Week 8: Falcons Late Score Dooms Green Bay

Gary: The Packers crash at my place for a week in Atlanta. After the Thursday night game against the Bears, they’ve got a mini bye week. It doesn’t help the injury situation. 

The starting cornerbacks for Green Bay are Ladarius Gunter and Demetri Goodson, with Micah Hyde as the first guy off the bench. Also out are Jared Cook, Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, James Starks, Randall Cobb, Ty Montgomery and Clay Matthews. 

On the other side, Atlanta isn’t in a much better place. They’re 4-3 and coming off a home loss against the San Diego Chargers where they blew a 17-point lead. A late interception by Matt Ryan gave the Chargers new life and forced overtime. Atlanta had the ball first in overtime, but they went for it on fourth-and-short on their own end of the field. It didn’t work out, and the Chargers kicked a game winning field goal.

Season hits a low point in loss to the Falcons

Jon: What happens in Atlanta could be considered the low point of the season. The Packers would go on to – spoiler alert – lose their next three games. I think this may have actually been as bad as it gets, at least in the personnel department. 

Consider this: Jeff Janis – the man, the myth, the legend – played 94% of the snaps on offense in this game. Knile Davis and Don Jackson both got significant time at running back. Aaron Ripkowski played 32 snaps, many at them at running back. Considering all that and the situation in the secondary, it’s pretty amazing that the Packers were in this game at all. 

The fact that they were in it can largely be credited to Aaron Rodgers, who had a phenomenal day. He had the Packers on top, 24-17, at the half. He finished the day with four touchdowns, and Davante Adams had 12 catches. To me, this was the first time it really felt like Davante Adams is pretty good. 

The defense becomes truly worrisome for the first time. Taylor Gabriel goes blowing through the secondary for a 47-yard touchdown. On this play and throughout the game, the Packers don’t look like they have anyone in the same universe of speed as Taylor Gabriel. Julio Jones had a pretty slow day, but Matt Ryan had a great day. He goes 28-35 and tosses three touchdowns.

This game came down to the last five minutes. The Packers score to go up 32-26 with four minutes left, but the Falcons go 75 yards to retake the lead with 38 seconds left. The Packers got the ball back and did very little. 

Suddenly, we had a very infuriating “Aaron Rodgers is not clutch” argument on our hands. He’s actually very clutch, but if you ask Bob McGinn, he’d say he had a 75 or 80 percent chance to go down and win the game for the Packers, which is absurd. 

How much do you miss a guy like Sam Shields at this particular moment in time?

Gary: Because Julio Jones had a pretty quiet game and Ladarius Gunter played quite well, I’m not missing Shields all that much. We were talking about Shields most likely being done for the year by now. He suffered his concussion in Week 1, and it’s halfway through the season and he’s still not back. 

You’re not banking on him, and Ladarius Gunter sure seems to have taken the mantle of a number one cornerback. Damarious Randall had been torched through the beginning of the year missed this game because of injury. The depth is what I’m missing most. It’s been about 90 days since training camp. Back then, it seemed like the Packers cornerbacks and safeties were a strength. Now, they’re a defensive cupcake.

This conversation first appeared in Episode 18 of our weekly podcast. Blue 58, powered by WTMJ Mobile, goes beyond the headlines to help you become a smarter fan of the Green Bay Packers. Hosted by former WTMJ newscaster Jon Meerdink and his friend Gary Zilavy, Blue 58 brings you a unique, upbeat perspective on your favorite NFL team, as long as that team is the Packers.