What We Learned Against the Falcons

The big-time win over New England was not followed up with perfection in Week 14. Though theimagesCAS0KA36


Packers walked away with a win, Mike McCarthy cannot be happy about his team’s blown 24-point halftime lead, which hinges primarily on the defense. The pass rush was largely ineffective versus a poor Atlanta offensive line – not the type of performance that any head coach wants to see at home during a playoff push.

The Packers did put on some Super Bowl-caliber display versus Atlanta – at least on the offensive side of the ball. Eddie Lacy was provided with excellent blocking by his O-line and made the most of the opportunities with improved vision inside the tackles. Going up against one of the league’s worst pass rushes, it’s no surprise that the O-line continued to give Rodgers all day in the pocket. When the Falcons D-line did get penetration, Rodgers’ athleticism bought him additional time, helping keep drives alive.

Even with two of the NFC’s best receivers on his offense, Rodgers managed to distribute the football well to role players like Andrew Quarless, James Starks and John Kuhn. The big night for Quarless and Starks was a testament to the incredible depth that Ted Thompson has installed on the offensive side of the ball.

Eddy Lacy brings the thunder.

Eddy Lacy brings the thunder.

The Packer offense did its defense a favor by hogging the time of possession throughout the game, providing defensive personnel with long breathers. Unfortunately, the Packer secondary struggled to contain Falcons receiver, Julio Jones, throughout the game, raising some question as to how the Packers will manage stud wide outs Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and Calvin Johnson in the coming weeks.

Free-agent-to-be Davon House fared much better versus Jones than did Shields, when subbed in late in the game. Can the Packers chalk up Shields’ poor play to not practicing all week and restore trust in the $39mm cornerback? Or, should they turn to House? The Packers are fortunate to have that choice this season, rather than having to take the ‘next-man-up’ approach of recent seasons.

About Mike Davidsen

Mike Davidsen grew up in the north suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Finance. Mike has been a Packers season ticket holder all of his life and just recently became a shareholder. Mike joined GPN in May 2010 and specializes in draft analysis.


What We Learned Against the Falcons — 2 Comments

  1. as a coach, mike McCarthy should not be happy. But as a fan we should be happy. Aaron Rodgers said it best in his post game interview…sometimes the offense needs to put up 43 points and over 500 yards to pick up the defense…..sometimes

  2. I have to disagree Mike. While the D did struggle, and mostly in the 2nd half, the offense shares equal blame for the Atlanta 2nd half come back. The Packers played 2 completely different games in each half on offense. The time of possession was drastically in favor of GB after the 1st half, and drastically in favor of the Falcons in the 2nd half. No excuses though, our D looked worn out by the end of the 3rd quarter. They need to be able to play 5 quarters without a let down, and they’re simply not conditioned properly.

    GB had 22 first downs in the first half. They had 2 in the second half, prior to the last 2:15 of the game, where they got 2 more. That’s not acceptable against any team, let alone the worst pass rush/worst pass D/worst overall D in the NFL.
    Rodgers finished the 1st half with 270 yards and 2 TDs. He finished the game with a modest 326 yards and 3 TDs (almost all 2nd half yards and the only TD on the bomb to Nelson).

    Why the huge drop off? Simple; in the first half Rodgers spread the ball around and moved down field at will. As you pointed out, Quarless and Lacy/Starks were huge in the passing game. But then it stopped. In the second half, not a single target to a TE, only a couple check down targets to Lacy/Starks, and Adams was targeted once. That’s a pattern for Rodgers. In many games this year Rodgers has completely changed his tactics in the 2nd half to targeting only Nelson, and only Cobb when Nelson isn’t open. He refuses to take open receivers underneath. This results in sacks, fumbles, and having to punt the ball to opponents. This is what let Atlanta back into the game. If GB answers in their first couple drives of the 2nd half with a score, or even drives for a few first downs to take time off the clock, it takes the wind out of the Falcons and allows our D to catch their breath. Instead, we got quick 3 and outs and almost paid dearly for letting the Falcons back into the game. I’m sure Rodgers would say to “relax”, but I find his 2nd half play nothing to relax about.

    This Packers team looked like the one and done, inconsistent on both sides of the ball, playoff teams of previous years. And at a time when they should be peaking. Not lining up properly for punts, knowing well that Hester was on the other end, and another blocked extra point, amount to ST is far from sharp.

    Still time to make adjustments at all 3 phases of the game, but if they’re not made and starting this week, they’ll struggle to beat better teams like Buffalo at home (where GB has never won) and Detroit to even make the playoffs. Let’s get it together Pack! Go Pack go!

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