This has been a rough Monday for Packer Nation. As one after another player goes down (and or out for the season), Packers fans must be at the point of cringing every time another report comes out. After an improved outing against the Chicago Bears, it looks like the Packers offense is going to have to begin to score more points if the team is going to be successful moving forward. Now, with word that Jared Abbrederis is on the list of IR players, the wide receiver corps, while not the triage unit of the defensive backfield, also takes a hit.
But the Packers have a chance to beat a very good (though no longer undefeated) Atlanta team, if they can do 3 things (I added one honorable mention).
1. Fast start
The Packers showed some life with the short passing game against the Bears and they will need to get off to a fast start to beat the Falcons. This Atlanta team leads the league in passing yards (Matt Ryan – 2,348), receiving yards by a receiver (Julio Jones – 830), Ryan has 16 TD’s and Devonta Freeman is averaging just under five yards a carry and has over 500 yards already. Tall order. But a fast start does more than just put points on the board for the Packers, it does more than just help the offense carry over some of the rhythm that they had in the second half of the Bears game. It also keeps the aforementioned Atlanta Falcons’ offense off the field. A fast start is so important in this game (IMO) that should the Packers win the toss, I think they should put Aaron Rodgers and the offense on the field first. Otherwise, I would have to wonder if we wouldn’t have the same result as the first defensive series against the Cowboys.
Win the toss, take the ball, extended drive…touchdown is just what the doctor ordered in Atlanta.
2. Stop the run and get a pass rush with minimal commitment up front
Matt Ryan also is a top player in another category…times sacked. Sacked 18 times is good enough for a tie (with none other than Matthew Stafford) for third in the league. But Ryan has been standing in the pocket and delivering so the Packers have to bear down on him quickly. But we can’t afford to take too many risks as we have not only the tandem of Julio Jones and Mohamed Sunu to worry about…but also the tight end Jacob Tamme will stress our decimated defensive backfield. The Packers must be able get pressure without having to commit extra resources in this game. Ryan and Jones, in particular, are really in sync right now on broken plays. This game could be our defensive front’s finest hour. If they don’t play well (out of their heads might be a better way to describe it)…it could be a long day for the Packers.
3. Win the turnover battle
This one is obvious but I mention it more because the Packers have been unable to hang on to the ball in critical games this year. That puts pressure on the defense that we cannot afford versus Atlanta. Our offense is usually pretty fundamentally sound in the area of turnovers both fumbles and interceptions. That has not been the case this year…that has to change….now. This game will be played in a very hostile environment and nothing stirs the crowd into a frenzy like a turnover…and that won’t be the worst of the Packers’ woes as the defense once again has to strut its ragtag band onto the field.
Honorable mention: Generate some rushing yards somehow
The Packers can only get away with running Ty Montgomery for so long. Mad props to Monty for gaining all the yards he did against the Bears, but teams are going to figure out the short passing game and if Montgomery continues to have success…stack the box. The running back situation is critical and the group right now is thinner than the atmosphere on Mars. The Packers will have to generate some rushing yards using Knile Davis or Don Jackson if he is healthy. This will not be easy as neither of them has experience and that, along with the crowd will make it virtually impossible to change plays at the line of scrimmage. They need to get enough of the playbook out on the field one way or another to keep the Atlanta defense honest or it is going to be a long day.
Well, it is a tough test we have in front of us but if the Packers can do these things, I think they have a shot at stealing one in Atlanta, but what are your keys to the game? Let me know in the comments below or back on the Facebook Fanpage!