Game Notes: Back on track

Could it be the dawn of a new era in Green Bay? The Packers seemed like a team who was playing for a spot in the playoffs this January as opposed to the sluggish, uninspired versions we've seen in recent weeks.

All it took was parting ways with Mike McCarthy after 13 seasons.

The Atlanta Falcons, who have gotten the best of the Packers in their last three trips into Atlanta, crumbled to the new Joe Philbin-led team 34-20. They just don't happen to be very good when they're playing at Lambeau Field.

Joe Philbin's audition was a good one.

While some of the less-desirable traits in Aaron Rodgers' passing mechanics still remained, the Packers moved like a well-oiled machine at times against the Falcons. They passed the ball on 81 percent of their offensive possessions in the first half, then emphasized the running game more so in the second half when they had already built up a 27-7 lead with a field goal to close out the first half and a touchdown to open the third quarter.

What does this mean for Joe Philbin's future? Well, a lot. Despite my being very adamant that he won't be the head coach in Green Bay next season, it's a promising debut -- even though it started a little rocky with two burnt challenges in the first 1:23 of the game -- that bodes well for his future. It was an audition for other teams just as much as it was for his candidacy for the Packers' next head coach.

That's another reason why I don't believe in taking. These players are bred to compete. Losing on purpose isn't part of your DNA when you're competing at the level of these athletes. The players are going to want to come out -- as they did on Sunday against the Falcons -- and play with more heart than they had all season because they want to prove that they weren't the problem. As Rodgers noted last week, winning to close out the season sets a positive note entering the next season; he referenced the 2006 campaign to reinforce his point. A year in which the Packers started 4-8, won their final four games and carried that same momentum into 2007 when they finished 13-3.

A new, but welcomed wrinkle.

At one point in the third quarter, the Packers used Jamaal Williams as a lead-blocker in the running game for Aaron Jones. This isn't anything crazy, but it was something I was infatuated with that I don't think we've seen all season up to this point. Who would've thought using one of -- if not your best -- pass-protecting running backs as a lead-blocker for your most dynamic running back would work out? 

The Packers could simply bring Williams in as something of a fullback in certain packages, because why not? He's physical, he gets his pads low, and he can blow a defender up if they cross paths.

Josh Jackson: Starting safety

Yes, it's probably too early to have this conversation. But the Packers' second-round pick has been far from the same player he was in the preseason when he was widely recognized as one of the top rookie cornerbacks in exhibition play.

Ever since, it's been a downward spiral against regular-season competition. To his credit, he's made a few plays where he's broken up passes -- seven this season -- but he's also been burned and been late to jumping routes more often than not. The thing is, he's a rookie now 13 games into his NFL career. The topic of converting him to safety shouldn't even rear its head in just yet.

Jackson's instincts are tremendous, but his biggest knock is his lack of speed; coupled with his 4.56 40-yard dash. That's not necessarily the kind of fit you want out on an island, because he'll get beat off the line with regularity. The Packers made the mistake of drafting Damarious Randall in 2015 and playing him exclusively at cornerback as opposed to his natural position of safety. Now, a Cleveland Browns, he's thriving as a safety.

It's unthinkable that the Packers would make this same mistake twice, but perhaps a position swap is something to consider in the future if Jackson doesn't end up molding into the "steal" of a draft pick the Packers selected at No. 45 overall.

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (36)

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4thand1's picture

December 10, 2018 at 11:23 am

Give Jackson time, he's been thrust into the mix. He may take chances but I think it's a good thing. Next year he'll pick off a few.

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The TKstinator's picture

December 10, 2018 at 04:43 pm

Richard Sherman had a very similar 40 time, but he crushed the 3 cone, was used according to his strengths, and studied his arse off. I think Jackson could be successful along those same lines.

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Hawg Hanner's picture

December 10, 2018 at 04:51 pm

What were the cone times etc at the combine? Thought he played quicker in college and would be okay based on quickness. He could fare no worse than the other safeties we have used this season. Jones has to turn it around.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 11, 2018 at 05:47 am

Jackson 6.86 to Sherman's 6.82 (6.72 pro day). Jackson does have the superior 10 yd dash time: 1.57 (1.52 pro day) to Sherman's 1.61 (1.58 pro day). Sherman had Earl Thomas if he got beat deep.

