Week 2 Recap: Another Loss in Atlanta
The Packers didn't get it done in Atlanta, falling to 1-1 on the season and 0-2 in stadium opening games over the last two years. Here are six takeaways from this week's debacle in Atlanta.
1 - The offensive line ultimately wasn’t the problem.
By and large, the Kyle Murphy/Justin McCray tackle tandem wasn’t a disaster. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t an abject failure either. McCray in particular gave up a couple inside rushes and badly missed on a block that ended with Aaron Rodgers’ backward pass and a touchdown for the Falcons. But all things considered, the tackles were fine.
2 - There’s no rhyme or reason on helmet-to-helmet hits.
Rodgers got absolutely hammered on the aforementioned backwards pass play, and for all the world like he got hit square in the chin with the top of Vic Beasley’s helmet. But the officiating commentators who run the @FootballZebras Twitter account says that doesn’t matter:
The NFL rulebook, however, doesn’t agree (emphasis added).
Ultimately, I don’t know who’s right here, and I’m absolutely certain I’ve seen penalties called in similar situations. It’s so hard to know what should be called, though, since it’s called so inconsistently. It seems like this should be pretty easy to call, but it’s regularly screwed up.
3 - Blown offensive pass interference calls played a huge role.
The Packers were flagged twice for offensive pass interference on pick plays, a point of emphasis for referees this year. That would be fine, if they were actually called correctly. Both of the alleged picks were called when contact occurred within a yard of the line of scrimmage, where a pick is legal.
The first of the two calls brought the Packers back deep into their own territory, cancelling out a long catch and run by Randall Cobb, and a bad route by Geronimo Allison led to an interception just a couple plays later.
The second call took a touchdown by Randall Cobb off the board, leaving the Packers down big a wider margin late after they settled for a field goal.
It’s never a good look to blame a loss on the refs, and that’s not my aim here. However, teams also shouldn’t have to play so well that they’re able to overcome major mistakes by the referees either, and a few major mistakes put the Packers in some seriously dire straits.
4 - New stadiums are cursed, apparently.
Two seasons, two Week 2 games in new stadiums, two ugly losses. NFL schedule makers, please leave the Packers out of future stadium opening games, please.
5 - Martellus Bennett hasn’t hit his stride yet
Through two games, Bennett has eight catches for 90 yards, a decent enough stat line, but it doesn’t reflect the handful of dropped passes we’ve seen from Bennett so far this season.
Bennett’s drops were especially problematic this week, popping up on a couple key third down situations.
While he has been an asset in other parts of the offense, it feels like the Packers are still waiting to get the full Bennett experience.
6 - Sometimes there’s very little to be learned from a game
Don’t get me wrong: the Packers got pasted in Atlanta. Their defense consistently got roasted in key situations and even if things went their way on a couple calls, the offense looked like it was operating at minimal efficiency.
But that said, the Packers were also without their starting tackles, their best wide receiver, and their best defensive player for most or all of this game. That’s a tall order for any team, much less one traveling to a such a high pressure environment as a new stadium opening.
The Packers should just burn the tape from this one, lick their wounds, then get ready to take care of business against the Bengals back in Wisconsin next Sunday.