I think the hardest thing for young guys to do is to let a play go, right?” quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy said via Sports Illustrated. “He feels like he can make a play every single time he has the opportunity. So, when you talk about teachable moments, that’s slowing the game down. The interception was on first-and-10. We’ve got three more downs to go get it. The other one, it’s later in the downs, and we get to kick a field goal."

120

It's important to keep in mind that much of the first half of this game was the Green Bay Packers playing their second, third, and even fourth-string players against Buffalo's starting offense and defense. This is what makes the overall performance from Malik Taylor and Reggie Begelton all the more impressive.

On Saturday, the duo combined for nine receptions on 12 targets for 120 yards at over 13 yards per catch--going up against the Bills' top corners for the first two quarters. Given Taylor's body of work this preseason, he seems like a roster lock at this point, especially with his special teams experience. When it comes to Begelton, my guess is that he's just on the outside looking in. 

9

We hadn't seen much of Isaiah McDuffie this summer as he spent a good portion of training camp on the NFI list, and heading into Saturday's game, I wasn't sure that he had shown enough over that short period of time to warrant a roster spot. But that isn't the case anymore after tallying nine tackles and a sack against Buffalo. 

McDuffie was flying around the field and utilized as a blitzer on several occasions, similar to Oren Burks in Week 1. While we won't see much of McDuffie on the defensive side of the ball early on, he is someone who can contribute to special teams right away. There may not be another player who did themselves more favors than what McDuffie did on Saturday. 

38

Kabion Ento led the team in special teams snaps this preseason with 38, which, as we all know, these contributions will determine several roster spots. Next up was Innis Gaines with 35, De'Jon Haris and Henry Black with 31, and Dexter Williams with 27. 

0 (again)

This is the number of significant injuries sustained this summer, which in the end, is all that really matters. Not the win-loss columns. 

---------------------

Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

8 points

Comments (24)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
dobber's picture

August 30, 2021 at 10:17 am

"Gaines was on the field for 148 defensive snaps this preseason, while Uphoff was out there for only 77.....Gaines also had 35 special teams snaps to Uphoff's 20. "

I think they were deliberately hiding Uphoff and limiting his snaps. They knew based on minicamps and early TC experience that he's not ready yet. They want him on the PS and they didn't want to put too much film out there.

4 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 30, 2021 at 10:28 am

He was very poor on D. Has potential, but he needs time to make a big jump from a lower level of play and to develop his body adequately. He should be on the PS.

4 points
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greengold's picture

August 30, 2021 at 11:40 am

"Should be on the PS..." Yes.

The problem is, other teams are already lined up to pounce on him, should we risk that. I don't see that as being necessary. That is an important spot we can use for development with a player of his measurables. You said it yourself, you want a deep Safety who can cover. 4.4 speed. 2 INT in TC.

There is no way I risk losing him to another team, not when we kept 5 Safeties last year. I guess that one will be one of their tougher decisions at roster cuts, Coldworld.

1 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 30, 2021 at 11:49 am

GG, I’d be amazed if teams are going to pounce on Uphoff. He’s a project who needs physical and technical development and a UDFA from a small school.

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greengold's picture

August 30, 2021 at 02:24 pm

The notion is not a stretch by any means. Every team has a staff that targets players, wants the opportunity to coach players, feel their coaching will make the difference, etc. Uphoff had suitors. You think those same teams, many of whom aren't as talent rich as GB, won't take their shot on a 6-3 209 4.4 Safety?

I agree with all the rest you are stating here, but, fail to keep a spot for him, and I think he's gone. That's just the way it works, or doesn't work... that's all I'm saying.

3 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

August 30, 2021 at 06:14 pm

Uphoff would make the PS. Small chance another team would cut a player off the 53 for Uphoff, an UDFA who has shown nothing on an NFL defense yet. Some ST value and good size. But not enough to cut a player.

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greengold's picture

August 30, 2021 at 11:50 am

Yeah, but I think he's too good a prospect to risk cutting, despite one missed tackle on D and one on STs v. BUF. I think he's got 2 INT in TC, if not more. He's also got 4.4 speed, for a 6-3 209 Safety. You don't put a player like him, who is very close to Jeremy Chinn in terms of physical traits, one of the most sought after UDFAs this year on waivers in the hopes you can sign him to the PS. I can't see Gutekunst doing that, and really, there is no reason to. We kept 5 Safeties last year on our 53.

I'd like to add, with Uphoff's size/speed, he's one of those unique players who can morph into the ILB role in situations where roles are interchangeable pre-snap to post-snap. Barry's D, from what I understand, relies on that kind of player flexibility.

Uphoff is one of those gifted players who just needs more game action/reps, after his senior year season was cancelled due to covid. I'd find a way to keep him in system to develop.

3 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

August 30, 2021 at 07:30 pm

With Redmond thankfully, on IR Umhoff makes the squad for sp. teams and will Improve as the season moves on. Saw plenty of him in MAC games on tuesday and thursday nights. He is a football player and the gunner for coverage teams.

