Saturday, January 15, 2011

Collected Packers vs. Falcons Game Observations

-The Packers had a decent amount of success defending Turner when he tried to run straight up the middle. When he went to the outside on power plays, particularly to the left side and even more particularly when the right guard pulled across to the left, he had a lot of success. Sam Baker, their left tackle, was able to seal off the defensive end or whoever was there in nickel pretty frequently, and the OLB allowed himself to be blocked away by the FB or a TE. Bottom line was that they opened big holes for Turner on the edge. If the Packers can close those gaps on the edge, defending the run gets a lot easier.

Ryan looked good against the blitz, not getting rattled and finding his check-down man pretty frequently. He preferred to flip it to the RB or TE rather then scramble, but if you watch the film, he has a particular kind of delivery for those throws. He did it five times in the game. It’s like a little, lazy overhand flip that’s all arm. It works well, and he only throws it when there’s no defender around, but if someone gets in the neighborhood of such a lackadaisically thrown ball, that’s an interception waiting to happen.

The only way to tackle Michael Turner that consistently worked was to grab him around the ankles. It’s not a good way to reliably tackle anybody, but time after time, people would hit Turner in the upper body or thighs and just slide off. This happened a lot when defenders were trying to catch him from behind, but the few times defenders were able to meet him in the hole, he could be stood up with a good old-fashioned hit.
(If a fight breaks out, there is no way I am not yelling "Falcon PAWNCH!!" at my TV.)

The Packers tried a couple of wrinkles-the no-huddle offense, inserting T.J. Lang as an extra TE-that are normally the Falcons’ turf, and neither of them worked that well. I feel like we let the Falcons dictate the game to us on offense, particularly in our extensive use of the Big Five package. Rodgers scrambled out of that a few times, and made hay out of the underneath routes, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable exposing him to the Falcons’ rush without at least a back in the backfield. We have to have a credible threat to run.

Speaking of the line, John Abraham was pretty much nullified by Chad Clifton. The Falcons rushed three and dropped eight, or four and seven, a high percentage of the time, and Clifton was able to take away Abraham (who had 13 sacks this year) pretty effectively. If he does to Abraham what he did to Trent Cole, the Falcons don’t have much of a pass rush behind him.

Our receivers looked noticeably faster on turf then they do on natural grass. Also, as poor as our tackling was at all levels of the defense (a major thing we need to do to win), the tackling in the Falcons’ secondary was just as bad. They were awful trying to get Jennings, Nelson and Driver to the ground. The Packers’ WR corps could have a big day running after the catch if that keeps up.

The Falcons aren’t afraid to run seven-step drops when they’re in unfavorable down and distances, such as after a sack. The Packers only got pressure a few times against a stout Atlanta line, and every time they blitzed, Ryan found an uncovered back or Tony Gonzalez in the flat. Dom Capers will have to manufacture pressure somehow, although in this game there didn’t seem to be many different blitzes that he used, nor complex ones.
Any day I get to use this picture is a good day.

The field-position game was an understated part of why the Packers lost the first time around. Sam Shields would get taken down around the 15 yard line, Tramon Williams fair caught the ball inside the 20 or actually went backwards on one abortive punt return, and penalties got the Packers moved back whenever they had a decent return. Getting the ball out to the 20, 25, 30, would provide a huge boost to the offense that they just didn’t get the first time around.

The Packers converted two third and ones on the only drive where they had success in that area. However, that was only by going way downfield to Jennings and Jordy Nelson, not to mention that running plays failed both times on second down. Not much to say about that, except if the Packers can run the ball against the Falcons, the entire offense will open up and their entire defense will be very beatable. Right now, they’re blitzing every play because there isn’t even the threat of a run, and when there is a run they shut it down. If Starks can give the Packers a running game worth a tinker’s damn, this Falcons defense will be a pretty easy matchup.

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