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Green and Bold: Packers Offense Can Take More Risks vs. Falcons

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Green and Bold: Packers Offense Can Take More Risks vs. Falcons

The Green Bay Packers went with a familiar formula on offense in their 17-9 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1. 

That's fine, but it's about time for head coach Mike McCarthy to start showing off the new tricks he has up his sleeve in 2017. 

When Green Bay signed tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks in free agency, it became clear that McCarthy was looking to mix the offensive game plan up a little by using more two tight end sets. Those suspicions were confirmed in the preseason, when we saw some (admittedly vanilla) glimpses of what the two pass-catchers might look like on the field at the same time. 

Against Seattle, however, McCarthy kept that card hidden.

Bennett lined up on 67 of the Packers' 82 snaps on offense, but he mostly did so as the lone tight end on the field.

Kendricks, who will likely play an H-back/move tight end role for the Packers when used in conjunction with Bennett, only saw 21 snaps against the Seahawks. 

In fact, most of the time on Sunday, the Packers used their standard "11" personnel on the field—three wideouts (Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb), one tight end (Bennett), and one running back (Ty Montgomery).  

That's not necessarily surprising. Football is, after all, a game of matchups, and McCarthy and offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett played the hand they were dealt.

Seattle is one of the fastest and most athletic defensive units the Packers will face all season, locked and loaded with talented linebackers and safeties who can clog the middle of the field. 

Earl Thomas and his crew didn't allow Aaron Rodgers and his weapons to make many big plays, save most notably for Nelson's 32-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter. But Rodgers used a combination of quick slants Nelson, Cobb, and Adams and handoffs to Montgomery to chip away at the defense on the perimeters and advance down the field.

Given the opponent, it wasn't a surprise to see the Packers return to using Cobb heavily for quick underneath passes, to the tune of three times on the first drive, something they got away from a bit last season.

It wasn't revolutionary, but it got the job done. 

Against Atlanta, however, the Packers should have more room to stretch their legs. To start, they will have another weapon at their disposal: wide receiver Geronimo Allison will be returning from his one-game suspension. 

With more wide receivers to move around, it might seem counterintuitive that we'll see more of the two-tight end "12" personnel from Green Bay in Week 2, getting Kendricks more involved. Unlike Seattle, the Falcons are stronger at cornerback than elsewhere, which may limit passes outside the numbers. But Green Bay can really focus on attacking the middle, whether that's using Bennett and Kendricks in two tight end sets or even using Nelson out of the slot.

It's no secret that the defense bailed the offense out against Seattle, but it would be a mistake to suggest that the Packers offense is off to a sluggish start. Rather, it just hasn't shown us everything it's capable of yet this season. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (21) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Turophile's picture

In 2016 the Seattle defense ranked 3rd in points allowed
The Falcons ranked 27th.

On that basis you would expect the Packers Falcons game to be a shootout, compared to the previous game, which was a low scoring defensive battle. Of course, this season need not be a perfect mirror of last season (ever changing rosters see to that), but it does give an indication of what is likely to happen.

The Packers defense should find it harder to dominate the Falcons as they did the Seahawks, but equally Aaron Rodgers should have more time to let plays unfold before the Atlanta defense gets to him.

Packers win the shootout if they have a decent offensive gameplan and the Packers D gets at least some pressure on the very experienced Matt Ryan.

Given how vulnerable the Packers have been to passes in the middle of the field in the recent past, it would be sweet to see them beat another good team that same way.

On balance, I'm happy that the Packers play two of the toughest teams they will meet this year, early. Why, because they are realatively healthy now, and are therefore capable of being the best they can be, when they need to be..

Bearmeat's Phantom Downvoter's picture

I think this will be a tougher game than last week and I think it there will be about 25 more points scored than last week. Our increased team speed on defense is really going to help against Atlanta.

I also think that GB has a greater than 50/50 shot to win. It'll be close. One turnover, special teams gaffe, etc.. will decide it.

I'd expect somewhat of a repeat from last years regular season game with them.

RCPackerFan's picture

I think we will see more different looks from Green Bay this week. A little more 2 TE, as well as more 4 WR looks. I don't think we will see them run 11 personnel as much.

Expect to see the offense a little more explosive. They just faced one of the toughest defenses in the league. And even doing so Rodgers still threw for over 300 yards.

All I know is that I'm happy to see that the team has its full arsenal of WR's available unlike they had the last time they played the Falcons.

JDK52's picture

Totally agree. Guys got open and Rodgers hit them on time to move the chains, even though early on they didn't get points out of it. It was obvious by the 4th quarter that Seattle was gassed and couldn't keep up.

caruso81's picture

And why, exactly, do we want them to "open it up"? If the play gets you 3.34 yards every time, I really don't care how it looks.

MM's biggest Achilles heel is that he often coaches like he's teaching a "Theory of Coaching" seminar for grad students. I want him to be less concerned with stubbornly insisting on plays that SHOULD work, and more concerned about running what DOES work and then riding that horse until it falls over. Otherwise we get the ever-popular 40-yard throw on 3rd and 2.

MM has forgotten more about coaching than all of us reading this could ever dream of knowing put together. The thing is, there are no points for demonstrating it on every play.