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Lare's picture

December 10, 2018 at 11:39 am

Don't think the Falcons at Lambeau were much of a test. We'll know a lot more about where this team is coaching & talent-wise after the Bears game.

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dobber's picture

December 10, 2018 at 01:16 pm

After the Cardinals last week, everything is a test for this Packers team.

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The TKstinator's picture

December 10, 2018 at 04:44 pm

And just when you think you have the answers, they change the questions!!

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LambeauPlain's picture

December 10, 2018 at 11:40 am

Having the two Josh's as the safety tandem might work out...but Jackson is still learning CB...having started out as a WR at Iowa.

I would like to see him work at CB for another year before moving him. I remember Sam Shields struggled as he learned the craft of playing NFL CB....Sam was a converted receiver too. Sam has the speed, but JJ seems to have the instincts.

He just has to drill more and be more consistent in his technique....still grabbing way too much.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 10, 2018 at 11:50 am

I think moving Jackson to safety is the right thing to do. We'll need one - Tramon isn't the long term answer. Josh Jones as SS and Jackson as FS would put two agressive ballhawks as the backbone of the defense.

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freddisch's picture

December 10, 2018 at 11:54 am

Let’s pump the brakes on yesterday’s game. It was a win, but it was against a team that played like the Packers prior to this game. The next game against the Bears will be a true test. The Bears have legit defense and we will be lucky if ARod comes out of this game without a major injury given the state of our OL. I enjoyed the win yesterday, but this team still has a lot of holes

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The TKstinator's picture

December 10, 2018 at 04:46 pm

Dianabol.

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ricky's picture

December 10, 2018 at 12:32 pm

The Packers being innovative? Using personnel in a way that will maximize their potential? Run up the score then run the ball to burn time off the clock? We can't have these radical ideas take hold in Green Bay! What next? Holding the QB accountable when he is playing less than optimally? Trying to correct his mechanics? Playing with heart and hustle and determination? What next? Getting off to a good start to the season? Unthinkable!

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ricky's picture

December 10, 2018 at 12:32 pm

The Packers being innovative? Using personnel in a way that will maximize their potential? Run up the score then run the ball to burn time off the clock? We can't have these radical ideas take hold in Green Bay! What next? Holding the QB accountable when he is playing less than optimally? Trying to correct his mechanics? Playing with heart and hustle and determination? What next? Getting off to a good start to the season? Unthinkable!

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ricky's picture

December 10, 2018 at 12:32 pm

The Packers being innovative? Using personnel in a way that will maximize their potential? Run up the score then run the ball to burn time off the clock? We can't have these radical ideas take hold in Green Bay! What next? Holding the QB accountable when he is playing less than optimally? Trying to correct his mechanics? Playing with heart and hustle and determination? What next? Getting off to a good start to the season? Unthinkable!

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Since'61's picture

December 10, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Back on track, yes, but against a weak edition of the Falcons. I’ll take the win but nothing except maybe attitude has changed for the Packers.

Adams and Jones are still our best offensive weapons besides Rodgers. Cobb’s return was helpful to Rodgers and his TD throw to Cobb was a perfect pass over the defender.

But MVS and EQ did not have a breakout type of game against a weak Falcons D so for me they are still question marks. Graham was a non-factor as usual and the OL remains porous at best.

Our defense was solid until garbage time. It was good to see a few turnovers since that has not happened for a while.

I will feel better about a turn around if we can find a way to win our road games, especially against the Bears. If we can avoid beating ourselves we may have a chance. Thanks, Since ‘61

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dobber's picture

December 10, 2018 at 01:17 pm

"Game notes: Back on track"

On track to where?

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Since'61's picture

December 10, 2018 at 04:32 pm

Back on track to the back of the pack. Thanks, Since ‘61

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The TKstinator's picture

December 10, 2018 at 09:44 pm

Ballcap on sideways.
Gold grill.
Pants saggin’.

Since ‘61, the aspiring rapper, everybody!
;)

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 10, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Philbin minus losing his challenges in the first 2 minutes of the game, had a good game.

I thought he did a few subtle changes and that helped. They seemed to get the ball snapped faster most of the game. They seemed to go to the shorter passing game a bit more. And personnel changes seemed to happen more.

Overall I thought it was a good debut.
I know its early, but just saying IF they were to win out and regardless if they make the playoffs or not, I could see Joe becoming the next head coach. I thought he didn't have much of a chance before but I do wonder what his chances look like if that were to happen.