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Coldworld's picture

August 30, 2021 at 10:40 am

Nijman has been rated as the 4th best OL in preseason with over 50 snaps. I’d say he’s a keeper. Newman was the best. That’s quite a return for us. Nijman was actually very good in game one except for the one play.

Patrick isn’t going anywhere. He’s likely starting, and the only other guards who are adequate are Braden and Runyon. That’s too few to allow Patrick to leave with Jenkins at LT for an unknown period. Van Lanen isn’t an option at this point (and likely never will be as a T as you suggest).

Black has been our best box S who wasn’t a starter last year. He’s a tackling machine but he’s not able to cover. If we want to move Amos and Savage, none of the S candidates are adequate deep. Perhaps a DB like Yiadom or Denmark who can tackle, but otherwise that would be an obvious area of need for help. Tre Boston does sound increasingly sensible as a possible solution (only deep though).

Garvin hasn’t actually done much. Can we really settle for him as our 4th OLB? 3rd if Z is out. Who will undertake the coverage role if P is a primary rusher? This too needs attention.

If you want to free cap trade Lowry. Heflin and Keke make him redundant enough.

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dobber's picture

August 30, 2021 at 10:49 am

Even post Jun 1, Lowry is essentially a cap-neutral move. He's around for one more year.

Redmond filled that coverage role (mostly) last season. I think Barry is going to have to lean more heavily on his CB depth this season. People want to gripe about the CBs, but they have some nice depth there. Better depth-wise than the S position.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 30, 2021 at 11:51 am

TGR seems to feel we make a saving if I understand it, though neutral would work for me.

1 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 31, 2021 at 04:56 am

$1.69M cap savings if Lowry is released or traded. [OTC's numbers are for a pre-June trade or release.] $3.9M in savings next season (about that in dead money as well).

This is where my "all-in" mindset meets my salary cap sense philosophy and the two duke it out.

0 points
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PhantomII's picture

August 30, 2021 at 11:01 am

No use cutting any current starter or next man up player for small coin unless we can replace them with a Vet upgrade. Super Bowl is where we need to get to. Needs: #3 deep Safety who is fast, takes good angles and tackles well. Starting level Vet DL. Starting level Vet CB. Any moves should be to bring about any of these.

6 points
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croatpackfan's picture

August 30, 2021 at 03:59 pm

Where you'll find those 2 players who are willing to play for free? Because there is no room in Cap...

-1 points
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PhantomII's picture

August 30, 2021 at 08:49 pm

13 mill cap space. Maybe someone steps up....but not 3. Time to go win us a Championship.

0 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

August 30, 2021 at 07:32 pm

Draft them

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PhantomII's picture

August 30, 2021 at 08:41 pm

2 late. We need people to perform at a high level...now.

0 points
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murf7777's picture

August 30, 2021 at 11:15 am

Zero injuries is a great stat. I’m hoping resting all of our starters doesn’t hurt us. I did notice other teams played their starters for a half or so. We will find out starting a week from Sunday. Stoked! GPG.

4 points
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PatrickGB's picture

August 30, 2021 at 01:16 pm

Funchess did get injured. Yet he may not have been on the final roster anyway.

0 points
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Swisch's picture

August 30, 2021 at 04:27 pm

If a player is cut tomorrow, does that make him basically a free agent?
In other words, would he be able to sign with any NFL team, including the Packers if they want him bring him back for the practice squad?
Or is it like being put on waivers, where another team can claim a player and thus have a certain control over him?
Any answers appreciated.

1 points
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dobber's picture

August 30, 2021 at 01:22 pm

If I remember correctly, vested veterans become free agents, but everyone else passes through waivers. Then teams can sign up their PS players after the waiver period.

If a team makes a waiver claim, they have to put that player on their 53.

4 points
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Swisch's picture

August 30, 2021 at 05:02 pm

Thanks much, dobber.
It seems a team would really have to want a guy to put him on its 53-man roster instead of just the practice squad.
***
I really would like the Packers to keep Kurt Benkert, Dexter Williams, and Reggie Begelton for at least the practice squad (unless they really want to go elsewhere for a better opportunity at getting on the field).
If these guys aren't vested veterans, they could be claimed by other teams if they put them on their rosters of 53 -- if I understand correctly.
It seems somewhat of a poker game guessing which of our current players that we'd like to bring back on the practice squad would likely be claimed by other teams.
Tomorrow is a big day for the Packers, and also the immediate aftermath before and after the waiver period. How long is the waiver period?
Then there's the possibility of trades tonight and tomorrow before the cut deadline.
It could be fascinating

2 points
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Thegravedigger's picture

August 30, 2021 at 04:57 pm

im rewatching the first drive of the bills game, and the corners are 10 to 12 yards off on EVERY snap. they are easily dinking and dunking. idk if this is a tactic, to see how well these guys tackle? or just playing a vanilla d bcus of preseason? but cant we play a little press to see what these kids are made of?

2 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 31, 2021 at 04:59 am

Yup. It made it hard to evaluate CBs. Tackling, route recognition and ability to click and close were the only traits that could be evaluated.

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