Finwiz's picture


Bearmeat's Phantom Downvoter's picture

Dude. He battled for us all last year. He was CB5 when the season started. With his athletic limitations, he should never have been given the assignments he was, but we had no choice. I'm personally bummed to see him go - He's an average CB. I hope he finds another job quickly.

dobber's picture

Way to stay classy, fellow posters...

croatpackfan's picture

I still expect some offensive strugling, but also I feel that Atlanta offense will have some tough job to do and I'm not sure they will be ready for it yet. I think Packers D is better prepared this season (they are healthy) than it was last season for both matches. My prediction is something like 28:21 for Packers...

Packer Fan's picture

Here is what I recommend. Hope MM sees it. At the start of the game, use the Seattle game formula to start and get ahead, use time up and save the defense. Then during the game begin to spread it out. And always attack for the full 60 minutes or until the Pack is ahead by 35 in the fourth quarter.

Hey, where is the article about releasing Gunter and Francois? I always thought Gunter never had any upside, that his slow speed was too much of a negative.

So, the Pack had too many OL and put Barclay on IR. Not enougth WR and brought back Allison. Expected. Not enough depth at OLB and picked up Brooks. Found a gem in Dial and brought him in which made Francois expendable. Saved $2 mil from the cap. Too many DB and released Gunter. Only 52 now, where do they go? Bring back Ringo who has upside and less money. Bring back Jones? NO. PIck up another dependable OL or let Murphy develop as he plays. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Kevin Ven's picture

They already brought pankey up from the ps

Kevin Ven's picture

Atl's defense has speed for days. One of the quicker defenses (I think) in the league. You could see that against the bears. Having Tarik helped the bears immensly, with his speed. They fly to the ball, so it should be a take what you can get and continue to move the chains, which should open up the deep ball later in the game.
Defense looks a LOT better, but another nice test this week. Containing Julio and the ground game will be key, but sanu and Gabriel will test the depth of the cbs. Josh Jones may get on the field more with his speeds well.

JDK52's picture

One of the things that stuck out to me with the way we beat Seattle was that this team appears able to win whatever game you give them.

Seattle's defense couldn't get off the field for most of the first half and even though we had no points to show for it, by the 4th quarter it was clear they couldn't keep up. Watching Ty bounce Earl Thomas and just keep running was great.

The Atlanta game is going to be really fun. I expect a very different showing from what we had last year, at least on the Packer's side of the ball. I'm confident we can win this with speed or with a move-the-chains, ball control game.

Since '61's picture

When you play on the road the first thing that you want to do is stabilize the game, specifically, take the crowd out of the game. Hopefully the Packers can get an early score and/or a big defensive play. Given the situation that this is Atlanta's home opener in their new stadium the Packers do not want to play from behind in this game, especially by two or more scores.

Silence the crowd, play with a lead or at least keep it close and use our weapons on offense to pull away. Atlanta has plenty of offensive weapons as well so this game will be a big challenge for our defense. We will need to get pressure up the middle on Ryan since he is not very mobile. Their RBs are dangerous coming out of the backfield. We already know about their WRs.

Fortunately, we are healthy for this game.
Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

Duke Divine's picture

Mashed Potato Mike is the opponents best friend under 2 minutes left in a half. Opponents get their 3 timeouts and what ever Tater has left of the Packers timeouts! Last week felt like the 100th time he has stopped the clock for the other team so they could go score before half... Take it into half, Tater!

Finwiz's picture

Not sure what I like better, "mashed potato Mike", or "PIllsbury Dough-boy".
Both good descriptions for the ever expanding coach of our favorite team.
Guy needs a diet and a workout routine badly.

RCPackerFan's picture

Off topic...
Packers making moves. We know they cut Gunter, and activated Allison.
And we know they cut Ricky Jean-Fracois.

Now they are bringing up Pankey from the practice squad.

So the question I have is, are the injuries to Spriggs, Bulaga, Patrick worse then we think? Or going to take longer to heal?

flackcatcher's picture

Don't forget Brooks, concussions are really tricky. And it looks like the packers are trying to avoid putting Adams on the IR. Packers worked out a bunch of FA LB. More likely for the practice squad if they activate Gilbert? If the packers doctors shut down Bulaga then his knee may need surgery sooner than later. (my guess only, packers are one of the most conservative org. in pro sports when it comes to their players) Spriggs hamstring pull might be a slight tear, otherwise why bring up Pankey early. Every one of these OL are players the packers are grooming for slots in the 53, or starting lineup in the future. Bring Pankey up, means they can't cut him without risking losing him to another NFL team. And as we all know, competent OL are rare in today's NFL. So I think the answer to both of your questions is yes.

dobber's picture

Bulaga practiced last week and some thought he might be active on Sunday. I suspect the issue is Spriggs and the extent of his injury...but you're right: the Packers will risk a game rather than rush a player back and risk several games.

MarkLee22's picture

I just hope the secondary is up to the test. Seattle WRs are a far cry from the Atlanta WRs. As well as Russell Wilson is no Matt Ryan. Sure Wilson can run well when flushed out but if Matty Ice gets time he can pick a defense apart.

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