The 2010 destruction of Atlanta in the playoffs was a very long time ago. These days, the Falcons seem to own the Packers. I tried to talk myself into the Packers winning this round, but there were just too many mistakes. Too many injuries. And, in the end, too many points given up. The Packers have been a notoriously slow-starting team lately so I’m thinking this will be nothing more than a blip by the end of the season.

Still, this was not a fun game to watch. But I’ve got a job to do and I’m going to do it, dagnabbit. I hope you join me.

I don’t have a lot of time these days, so I’m going to have to cut back on the amount of plays I cover here. I’d love to cover every single play, but that’s just not in the cards. The plays I don’t cover here I’ll be putting up on my brand new Twitter account, where I will be posting all sorts of clips from the coaches film. No boring stuff about my life or anything. Just football clips.
So, if you miss all the plays I used to cover here, hit me up over there. Hopefully that’s enough.

For now, let’s get to the film.

I wrote about the Aaron Rodgers interception and Tevin Coleman’s touchdown at the end of the first half in One Big Play this week. You can find that here.

The Bad

This was the fourth play of the game. I’m sure it had the same effect on you all as it had on us: lots of head shaking and muttering, “not again” under your breath. Sports are fun!

Packers are in Cover 1 Man on the outside, zone in the middle. (It may actually be Cover 2 Robber, but Kentrell Brice [29] sneaks up towards the line so early I’m inclined to call it Cover 1.)

Julio Jones [11] starts on the left side the line. He runs a deep crossing route under a skinny post from Taylor Gabriel [18]. Devonta Freeman [24] sneaks out of the backfield late, but the Falcons only sent out two receivers on this play and left the rest back to protect. Since both routes are long-developing ones, they need to make sure Matt Ryan [2] has a chance to sit back and wait for the routes to develop.

Damarious Randall [23] is matched-up on Jones, while Davon House [31] is matched-up with Gabriel.

Jones gets a clean inside release on Randall, allowing him to easily get into his crossing route. Randall is fast but Jones is faster. Giving him that much open space to build up speed is a recipe for disaster.

Let’s look at Blake Martinez [50] and Brice in the middle. As I mentioned, Brice is starting from a half-depth safety position. He runs up to the line to play the run. After Ryan completes the play fake, Brice hesitates for a beat before heading back into his zone.
Martinez starts closer to the line but he does the same thing, going so far as turn comically in a circle before falling back in his zone.

The play fake – and the reactions of Brice and Martinez to that fake – is what opens up the throw to Jones. Randall doesn’t have great coverage but it’s not terrible: he’s a step or two back. That forces Ryan to put the ball on Jones. Martinez and Brice get themselves out of position by biting hard on the fake, creating space between them and the route of Jones. If Brice and Martinez simply drop back into their zones, this becomes a tougher throw.

Of course, if that throw wasn’t open, Ryan still had a clean pocket to just throw the checkdown to Freeman out of the backfield.

Mike Daniels left the game early. While I really like our front 7, no one is able to create the kind of destruction he is capable of, and it burned them on this play. Kenny Clark [97] and Quinton Dial [91] are the interior linemen on this play. Dial is double-teamed and shoved into the middle of the field almost immediately. Clark is playing this pretty well – holds his man up, maintains his gap and disengages when he sees Tevin Coleman [26] running through a hole – but, by the time he sees this, Dial is already all up in his kitchen. Clark disengages and is caught up in the mass of bodies in the middle.

That opens the hole in the line, but no one is there to stuff it. Instead of blocking, Mohamed Sanu [12] runs a drag route. Davon House [31] is playing man coverage so he follows Sanu across the formation, not seeing the running play developing. Sanu clears out two defenders here: in addition to dragging House, he also takes out Kentrell Brice [29]. Brice follows Coleman to the middle – his initial path after the hand-off – then attempts to come back to plug the hole once Coleman cuts to the right. But Sanu is there to seal him off.

Clay Matthews [52] is rushing around the edge and never really has a chance. He dives, but he just can’t quite get there.

With Dial, Clark, House and Brice essentially taken out of the play by by three blockers, the Falcons won the numbers up front and Coleman had a ton of room to run. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix [21] eventually pushed Coleman out of bounds, but not before he was able to pick up 35 yards.

