Rodgers had his best game since the Packers played Detroit on September 25th. Completing a whopping 73.7% of his passes, Rodgers put up 246 passing yards, 4 TDs, and no interceptions. He also added 60 yards on the ground, leading the team in rushing.
Rodgers looked like his old self in Atlanta. He was making quick, accurate, and confident throws. His pass to Trevor Davis in the corner of the endzone was perhaps his best pass on the season.
Absolutely perfect throw by Aaron Rodgers. https://t.co/hdPGVny95o
— Melissa Jacobs (@thefootballgirl) October 30, 2016
Adams has 25 catches in the last two games. Though he wasn’t the big play threat that Jordy Nelson was against the Falcons, Adams has been the guy keeping the offense humming. He’s absolutely Rodgers’ number one target at the moment and that may not change going forward. Adams is a bona fide receiver in this offense and the future of the Packers receiving corps. He needs to continue to build confidence and rapport with Rodgers. Yeah, he drops an open pass every once and awhile but so does Jordy, who dropped several against Atlanta.
Offense Dealing with Injuries
With the offense down multiple running backs and wide receivers (Lacy, Starks, Cobb, Montgomery), several younger players really stepped up. At the top of that list is Trevor Davis who caught 3 passes for 24 yards and a beautiful touchdown reception. Davis also turned on his speed and took off on a punt return for 55 yards. Geronimo Allison had 2 receptions for 21 yards and a TD. Fullback Aaron Ripkowski got 6 carries at running back and turned them into 34 yards, ripping off a nice 12 yard run. Ripkowski was pushing the pile and giving the Packers their only real success in the running game (other than Rodgers).
Demetri Goodson and Ladarius Gunter actually had fairly decent games. Both young and inexperienced, they kept the Falcons from totally exploiting the Packers’ depleted secondary. Many people thought that Julio Jones would replicate the numbers that he put up against the Packers in 2014, an incredible 259 receiving yards. Though hobbled by an injury suffered early in the game, Jones was held to just 29 receiving yards. Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel helped pick up the slack, picking up 84 and 68 receiving yards respectively, but it wasn’t the all out slaughter that many were expecting Goodson and Gunter to give up.
Goodson was beat deep by Gabriel early in the game for a long touchdown, but Goodson’s coverage was actually pretty decent. He was maybe a half step behind a perfectly thrown pass by Matt Ryan.Goodson finished with one pass defensed and Gunter had 2. The Packers will certainly want to get Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins back as soon as possible, but it’s nice to know that Goodson and Gunter can keep offenses honest in a pinch.
Lack of Pressure on Matt Ryan
Julius Peppers and Mike Daniels both picked up a sack of Matt Ryan, but most of the game the Packers were not able to disrupt Ryan’s time in the pocket. Especially on the Falcons’ game-winning drive, the Packers seemed to let the offense come to them, not putting any added pressure on Ryan. It wasn’t a great game for the outside linebackers with Clay Matthews out. Nick Perry didn’t register a single QB hit and finished with just one tackle. Jayrone Elliott and Kyler Fackrell couldn’t get to the QB at all. Datone Jones got to Ryan once but was also called for a roughing the passer penalty.
Knile Davis and Don Jackson
Davis and Jackson needed to find some success running the football on Sunday with Starks and Lacy out. The Packers attempted to run them both early but with almost no success at all. Jackson finished with 4 carries for 10 yards and Davis had 3 carries for just 4 yards. These guys should not be playing second fiddle to Aaron Ripkowski at running back but they were unable to do anything in limited carries. I expect McCarthy to give them some more carries against Indianapolis but if they’re not producing I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ripkowski continuing to carry the rock à la John Kuhn.
This team needs to get healthy. The injury report reads who like a who’s who of Packers starters, and those injuries likely made the difference between a win and a loss against Atlanta.
The good news: The Packers will likely get back either Eddie Lacy or Sam Shields by the end of the season. Everyone else should be back sooner rather than later. We’re talking about Randall Cobb, Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, James Starks, Clay Matthews, Ty Montgomery, and Jared Cook. It’s hard to imagine that the Packers would not have pulled out a W on the road against one of the better teams in the NFC had they been able to field even half of those guys. To put it simply, this team isn’t a pushover. They could certainly make some noise in the post-season.
The bad news: With that being said, the Packers are far from a shoo-in, and if they can’t start winning some games against NFC opponents soon, they could see their postseason hopes slip away. With Rodgers leading the team, I’m not saying that this is even a good bet, but it’s perhaps a lot more likely that the Packers miss the playoffs this year than most suspect.
The Packers have not beat a team which currently has a winning record. Sitting at 4-3, if the playoffs started today, the Packers would qualify as a 5th seed wildcard. However, to give themselves a reasonable certainty of making the playoffs, the Packers would probably have to finish at 11-5. That means that the Packers could afford only two more losses on a schedule which still features a number of difficult games including @ Washington, @ Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle, Minnesota, and @ Detroit. If the Packers win even three out of those six games there’s a good chance that they’ll need some help to sneak into a wildcard spot.
There’s a lot of season left to go, but the Packers need to start doing more than beating losing teams if they want that playoff berth.——————
Taylor O\'Neill is a Packer fan born and raised in Oshkosh, WI. He currently lives in Florida and is pursuing his PhD. Taylor is a writer with PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TaylorONeill87 for more Packer news.