Game Review: Falcons – 2018 Week 14

Well, that was fun for a change. I know that everyone who wanted to tank for a draft pick was disappointed, but I think this was good for a team that needed to feel like they weren’t terrible. They can now blame all their failings on McCarthy and start next season with some hope and confidence.

Aaron Charles Rodgers
Rodgers looks fully healed from his week 1 injury and the quick rhythm passing game to start seemed to give him some flow and confidence that he built off all game.

As a runner, he was clearly at his best and ballsiest since week 1. It was nice to see him out there running and also nice to see his team get rowdy in his defense – sometimes fights like that can put some fire in a team.

As a passer, he broke the passes without an interception streak. Some people point out that he was too conservative and his huge number of throwaways (more than twice any other team this year) is why he got it, but I don’t agree. He had a couple that should have been picked this game. This shows that, more than anything, that stats and streaks and records are all just noise unless they have context.

The Run Game
Joe Philbin didn’t look like he was trying to make any friends among Packers fans when he started the game with Jamaal Williams. He ended up giving Aaron Jones a season-high 17 carries, which went for a very nice 4.6 yards per carry, but we continue to see what Jones is: an amazing complementary back.

When defenses load up the box to stop Jones (like when he was trying to run out the clock late), they can. That’s ok. Jones has shown that he’s a big play guy, but he’s not a guy you can really run the clock out with against a stacked box – that’s what Jamaal Williams is for. I don’t care what this does for your fantasy team, this is a great running back combo in real life.

The Secondary
I was very happy with how this group performed. There’s been a lot of injuries and some players have been removed, but these guys stepped up against a potent attack.

Even when the refs seemed hell-bent on screwing Jaire Alexander (while also p!ssing in Joe Philbin’s cornflakes), the group held up. Jaire is continuing to show that he is a stud, with a very good job of maching up on Julio Jones, despite giving up 5 inches of height. The rookie continues to show outstanding instincts, mental toughness, and a flair to match his talents.

Breeland also showed a knack for big plays in limited snaps. Jackson flashed high and low again and really strikes me as a versatile safety. In any case, there’s a lot to work with in this group. If they started next year with Alexander, King, and Breeland at corner with Jackson and Jones at safety with a guy like Tramon backing them all up, there could be very high hopes.

Other Notes

  • Jaire Alexander and Kenny Clark are guys you can build a really good defense around
  • Jimmy Graham needs to catch all those balls he almost caught if he wants to get paid $10M
  • Joe Philbin came into this job thinking “When I was head coach in Miami, my biggest regret was not challenging enough plays – I’m not gonna make the same mistake here”
  • The refs are terrible and have been all year

Question of the Week
This week, our Twitter account asked the question:

In his first game ever without Mike McCarthy as his coach, how many yards will Aaron Rodgers pass for agianst the Falcons?

The final result was 196 yards, and the best answer was @gym_jones86, who came withing 11 yards with a guess of 185 – well done!

Self-Grading
A look back at how we did with the predictions in our preview column:

MVS comes up big in a supporting role where Rodgers wants to throw more Well, not really with just 2 catches
Aaron Jones gets more work early, but doesn’t break one and gets a McCarthy number of carries Quite the opposite – Jones was absent early an ended by tying his season high of 17 carries  
Aaron Rodgers breaks his interception streak when the ball ricochets off cold hands It looked more like cold hands saved his interception streak

Dean Lowry continues his production as the most overlooked Packer I’d say he had another solid outing an his lack of stats continues to get him overlooked
Jaire Alexander comes up with another gif-worthy play in the cold He sure did, but the refs kept trying to take them away
The Packers secondary won’t be able to shut down the Falcons bevy of receivers I was wrong – and pleasantly surprised

Special Teams will make more colossal blunders because of course they will A couple of fumbles on punt returns, penalties, and nothing really good aside from making their field goals for a change

Packers 24, Falcons 34 I was pretty close to having the score flipped, that’s gotta count for something

Everyone expected the Packers to push it up a notch with McCarthy gone and they did. It remains to be seen if it is sustainable and we will find out next week when we travel to Soldier Field.

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