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Packers To Look For Offensive Identity Vs. Falcons

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Packers To Look For Offensive Identity Vs. Falcons

When the Packers had little to no success in the running game in their first meeting at Atlanta in Week 13, the offensive game plan was scrapped pretty early.

They went to a shotgun-heavy offense, frequently giving an empty-backfield look and used the "Big Five" formation as much as they have all season long. The threat of a ground game was all but absent.

"Last time I was the leading rusher," said quarterback Aaron Rodgers. "I hope that's not the case again."

The rushing totals against Atlanta: Rodgers, 12 carries for 51 yards; Brandon Jackson, 10 carries for 26 yards; Dimitri Nance, 1 carry for 0 yards.

Despite being pretty one-dimensional that day, the Falcons still had a hard time stopping the Packers' aerial attack. Rodgers completed 26 of 35 passes – a completion percentage of 74.3% – for 344 yards.

As a testament to how much they went to the "Big Five," no. 5 wide receiver Brett Swain had a career high two catches for 40 yards. It was a far different look from other games in which the Packers have featured the inverted wishbone and as many as three fullbacks on the field at the same time.

"We don't want to be one dimensional," said wide receiver Jordy Nelson. "We got too one dimensional down there the first time, but it's what was working, so we had to go with it and really make plays. But I think we're very multi-dimensional with what we can do with our offense, and whatever's working is what we're going to go with."

What worked last week in a first-round Wild Card win over the Eagles in Philadelphia was a balanced offense behind the breakout performance of rookie running back James Starks who ran to the tune of 123 yards on 23 carries.

The Packers would, no doubt, enjoy an extension of that success to this Saturday in Atlanta, but Rodgers just says they're going to do whatever works.

"I think we just need to stick to what's been working," said Rodgers. "I think we obviously had great balance against Philadelphia, but we're going to have to go into the game with our plan, and kind of see what's working early on, and stick to what we do best, and hopefully be able to effectively move the ball against them."

When every phase of the game the game is clicking, the Packers – like most teams – operate at peak efficiency. As Nelson says, they can keep the defense guessing.

"Every week, we've got everything installed," said Nelson. "We've got five receivers, the one receiver to no receivers. It's whatever's called, whatever the feel is. Obviously if we're running the ball, hopefully we can keep doing that with Starks and just keep them off balance, that's the key."

McCarthy is now faced with guarding against familiarity. The Packers had a surprising amount of success with their no-huddle and spread offense the first time they met, which Atlanta may be ready to defend in the second go-around.

"I’m sure they’ll have a plan for that," McCarthy on Tuesday. "Just watching the normal down-and-distance tapes yesterday and going through them again today with our offense, it was something we were productive in, and I’m sure it’s something they’re preparing for."

There's reason to think the no-huddle may return in the Divisional round as well. With Atlanta's ball-control offense limiting the Packers to basically only seven possession (really nine possessions that included a kneel-down and the final play of the game) and a total of 60 offensive plays, Green Bay is going to try to figure out ways to possess the ball as much as possible.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (24) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Tommyboy's picture

Geez, Brian. You're really crankin' out the articles!

Brian Carriveau's picture

The Packers have to elevate their game for the playoffs. I'm just keeping pace :)

FITZCORE1252's picture

Nice work Batman. 8-)

Charles's picture

Really good stuff.

Brian Carriveau's picture

Space Ghost!

FITZCORE1252's picture

LOL. I KNOW! Just do it to bug you.

WoodyG's picture

" Rodgers just says they're going to do whatever works. "

Have to agree .... Having a balanced attack is more of a long-term regular season goal ...... The play-offs are sudden death .... How you win is irrelevant .....

Give Atlanta the TOP & Turner his 100+ ..... It won't matter ...... Atlanta's DBs will be sucking wind trying to stop GJ, JJ & DD from burning them on every possession ......

Atlanta will burn & 'be gone with the wind' after GB puts a thrashing on their tired arses ..... Bank on it.

Clay Toporski's picture

”Rodgers just says they’re going to do whatever works. ”

Have to agree …. Having a balanced attack is more of a long-term regular season goal …… The play-offs are sudden death …. How you win is irrelevant ….."

One of the smartest things I have heard you say. 100% agree.

Bearmeat's picture

I think there's a little homerism going on here Woody! If Turner gets 100+ and some scores, we are in trouble.
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Bottom line: Stop the run. Use Man to block up ATL passing threats (Tramon > White, Woodson > Gonzales, Shields > whoever else they have that sucks)
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If we limit Turner's effectiveness, and don't turn the ball over, we win. That simple.

WoodyG's picture

Playoffs & homerism ?? ..... Seems like a good match to me .

FITZCORE1252's picture

"Bottom line: Stop the run. Use Man to block up ATL passing threats (Tramon > White, Woodson > Gonzales, Shields > whoever else they have that sucks)"

I was thinking the exact same thing about the coverage matchups. Then you let the big boys up front contain Turner and let the LB's help with run-support and knocking Ryan out of the game.

GBP 4 LIFE

packeraaron's picture

"Having a balanced attack is more of a long-term regular season goal …… The play-offs are sudden death …. How you win is irrelevant …"

Totally agree with this.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Yessir. Get the W.

Clay Toporski's picture

Here is hoping for the Packers to score touchdowns while Atlanta scores field goals. Thinking that will be the difference in this game.

Nypacker's picture

I hope Starks has another big game again. In fact I hope he becomes the X factor to helping us win the falcons game. A bit off topic but did anyone hear the news yet about Clay Matthews winning DPOY?

jack in jersey city's picture

are the falcons better against the run than the eagles? i thought the eagles were ranked 15th and the falcons were ranked 10th but i could be wrong

FITZCORE1252's picture

I heard on the radio Philly ranked ahead of Atl against the run.

jack in jersey city's picture

if this is true then i think we'll see a pretty good dose of james starks on saturday

FITZCORE1252's picture

Here you go:

http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/rushing/position/defense/s...

The radio guys I was listening to must have been talking about yards-per-carry...
Philly gave up more yards rushing over the course of the season which is the way this is ranked, so they aren't ahead of ATL in this category. But Philly gave up almost a half yard less per attempt, which to me is all I care about (the telling stat of the 2). 4.6 YPC given up for Atlanta = we should see some Starks I would think/hope.

Chris's picture

Look here for weighted defense statistics:
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/teamdef
ATL is 13th against the rush, PHI 14th.

cow42's picture

James Jones will have a huge game this week.

100+ yards and a TD.

That's how this cat rolls. Up Down Up Down.

Ruppert's picture

After re-watching most of the 1st meeting today, I'm thinking McCarthy might come right out like he did last time and spread them out. I think he'll want to see if they change how they defend us.

If they don't change, I don't think McCarthy will. I think he really likes the matchups against the Falcons. And frankly, after re-watching that game, I'm pretty damn confident we can move the ball too. I think his goal for the run game is to be effective enough to make play-action work, especially in the red zone. But I can't see a run-heavy gameplan this week. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's my guess.

thepretzelhead on twitter's picture

What a strange trip of a season. Week two of the playoffs and the fans debate and wonder what kind of an offense will be revealed. Too funny, Atlanta has to prepare for Brett Swain and James Starks.

Norman's picture

Play action to Starks on the first play of the game, from the inverted wishbone. Double move by Jennings to get by the corner, and Rodgers delivers a perfect pass down the seam. Now just catch the damn ball!!

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