A very disappointing finish to a game with a promising start for the Atlanta Falcons.
The offense never really looked comfortable in the cold of Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers. The Falcons offense reverted back to the conservative, dinking and dunking of previous weeks (as opposed to last week’s win), and there was only one instance where the Falcons took a shot downfield before the fourth quarter. Sure, you can partially blame the cold and wind (although it wasn’t that windy) that limited how much the Falcons could let things fly, but I’ve long said that the link between this offense scoring and generating big plays is significant. And they simply didn’t have many in this game (just two before the final minute), which is why the offense really only had one successful drive. And it’s not a coincidence that both of their big plays came on that drive. It boils down to the fact that the team did not try hard enough to get those big plays.
I don’t think Matt Ryan had a great game. I saw too many throws that were off the mark, but I’ll partially blame the weather for some of that. I also didn’t like that Ryan seemed to be staring down his initial read quite a bit in this game, which was often Roddy White. White had a good game, so for the most part it didn’t hurt Ryan too much. But it did on the final play where he forced a throw to Harry Douglas, when he potentially had Darius Johnson open on the other side. Johnson was singled up in coverage, and had Ryan made a good throw on that play, it potentially could have set up a very long field goal (likely 53-55 yards) that could have won it rather than the pick.
I don’t want to sound like I’m blaming Ryan for the loss, but it was a rather nondescript performance from him. I thought he had fairly good protection. The Packers started to use more stunts at the end of the game once they realized that Peter Konz and Ryan Schraeder couldn’t handle them. It was one such stunt that disrupted the throw with 21 seconds left on the play preceding the infamous Douglas drop. I thought Schraeder handled himself relatively well since it was his most extensive playing time. The sack he gave up to Mike Neal was a result of just bad technique and footwork. I don’t see any reason why Trueblood should get his job back at this point.
Peter Konz is simply a liability at right guard. When you’re getting beat by a speed rush from B.J. Raji, it tells me you have no business playing guard. I think it’s time the Falcons gave Harland Gunn a look over these last three games.
Lamar Holmes had his share of struggles against Clay Matthews with all of his hurries coming against him. Joe Hawley had a nice block downfield on the 22-yard run by Steven Jackson, and Justin Blalock was his usual solid, but unspectacular self.
I could say some negative things about Douglas and his drop at the end of the game, but I’d just be repeating myself.
The Falcons were able to get some pressure on the quarterback in this game because they were able to dial up some blitzes. I thought Corey Peters, Jonathan Massaquoi, Peria Jerry, and Jonathan Babineaux all had notable moments particularly against the run. I even saw Malliciah Goodman showing some disruptive capabilities, which has me looking forward to what he could do with more development next year. Among the front, Massaquoi looked the best as a pass rusher and there were probably three or so plays where I was very close to awarding him a hurry, but did not. I think the Falcons need to get him and Goodman a lot more reps over these final few games.
Paul Worrilow showed well in multiple phases, and I gave him half credit on the sack he split with Peters. Sean Weatherspoon’s pick-six was the obvious highlight of the game and capped off a solid performance from him.
Zeke Motta potentially had a pick-six of his own, as he missed when trying to jump a seam throw to James Jones at the start of the third quarter. Had he made that play, it certainly would have significantly changed my perspective of his performance and potential. He was out of position on the 46-yard throw to Jordy Nelson. Robert Alford blew the coverage, biting up the double move, but Motta was supposed to be his deep help (the Falcons were in Cover-1) and got sucked up by the post run by James Jones, leaving Alford out to dry once he was beat. Had Motta played his assignment, he may have been in position to pick off that deep pass. Against the run I thought Motta handled himself fairly well, as he was active and showed nice range.
It was a Festivus miracle that we got to see both Kevin Cone and Drew Davis on the field covering kicks simultaneously. They even lined up beside each other once Motta was taken off kickoffs when Thomas DeCoud was injured. And DeCoud’s spot on kickoff coverage was filled by Dominique Franks from that point on. Interesting enough, Motta remained on punt coverage.
Advanced Stats from Week 14:
Poor Throws (3): Ryan
Drops (6): Douglas (2), Gonzalez (2), Jackson (2)
Key Blocks (3): Gonzalez, Hawley, White
Missed Blocks (3): Blalock, Holmes, Konz
Sacks Allowed (1): Schraeder
Pressures Allowed (3): Konz (2), Schraeder (1)
Hurries Allowed (4): Holmes (2.5), Konz (1), Schraeder (0.5)
Tackles For Loss (2): Trufant (1), Alford (0.5), Motta (0.5)
QB Sacks (5): Worrilow (2), Massaquoi (1.5), Moore (1), Peters (0.5)
QB Pressures (1): Peters
QB Hits (0)
QB Hurries (1): Maponga
Passes Defended (3): Alford, Jerry, Worrilow
Blown Coverages (7): Moore (3), Alford (1), McClain (1), Motta (1), Weatherspoon (1)
Missed Tackles (3): Moore (1.5), McClain (1), DeCoud (0.5)
Key Blocked (6): Babineaux, Bartu, Massaquoi, Matthews, Weatherspoon, Worrilow
Stops (17): Babineaux (2), Bartu (2), Jerry (2), Motta (2), Peters (2), McClain (1.5), Worrilow (1.5), Alford (1), Massaquoi (1), Weatherspoon (1), Matthews (0.5), Umenyiora (0.5)