The Packers sent four men out – plus Ty Montgomery [88] sneaking out of the backfield late – but Aaron Rodgers [12] couldn’t find anyone open so he ended up throwing it away. What happened?

The answer? Not much. They ran slant/flat combos on both sides of the field, so it wasn’t an issue of the routes taking too long to develop down the field. The Falcons give a Cover 1 look pre-snap, but end up falling back into Cover 2 Zone Under. They’re only rushing four men, so they’re able to keep five defenders in zone within 7 yards of the line of scrimmage. The Falcons manage their zone pass-off assignments perfectly. There’s simply nowhere for Rodgers to go with the ball.

Randall Cobb [18] flashes into an open spot in the middle of the field late, but by that point the protection is already breaking down and Rodgers has decided to simply throw it away. If the protection was better, Rodgers would have had enough time to hit Cobb for a decent gain. As it stands, the ball flew harmlessly out of bounds.

In this play, we see Aaron Rodgers [12] throwing behind Randall Cobb [18] on a crossing route and immediately getting destroyed by a defender running free of a stunt. When I saw this live, I thought Trevor Davis [11] was open on a post route behind Cobb, and that Rodgers should have thrown to Davis.

As it turns out, I was wrong. On the broadcast view, the move I thought was Davis cutting inside to the post was really him trying to get inside position on his defender.

So I guess I don’t have much to say on this. Except…

A post route behind that crossing route would have worked perfectly here. Cobb’s route works as a clear-out route underneath Davis. Drop back, look right, look back left and hit Davis out of the break directly after Cobb crosses underneath. It would be perfect.

Early in the 3rd quarter. Packers are down 24-7 and are desperately looking for anything on offense. They thought they’d go with a quick-hitter here, with a route to the flat on either side and a quick slant on the left over the flat route. With these quick throws, you have to make sure two things happen:

  1. Someone gets open
  2. The ball doesn’t get knocked down at the line.

In regards to point #2, the Packers went with a bunch of cut blocks along the line to open up quick passing lanes to the entire field. There was a problem, though: they weren’t particularly good cut blocks.

Of the four cut blocks, only two of them do anything to slow down the defender. The others are dismissed in the same manner of buzzing flies to Vigo the Carpathian. Aaron Rodgers [12] sidesteps the oncoming rush from Donari Poe [92] only to get leveled by Vic Beasley [44] coming off the edge with a head full of steam.

This was ruled a fumble and was taken back the other way for a touchdown, putting the Falcons ahead 31-7. Whatever faint hope the Packers had of coming back effectively vanished with this play. At least Rodgers was able to peel himself off the turf. Thank God for small miracles.

Before we move on, let’s just look at this offensive pass interference call on Martellus Bennett [80]. Bennett lines up off the right end of the line. Randall Cobb [18] is in the slot on that same side. Cobb is running a crossing route while Bennett is running to the flat underneath.

Bennett isn’t running a rub route. He’s running to the flat. Brian Poole [34] is the man Bennett runs into. Poole is playing Cobb off the line, but he gets beat over the top (it’s worth noting that Cobb breaks out a nifty little swim move to get over the top of Poole). Poole comes off Cobb and jumps up to take Bennett.

Bennett doesn’t run over Poole. Bennett is not attempting to take out Poole. Poole runs into Bennett after he loses Cobb. This was a terrible call in a huge moment. There was 1:03 left in the first half and the Packers were down 17-7. They would receive the ball to start the second half, so any points here would be huge. Instead, this was offensive pass interference and Rodgers threw an interception on the next play.

I think the Packers would have lost this game even if they didn’t have this penalty called against them. That doesn’t change the fact that this was a terrible call.

The Good

It wasn’t all bad, so let’s try to get ourselves in a decent mood before we get outta here for the week.

The defense had a rough game, but I did want to point out this play, because it brings me great joy. It starts in the middle, where Dean Lowry [94] gets a tremendous push, collapsing that side of the line. To his left, Kyler Fackrell [51] is being tossed into the line like a child, but Clay Matthews [52] executes a tight stunt over Fackrell and is able to get the edge. Ty Sambrailo [74] is able to jump back out and get a hand on him, but Matthews is able to get around Sambrailo with a nice lean. He accelerates out of the turn and converges on Matt Ryan [2].