I absolutely loved the 2 RB's on the field together. I thought this was going to be a part of the offense this year especially when Cobb went out. Getting Montgomery on the field with Jones.
I will say though having both on the field gives them ability to do a lot of things. I wouldn't be surprised to see them build off of that formation this week.

I keep Jackson at CB. He is a rookie still learning how to play the position. Give him a few years to decide whether he is a better fit at CB or move him to S.

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dobber's picture

December 10, 2018 at 01:23 pm

I don't think there's any scenario under which Joe Philbin becomes the next HC...OK, there's one: Packers sneak into the playoffs and win the SB. Otherwise, there's going to be a search and someone else will be hired who will then get to decide what to do with the existing staff. I don't think the fan base or the BoD (just as a hunch) will settle for much of the status quo in this case. Some coaches might survive the purge, but my guess is that there will be a mostly clean sweep and a new start in that arm of the team.

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Skip greenBayless's picture

December 10, 2018 at 12:55 pm

"All it took was parting ways with Mike McCarthy after 13 seasons."

All it took was facing a shitty decimated Atlanta Falcons team in Green Bay Wisconsin with temp in the 20's. I'm not taking much from this game. Beat the mighty Bears on the road in cold and windy Chicago than we'll talk. They'll be out for blood after giving up that huge lead in week 1 than blowing it with the Fuller gimme int drop of a poor Rodgers throw. Rodgers better get that damn ball out quickly or he'll be leaving in a full body cast. The NFL could possibly rate the game R for mature audiences only. There will be lots of violence and ugliness. This game could signify the changing of the guard.

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The TKstinator's picture

December 10, 2018 at 09:45 pm

Are the Bears any good this year?

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 10, 2018 at 01:07 pm

Historically teams play better right after the HC gets canned. Let's see if it lasts. If the beat the Bears we can talk about the Philbin Effect.

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bodei1newbie1's picture

December 10, 2018 at 01:30 pm

it's one game let's wait and see what they do against da bears let's see if he will uses his tightends to block ?

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12guage's picture

December 10, 2018 at 02:12 pm

Aaron is gonna step up his play with JP as coach now and the rest of the team will respond accordingly.
Ever notice how Philbin and Rodgers have similar personalities? Both have that dry humor approach to questions and are extremely intelligent individuals. Just my observation but if they win out (and I believe they will) don't be surprised if JP doesn't become our next head coach.

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sonomaca's picture

December 10, 2018 at 02:39 pm

Chicago is looking like a contender. Next we could get ugly.

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WMA's picture

December 10, 2018 at 03:42 pm

Just a thought. Not saying it is the right thing to do. Philbin as HC. Pettine as DC. Joe Lombardi as OC (who really calls the plays and develops the system). Lombardi would help develop whomever the next HOF QB is for the Pack (Boyle?, High draft pick?). Philbin/Lombardi keep Rodgers focused for the next 3-4 years (until traded).

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PatrickGB's picture

December 10, 2018 at 08:33 pm

The same Joe Lombardi who got released from the Lions? Nah, other than his name, what makes him a good OC?

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4thand1's picture

December 10, 2018 at 05:17 pm

Screw the bearsstillsuck. They were bottom feeders for the last 8 years. Now they finally got draft picks that are panning out, a QB that they don't have to pay shit for, and spent like hell in FA again. Mike Truturnoverski will hold em back.

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tincada's picture

December 10, 2018 at 05:28 pm

Huh?

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The TKstinator's picture

December 11, 2018 at 06:25 am

Wordplay on Mitch Trubisky?

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4thand1's picture

December 11, 2018 at 08:57 am

yes, TK I don't why I got the name Mike stuck in my head.

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The TKstinator's picture

December 11, 2018 at 05:57 am

withdrawn
Or
Drawn with
Crayon

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Packers0808's picture

December 10, 2018 at 05:43 pm

Want a future bring MacKenzie back now no longer in Oakland! And now!

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Since91's picture

December 10, 2018 at 07:39 pm

McKenzie should be hired immediately to help boost the experience level in the front office.....and add another eye for talent....Mack and Cooper

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 11, 2018 at 06:01 am

Watching Amari Cooper play last year led me to believe he was a talented QB and coach killer. Drops, failure to complete routes. He is however playing well for Dallas and that $13.9M fifth-year option.

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