The Green Bay Packers were the away team once again in Week 2, traveling to Atlanta to face the Falcons. The Packers were going to be thin on offense as they ruled out three key starters prior to the start of the game. Receiver Christian Watson and Running Back Aaron Jones were both ruled out on Friday evening due to hamstring injuries. Left Tackle David Bakhtiari was ruled out Sunday morning before game time. The veteran tackle hadn’t practiced all week and didn’t suffer a setback with his knee. Keeping him sidelined makes it evident that it was strictly a precautionary move made to protect his knee against playing on an artificial turf field. After leading by two scores at the start of the 4th quarter, the Packers fail to finish against the Falcons, losing 25-24. This result stems from several missed opportunities, a lack of production from the offense in crunch time, as well as minimal physicality from the defense against the run.
From start to finish, the Packers had a multitude of missed opportunities on both sides of the ball. The first play of the game was a flea flicker that resulted in a pass interference penalty against the Falcons. That put Green Bay in tremendous position in Falcon territory to potentially score points. However, the Packers shot themselves in the foot after committing a delay of game penalty on 4th down, pushing them out of field goal range. After a Rasul Douglas interception on the Falcons first possession, the Packers couldn’t take advantage, eventually going 3-and-out. A few plays later, Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder threw what should have been an interception to Jaire Alexander. Alexander had plenty of real estate in front of him, and he most likely would have scored a pick-6 had he caught the ball. The inability to capitalize plagued the Packers in this game and must be something that changes for the team going forward.
4th Quarter Disappearing Act:
Green Bay’s offense was efficient through the first three quarters of the game. Following three touchdown passes from quarterback Jordan Love, the Packers seemed to be heading towards a victory. They entered the 4th quarter with a double-digit lead and were in the driver’s seat to close out the game. Unfortunately, the solid production on offense suddenly disappeared when Green Bay needed it most. Green Bay had a whopping 11 total yards of offense over the entire span of the 4th quarter. The reason that was so detrimental was because the defense was already struggling to contain Atlanta’s run game. The defense had virtually no time to rest and catch their breath, as the offense failed to get anything going. At the very least, all the Packers had to do was string together a few first downs and chew clock. In theory, a field goal could have even put the game far enough out of reach for the Falcons. Instead, the Packers played the 4th quarter much too conservatively, and it ultimately cost them the game. It was a forgone conclusion that the offense would show signs of struggle, especially early in the year, but what transpired in the 4th quarter on Sunday was a complete meltdown.
Bad Run Defense:
Joe Barry’s run defense has been a constant issue during his tenure as defensive coordinator for the Packers. Sunday afternoon in Atlanta, that trend continued. Falcons rookie running back Bijan Robinson finished the day with 124 yards on the ground. Tyler Allgeier contributed 48 yards, and Desmond Ridder added 39 yards of his own along with a touchdown. All together that totals to 211 yards given up on the ground for the Packers defense. That is absolutely unacceptable. Green Bay has too much talent in their front seven to allow that type of production to an opponent. They were gashed constantly, and got manhandled for most of the day. It is worth noting that the unit was gassed by the end of the game because the offense was unable to get anything going for the entirety of the 4th quarter. Regardless, the defense just needs to play better in general, but primarily against the run. Giving up 446 total yards is a travesty for any team in the NFL. The Packers have a lot to work on and correct in that regard. If things don’t change fast, it is going to be a long season folks.
The Packers struggled throughout the game to play complimentary football, mostly in the 4th quarter when it really mattered. We all knew going into the 2023 season that there were going to be losses like this for Green Bay. Sunday’s contest in Atlanta was a winnable game. Good football teams win games when they are spotted a 12-point lead going into the 4th quarter. It is clear that this young Packers team just isn’t there yet. While it is disappointing, there is still a lot of growth to be shown for the squad going forward.