On the other side, Joe Thomas [48] and Nick Perry [53] are also executing a stunt. Tevin Coleman [26] plays this really well, shoving Thomas to the outside before coming back in and clearing out Perry. Terrific job by Coleman.

Thomas finds himself between Coleman and Jake Matthews [70]. He looks in, sees where Ryan is, accelerates and lays waste.

Matthews and Thomas have a little party at the quarterback.

This defense isn’t as scary with Mike Daniels on the sideline, but they still have the pieces to put together a good pass rush.

You know who I love? Ty Montgomery [88]. Through two games, his numbers haven’t reflected how good he has been as a running back. He runs patient, but he also runs tough. He improved in pass protection since last year as well. I couldn’t be more excited about him as the running back in Green Bay.

Of course, he’s also a good receiver and the Packers aren’t ignoring that part of his game. On this play, he lines up off the right side of the line in a tight look to that side. Davante Adams [17] runs a slant over the top of a flat route from Montgomery. With the defense pulled up tight, the read here for Aaron Rodgers [12] is pretty simple: if no one on the edge of the line drops back, read the lone cornerback on that side. If he goes with Adams throw to Montgomery, and vice versa. As it so happens, the Falcons bring pressure and the defender runs with Adams, so Rodgers quickly flicks the ball to Montgomery in the flat for 15 yards.


Hey. Speaking of Ty Montgomery [88] here he is on a screen. Lane Taylor [65] whiffs on his block on Keanu Neal [22] while Corey Linsley [63] gets a piece of Duke Riley [42], but not enough to bring him down. So Montgomery finds himself facing two defenders directly in front of him. He doesn’t panic. He simply drops a filthy jump cut, taking out both of them. After that, he runs behind a secondary block from Taylor, lowers his head and gets as much yardage as he can before stepping out of bounds.

Let’s just watch that jump cut for a minute.

I love Ty Montgomery so much.

Even in a loss, we still get something to watch in awe.

This is on 4th down with 12:50 left in the game. The Falcons are up 34-10. If the Packers want to have any chance to get back into the game, they need a touchdown on this drive. Aaron Rodgers [12] looks right for something to open up. When it doesn’t, he looks back to his left. Davante Adams [17] doesn’t really have any separation, but the pocket is breaking down and there’s no downside in throwing a ball up for grabs.

With the rush in his face, Rodgers unleashes this pass without being able to step into it. According to my rough math, that throw is roughly 51 yards in a perfect spot, using nothing but his arm. Rodgers isn’t human.

Let’s watch just the throw.

But this isn’t all Rodgers. Adams makes a tremendous play. He creates separation while the ball is in the air by slowing down, then accelerating when the defender matched his slower speed. He tracks the ball, lays out for it and is able to propel himself back in bounds to complete the catch.

Let’s watch that catch.

I hate that this happened in a blowout, but this is a remarkable play that deserves a ton of love.

Random Thoughts

  • I rewatched Stranger Things over the past week and I liked it better the second time around. Pretty hyped for the new season.
  • We need Mike Daniels and Jordy Nelson back pronto.
  • If Nelson is out for any extended time, we need to utilize Trevor Davis more than we have been. He’s a speedster with good hands and seems capable of running routes.
  • I know it has only been two games, but Clay Matthews has looked good. More explosive than he has over the past couple years. Through 2 games, he has 1.5 sacks and 4 tackles. Even when he’s not getting tackles, he has been disrupting plays. The question is how long he will be healthy, but it’s good seeing that he still has something left in the tank.
  • I hear that kids these days like to look at charts (I did not actually hear this), so I made some charts from this past game. They are not pretty.

Aaron Rodgers has an abysmal second quarter, completing 45% of his passes and throwing an interception.

Geronimo Allison gets dinged on this chart, but that’s because the interception came when targeting him. I don’t believe that was Allison’s fault, but the stats are the stats, man. I don’t make the rules on this stuff.

Lastly, Matt Ryan fared better than Rodgers on both deep and short passes. Not Rodgers’ best outing, but he’ll be fine. He’ll be fine.

Albums listened to: La Sera – Queens; Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow; Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton – Choir of the Mind; Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and James McAlister – Planetarium; LCD Soundsystem – American Dream