Senior writer jclombardi grades Packers loss to Falcons.
GAME BALLS: QB Rodgers; WR Jones; WR Jennings; LB Bishop.
INJURY REPORT: TE Havner (hamstring). LB Chillar (shoulder).
Report Card Grades–Good, Bad, & Ugly (JC vs. SE):
PASSING OFFENSE: B vs B+. After an awful first quarter start with two failures in the red zone, QB Rodgers threw for 341 yards, 1 touchdown, and 114.5 pass rating. In the 4th quarter, he led the Packers on a magnificent comeback drive culiminating in a tying touchdown pass to WR Nelson. The game saw the successful return of “Big Five” offensive formation (five wide receivers), three receivers and a tight end, and four receivers’ offensive formations. WR Jennings had 5 catches for 119 yards, WR Jones had 5 catches for 44 yards, and WR Swain had 2 catches for 40 yards.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D- vs D. If the 51 scrambling yards by QB Rodgers are excluded, the rush offense of RBs Jackson and Nance combined for only 26 yards. Simply, the offensive line’s rush blocking completely failed lacking intensity against a fired up Falcons defense. In a telling statistic, the Packers failed to convert on four 3rd and 1s.
PASSING DEFENSE: C- vs C-. The mature QB Ryan threw for 197 yards and 1 touchdown using effective quick short-yardage passing plays. While the Packers shut down WR White, QB Ryan spread his short-yardage passes to other receivers including big target TE Gonzalez. Gonzalez got six receptions for 51 yards and 1 touchdown. Twenty-four completions of his passes went to nine receivers with the completions less than 21 yards. The Packers got very little pressure getting only two sacks with LB Matthews marginalized with maximum protection.
RUSHING DEFENSE: D vs D. The Packers suffered from shoddy tackling making their previous stout run defense appear to be mediocre. Thus, the Falcons were able to run an effective ground game to control the tempo of the game as RB Turner ran for 110 yards averaging 4.8 yards. He had three explosive runs of more than 12 yards with the biggest one to be a 26-yarder off the right side sprung by missed tackles by LB. Hawk and S Collins. Turner completed that long second-half drive with a well-designed 1-yard touchdown run outside left tackle that caught a pursuing Hawk inside on the fourth-and-goal play. The only bright spots were the outstanding performances by LB Bishop and SS Peprah.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F vs D-. The Falcons controlled field position throughout the game helped by 5 Packers penalties. The Packers started many drives inside the 20, while the Falcons averaged starting drives at their 30. With the game on the line at the end, the special teams again failed to prevent the big play after a Packers score. KR Weems took the subsequent kickoff to the 40 yards line. A face mask Packers penalty gave excellent field position to the Falcons at the 49 Packers yards line leading to the winning field goal. KR Weems averaged a decent 31 yards in three kickoffs. KR Shields averaged only 21.8 yards in four kickoffs. PR Williams had two punt returns for two yards. P Masthay’s two punts had a 44.0 gross average.
COACHING: D vs C-. Against a talented disciplined NFC team, coach McCarthy and his management staff were outcoached, outgunned, outdisciplined, and outplayed in the game raising the same old management issues. In glaring examples, the first quarter saw McCarthy fail to make a big game time adjustment admitting to the wrong offensive call (failing to call time out) against Falcons goal line defense in crucial game situation. Later, QB Rodgers fumbled in the red zone that was the game changer. Then, McCarthy dropped the ball with the subsequent failure to challenge (too late, too little) the “trapped” TE Gonzalez reception on the following Falcon scoring drive creating a 14 point swing in favor of the Falcons. In two telling statistics, the Packers converted only 4 of 11 third downs and went 0 for 5 on third down and less than three. Finally, as another “lack of discipline” management issue, the Packers committed untimely penalties and big turnovers to lose the game. We’ve witnessed elite college teams with better prepared game management.
OVERALL: C vs. B (CBS Sportsline). The Packers’ defense could not tackle Michael Turner (110 yards, one touchdown), which allowed Atlanta to win the time-of-possession battle. Green Bay had its chances, but a costly Aaron Rodgers fumble on Atlanta’s 1-yard line and a turnover on downs in Falcons territory were the deciding factors.