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Key Matchups: Packers vs. Falcons-The Inaugural Game of the Joe Philbin Era

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Key Matchups: Packers vs. Falcons-The Inaugural Game of the Joe Philbin Era

At 4-7-1, the Packers find themselves, as our friends on CHTV’s railbird's podcast so eloquently put it, ”mathematically alive but clinically dead”.  Going into Sunday's clash with their familiar NFC south foes from Atlanta, the Packers have found themselves focused on issues other than football.  

After Sunday Afternoon’s debacle against the Cardinals, Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy and General Manager Brian Gutekunst decided to make a change at head coach and replace Mike McCarthy and name offensive coordinator Joe Philbin the teams interim head coach.  

Since the firing of McCarthy, the organization has been in a bit of an upheaval as the team tries to transition from Mike McCarthy, and move on with Joe Philbin.  Many current and former NFL coaches, players, and general managers have given their opinions on whether the Packers firing of McCarthy was done at the right time and whether or not it was actually warranted.  

Needless to say, it will be refreshing to see the Green Bay Packers take the field on Sunday afternoon even if it is just to take a short break from all of the drama and speculation to refocus on football.  

Although this game is seen by many as a meaningless December game, there are still some interesting player matchups that will determine whether or not this contest will be an enjoyable one to watch or whether you'll want to avert your eyes from the TV after the first quarter.  

Key Matchups for Week 14- Packers vs. Falcons

1. The Inspired Packers vs. The Defeated Packers

The most important factor heading into Sunday’s game against the Falcons is whether the Packers decide to play inspired football or not.  Sometimes the firing of a coach can serve as a "galvanizing moment” for a floundering team and other times, it can just make the inevitable happen quicker.  

It was clear that the Packers had quit on former head coach Mike McCarthy last week. They came out flat because they expected the Arizona Cardinals to just roll over.  What actually ended up happening was that, they got rolled over and dominated by a terrible 2-9 team which proved to be the last straw for Mike McCarthy as he was fired immediately after the game.  

This Sunday's matchup against the Falcons will prove to be the litmus test for what we can expect for the final four games of the season.  Will the Packers try to make a push to win each of their final four games, or will they play more sickening, uninspired football like they did this past Sunday.  If the latter is the case, the only thing to do will be to look forward to the Lambeau Wave, playing roll out the barrel, jump around, and seeing who wins the race of running bottles of cold beverages on the jumbotron.  

2. Julio Jones vs. Jaire Alexander and the Packers Secondary 

Judging from recent history against the Packers defense, Julio Jones could be in store for yet another record-setting game on Sunday.  It seems as if the great receiver always saves his memorable 10+ catch 200-yard performances for when he suits up against the Packers.  This is a game in which I see Jaire Alexander getting torched and needing help just to contain the all-pro receiver.  

This is not an ideal matchup for the Packers young secondary as Jones possesses, a lethal combination of size, speed, strength, and strong hands, which makes him an almost impossible cover for even the leagues best corners.  

3. Davante Adams vs. Desmond Trufant

This is a matchup that I find favorable for the Packers and expect to go in their favor.  The Atlanta defense has been decimated with injuries from the opening game this season, and as a result of this, they are thin at the cornerback and other key positions.  Davante Adams is currently in the midst of his best season as a pro and in my opinion, is one of the best route runners in the NFL.  

I expect Davante to be able to create separation from Trufant by putting his superior footwork on display.  Obviously, the onus will fall on Aaron Rodgers to deliver the ball to Davante in stride, in order for him to impact the outcome of the game the way that he should be able to.  

4. Grady Jarrett vs. Aaron Jones 

Grady Jarrett comes in as one of the Falcons best combo defenders as he sports a Pro Football Focus grade of 83.0 in run defense and a 78.3 grade in pressuring the passer.  Garrett will undoubtedly look to exploit the injuries on the right side of the Packers offensive line and look to get consistent penetration to close up any running lanes that Aaron Jones can run through.

After a disappointing performance last week against the Cardinals for various reasons, it is not a guarantee that Jones will coast to a typical 100-yard rushing performance against the Falcons rush defense.  I am worried that the Falcons will take a page out of the Cardinals playbook and get to Jones in the backfield early and often despite being ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing defense.  

In order for the offense to work effectively, it is crucial that Corey Linsley, Lane Taylor, and David Bakhtiari provide Aaron Jones with running lanes early to instill confidence back into the running game and provide a much-needed balance to the Packers offense.  

