Passive Packers Not Pressuring Opponents

Matt Ryan commanded the Falcons’ touchdown-winning drive over the Green Bay Packers with precision completing 9 of 11 passes for 75 yards including the final strike to Mohammed Sanu over the distant, flailing Jake Ryan.

As helpless and bewildering as it is watching a run-stopping Packers’ linebacker attempt to stop a wide-open receiver 7 yards behind him, the most criminal offense was Dom Capers’ failure to attack the Falcons with pressure on blitzes. Instead, Capers opted for his defense to sit back and watch “Matty Ice” pick them apart throughout the game and most importantly on the deciding touchdown drive.

This defensive strategy was expected early on as the Packers entered the game with a depleted secondary, minus their top three cornerbacks. With superhuman receiver Julio Jones on the opposing sideline, it was necessary to watch the game play out and see how Ladarius Gunter and Demetri Goodson held up in the coverage against the NFL’s top ranked offense.

Goodson was exposed by Ryan and company, as he yielded 4 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. On the other side, Gunter did a commendable job against Jones only giving up 3 receptions for 29 yards on 5 targets.

Jones’ relative ineffectiveness could be in part due to hurting his ankle in the first quarter of action, but Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix was also shaded to Jones’ side for most of the afternoon and gave Gunter consistent help with the superstar wide receiver.

Once settling into the game and understanding they were going to struggle with this coverage, Dom should have dialed up more pressure to force Ryan to make plays.

Going in to this game one would expect that the Packers would need a turnover, special teams score, or multiple big defensive plays to win this game. Blitzing more often would have left the Packers exposed against big pass plays downfield, but the reward would have outweighed the risk in this scenario.

It could even be argued that sitting back and providing help for the corners was the right strategy for most the game, just not the final Atlanta scoring drive. Every Packers fan knew once Ryan had the ball in his hands only down by 6 that it was probably going to end badly.

Why not go down swinging? If the Packers had blitzed on that series, it sure seems that they would have put more pressure on Ryan and were more likely to force a turnover or get a drive altering sack. Per Pro Football Focus, the Packers only blitzed on 5 of Ryan’s drop backs averaging only 5 yards per attempt. With such a small sample size, it is hard to understand how effective the blitz could have been on Sunday, but again it would be better to apply some pressure to the opposing offense.

With the leaky Colts’ offensive line due up next, hopefully Capers is more aggressive and sends blitzes throughout to spark some defensive plays and close out another shootout.

 

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Comments (25)

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Bearmeat's picture

November 03, 2016 at 09:09 pm

This was classic Capers. Anyone who knows his history would have expected it. Bracket coverage over Julio. 4 man rushes. Forcing someone else to beat them.

Dom doesn't take risks unless he is SURE his secondary can play tough man to man defense on the back end.

For us to have ANY chance against the best QBs in the league, we NEED Randall and Rollins back and we need to them play well.

To be clear I'm not slamming Capers, I'm just stating who he is. His tendency is not to risk unless he is confident in his last line of defense. He's not, so they'll play passive.

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Duke Divine's picture

November 04, 2016 at 06:21 pm

It's unfortunate. They had it. If the Pack give up the big play when sending blitzers they would have had more time to score a mere 1 point! Or the pressure creates a big play for the PAck. Domfounded really potched that up IMO.

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croatpackfan's picture

November 04, 2016 at 07:29 am

Packers had enough time to score FG. This is unrealistic expectation. Time is not relevant fact when you are 4 and out. additional 2 minutes would mean nothing with 4 and out! Maybe just another score for Falcons! Wake up you superb coaches! Apply for jobs. It is very, very easy to be general after the battle...
I would like to remind all of you that at the end of the 1st half Packers had the ball at 25 yards, 2 TO and 27 seconds till the end of the 2nd Q - result was FG.
At the end of the game, Packers had the ball at 25 yards, 2 TO and 31 seconds till the end of the game - result was 4 and out!
Conclusion: Packers had enough time to move the chains to the point Mason could score the field goal. It was not the time, but bad execution the reason why Packers fails in that attempt...

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mrj007's picture

November 04, 2016 at 07:31 pm

I Thought the same and wished GB just let Atlanta score to give them time. Anyone could see there was no way PACKERS were going to stop them. Particularly when they had zero pressure on the QB

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Nick Perry's picture

November 04, 2016 at 07:01 am

"This was classic Capers"

It absolutely was. I made reference to the 2012 playoff loss at Lambeau against the 49ers and compared it to that. Kapernick got the ball back with about 6 minutes and there was never a doubt it seemed the 49ers would march down the field, kick a FG, eat up ALL the clock, and win the game.

