The Green Bay Packers got their fledgling wings clipped by the Atlanta Falcons today. The Falcons showed they are a true playoff contender, one with solid play in all 3 phases and a very balanced offense. Consistent to a fault, the Falcons were boring, but effective and difficult to stop.
Meanwhile, the Packers warts showed prominently today, with no running game at all and spotty special teams play, at best. Even with that, this was a game that was very winnable for the Packers. So, are the Packers playoff contenders or pretenders? We’ll probably know more after they play the Patriots in 3 weeks.
My game day impressions:
KEY TO THE GAME: If I had to pick JUST ONE thing, it would be this: Force the Falcons into obvious passing situations, then go after Ryan. How he handles adversity and pressure is still in question.
My 1A key to the game is something that I don’t usually say: Throw the ball – A LOT. But not just to the receivers. Use the running backs, use the tight ends… Falcons defense does not have enough talent in the secondary to handle a multi-pronged passing attack.
Green Bay’s inactives: Bigby, Smith, Starks, Briggs, McDonald, Newhouse, D. Lee and Wynn.
Andrew Quarless will start at TE for Lee.
Spencer Havner is active and should see plenty of special teams work, filling in for Smith and Bigby. Also becomes the #2 tight end, with Lee inactive.
All three fullbacks are active.
MM Comments on WTMJ Pregame show:
Very good week of preparation – I feel very confident going into this game.
Our practices the last few weeks have looked the way they’re supposed to look.
Overcoming injury adversity: It points to the character of the men on this football team.
Rodgers and Ryan: 2 very cerebral quarterbacks, Both teams have probably maxed out what could be asked of them. Atlanta use the no huddle and we could run our entire offense at the line of scrimmage if we chose to.
Falcoln receivers: Both big, physical targets. Will have to lean on them. Also very good in the air – we have to be prepared to compete for the ball in the air.
Michael Turner: I really like Michael Turner as a back. I like his running style. We have to be sure to gang tackle him.
Falcon defense: Very disciplined defense. You don’t see missed assignments. A sure tackling group.
Dome success: We practice a lot in the Hutson Center with noise piped in.
Today, one team will be deemed a Super Bowl contender, one a Super Bowl pretender. And you know which one I think is which.
Happy to see the Packers start out on defense again.
Falcons offense executes very efficiently.
Nice dive by Desmond Bishop to draw a penalty. European Soccer players would be very proud! Forces Atlanta into a 3rd and 20 and ultimately settling for a field goal.
Why wasn’t someone telling Sam Shields to take a knee and not try to return a kickoff from 5 yards deep in the end zone?
On the Frank Zombo sack. I thought for sure that Clay Matthews was offsides. he was moving before anyone, but he timed it perfectly…
Rodgers running an awful lot, but at least he’s not holding the ball too long and getting sacked. I’m ok with that.
But are the Falcons really covering that well? Lets seem some passes to the running backs, please…
Score: Packers 3, Falcons 3
I have to say, the Falcons ST coverage teams look pretty tough, so far. Easily getting through the Packers’ blockers.
Unlike James Jones, Brett Swain knows to transfer the ball to his outside hand on the sideline…
And the Quarterback sneak issues on the goal line are back. If you’re on the one foot line, I’m OK with it. But not from the 2 yard line. The majority of the time it’s just not going to work.
Plenty of talk on the live blogs about Mike McCarthy not challenging the 3rd down pass to Gonzalez that hit the ground. Of course, the coaches in the booth are the ones to blame. if we casn all see it on TV, why is MM not told to challenge?
Falcons are a very well coached team…
So on the Falcons TD, the Packers drop Cullen Jenkins (jumped around aimlessly) and they go with a three man rush. yet somehow, with 8 players in coverage, A Hall of Fame TE is uncovered. Am I missing something here?
Score: Packers 3, Falcons 10
Shields once again runs out a kickoff from 5 yards deep. this time the blocking is better and he is able to run towards the open field. Atlanta’s kicker saves a touchdown. So I guess the full blame for the first half return does go on the Packers blockers on that one.
Packers go three-and-out on their first possession, thanks to just an awful decision by Brandon Jackson. he has neither the moves or the speed to try what he did. If there’s nothing there, put your head down and take the no gain.
Just before the Jordy Nelson catch to the 2 yard line, I was thinking, that the Packers can beat Atlanta deep all they want. I hope we see more attempts…
So far, Packers tackling looks much better. I imagine they got reamed out about that at halftime…
AND, as soon as I type that. three Packers can’t bring down Snelling on a dump-off. He gets a key first down on 3rd and long, and Atlanta drives downfield for a touchdown.
Score: Packers 10, Falcons 10
Sam Shields gets a very questionable call for stiff-arming a Falcon player who was trying to tackle him on a kickoff return. Don’t understand that.
Packers inability to run influences their decision-making, especially on third down. But it’s curious that after BJax finally gets a first down on third and one, the Packers decide to throw the ball downfield on the very next third and then fourth down plays. Very curious.
Packers defense comes up huge soon after that, stopping the Falcons just out of field goal range.
Six minutes left, Packers start on their own 10 after the punt. Can they drive for the tie?
Awful job by James Jones on an attempted screen. Didn’t even try to block his man, who then blew up the screen.
Rodgers footwork in the pocket has just been AWESOME today…
Am I the only person who thinks the Packers are playing too much no huddle too soon? Why leave time on the clock for Atlanta at the end of the game?
Rodgers and the Packers make it down to the 5 yard line with 2 minutes left. Rodgers stripped of the ball on first down, but it bounces right back to him. Exhale…
Jordy did something very subtle on that TD play that was huge. Once he broke open, he angled back towards Rodgers just enough to be sure the DB couldn’t get in front of him. Great play. Packers tie the game, but PLENTY of time left for the Falcons.
On the kickoff return. Wilhelm gets called for a facemask. While everyone is bemoaning the penalty, if he doesn’t do it, there’s a very good chance the returner goes all the way. He had just eluded Crosby, and only Sam Shields may have had a chance at him further downfield. So don’t blame it on the facemask.
Final Score: Packers 17, Falcons 20——————
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.