Predictions:

  • Julio Jones has a monster 10 catch 150+ yard performance.
  • The Packers contain the Falcons rushing attack.
  • This game becomes a track meet with both offenses tallying 400 yards of offense.
  • Davante Adams has a 2 touchdown game.
  • Aaron Jones returns to his pro bowl form and has a 100-yard performance.
  • The Packers offense looks less disjointed. 
  • Clay Matthews gets a sack against cousin Jake.
  • The Packers lose a close 35-28 game to the Falcons. 

 

 

 

David Michalski is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @kilbas27dave 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (47) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

flackcatcher's picture

Only Murphy describes himself as CEO, no one else in the organization does as far as I know. I would like to know if that term is written into his contract. (Well it might or not matter at this stage.) Interesting....

dobber's picture

As I remember, President of the board for the Packers is the only paid administrative position on the board. Essentially, yes, he is the CEO of the Packers...especially under the new administrative paradigm.

Gort's picture

I will raise your pair of dimes to a quarter.

Lare's picture

If you go to the Packers.com website it lists Mark Murphy as "President and Chief Executive Officer".

flackcatcher's picture

Actually when I was at Packer.com I saw that, and thought it was a bit unusual at the time. Folks I talk to up at 1265 just use president. To be honest I thought the titles were interchangeable in the organization. That's all.

Dash Riprock's picture

Folks I talk too refer to Murphy as the guy that's on the cover of Mad Magazine.

dobber's picture

Yay! Real info! Thanks, Lare!

The TKstinator's picture

Can FOUR games be an “era”?

flackcatcher's picture

Football wise, if Ryan can get time in the pocket, the Packer secondary would be in for a very long day. But the Falcons O line is even more beat up than the Packers, so you never know. With so many injuries and with a coaching change on the Packers side, this game is a total blank too me. (Ugh)

dobber's picture

Any other year in recent memory, I would expect a game in the 30s for both sides. This year? <<Shakes magic 8-ball>> Try again later.

flackcatcher's picture

I smashed mine after the Rams game....

The TKstinator's picture

Temper, temper. It’s only a game. Did you smash anything when Apollo beat Rocky in Rocky 1?

Lare's picture

Hard to find much compelling drama in a game between two teams that will probably end up with losing records.

I think the Packers have too many injuries to allow them to be very competitive. Once again, the opposing QB will have all day to throw and Rodgers will be scrambling for his life.

But it'll be interesting to see how the team performs under Philbin.

Donster's picture

I'm curious how Philbin calls the game. If we see a major change in play calling, and time management vs McCarthy. If there is a big difference in play calling Sunday, win or lose, it will reinforce the fact that MM wouldn't listen to anybody but himself. Supposedly Philbin was brought in to help refresh the playbook. If he actually did, seems to me that MM flat out didn't accept the changes and stayed on his own course.

I think Sunday the Pack needs to go into the 2 minute offense for most of the game. They had more success with it. Keeps the defense from substituting players, give Rodgers quick throws, helps a depleted offensive line, and tell him not to throw the damn ball 50 yards on a third and 3!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Comparing would be easier if Bulaga and Taylor can play (not sure if Bell to Patrick, McCray, et al is that much of a downgrade). You're right and I will be looking for contrasts in play calls, attitude, etc.

carlos's picture

I’d like to see more screens, that actually work, shorter pass routes that develop quickly like slants, a draw once in awhile and throw in some reverses like Lofton used to run. Jet sweeps and a running back run pass option. Let it all out. Open up the bag. Have some fun. If the offense can get rolling so will the defense play inspired. Injuries are plentiful so let these young players go out and show what they can bring. I hope to see a fun and entertaining game. If there’s seconds on the clock before halftime and we have the ball sling it. Don’t take a knee. Save the timeouts. Take a five yard loss. Save those precious timeouts.

PatrickGB's picture

Don, I agree. A fast offense keeps the pass rush from collapsing the right side of the line. But, that means that number 12 will actually run it. And I don’t think he wants to.

The TKstinator's picture

@Don: that last part; yes! Particularly infuriating all season long.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Atlanta has no pass rush (well, not sure if GB will cure them of that malady). Beasley is awful. We might have two OLBs better than Beasley, judging by stats. I'd guess that Atlanta is going to rescind his 5th year option ($12.8M).