Rodgers has very few come from behind wins in the 4th quarter for a few reasons.
1) Mason Crosby has missed some last minute FG attempts.
2) Capers Defense folds like a beach chair after Rodgers put them ahead.
3) McCarthy likes to save TO for his Offense, even though when they get the ball back they have 27 seconds left.

It's easy to play "Armchair QB/Coach after the game. But based on the 2nd half I'd think McCarthy might have picked up on his offense might need more than 27 seconds to gain 50 yards.
There were a few shots of Rodgers on the sideline on Atlanta's final drive. God bless him he was cheering his defense on for the stop. The look on his face said "Dammit, not again". I can't imagine there should be ANY question about Capers future with this team. I have plenty of hope the Offense and Defense are good enough to make a run. I have ZERO confidence in Capers though.

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dschwalm's picture

November 04, 2016 at 12:46 pm

I can count the times on one hand that the 'prevent defence' worked. Only the old, obsolete coaches like Capers and Woody Hayes use the 'prevent defence'.

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stockholder's picture

November 04, 2016 at 08:17 am

The packers defense just gets to many injuries. It never got the replacements it needed. We lost wilkins , and woodson and never replaced then. Not to mention Collins, and Bishop. What really has TT done to make up these loses? Nothing! The CBs go down, and capers can't blitz them. The DL aged and regressed to average at best. They put this team on A-rod. The biggest pain is they could have managed a few more super-bowls. The defense was that good. TT wanted to build a winner and did. His best is not good enough any more. He just can't figure out what he is doing wrong anymore. Why the gambles? I tired of his draft failures. After his first pick we have to give a guy 3 years now. Why? He was a scout. The patriots out perform his picks every year. And they've had less. WE need a change!

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mrj007's picture

November 04, 2016 at 07:37 pm

Good thing he paid Shields who is a delicate flower..... Need some throw bacj tough guys who aren't constantly hurt. I wish the best for Shields but fear his career is over and the team has dead cap money

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jyros's picture

November 04, 2016 at 11:15 am

Agreed! The 'play it safe w/ the lead' has cost the team. And, it seems
opponents know there's going to be a soft spot 15 yards down the middle.
(Then of course the inevitable missed tackles to allow extra yds)

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al bundy's picture

November 03, 2016 at 10:48 pm

I dont get the randalnrollns connection. They arent that good. They certainly did not shut down anyone when healthy. Rush the crap out of all qbs with this pass defense. Your letting routes de elop and the timing be on target by sitting back. Another option, dump dom capers.

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Tarynfor12's picture

November 04, 2016 at 09:28 am

Perhaps, with Matthews out, Capers had very little faith in the ability of his ' elephants' to succeed in getting a pass rush.

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Oppy's picture

November 04, 2016 at 09:55 am

I see what you did there.

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Oppy's picture

November 04, 2016 at 09:54 am

Good try, taryn, but you're still wrong about nick perry. He's a beast.

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Tarynfor12's picture

November 04, 2016 at 10:20 am

A Beast......lol......c'mon, try and be closer to reality.

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Oppy's picture

November 04, 2016 at 10:38 pm

5 1/2 sacks, 4 passes defended, 1 interception in seven games? Pretty damn good.

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Since '61's picture

November 04, 2016 at 11:18 am

What concerns me about the last Falcon's drive is that it appears that the coaches did not have a plan in place for Ryan having the ball late in the game with the Packers protecting a lead. Just about everyone including our posters here expected a close high scoring game which is exactly what happened. In game planning I would have expected MM and Capers to have determined that if they were going to play coverage against Ryan in a late 4Q drive they would have agreed that if Ryan is in Packer territory by the 2 minute warning we are going to call TOs to save time for AR to come back. But instead they played cover and let Ryan run out the clock. it makes no sense. If they didn't want to call TOs they should have blitzed Ryan and try to force a Turnover or get a sack. After a turnover a sack is your most effective play because now the offense needs to play to get the yards back and make a first down which uses up at least some of their time to get down the field. Even when Capers has a healthy defense he plays coverage and it almost never works. Plus, when you're playing against a QB like Matt Ryan coverage doesn't work because if you give him time he's going to complete passes even against the starting CBs. It's frustrating because they didn't really try to put pressure on Ryan and it's concerning because the coaches apparently had no plan for utilizing their timeouts. There is no excuse for that. Just another example of Capers failing at the end of a game when his defense played better than expected given the number of injuries and of MMs poor judgment in a big spot. Once again we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory! On to the Colts. Thanks, Since '61

