Packers Show They are not Quite Ready for the Limelight
The spotlight shined brightly on Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta for a highly anticipated Sunday Night matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers. Early on, the Packers learned that they would be without both starting offensive tackles, David Bakhtiari and Brian Bulaga for Sunday Nights contest. The injury bug would only continue to get worse for the Packers as the game went on. The first quarter saw the losses of both Jordy Nelson and Mike Daniels for the duration of the contest, which sent the Packers reeling for the rest of the game.
As the game progressed Dan Quinn’s defense exposed the Packers inexperienced members of the offensive line. The Falcon pass rush was able to apply pressure and collapse the pocket, ultimately disrupting the timing and rhythm of the Packers passing attack. Penalties, missed tackles and dropped passes began to accumulate as the first half of the game wore on, causing the Packers to become out of sync in all three phases of the game. These mental and physical breakdowns sustained a stretch of continued poor play which led to a 24-7 halftime deficit.
Much of the first half felt like a replay of the NFC Championship game film from that fateful January day some eight months ago. The Falcons took advantage of the Packers poor play and got off to a high-flying start by jumping out to an early 14-7 lead. The Packers secondary was given a bird’s eye view of Julio Jones running deep crossing routes and Matt Ryan slicing through their defense at will.
The second half opened up with more of the same results of the first half. Aaron Rodgers got pummeled into the ground causing a fumble, which was returned for a touchdown by Desmond Trufant. This gave the Falcons a commanding 31-7 lead, which they would not let slip away from their grasp.
Takes from the loss:
The Packers need to get their offensive line healthy:
Maintaining a continued continuity on the offensive line will ensure that the rhythm of the offense will be restored and Aaron Rodgers will be protected. Much of last nights breakdowns in protection, lead to turnovers, penalties or disrupted timing and rhythm in the passing game. Brian Bulaga and David Bakhtiari have more of a familiarity with Aaron Rodgers play audibles at the line of scrimmage and would have been able to provide him with more time to allow for his receivers to get open on their routes.
The Packers need to improve on the controllable aspects of the game:
This Sunday Night debacle in Atlanta saw too many penalties, dropped passes, and missed tackles. In order for the Packers to become Super Bowl Champions, they must prove that they can consistently play mistake-free football.
The Packers front seven has to remain healthy and consistent in applying quarterback pressure:
It is clear that Mike Daniels drives the defensive disruption at the point of attack and without him, the pass rush was not as fierce and effective. Without a fierce pass rush and a stout run defense, the Packers secondary will continue to be exposed by unfavorable matchups. (More looking at the back of Randall and Rollins’s jerseys as they chase down the opposing teams’ receivers. ☠️)
The Packers sound play must travel with them on the road:
Aaron Rodgers acknowledged that he thinks that the Packers can beat any opponent at home. This statement is an admission that the Packers play is not the same on the road as it is at Lambeau. (If it was, he would not have to make the distinction between home games and road games.)
The performance last night confirmed that the intensity and focus that is displayed at the friendly confines of Lambeau Field does not consistently travel with the team to hostile environments like Atlanta. With this latest Sunday Night loss, the Packers may now be faced with the arduous task of traveling once again to Mercedes Benz Stadium this January for a playoff game. The challenge has officially been made to the Green Bay Packers; play every game on the road like it is a home game at Lambeau Field.
Although the Green Bay Packers had a less than stellar performance on Sunday Night football, the season is still young and the Journey has just begun. The Packers will continue to work on correcting the controllable aspects of their game and hope to get their injured players back on the field so that they can continue to develop their continuity, chemistry, and identity. The biggest key to the Packers success this season will be their starters ability to consistently stay on the field. This week of preparation, rehab, and rejuvenation will be key to righting the ship and sustaining consistency which will translate into excellence for the season as it moves forward.——————
David Michalski is a recent college graduate from Princeton New Jersey who has been a life long Green Bay Packers fan. Like the great Vince Lombardi, he values God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order. You can follow him on twitter at @kilbas27dave