Kb999's picture

This will be a wake-up call for the team and coaching staff. Upper management has sent a message that if you don't produce you will be gone. These guys are playing for a roster spot for next year. So I don't expect that the team mails it in. I think Joe Philbin gets his first win.

Samson's picture

There really aren't anymore wake-up calls for any of the coaches still left. -- They all know that they will be unemployed come 12/31/18.

As far as this game, it's pretty much meaningless & will be forgotten come early 2019.

Kb999's picture

Agreed, coaches gone. How many players with them? I'll watch the game but hold my nose.

dobber's picture

They're all auditioning for the next job...some in GB. Some with other teams. Some at AutoZone.

Rebecca's picture

Ahhh.... a voice of sanity.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

I'm just waiting until the end of the year to see who are new coach will be. I'm sure Philbin will be shown tge door on 2019.

Get Josh McDaniels!

Gort's picture

I suggest a revision to your last statement:

NOT Josh McDaniels.

henry113's picture

NOT Josh McDaniels. Agreed. Contrary to the reports that Bruce Ariens isn't interested, every man has his price. I think he's the right man for this team.

carlos's picture

Ariens is old and had health issues a couple years back. I would like a younger guy with fresh more innovated ideas on offense.

The TKstinator's picture

Our

henry113's picture

I stand corrected. thanx

The TKstinator's picture

Not you Hank. I was channeling Sister Helen for Doug, “the master of the homophone”.
To two too
Are our
Your you’re
There their they’re
More than/more then

It never ends

henry113's picture

Dumb it down TK i'm not that smart. It did sound good though.

dobber's picture

So you're saying you're not homophonic?

The TKstinator's picture

A lot of rock’s most talented frontmen played the homophone; Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, the more you can do...

ILPackerBacker's picture

the only thing missing is lead signer and driver of the winnebago.

and CM3, isn't he retired?

Jamie Freier's picture

Did you see him get blown up by — I think it was Golden Tate, if not him, some other smallish guy — on a TD scoring run by the Lions? Did you see him last week unable to bring down a smallish RB on a TD scoring run by the Cards? Pathetic.

Rebecca's picture

Excuse me! Clay was just having a bad hair day!

Rufus's picture

With McCarthy gone, will Aaron be Aaron or is Aaron on the downside of his career? That is the question. Lets end the blame game.

Since &#039;61's picture

Whatever happens and however long it lasts I wish Joe Philbin well. He has been through some difficult times that most people would never come back from. While I realize that it doesn't matter I hope the Packers come out, play hard and win a game for Philbin. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

The TKstinator's picture

As usual, agreed. Well put.

carlos's picture

Well said. Much agreed 61.

Tundraboy's picture

I don't know what to expect and for one week I don't care that I don't. The last few weeks I did and it wasn't pretty, so I'll take it. Something had to change . I couldn't bear another week wondering if Jones or others would be used,or if we would not be able to score in the 2nd.

Jamie Freier's picture

Exactly Go Pack Go!

PAPackerbacker's picture

Playing for a roster spot can be great motivation to play hard and do your best to prove you belong on the team. What I don't understand is why wait this long to play hard and not play like that all season? Playing hard the last 4 games of the season should coincide with playing hard the first 12 games of the season. So why not give the young players the opportunity to prove what they can or can not do? It should not be hard to figure out at this point which starters belong on the team and which ones need to go. Give the rookies a chance to prove themselves and showcase their skills and see which ones deserve to be on the team. Nothing to lose at this point and everything to gain by giving the rookies an opportunity to prove they can get the job done or they can't.

Lare's picture

I don't know if I'd say the Packers players haven't been playing hard this season. I think it's more of a matter of them not playing smart this season.

LeotisHarris's picture

This, yes. Honestly I haven't seen a lack of effort either. No "quitting on" McCarthy or not playing hard, with maybe the exception of Ha Ha but he'd been doing that since last year.

Instead I think they've looked unprepared and unpolished for the most part.

PAPackerbacker's picture

I've witnessed both actually. I've seen opponents RB's break tackles and other defensive players slack off once contact was made by a teammate thinking the play was over, rather than continue pursuit to finish the play. And as a result end up chasing the RB, WR, TE, or whoever the ball carrier was, after a long gain. And I agree that the team hasn't been playing smart as well. A lot of that had to do with the coaching. It will be interesting to see how the players react to Philbin as the HC for the remainder of the season. Go! Pack! Go!

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