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Finwiz's picture

November 04, 2016 at 11:28 am

I get that you're frustrated by that loss, and the late game drive that appeared unopposed, but that game didn't bother me much because of the ridiculous number of injuries. I couldn't imagine a scenario where they'd win that game with all the starters out, particularly in the secondary. The will be the 1st time all season I'll defend Capers and say he had no choice during that last drive, and couldn't bring pressure because he didn't trust his coverage unit. That was probably a blown assignment to have Ryan as the closest man to Sanu (or whatever his name was), and that goes back to the unusually complicated scheme that always puts players in position to make errors. I'll give Capers some responsibility for that, as always, I think his scheme has run it's course in the league, and needs to go. If anyone is looking for something positive, take solace in the fact this was a one point game on the road, and the offense looked to continue the momentum of the previous week. I think they can win the division, but they aren't going anywhere in the playoffs with Shields not coming back, and Lacy not healthy enough to be a factor.

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dschwalm's picture

November 04, 2016 at 12:53 pm

I think we are all forgetting just how bad our secondary was when healthy. Just check PFF to see how atrocious they really were! I hope they both go on PUP so we don't have to use them for the rest of the season!!

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dschwalm's picture

November 04, 2016 at 12:58 pm

...And not having any pass defence. Good QBs will be licking their chops if they draw the Packers. Do you suppose there's any wisdom in hoping the Packers DON'T make the play-offs so that they may have to blow up the team for next season??

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mrj007's picture

November 04, 2016 at 07:40 pm

Asking way too much from the mediocrity that is the 2016 packers. I was impressed they were competitive and covered the spread.

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Since '61's picture

November 04, 2016 at 04:22 pm

Fin - my frustration with the loss is due to the apparent lack of planning by our coaching staff. I don't fault our players because I believe that they played hard and played better than expected given the circumstances, which include playing with numerous injuries and playing on the road. The 1 point differential proves that I think. Whether our secondary was healthy or not our coaches should have assumed that it would be difficult covering the Falcon receivers. Jones ate Shields alive last season and Sanu is a talented young player. Due to his injury during the game Jones became a non-factor. However Sanu was a problem all game and Matt Ryan is playing excellently. So we should know going into the final drive that we are going to have trouble preventing a Falcon comeback. So what gives us our best chance to stop them? IMO it's try to get to Ryan or at least make him move in the pocket. Our coverage even with Jones injured hasn't been working and I doubt if Randall or Rollins would be any better against Sanu anyway. So at least try to get pressure or Ryan. Secondly, figure out how you are going to use your timeouts and save time for your offense to get a game winning FG. Instead we didn't pressure Ryan and we let him run out the clock! I agree with you that Capers probably did not trust his coverage which to me is another reason to try and generate some pressure on Ryan. I admit that the result may not have been different but what we did definitely did not work and our coaches did not help out our players at all. Inexcusable from MM on down through the coaching staff. Thanks, Since '61

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Point Packer's picture

November 04, 2016 at 04:59 pm

In general, I think most NFL coaches are dumb former meat head jocks with little to no strategic sense. That game ending drive from Atlanta was a great example. Dom did what he did all day, sat back and watched Ryan carve up the secondary. And what do you know, they scored a TD.

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Duke Divine's picture

November 04, 2016 at 06:31 pm

"You're obviously not a golfer." Dude

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Point Packer's picture

November 05, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Great example from this Badger
Game. 40 seconds left in half on own 40 yard line. Badgers run for seven yards and despite having all three TOs, Chryst lets 10 seconds run off and then calls his 1st TO of the half. Good one, Paul. Brilliant stuff.

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mrj007's picture

November 04, 2016 at 07:45 pm

Maybe this team can build off the relatively decent play and start showing some improvement. Had a lot of inexperience on the field and all things considered hung tough. But we need players and really the talent isn't there'm.. Yet. Still optimist that one day they wake up and demolish someone. Sunday is another chance

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